how to start wing foiling

How to Wing Foil?

What is Wing Foil?

The Wing Foil is the latest in board sports. This involves handling a two-handed wing with a hydrofoil mounted on a short SUP board. It is a practice halfway between Windfoil, Kite Foil and SUP Foil. In this article you will find all the information you may need to know: How to start Wing Foil?

The advantage of the WingFoil is that you can move with maximum freedom on the water using the energy of the wind and the swell. The wing provides manoeuvrability and facilitates the launch of the foil by using a constant force (the wind). A distinction is therefore made between Downwind SUP Foil, which uses only the energy of the swell. It is therefor possible thanks to the lightness and mobility of a Wing to switch ways to ride in the same session : going upwind using the wind and the best axis of your wing to reach the fastest speed for example and then going downwind and surf the wind swells like if you were Downwind SUP Foiling. It is a very playful medium that makes the practitioner refocus on his sensations, without comparison to others.

The hydrofoil allows to take-off over the water and to fly over the surface. Wing Foiling is practiced on a short but wide and thick stand up paddle board to allow its rider to be stable and easily stand up on the board. Starting WingFoil allows you to feel new sensations, to move easily and freely on any type of water with a relatively simple and easy to set up equipment. It can be practiced in any wind direction but will be more interesting downwind with a crosswind. It is also possible to practice the Wing-Foil in the waves and to use the lift of the kite to go upwind and surf.

How to start Wing Foil?

In which conditions can you Wing Foil?

We recommend to learn Wing Foiling in average wind conditions on a spot that is not exposed to the swell (between 15 and 20 knots of wind). It is easier to begin with a sidewind (sideshore) to avoid to get pushed aways from the coast (offshore wind) or to be sent back all the time to the shore (onshore wind).

It is advised to carefully select the spot to avoid floating seaweeds or any other floating object that can stop and/or damage your foil while flying. We also recommend to select a spot that is shaped like a bay. This ways if you get too far away from your starting point you can still easily come back walking with your gear. Finally, it is better to learn with a specific water depth : shallow enough so your feet can touch the bottom to easily get on the board but deep enough for the hydrofoil to not touch the bottom. It is possible once you are a confirmed wing foiler of a standard bodytype – let’s say 80 kg – to practice Wing Foiling from 8-10 knots to 35+ knots.

Prepare your Wing Foil equipment for a good start in Wing!

Wing Foiling requires different equipments, to get in the water with your gear in the easiest way without damaging it, we advise the following method :

  1. prepare your Wing Foiling board: assemble your hydrofoil and fix it on your board, put your leash on the board.
  2. drop it close to water: once the board and foil are assembled, bring them close to where you want to enter the water..
  3. put on your wetsuit/boardshort : and get ready exactly like if you were going straight to the water.
  4. inflate your wing: the wing can easily get carried away by the wing that is why we advise to only inflate it just before getting in the water. We recommend to inflate it hidden from the wind if possible and to attach it to a solid object with the leash to avoid any risk of it flying away. Ever since the wing is inflated, attach the leash of the wing to your wrist straight away.
  5. Get back to your Wing Foil board: carry the wing with its handle by positioning the leading edge facing the wind to make its lift neutral and easily carry it. Once you get close to the water with your wing and board, attach your board leash on your ankle.
  6. Carry your gear to the water : because you dropped your wing foiling board close to the water before, you only have a few meters to walk carrying your board and wing at the same time. Be careful, try to always carry your board on the side closer to the wind direction so you don’t risk the wing to get carried away by the wind and get damaged on the foil.

Find the SROKA Wing Foil range

Wing Foil take-off

A key step in getting started in Wing Foil and starting to enjoy Wing Foil, the Wing Foil take-off is not very complicated but requires the right approach. Find our illustrated tips and comments below on how to do this in your first session.

Bruno Sroka décolle en wing foil étape 1

The first step consist in getting on your knees on the board and getting used to having the wing in your hands (not upside-down) with the handles made for that. Then you try to position the wing above your head so the sides don’t touch the water, and a little further close the nose of the board by putting it in an upwind axis almost neutral. The aim of this step is to learn to control the lift of the wing, its reaction to the gusts, and to find a stable position on the board. Once you are stable and able to control the wing as you want, you can orientate it more on the side to get more lift and make your board go faster.

débuter en wing foil décollage étape 2

To go to the second step you need to have accumulated enough speed with the wind. Once the speed reached, you can position your front foot on the center of the board. This allows you to stand up in two steps which is a lot easier.

Bruno Sroka Décolle en Wing Foil

You can then move on to the third step, this time placing your back foot flat on the foil board allowing you to stand. It is essential to have a good foot placement for a successful launch: the back foot should be centered on the board and ideally located just above the mast of the foil, the front foot should be centered on the board in front of your back foot with a spacing between the feet equivalent to the width of your shoulders. These gaps may differ depending on the size and volume of your foil board.

Bruno Sroka décolle en wing foil étape 3

We advise you to keep the wing relatively above your head in a position close to lift neutrality (first photo on the left) in order not to be unbalanced by the gusts. Then in a second step, bring it down to orient the central boom (or wishbone depending on the model) so that it is almost parallel to the water. You get more lift and the board accelerates.

Wingfoil package with board, foil and Wing Sroka

The fourth stage is the take-off stage. You now have enough speed with your board for the lift of the foil to kick in. To facilitate this, you can perform a light pumping motion by successively lightening your weight on the front leg and then on the back leg to play with the angle of the front wing of the foil and make it more buoyant. When the foil takes off, shift the weight back onto the front leg and hold the wing firmly, staying upright to maximise the wind lift. Repeat this sequence as many times as necessary (sometimes once, sometimes ten…) until you take off.

You are now in flight and the duration of this flight depends on your ability to distribute your weight efficiently between the front and back legs, but above all on the direction / axis of lift you give to your wing so that the wind allows you to keep moving. Transferring the weight to the back leg raises the foil and transferring it back to the front leg lowers the foil. It is important to stay upright and keep your centre of gravity above the foil to avoid falling.

Performing a Wing Foil Turn

Now that you know how to take off and glide in a Wing Foil, you need to know how to turn to return to your starting point. There are different ways to make a turn in a Wing Foil: land and then go back the other way (the easiest way for beginners), jibe with your back to the wind, turn into the wind using your accumulated speed or use the swell to make a turn while surfing.

To begin with, we advise you to always turn your back to the wind (“jiber“). It is easier to turn first with the board (the foil) to position the wing over your head neutrally into the wind as you turn. When your turn is complete, put the wing back on the correct axis and you are off in the other direction. You will notice in the sequence below that Bruno changes his feet position between the first and the second photo, he goes from a “left foot in front” (regular stance) to a “right foot in front” (goofy stance). This allows him to attack the jibe without the need to change feet during or at the end of the jibe, but also to remain facing the sail when sailing on the crosswind for greater comfort and efficiency when going upwind. It is also possible to change the position of the feet after making the turn.

Tip:

For surfers:

For riders who have more of a surf and/or surf foil background than a windsurfer or kitesurfer, it can be complicated to ride using both (goofy and regular stances). It is possible to sail with your back to the sail in one direction and facing the sail in the other, as shown in the photo. This has the advantage of ensuring good control of the board and foil, but has the strong disadvantage of making it much more difficult to get upwind (it involves twisting the body between the legs and shoulders). We recommend practising changing position at least to be able to get upwind more efficiently and to switch back to your most comfortable stance before each turn.

Acheter un pack de wingsurf

Security rules

Wing Foiling is a board sport as risky as other extreme sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing or any other foiling sport. We advise each rider to have the following equipments during their session : board leash and wing leash (mandatory) , PFD / impact vest (mandatory if you go further than 300m from the coast), helmet (highly recommended). It is highly not recommended to go practice alone no matter your level of practice, make sure to always tell someone about your session and your timing.

We recommend to practice Wing Foiling only on spots that were already observed and checked. Ocean and lakes weather can be changing and go random, it is essential to always stay relatively close to the coast so you can come back quickly and easily if the wind ever switches, gets stronger or completely drops. Be highly aware of water currents due to tides and swells.

What equipment should you choose to start Wing Foil?

As with all sports, Wing Foil has a technical side which makes the choice of equipment very important. This technicality is increased tenfold by the fact that the Wing Foil uses both the energy of the wind through the Wing and the energy of the swell through the hydrofoil.

The hydrofoil consists of a mast, a fuselage, a front wing and a stabiliser. The length of the mast has a real impact on the way you sail: a shorter mast is more reassuring and easier to start with, but a longer mast allows you to get more height and avoid hitting the surface. The most influential parameter of the foil is the front wing: the profile, surface, thickness but also the length and width of the wing have a strong influence on the lift and the behaviour of the wing (speed, stability and handling).

The foil board used to practice Wing Foil can vary according to the size and the level of practice of each one. However, we strongly recommend starting with a stable SUP foil board (120L) so that you can concentrate more on handling the kite and managing the foil than on balance when starting out.

The Wing is a wing specially designed for Wing Foil. It can also be used on a SUP board without foil for beginners, or with a mountain board (medium wind) or carver (light wind). There are different sizes, constructions and shapes of wings. The size of a wing is measured by its surface area 3m – 4m – 5m – 6m – 7m. A wing with a boom will be easier to handle and stiffer than a wing with a central boom, but the latter will be much lighter and more forgiving in gusts. Finally, the thickness and shape of the leading and trailing edges have an impact on the wing’s stiffness, performance and handling.

OUR ADVICE: The choice of the Wing is very important as it is the “engine” of your Wing Foil. There are two trends in wing construction: those that are very light but not very reinforced and therefore not very durable over time (wings are very fragile) and those that are a little heavier with reinforcements but more durable and shock resistant. Secondly: it is more interesting and economical to invest in 1 size of wing (4m2 or 5m2) and 2 sizes of front foil to cover a wider range of use at lower cost, than in 2 sizes of wing and 1 size of front foil. For example: a wing costs on average 700€ while a front foil costs around 350€.

ailette freeride pour foil

WHICH WING SIZE FOR WING FOIL?

The four front wing sizes of the SROKA S-Foil have been designed to be interchangeable for a variety of uses, allowing Wing Foil and other disciplines to be practised according to the level of each practitioner and the conditions:

  • S-Foil XXL 2000: beginner to expert level / light to medium wind (8 – 20 kts)
  • S-Foil XL 1750: beginner to expert level / light to strong wind (10 – 25 kts)
  • S-Foil L 1500: proficient to expert level / medium to very strong wind (15 – 35 kts)
  • S-Foil M 1250: advanced to expert level / strong to very strong wind (25 – 35+ kts)

 

WHAT SIZE BOARD TO USE FOR WING FOILING?

It is important to have a board that is stable enough for your size and level to start Wing Foil in the best conditions. Length, width and thickness affect the stability of the board, but the bigger the board the less load bearing and responsive the foil armed board is. Finally, the weight of the board influences the lift of the foil. It is therefore ideal to start Wing Foil with a board that is large enough to be stable in all conditions, but not too heavy so as not to hinder the hydrofoil’s lift.

SROKA Company has developed the SUP Foil SKY RIDER to allow people to start Wing Foil ideally without having to worry about their balance but also to use the same board for 5 disciplines: SUP Foil, Wing Foil, Paddle Surf, Windfoil and Wake Foil.

It is available in 3 sizes, 7’8×29, 6.3×29 and 5.5×27’5

SKY RIDER 2020 SROKA Foil

BRUNO SROKA’S OPINION ON WING FOIL

Wing Foil is a free-ride sport where the fun is maximised and the equipment is minimised. Easy to prepare, it’s pure pleasure. We are not looking for speed or height of the jumps, but the feeling of gliding on the water and the wind swell alone or with friends without any headache. It is a 100% fun sport that is made for those who want to have a smile all the time on the water.

My advice:

  • Start on flat water, sheltered from the swell.
  • Be aware of other practitioners. As time goes on, you will get more and more upwind and downwind, with the wing sometimes you have a loss of visibility so make sure there is no one downwind when you start surfing the waves.
  • Starting with a large front wing is more stable, a little slower and allows you to fly in lighter wind conditions.
  • choose your equipment correctly. It’s best to invest in a 4m wing and foil with two front wing choices to optimise the wind range and make good savings.

 

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