How to start Wing Foil?
What is the 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 take-off of the foil by using a constant force (the wind). The Downwind SUP Foil, which uses only the energy of the swell, is different. Thanks to the lightness and mobility of the kite, it is possible to alternate practices during the same session: firstly, to go upwind by tacking and then to go downwind as in Downwind SUP Foil in a second time for example. It is a very playful medium which makes the practitioner refocus on his sensations, without comparison with others.
The hydrofoil allows you to take off above the water and surf above the surface. The Wing Foil is practiced on a short but wide and thick (bulky) stand up paddle board to allow the practitioner to quickly stand up. 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 practised in any wind direction but will be more interesting in downwind with a crosswind. It is also possible to practice the Wing-Foil in the waves and use the lift of the kite to go upwind and surf.
In what conditions should you practice Wing Foil?
We advise you to start Wing Foil in average wind conditions on a spot sheltered from the swell (between 15 and 20 knots established). It is easier to start with a sideshore wind so as not to risk being blown out to sea without being able to come back (onshore wind) or being blown back to shore by the wind (offshore wind).
Care should be taken in choosing a spot to avoid floating algae which prevents the hydrofoil from working properly, as well as any other floating objects present. We also recommend that the spots are bay shaped. This way if you get away you can still get to the coast and walk back with your gear. Finally, it is ideal to start in a water level where you have a foothold but with enough depth that the hydrofoil does not touch the bottom. It is then possible for an experienced sailor of an average weight of 80 kg to sail a Wing Foil in a wind range from 8-10 knots to 40 knots.
Prepare your Wing Foil equipment for a good start in Wing!
The Wing Foil has different elements, in order to get you into the water as easily as possible without risking damage to your equipment, we recommend the following method:
- Prepare your Wing Foil board: assemble your hydrofoil and attach it to your board, attach your leash to the board.
- Put it near the water: once the board and the foil are assembled, bring them near the place where you want to go in the water.
- get dressed: and prepare yourself as if you were going to go straight into the water.
- Inflate your wing: the wing has a strong wind grip, so we only advise to inflate it just before getting into the water. We recommend inflating the wing out of the wind and, if possible, attaching it to an object to avoid the risk of it flying away. As soon as the wing is inflated, attach the leash to your wrist. Avoid abrasion on sand or asphalt.
- Join your Wing Foil board: carry the wing by the handle and place the leading edge facing the wind to make it neutral to the wind and easy to carry. Once you are close to the water with your wing and wing foil board, attach your board leash.
- Carry your equipment to the water: as you have placed your Wing Foil board close to the water, you only have to walk a few meters carrying both the board and the wing. Be careful to always carry your board on the windward side to avoid the risk of the wing catching the wind and getting damaged on the foil.
Beginners wingfoil packages
The Wing Foil take-off
A key stage in the process of getting started in Wingfoil and beginning to enjoy Wingfoil flying, the Wingfoil take-off is not very complicated but requires the right approach. Find our advice and comments illustrated below to help you get it right from your first session.
The first step is to kneel on your board and take the wing in your hand (in the right direction) with the handles provided. The first step is to kneel on your board and take the wing in your hands (in the right direction) with the handles provided. The wing should be positioned above your head so that the edges do not touch the water, and in front of the board, facing the wind in an almost neutral direction. The objective of this step is to control the lift of the wing and its reaction to the wind and to find a stable position on the board. Once you are stable and have good control of the wing, you can orient it to better catch the wind and move your foil board forward.
To move to the second step you need enough wind speed. Once reached, you can position your front foot flat on the centre of the board. This allows you to stand up in two steps for ease.
You can then move on to the third step by placing your back foot flat on the foil board, allowing you to stand up. 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 of the feet equivalent to the width of your shoulders. These distances may differ depending on the size and volume of your foil board.
We advise you to first 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 bring it down to orient the central boom (or boom depending on the model) so that it is almost parallel to the water. This gives you more lift and the board accelerates.
The fourth step is the take-off. You now have enough speed with your board to get the lift of the foil going. To facilitate this, you can do 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 your weight back to 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 length of this flight depends on your ability to distribute your weight effectively between the front and back leg but more importantly on the direction / axis of lift you give your wing to keep the wind moving. Transferring weight to the back leg causes the foil to rise and transferring it back to the front leg causes the foil to fall. It is important to stay upright and keep your centre of gravity above the foil to avoid falling.
To learn how to handle a wing in all simplicity, we propose you a SUP adapted to the navigation (a fin at the back + a fin in the middle to avoid drifting under the wind) and a wing. This is the best way to discover sailing in complete safety, with the whole family.
Click here to find out more about the inflatable Windsup + wing pack 3,3m or 4m
For those with a surfing and/or surf foil background rather than a windsurfing or kitesurfing background, it can be complicated to sail using both goofy and regular stances. It is possible, as shown in the photo, to sail with your back to the sail in one direction and your face to the sail in the other. This has the advantage of ensuring good control of the board and the foil, but has the disadvantage of making it much harder to get upwind (it involves twisting the body between the legs and the shoulders). We recommend that you practice changing your stance to be able to get upwind more efficiently and switch back to your most comfortable stance at each turn.
Wing Foil is a risky sport just like Windsurfing, Kitesurfing or any other Foil sport. We advise each practitioner to equip themselves with the following items during their session: board leash and wing leash (compulsory), flotation jacket / impact vest (compulsory if you exceed the 300m zone), helmet (recommended). It is really not recommended to do a session alone, whatever your level, you should always tell someone about your session and the time you plan to practice.
We recommend that you only practice Wing Foil on spots that have been studied and identified beforehand. As the weather at sea is changeable and random, it is essential to stay close to the coast to be able to return easily and quickly if the wind changes, strengthens or drops completely. Pay particular attention to the effects of currents due to tides or swell.
What equipment should I choose to start Wing Foil?
Like all board sports, Wing Foil has a technical side which makes the choice of equipment very important. This technicality is increased tenfold by the fact that 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 touching the surface. The most influential parameter of the foil is the front wing: the profile, the surface, the 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 that you start 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 kite 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 tube, but the latter will be much lighter and more tolerant of 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 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 foil front wing to cover a wider range of use at lower cost, than in 2 sizes of wing and 1 size of foil front wing. For example: a wing costs on average 700€ while a front foil costs around 350€.
WHICH WING SIZE FOR WING FOIL?
The four front wing sizes of the SROKA S-Foil have been designed in an interchangeable way for a plurality of uses allowing to sail in Wing Foil and to practice other disciplines always according to the level of each practitioner and the conditions:
- S-Foil XXL 2000: Beginner (85Kg+) in all conditions, intermediate in light wind (12nds and less)
- S-Foil XL 1750: Beginner (70Kg+) in all conditions, intermediate in light wind (12 knots and less)
- S-Foil L 1500: Beginner (50Kg+) in all conditions, intermediate in light winds (12 knots and less)
- S-Foil M 1250 : Intermediate to expert level, 15 knots of wind and more, ideal for foiling
- S-Foil High Aspect 1190 Speed : intermediate to expert level in 15nds and more – wing, kite and wind, all sizes
- S-Foil High Aspect 1190 Lift : intermediate to expert level from 10/12nds – wing, surf and wake, all sizes
WHAT SIZE BOARD TO USE FOR WING FOIL?
It is important to have a board that is stable enough for your size and level to start Wing Foil in the best conditions. Beware of miniaturisation: it is very difficult and frustrating to start with small equipment, even if you have a good level in board sports. Board sizes such as 5’8 and 6’3 will be ideal for beginners, although a 50 or 60kg person looking for an evolving board can consider a 5’5… but not below.
Our Sky Rider range is available in 7 sizes, 5’4, 5’5, 5’7, 5’8, 6’0, and two 6’3 (made in France for the 5’5, 5’8 and 6’3). Inflatable models also have their advantages (available in 5’3, 6′ and 6’4 for the V2 version and V1 version in promotion here, within the limit of available stocks): shock resistant, kind to the knees, stable and easy to transport, while keeping great sliding sensations thanks to a carbon plate. Find our complete article on inflatable boards here.
BRUNO SROKA’S OPINION ON WING FOILWing Foil is a free-ride sport where you maximize the pleasure by minimizing the equipment. Easy to prepare, it is pure pleasure. You don’t look for speed or height, but the feeling of gliding on the water and the wind swell, alone or with friends without any headaches. It is a 100% fun sport that is made for those who want to have a smile on their face all the time on the water.
My advice :
- Start on a flat water, sheltered from the swell, and never with an onshore wind
- Pay attention to other sailors. As time goes by, you will go upwind and downwind more and more, with the wing sometimes, you have a loss of visibility so make sure there is nobody downwind when you start surfing the waves
- Start with a large front wing, it is more stable, a bit slower and allows you to fly in lighter wind conditions quickly and without getting hurt
- Choose your equipment correctly. It’s best to invest in a 4m kite and foil with two choices of front kite to optimise the wind range and make good savings