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Getting started with Wing Foiling

With the days getting longer and the temperature slowly rising, this can only mean one thing - Summer is on the way! The Summer months here in Squamish, BC, bring an afternoon inflow breeze of 15 to 20knots and near perfect conditions for wing foiling! At SUP & Foil, we thought that this is the perfect time to share our suggestions on how to pick the right gear to get on the water and start wing foiling.

 

There are three components to think about: a board, a foil and a wing. For someone new to wing foiling the basic premise in all three areas is that slightly bigger is probably better. Let’s jump in and take a look at each of the components:

The board: Size and volume

The board connects to the foil and will ultimately be out of the water. In order for the board to leave the water and for you to be up on foil, the board needs to be a stable platform for you to climb onto, kneel on and then stand up. This is all done in wind chop or swell while holding a wing in your hands therefore a stable platform that supports your weight is really important. There is nothing more frustrating than constantly falling or sliding off a board with too little volume to float and comfortably support you.

 

‘How much volume do I need?’ The simple answer is, take your body weight in kilograms and then add about 30 to 40. So for example if you weigh 85kg or about 190lbs you would look for a board of 85 +30-40 = 115 to 125L. If you weigh 130lbs or about 60kg you would look for a board of about 90 to 100L. If where you will be foiling is relatively flat water then you can go with something in the lower end of the range and if it’s choppy or has ocean swell then go with something in the higher end of the range. Also consider your balance and spatial awareness skills when thinking about the volume of the board. Someone with good balance and spatial awareness can err on the side of a smaller board.

Board: Takuma TK Carbon Foil Board

The other thing to consider when thinking about a board is the design. Foil board designs have progressed rapidly in the past couple of years and we are lucky that the new boards are much more user friendly. Look for a board that has a double concave bottom and that is shorter in length. The double concave shape releases quicker as you accelerate to help get up on foil easier and it also sticks less when you touch down. This allows you to get on foil quicker and stay there longer. The benefit of a shorter board is that it has a lower swing weight than a comparable longer board. This makes it easier to pump and to change direction as a result of a short pivot length.

The foil: Surface area translates to lift

Foils are evolving and they just keep getting better. While better is a tricky word to define, in general terms, the foils on the market today give more lift, are more maneuverable and have better glide than the foils of a couple of years ago. All of this is great news for someone starting to foil! For wing foiling you want to develop lift in a consistent manner and be able to have controlled and predictable maneuverability. This means that a foil with more surface area is likely to be better at providing you with the lift needed to get up on foil. In simple terms surface area translates to lift.

Selection of Takuma Foil packs

‘What foils size works for what body weight?’ There are different shapes of foils that have different strengths, for example a high aspect foil is great for pumping while a gull wing foil will be stable at speed. Putting aside the various shapes here are the wing sizes that we suggest for a range of body weights:

60-70kg: 13-1600cm2 or the Kujira 980

70-80kg: 16-1900cm2 or the Kujira 1210

80-90kg: 18-2000cm2 or the Kujira 1440

90kg plus: 2000cm2 or the Helium 1500

Remember that these are based on a beginner who is wing foiling. If you are learning to tow foil you will need a smaller foil set and if you are learning to downwind foil then a slightly larger wing set will help.

 

The wing: Generating power for speed

The wing is the motor that creates the power to generate speed so that the foil can generate lift. Once you are up on foil the wing acts to provide power so that you can stay on foil, change direction and get onto bumps. For this reason it’s important to select a wing that will provide enough power to generate the speed to get up on foil.

Wings: Takuma Wing Ride III

Assuming that where you are foiling the wind speed is relatively constant, we suggest the following wing sizes:

Body Weight

15-20kts

20-25kts

25kts plus

60-70kg

4-5

4

3

70-80kg

5

4-5

4

80-90kg

5-6

5

4-5

90kg plus

6

5-6

5

 

‘What is the ideal wind speed for learning?’ We find the most success with beginners comes when the wind is in the low 20 knot range. That is also the reason why the above chart starts at 15kts!

Around 20knots allows for the strength of the wind to provide sufficient power so that getting up on foil comes naturally with some guidance and some perseverance. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of your first on foil experience with a wing - it’s a sensation you just have to experience!

Wings: NSP Airwing

‘Pride in your fly’

One last thought on gear. In the bike business there is a saying: “pride in your ride!” Wing foiling is super fun and super addictive and if you are going to invest the time and money then you owe it to yourself to get a set up that - when you see it in your garage or on the beach - you get excited about!

We have a great range of foiling gear from established and innovative brands like NSP, Takuma and ONE. Get in touch if you have questions on gear. Stock is limited and like most outdoor sports during Covid-19 demand is greater than supply so there is no better time than now to get your gear sorted. Plus, Summer is on the way!

Image source: Takuma Concept

If you'd like to find out more, get in touch with the SUP&Foil Team on sales@blackfishpaddles.com or call us at 604-653-7610