Pics: Oli Lane-Pierce
With breezy season now in full affect, and winds puffing across UK waters, autumn’s a prime time for learning something from the windy end of SUP’s spectrum. You could choose windSUP or even windsurfing – making use of the applicable McConks toys in our web shop. Alternatively, you may be drawn to these wing wang thingies that have everyone talking.
If you’re not aware then wings are a simple, hassle free way to make use of gusty days when a paddle just won’t cut the mustard. Assembled in minutes they fill with air as per your inflatable stand up paddle board and are ready to go quick smart. Then it’s a case of either going afloat with your wing and regular SUP or grabbing a foil board and taking to the air. In either situation the technique for getting up on your feet is the same. Here’s a run through of what you should be doing.
Flipping your wing.
Once you’re in deep enough water (how much will depend on whether you’re riding a board with hydrofoil attached or a regular SUP) you’ll need to flip the wing so the inflatable bladders rest on top of the water. To actually flip the Go Fly wing you need to get hold of one wingtip and rotate the wing away from where the wind’s coming from. This may take a bit of getting used to.
Getting ready to fly the wing.
You should have the wind on your back, then your board in front of you with the Go Fly wing lying on the downwind side of your platform. You can leave the wing to float whilst you get sorted although we prefer having the wing close to us and not having to reel it in with the wrist leash. Either way, your board (at least initially) should have enough float (volume and width) to allow you to get comfortable on your knees whilst you get sorted.
Climbing onboard and readying yourself.
Our method has the wing lying right on the rail of the board or sometimes even resting on the deck. Clamber up onto your SUP whilst keeping hold of the leading edge bladder for additional stability. As you improve you can keep hold of the wing‘s leading edge handle whilst you get in position.
Getting to your knees and flying the wing.
Once you’re stable the next thing is to kneel, looking in your direction of travel and fly the wing. Lift the wing above your head with the wing‘s leading edge handle. You can then reach down the middle strut with your backhand and take hold of a handle here. Pull in slightly with the back hand to gain some momentum. With forwards propulsion move your front hand to one of the middle strut handles and your back hand further back to find the wing‘s balance point.
The next bit can be tricky but will come with practice. Quickly shift from kneeling with your front leg to having your foot firmly on the board’s deck. A bit of shuffling may be needed to find the optimum position. Keep the wing high but powred by tugging with your back hand. Then in one swift movement shift all your weight onto the front leg and tuck your back leg up to bring your whole self to standing. Maintain a forward looking head and avoid feet gazing. Also, don’t lean outboard, instead try and maintain forward momentum and power in the wing. If you’re on a SUP then now’s the time to look upwind and where you want to go whilst weighting (slightly) the board’s windward rail to edge upwind.
Stand aloft and wing away.
Keep on tracking in the direction travel, heading upwind until you’re ready to turn around.
Time to wingfoil – turn slightly downwind first.
If you’re on a board with a hydrofoil then the next step is getting to ride height. Depending on the strength of the wind will determine how much effort you’ll need to exert for this next part. If it’s light then you’ll need to pump harder. If it’s breezier then not so much.
Turn your board slightly away from the wind (downwind) a little. You do this by simply looking where you want to go. If there’s any kind of chop in the mix then aim to go with it also.
Pumping your wing and board onto foil.
In tandem, whilst keeping the wing high, pull down on the wing‘s handles and pumping up and down with your legs. You should be aiming to weight and unweight the board thereby allowing the foil to release. This needs to be timed with your wing pumping. Keep pointed away from the wind and use any chop or swell (if available) to aid speed and therefore lift.
Foiling lift off!
As the foil begins to lift transfer your weight to a front foot bias stance. Offsetting your feet can help when up and foiling. Keep an eye on the water state and sustaining an efficient ride height (but don’t gaze down) – not too high and not too low. If you over foil (cavitate) then kick the board and foil away from and accept your dunking. It’s then a case of beginning the whole process again.
A few notes on winging.
If you’re planning on riding McConks’ Go Fly wing on a SUP, and not foiling, then it’s worth using a board with a big fin and/or a centrally located type, such as a daggerboard, to aid upwind performance. This will help avoid the ‘walk of shame’ after you’ve drifted downwind.
Leashes, for both wing (a wrist leash) and board (surf, coiled or waist) are a must! There’re no hard and fast rules when it comes to leashes and what type you use. But definitely use them.
If learning to wing foil then do so away from others. Control at this point will be limited and you don’t want to hit anyone. Also, consider a buoyancy aid and/or impact vest and helmet. The rider in these pics has extensive foiling experience, although this doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong. They often can and do.