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Hydrofoils: the differences between high aspect and low aspect for wing foiling.

Hydrofoils (foils) come in all shapes and sizes and fit many types of flight disciplines. Some cover all the bases whilst others are targeted towards specific styles of foiling. It can appear confusing to those getting involved for the first time, with many combos of different length fuselages, foil masts, stabiliser wing sizes and types and front wings.

Further into foiling, you’ll probably start looking at all the techy bits and wanting to experiment with each component part (mast length, stabiliser type, fuselage length and so on). For this article, and the beginning of your foiling journey, it’s the front wing we’ll be focusing on.

Wing foiling with a low aspect foil wing and the McConks Go Fly wing.

Low aspect hydrofoils.

When learning to fly you’ll be wanting two main things: early take off and stable flight. Both elements will see you progress rapidly. To achieve both, however, the best course of action is to choose a low aspect hydrofoil wing. These are the foils that appear most shovel-like. They’ll be faiuly wide (span) with a ong chord (nose to tail). And they’re usually quite thick at the leading edge. In the video below we’re using a low aspect front foil for winging.

Low aspect hydrofoils are often referred to as surf wings. That’s because they’re a tad slower than higher aspects and designed to stay in contact with the wave (rather than outrun it) when surf foiling. They also provide tons of power and lift resulting in as early take off as possible – which is why they’re good to learn how to wing foil with.

In addition, low aspect wings are often quite carvey, designed to swoop and turn as you would when surfing conventionally.

For wingsurfing low aspect foils are a good choice, as we’ve said. These wings are low power ‘engines’ without the efficiency of a rigid power source like a windsurf sail for instance. As such using your wing in partnership with a low aspect foil will result in airborne fun quicker than if using a high aspect foil – at least during those initial steps.

The rail to rail stability of low aspect hydrofoil wings also allows riders to get comfortable once at altitude and hopefully progress to nailing those first gybes. If you actually want to progress your winging to surfing, where you use the wing to tow into swells, flagging the wing behind you once on a wave, then a low aspect foil could also be the best choice at first.

High aspect foils.

Generally, high aspect foils are the exact opposite of low aspect types. They’re much thinner, have a narrower chord, display much wider span (relative to their overall size), need more power to lift and are faster with additional technicalities.

As such any wing foiler’s skills need to be much more refined. But, once flying on a high aspect foil the stoke factor can be through the roof, such is the speed you get vs the actual true wind strength. More importantly the additional glide of a high aspect foil is tangible!

Any winger switching from low aspect to high will struggle to go back, such are the benefits. Hydrofoil brands have been beavering away at the design table trying to get high aspect foils as user friendly as possible in recent times – and it’s getting there. You can still use a high aspect foil for things like surfing, but you’ll need a bit more experience to get the most out of it.

Where this type of foil really comes into its own is if you’re planning to jump. You can, of course, boost a low aspect, but the additional speed of a high aspect foil will usually see wingers getting much more sky time. Particularly the small wings. There are super wide, seemingly ginormous, high aspect foil wings available these days. They’re not conducive to jumping.

What they do offer, however, is extremely effective pumping (which can help when light wind winging) and superb glide. They’re great tools for any rider who wants to make use of sub-12knot breeze.

Mid-aspect hydrofoils.

As much as you can split foil types into high and low aspect you can also split these categories down further by describing some hybrid designs as mi-aspect. Mid aspect hydrofoils have gained in popularity recently. Many brands now produce this type of foil wing as the perfect bridge between high and low aspect designs.

Mid-aspect foils aim for the best of both worlds. It’s not quite as cut and dry – in terms of actual performance product for product – as that but for the purposes of this article, we’ll keep things simple. Some mid-aspect foil wings target the lower end of the wind spectrum whilst some those stronger breezes. Ultimately, whatever type of foil you’re looking at you should have an idea where its plus points lie and what you’re likely to find when using it. There’s often a comprise somewhere along the line.

Research is key with any new purchase (whether watersports equipment related or not). Look up details online, scan the web for reviews (although don’t put 100% of your faith in these as sometimes reviews can be biased one way or the other). Talk to your hydrofoil retailer or brand in question who should be clued up. Ultimately get as much knowledge about foils and foiling as you can if you intend taking the leap and getting involved or want o upgrade your original setup.

McConks doesn’t deal with foiling equipment per se. Although we’ve dabbled and do know quite a bit about flying above water. We do also supply a limited number of wing SUP boards which you can find here. These are great when you’re learning that initial wing handling skills. If you have any queries about hydrofoiling then feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer your question(s).

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