Wingfoiling Progression

General discussions about wingfoiling: equipment, tips, problems, where to go, where you should have been, pump safety.
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superdave
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Wingfoiling Progression

Post by superdave »

Hey wind junkies, I wanted to start a thread on wingfoiling progression. There is quite a bit of relevant information in the original wingfoiling thread, but it's pretty expansive now. I think it would be useful to discuss gear and technique relevant to our local conditions. I'm new to foiling, but not to the ocean and have been fortunate to learn this new sport close to its beginning.

I started in May 2020 on the 7'6" 135L Foil SUP in the video below (about 35L over my wet weight) and generally needed close to 25 knots to get on foil with a 4 m wing. I liked the overall performance of the board for it's tracking and ease when trying to get on foil and stability on foil - particularly turning. These characteristics allowed me to get more time on the water than something smaller (smaller boards are more lively to ride, but are less forgiving in transitions and take a fair bit more skill to get going). Since the video, I've gone to a waist leash for my board, longer foil mast (32.5" vs 27.5") and higher performance (lighter/shorter) board with similar volume (Armstrong 6'6" by 30" at 132L). That said, the only thing that would have assisted my learning is a waist leash which is just easier to manage and impossible to step on or get between your toes. Plus, you can attach your wing leash to the waist to paddle out from the beach in onshore or side onshore conditions which can be difficult with a leash on your wrist. The falls and feeling of height of a 27.5" mast were everything I could handle at the beginning, but the longer mast is an asset when the swell riding starts. Still loving my Ozone 4 m which has a useful range of about 18 to 35 kts now that I have more skill. Also loving my GoFoil Maliko 200 front wing which is such a good bump hunter for me and finds the right energy to tap. Going to change up the tail wing from the Maliko to the Kai as sometimes my foil is too draggy for the really fast swell. There is a ton to learn about this new sport and discussion can only speed up the curve.

https://youtu.be/_zBb4iLXtME
Last edited by superdave on Mon Jan 04, 2021 6:21 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Post by winddoctor »

Great idea, Dave!

I'm still waiting for an 85cm mast and smaller front foil and find the 72cm mast too short much of the time especially at higher speed in swell or steep chop. The 1850 front wing is surprisingly rangey and fast though and is amazing for downwind runs. I overfoil a lot even now on the 72cm mast which gets pretty frustrating. The extra height buffer for surfing waves or transitioning would be super helpful. I'm happy that I bought gear that I'm still growing into as the learning curve is steep. I agree that initially you want something more forgiving for volume in a board before you step down to something closer to or even less than your weight, especially if foiling is new to you. For the doubters out there; remember Kauli Seadi? One of the world's best windsurfers? He's jumped in fully to winging and is doing amazing things as expected. The sensations you get from a good RB, Clover, CB or IV session are equal to a great Oregon coast session on wave gear minus the smacks/bashes of course. Looks are very deceiving when it comes to winging.
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Post by juandesooka »

Board: I started on 7.6, moved to 6.10 sup foil (115L), and built a copy of 5' sky board (70ishL). I haven't used the 5' enough to feel super confident, so I have reverted back to 6.10. The difference being on my 5' I need lots of wind, high end for whatever wing I am on, and I spend the entire session trying not to fall off due to fear of having to water start again. The small board feels good, but not good enough ... quite frankly the 6.10 works plenty fine for what I am capable of and want to do atm. I suspect the race to the tiniest boards possible may be a bit of a mug's game...especially around here with inconsistent conditions, mega chop, and 20lbs of neoprene.

Foil: I have experimented with varying wings in the gofoil line but kept reverting back to the Maliko200 (1900cm2), as it is just so easy and stable and fun. Even though all the cool kids now say the big older low aspect wings are lame. But over xmas I got the NL line ("next level") and my first two sessions have been pretty amazing ... both faster and turnier but still stable. I think it may be a winner, I don't think I'll be going back.

Wings: have stopped on the ozone wasp 4m/6m combo and still really happy with them. 6m down to maybe 12kt. 4m fantastic in 20+, have had it out in 40+, which was a bit much, but doable. I am seeking a 2.5-3m for the high wind days, as it is seeming unlikely that I'll be kiting in 40+ any more. Unless a killer deal comes along, waiting to see what Ocean Rodeo's wing line will look like. Alulla offers a lot of potential for stronger frame with a lot less material, lighter and less bulky.

Finally foiling "performance"...agree with winddoc in that the catch phrase is "it's a lot more fun than it looks". Whether kite, wind, wing, sup, or surf foil, it seems to add some jolt of excitement that feels amazing....even if you see video of yourself later and it's not quite the radness you imagined. :-)
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Post by UnusuallyLargeRobin »

I think I was the 1st (?) person on the Island to have a wing in August of 2019. It was the only "production" wing available at the time, in very limited amount and in big demand, a Naish 4.0m. I coupled that with my existing 6'6", 116 lt - Blue Planet SUP Foil board and BP Easy Foiler foil (1750cm2 projected area). The board was big and easy like riding a cadillac, the foil was big and easy and slow - a good thing when starting out in a strange new world. The wing was originally marketed as the "only size necessary", and it did have a large wind range but it made it difficult to get going/flying if you were beginner and weren't a 150 lb'r in Maui winds. I quickly found out as a newbie you needed more wind (like 20+kn) to offset all the mistakes and inefficiency a new winger brings to the game. Of course, all that extra wind tended to work against you once you got flying for the first times and then had to try to make all the combined components of wing,board, and foil work! I've used a waist reel leash for the board since day one and highly recommend to all. So since then I've progressed to v2 Naish wings, a 5.3m and 3.6m which are fulfilling my expectations so far and I've no complaints. I've gone to a 5'0 x 23" Fanatic Sky Wing 75 ltr board, started using front straps. My foil of choice is now the Axis S1000 (1310 cm2), 370 tail wing,short fuselage, 90cm mast foil setup. The biggest shift was the board, requiring fast competent knee starts, and some wind (10kn) to get to knees or flounder around trying to get on the board! If the wind drops I'm sitting on it or paddling it, I can't stand/balance without some amount of wing pressure, so a sub body weight board might not be desirable for some or most people. Sometimes I have to paddle out to wind or paddle in to shore for lack of wind to stand and make my way out or back. The foils i moved to were higher aspect, thinner and faster than my original BP foils, again probably not the easiest to begin on. I wouldn't go back from any of my "progression" steps, they have all resulted in even more excitement and addiction to the sport. I consider myself now an intermediate(?), with many goals yet to master.

I agree with others here that a "bigger" board with some width (27-30"), some length (5'10 - 7'), and volume of 20-40 litres greater than body weight (with rubber don't forget) makes for a good "beginner" wingfoil board. Yes, you may out grow it at some point (or not) and may be tempted to the smaller more friskier boards.
For around here the wings most used tend to be 4-6m, with a 5m being a good single wing for most. All the majors offer good choices.
Foils have become a nightmare to try and decipher all of the variations and combinations. Do a lot of reading/research and try to fit your desired style and budget. If they're older lower aspect/surf foils, aim for 1700-2000cm2 for a 1st front foil for average 175lb'r. Definitely an advantage to have a long mast (85+cm) if you're in any waves, swell or big chop.
It's early days and equipment development tends to go to the extremes and then come back to a more reasonable place for most people. All of the components are undergoing rapid evolution, expect to have new "outdated" gear within a year (or months!), but even the first versions of the major brands are still loads of fun and usable by any new or advanced wingfoiler.

For many the jury is still undecided but it will be 2 years this summer since winging became a thing! Get on it! Like everyone has said, there is something about it once you try it, for me it's the flowy/surfy'ness that it brings to every session. The progression seen online by pros and amateurs is off the charts, I'm looking forward to learning and mastering all the skillz, tricks, freestyle, downwinding, waves, jumps and of course sharing the stoke with all who have become regulars at the local RBFC or other locations! Woohoo!
Me: 85kg(187lbs)
FoilBoards: Fanatic 5'0 SkyWing(75lt); 6'6 BP(116lt); WindSurf: Tabou Pocket Wave (80lt)
Wings: Naish S25 5.3m, 3.6m; Sails: NP Combats
Foils: Axis 1000(1310cm2)/370 rear/short fuse/90cm mast; NP GlideSurf L(1486cm2); BP L(1750cm2)
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Post by superdave »

Some great information coming out of this - thanks. Superdave's top 10 wing foiling tips for maximum success as a beginner (from a beginner who knew only some of this…in the beginning).

1. Go with a big enough board (probably 20 -40L over your weight in KGs) or accept your learning curve will be slower unless you already have foil experience. In Ross Bay, you need to manage turbulent wind in the shadow of Clover on most westerly days until you are far enough out. When you do get out on a windy day (which is what you’ll need), the swell can make getting up on your board and riding a challenge. At Cook St. the wind is often ‘lifty’ which is great for kites, but not so much for wings close to the surface with minimal ability to generate apparent wind off foil. At Willows and Island View you will likely be starting in rough water onshore conditions and the volume is a big plus to get up and going before being blown back onto the beach.

2. Go with a big enough foil and wing (bigger foils are slow, stable and pick up ocean energy well for swell or small wave riding). There are many different designs, each with pros and cons - “low performance” is perfect for ‘learning and turning’ and is still super fun on swells.

3. Learn where to put your foil in the track. Kane de Wilde (kdmaui) suggests a good initial setup is to turn your board upside down and balance the foil about 1/3 of the front wing chord length back from the leading edge. I use my hand like a karate chop from the underside of the foil to lift the board. Move the mast in the box until it the board is horizontal to the ground when lifted and fine tune with water time. For higher aspect wings go about 1/2 the chord length from the leading edge of the foil front wing. A correctly positioned foil makes a huge difference in getting flying and maintaining control.

4. Figure out where your feet will go and mark the position or have some other reference so it’s easy to get back to your base – rear foot roughly over front edge of mast, comfortable stance. I found having my front toes just over the board centerline and my rear foot at centerline or beyond works best. My board has an adjustable arch pad, but you can make your own https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymsHMiQpjS8

5. Learn how to carry your gear on the beach and in and out of the water- shore break is challenging (I’m still working on this).

6. Consider a waist leash for your board. Your leashes will get tangled. Foot leashes get tangled in the foil and your feet if you move around a lot. If you wear an ankle leash, make sure it’s loose enough to rotate or it usually ends up pointing forward after a big crash off the back of the board and can be difficult to sort when you’re up and riding (which is usually when you recognize things aren’t right).

7. Stand like a ‘7’, shoulders back hips forward (not sitting in a poo stance), straighten your front leg more than your rear and open your front hip to the wind. This is super important for progression, going upwind…and style.

8. Keep your front hand high (think flag pole).

9. Practice on land with the wing. Basic wing handling as well as jibes, tacks, pumping and luffing can all be done on the beach or a skateboard or one wheel or...

10. Watch what others are doing at the beach and in videos!
Last edited by superdave on Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by grantmac »

I'm ~10 sessions in.

1) learn the wing with a skateboard and the foil behind a boat if possible. I did the skateboard part but haven't gotten behind a boat yet and I know I'd have progressed better if I had.
I had 3 years of windfoiling under my belt and still this thing is kicking my butt because the foil is so very different.
I will likely try the boat this summer.

2) I started with an inflatable board and no regrets on construction. I probably should have grabbed the next size up though. Its 20L above my bare weight but extremely short which makes for challenging times.

3) I opted for durable wings acquired second hand. I figured I can use these until the designs have shaken down. My only regret is that my quiver is rather closely spaced (5 and 6m Wasp). I suspect in the summer I'll need only the 5m.

4) although it takes some looking there are a few flat water spots around. Most notably Esquimalt Lagoon, the inside at Pipers and Sooke Harbor. Spending time there makes for a lot less frustration to start with. I'm still regularly struggling with just getting up on the board when things get choppy.

5) I'm still feeling pretty inefficient but its getting better on my strong side. I just can't seem to figure out what I'm doing on that side which is so much better than the weak side. Also sometimes I pump very little with just moderate sail power then I'm flying and other times it feels like I've got lots of power but just can't get flying. This happens counterintuitively when I'm running with the swell.

6) leash management is a new and annoying skill to learn. It got much easier when I attached both to my vest.

7) I'm still carving harder with my windfoil but I think that's a confidence thing and I haven't been able to explore toe side yet. I can slow down more on the wing and still accelerate out of it though. The wing feels hugely loaded up and tiring upwind without that slippery efficient feeling of windfoiling. I'm very tempted to try a harness or something, my sessions are largely limited by shoulder fatigue as is my upwind angle.
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Post by winddoctor »

Shorebreak sucks, especially with an ankle leash desperately trying to hog tie your foil, feet, and other appendages together before your foil gets in on the action and tries to to stab you and/or your wing repeatedly. CB is great for practicing this scenario. My record so far is two canopy stabs in 15 seconds while wrapped in my leashes like some helpless, egyptian mummy. A beer to whomever can beat my best score.

At all cost keep your wing away from the stabby thing. It always loses the fight.

Ask Paul Betts for a "rewards punch card" for wing repairs. You get a free coffee after your third wing repair :lol: .

Hang onto the wing when you overfoil and crash; you can often glide down softly. Letting go of your wing will tempt it to engage in another fight with your now upturned foil. Your wing will lose. Again.

Use the middle handles (middle of strut) in lighter air for pumping more efficiently. You'll get a bigger amplitude stroke. Shove your feet down and forward as you pull the wing down and back slightly in a coordinated fashion. It's amazing how little wind you can get going in with this method. I figure an honest 12-13 knots is my threshold on a 5m wing with 1850 foil using this technique at 200 pounds plus wetsuit.

Don't pass Gmac upwind too closely as you're overcome in a fit of giggles, only to suddenly overfoil and nearly kill your fellow 'dinger.

Use your lats more than your shoulders when possible riding upwind. This will feel like it does sitting in front of a table while pressing the palms down onto the surface. Lats are much stronger than shoulders.
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Post by UnusuallyLargeRobin »

Preparation Basics:
1. Always unroll your wing out so there are no folds or twists on leading edge strut (bladders) before pumping it up. You can cause the bladder to overpressure and pop if crimped while pumping up
2. Always tether the wing to your pump leash while pumping up. Once inflated, taking a break, or doing something else, tether the wing downwind of your foil/board and clear of any pokey sticks or other debris. The wing will playfully seek out anything it can to poke and rip itself with! Untethered wings are a guaranteed repair bill.
2b. Ready to go out? Gear safety check. Leashes are all good, strong and attached? Foil parts are all firmly attached not wiggling anywhere? Helmet? Impact vest/pfd?
3. When you're ready to head out, have your board leash and wing leash attached to yourself prior to water entry. The last thing you want to be doing is screwing around trying to attach leashes in shorebreak! Always carry your gear into the water with the wing downwind of the board+foil, ideally foil is pointing upwind or down towards ground as the wing will try to find the pointy bits. Bottom board handles allow you to easily hold the board with the foil pointing upwind while carrying. If you don't have a bottom handle you can grab the mast near the base with the board on edge and tucked up under your arm.
I usually have the wing in my downwind hand, attached to my wing+wrist leash, then myself between wing and board which is in my upwind hand or on my upwind shoulder. Always watch for incoming waves/shorebreak that may cause your board to tumble on to your wing if you are caught unaware and not braced for it.
4. Try to get to deep enough water immediately to get your foil submerged (without grounding) and less likely to stab your wing. If it's rough and hard to carry or control the board to get it out far enough, I flip the board onto it's top (foil pointing up) and holding onto the base of the mast for control, walk the gear out to chest/neck deep before flipping board back to normal.
5. If it's rough shorebreak and onshore winds, I'll prone paddle my gear out 20m further. If you try to get going with strong onshore waves/wind in chest/neck deep, it will push you back towards shore, potentially grounding your very expensive foil before you can get on your board and get going offshore.
Last edited by UnusuallyLargeRobin on Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
Me: 85kg(187lbs)
FoilBoards: Fanatic 5'0 SkyWing(75lt); 6'6 BP(116lt); WindSurf: Tabou Pocket Wave (80lt)
Wings: Naish S25 5.3m, 3.6m; Sails: NP Combats
Foils: Axis 1000(1310cm2)/370 rear/short fuse/90cm mast; NP GlideSurf L(1486cm2); BP L(1750cm2)
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Post by juandesooka »

Additional thoughts on above:

Winddoc says "Hang onto the wing when you overfoil and crash". agree but be careful. I had my wing death gripped on a full speed wipeout and upon slamming I bent my wrist back hard ... still hurts 2-3 months later, possible sprain, possible break.

Wear a helmet: a lot hard bits to knock your noggin. BUT: repeated high speed wipeouts with large surface area, I am now a believer in the bucket effect....whiplash and concussions. I am now using a bump cap under my hood, less protection but also less injury, middle ground solution hopefully.

Carrying board in and out of water: a handle on bottom of board is absolute gold. Once you try it, you'll never want to go back.

ULR: agree about paddling your board out 20m past shorebreak. Then add 20m more to be safe. Being just short when the set comes will be a disaster for you and your gear. I am loving this winging overall, but the shorebreak thing is the worst ... kiting you can body drag, surfing you can duck dive, winging you are half helpless and once you get knocked off your board you are floundering 100% helpless.
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Post by TonyT1000 »

Interesting to read everyone's input. Unfortunately haven't touched the wing since late July as it really flamed up some elbow tendinitis (different cause) but confident I will be back out there this spring/summer after a solid winter of rehab.

I had a handful of midsummer sessions out in RB and started figuring it out a bit (minus the turns) before having to pack it in cos of the elbow. I'm still definitely wingflailer/wingdinger skill category so take my limited input with a grain of salt:

1. Agreed on the board size recommendations. I started out on a Naish Hover 95L board (20L above my weight) which felt small/hard at first esp starting out in the bigger swell but was the right call. It'll keep me happy for a good while yet.

2. I found that as a noob with zero prior foil experience I needed a decent ~20kn of wind to get going with my 4m wing and ~1500cm2 NP GlideSurf foil. I look forward to learning to "finesse" up onto the foil at lower wind speeds rather than "muscling" it which was exhausting. Foot placement consistency still an issue.

3. ULR recommended I invest right away in a second longer 82cm mast and boy was that ever good advice. Helped hugely in larger swell days out there once I figured out how to get going.

4. I remember drooling at ULR's waist reel leash last summer. The ankle & wrist leashes are a PITA. Can anyone recommend a good reel leash to buy?

5. The mandatory RB walks of shame at the start totally sucked/hurt until I figured out how to carry the damn equipment. They they just sucked.

6. I was a dumbass as usual and just thrashed myself out there for too long on most days while learning. This really pissed off my elbow. Better to start with shorter sessions and/or take more breaks. Your body will thank you later.

7. My first day getting going on the foil came with a couple of nasty wipeouts where the board flipped sideways and I landed right on the side of the board with the ribs. Not fun. Impact vest/PFD and helmet a good idea esp when learning.

8. It was fun meeting and learning from the RBFC crew last summer. Appreciated their advice and thoughts. Esp ULR and Superdave.
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Post by JillL »

TonyT1000: great to hear learning curve feedback from someone who doesn't have much foil experience. I've been curious about that, since almost everyone else I've chatted with has moderate-advanced kite/windsurf foiling skills. Especially when it comes to crashing properly, speed/angle control, etc. I've just got to the point of riding on foil (once I got to that point my past foiling muscle memory kicked in) and making the odd gybe (not quite foiling through though). I found the tendonitis and muscle fatigue brutal for a few days, then suddenly non-existent as I was able to relax more and work the foil rather than the wing.
Cool hearing different perspectives!
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Post by ootwest »

Thanks for all the hints! I picked up a 6m WASP over the summer to play with on the SUP.

Trying to source board and foil (never foiled before, WS non-foil in the past). Anyone on VI have a 'learner' foil set they're done with? Looking I think for 2000cm^2 to get going, and try some flat water pumping ;)
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Make sure you head directly to the largest kelp patch you can find. It really helps you develop your swear game,
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Post by Mrnorthsouth »

Ok, so after 2 hours yesterday my arms were toast. I am thinking of getting a waist harness to ease the load and be able to crank upwind more so I can do more downwind runs without worrying about losing too much ground. I am working on riding switch on land and will be practicing that more too. I am looking at the Mystic star as per Mackite recommendation but will have to ditch my current pfd and get a harness specific impact vest. I currently attach my board leash to the back and wing leash to the front but can go back to wrist if need be. Obviously I worry about dinging the board, being able to rotate when climbing on and paddling out etc. Is anyone else thinking the same thing? Do you think there will be a wing specific harness in the near future that allows the spread bar hook to slide back and forth?
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Post by grantmac »

I am also tempted by a harness. I find myself wanting to crank hard upwind but getting worn out doing it. The gear seems to have great angles if I can just hold onto it.
My vest is an old Dakine with integrated harness. I just need to find a bar that would work.

I'm sure the crashes hooked it will be spectacular as well.
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