We’re stoked with the latest batch of McConks Go Fly wingsurfing wings as the product’s evolved in terms of design just as with the sport itself. There’s no question wings to fly are still catching people’s attention and with more and more riders hearing the call McConks’s Go Fly had to evolve in tandem. So for the new autumn season we’re now offering a range of Go Fly sizes coming in 1.5m (aimed at kids and smaller stature riders or for super windy conditions), plus a 4m, 5m and 6m.
In terms of optimisations each inflated leading edge strut has been configured for its individual square metre size to ensure the aerodynamic properties of each Go Fly is as efficient as possible. The main canopy is attached to the centre strut increasing rigidity and better air flow, which also increases efficiency – especially during pumping if you’re looking to get onto foil.
The beady eyed will have also spotted we’ve got rid of the windows. We appreciate the jury’s out on this but ultimately by not having them means more longevity for the wing – as wing windows can wear down – plus additional canopy rigidity. Having had the McConks Go Fly 5m wing on test extensively this summer it’s deemed that because riders can raise the wing above his/her head this gives a better field of vision than trying to peer through a wing window that’s usually covered in water and debris anyway.
So, whether you plan on wing foiling, wing SUPing or winging on land (which is a thing) get in touch to bag your own Go Fly wingsurfing wing for those blowy days this autumn. Likewise, if you have any questions about winging give us a shout.
When wings exploded onto the scene (proper) in 2019 there was a lot of chat surrounding the size riders would need – specifically a 4m – and how this would be enough to harness most wind strengths whether in foil mode or non-foil mode). Anyone with experience of windsports, such as kitesurfing or windsurfing (particularly those from the real world), were sceptical. If it’s blowing 18-20knts, which was quoted by some companies as the wind band 4m wings started working in properly, then average weight windsurfers, for instance, would be looking to rig at least 6m sails. And an air filled product, such as a wing, isn’t going to be as efficient as a windsurfing sail due to it bending and contorting. A sail’s rigid mast, pre-cut shape and battens all combine to make a sail react with superior aerodynamic properties.
And so it comes to pass…With the start of 2020’s summer season (COVID aside) most brands touting 4m wings as the one product you need in your life have altered their message slightly and launched multiple sizes from around 3m with some companies offering up to 8m.
Having had extensive experience of wingsurfing McConks, and those who’ve helped by supplying feedback during the Go Fly prototyping process, all concur that wing sizes are more or less comparable to windsurfing sail sizes vs the given wind strength. For instance, if it’s 6m windsurfing weather then you’ll most likely be needing a 6m wing.
Of course, rider skill will play a part to certain degrees. An experienced wing foiler, who has the necessary pumping technique (pumping being the up and down motion of pulling in and letting out the wing as gusts hit, as well as being able to pump the foil) may be able to drop to a 5m in the same wind strength and possibly less over time. Lighter weight riders will likely be using smaller again. But it’s all relative; wings need power!
The more power you have the easier wing surfing/foiling is – certainly when starting out and progressing. Having your power source not connected to the board, whilst one of the benefits of winging (freedom of movement is a nice feeling), there’s nothing other than the wind to support riders whilst being propelled along. In light airs you don’t have as much support so winging becomes very much a balancing act. Add gusty breeze and choppy waters to the mix and the whole thing can be a chore.
McConks currently supplies the Go Fly 5m wing. It has a decent wind range with a 20 ish knot starting point for 85-90kg riders using a floaty wing foil board and large winged foil. Its upper range reaches around 30 knots so there’s plenty of stronger wind performance built in. The next few weeks will see a 6m Go Fly wing arrive which we’ll be testing. This should lower the bottom end wind range as well as making for more efficient and early foiling flights. Stay tuned on this as – we’ll report findings when we can.
Wings are certainly entertaining and do open up a whole world of additional conditions for getting wet. You just have to be realistic about your wants/needs when it comes to winging and act accordingly. If you have any questions about McConks’ Go Fly 5m, or 1.5m kiddy version, then let us know.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of McConks’ Ultimate Guide to windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil here –
For some, in tandem with on water stand up paddle boarding, comes land paddling. The act of riding (usually) a longboard style skateboard with a ‘stick’ in hand is indeed part of the same sport. Much like your usual floating SUP shenanigans, land paddling uses the ‘paddle’ and ‘stroke’ to propel riders forward. It’s a good method for cross-training and keeping that stand up paddling muscle memory tuned up during off water periods.
The addition of hydrofoils and wings has seen SUP – an already super versatile activity – become even more so. Now flying through the air, above the water, is an evolution of ‘connected to water SUP’ that a good many already do and lots more are starting to get involved with.
Just as land paddling was an extension of floating stand up so wing surf skating is an extension of wing foiling. Wings have truly added an additional element to SUP which when coupled with the right board and applicable weather conditions will see much fun to be had away from the water. It’s also a great way to familiarise yourself with the wing itself and how your new windy engine needs to be manoeuvred when you eventually take it to the water. Hand placements can all be practised in this way giving a head start. It doesn’t stop there either. Pair your McConks Go Fly 5m wing with a skimboard, snowboard, skis or even ice skates, if you have ready access to these types of riding arena, and you’re covered for all eventualities weather wise.
It should be noted that wing skating isn’t quite the same as winging on water – this much should be obvious. First of all, you’re riding on Terra Firma which is hard. Should you bail there’s packed tarmac to land on that’s going to hurt a little more than splashing into water. Also, whilst your McConks wing surfing wing is robust and tough, asphalt scuffs can do damage so you’d be better, at least during first time runs, to aim for grassy areas which won’t ding as much should you drop your Go Fly wing.
If you’re keen to try a bit of wing skating then most forms of skateboard are applicable. That said a longer skateboard or specific land paddle sled, that’s a little wider , will yield best results. If you want to take things further maybe consider a mountain/all terrain board. Their bigger wheels are better for rougher ground. Although they’re usually heavier than skateboard decks so will require more power/wind in your wing to get them moving.
For those who become adept at wing skating the door’s wide open. Jumps/boosts and carving tricks are all possible. Wing surfing/wing foiling on water has barely had its surface scratched with wing skating on land even more so. Who knows what can be achieved in time…
Top tips for wing skating
- Use a longboard skateboard or land paddle specific board for better stability.
- Choose a grassy area with less rough/hard ground for your first runs.
- Avoid downhills.
- Wear a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and other protection.
- Wear appropriate footwear – land paddling and wing skating shouldn’t be done in your flip flops!
- Stay away from others, go somewhere quiet – most people won’t appreciate what you’re doing and may even be alarmed.
- Avoid fixed objects like trees, lampposts, stumps and similar.
- Don’t drag your wing across rough surfaces as you’re likely to cause damage to your Go Fly.
- Practise with just the wing first, getting some understanding of how to power up, depower and manoeuvre the Go Fly.
- Make sure you wear your wing‘s wrist leash!
For anyone who keeps a keen eye on watersports trends and fashions, 2019 was the year that wing foiling really took off (pun intended!). Although wings have been around since the 80s, and some ‘mad scientists’ have continued to use wings since back in the day, it’s only recently that wings have really captured the watersports zeitgeist. And that’s for two key reasons – a. hydrofoils and b. inflatable technology.
Early incarnations of wings were made using similar canopy material to windsurf sails, the other notable difference being the wing‘s struts which were hard, much like windsurfing masts. With improved inflatable construction and efficiency, born of the inflatable stand up paddle board industry, this tech has been implemented with wings. Inflatable wing designs are now much lighter weight, easy to pack down and transport/store and arguably easier to use on the water – whether foiling or not.
So what exactly is wing foiling?
Simply put it’s plugging a modern hydrofoil into an applicable board (usually a foil ready SUP or hybrid foil specific board). Then the rider in question will hop aboard and use their wing – held aloft – to harness the power of breeze and be propelled along. At certain speeds (usually quite low with the right type of foil) the hydrofoil‘s lift kicks in raising the rider and board above the water. As soon as this ‘release’ occurs everything turns silent and frictionless because of the lack of water contact. Wingers will be flying solely off the foil only using the board as a platform to perch and control the foil. In foiling mode manoeuvrability is greatly improved when compared to winging with a board stuck to the water. And the upwind and downwind capabilities of your equipment are far superior on foil to that of being off foil.
Having mastered the basics it’s then a choice of how to ride. Wingers can stick with those back and forth, upwind/downwind runs, possibly chucking in some foiling turns at either end. Others may have a bash at ‘moves’ such as jumping and the emerging foil style discipline – although that’s quite technical. The most popular route for wing foilers is into waves.
Using wings riders head out beyond breaking waves before turning round and heading back towards the beach to ride swells, just like in SUP foil mode. The only difference is wingers have this ‘thing’ in their hands. Having picked up a wave the trick is to luff the wing by holding onto the front strut handle with one hand, allowing it float behind the rider’s back on the breeze. This total depower and ‘forgetting’ of the wing allows foilers to use the power of each swell to keep them foiling and perform moves (at least those with skill) reminiscent of surfers (think carving), the only difference being it’s all done above water. Having completed a wave ride it’s then a case of carving board and foil round to face back out to sea, grabbing the wing simultaneously to utilise the wind’s power. This process is then repeated.
(Note: the above vid is Kai Lenny who has obviously spent considerable time honing his skills! This level of wing foiling won’t occur overnight and is simply and example of what you can do).
But is it hard to learn?
For first timers grabbing a wing and heading out their McConks inflatable SUP, without a hydrofoil, harnessing the wind and getting a feel for going back and forth is easily achievable. Riders WILL end up downwind to begin with which is to be expected. The trick is to use the board’s tail edge, by depressing it slightly, in conjunction with the wing‘s power to edge upwind.
On from that it’s then a case of learning how to foil. McConks doesn’t provide hydrofoils or foil boards (yet). A low aspect, shovel like foil (which is a touch slower and more stable), combined with a higher volume and fairly wide foil board will yield best results to start. If you can get a few tows behind a boat or jetski then this’ll give better an understanding of how the foil lifts and reacts.
Following this you may decide to test your foiling mettle in waves – just be sure NOT to go where others are when learning. SUP foiling is great fun when done in smaller, crumbly swells and will teach riders a lot about the foil’s reactivity.
With time on the water under your belt, both on foil (either behind a boat and/or in waves) and off, combined with wing wind exercises, such as learning how to change hands, you’ll be ready to pair the two in actual wingfoil mode soon enough.
There’re a few skills you’ll need to actually take off. Getting to your knees first, then powering up the wing a little will give stability and something to lean against as you pop to your feet. Once standing powering up the wing further, by sheeting in (without dipping the wing tips into the water causing a crash), will increase stability further. These are the exact movements you employ if wing riding aboard your McConks SUP without a foil. The key part next is to pump. Hopefully you’ll understand a bit about pumping from your time spent flying behind a board and/or on waves. Pumping is a case of weighting and unweighting the board to push the foil up and down thereby inducing water flow around the foil wings. Pumping the wing in tandem will also help (this is a skill you can practice on the beach and in non-foil mode also). Quick smart you’ll suddenly find the foil lifting and be flying above the water.
Written down the above sounds quite convoluted and technical – it is to a degree but not as hard as you might think if you take things step by step. For actual specific technique details check out the many videos online that’ll hopefully help. The below gives an example of how to get on foil with the McConks Go Fly 5m wing using the described technique above.
For any questions about the McConks Go Fly 5m wing get in touch.
You can read the parts of our windSUP/windsurf/wing surfing/wing foil articles by hitting the links below.
Stay tuned to the McConks blog for more about the windy side of SUP coming shortly –
One of windsurfing’s biggest issues is the weight of the rig (sail, boom, mast). Even though over the years these issues have been addressed, and lighter and lighter materials have been used, the fact remains: windsurf sails and their associated component parts are still weighty. If you then consider as a newbie windsurfer you have to pull the rig out the water, with it lying just under the surface (so therefore has additional weight on top until it drains as you lift), it’s a hassle to learn. It should be said that uphauling technique doesn’t take long to master but it’s still an obstacle to overcome – even more so for children.
A large appealing part of wings is the sheer weightlessness of them. Wingsurfing wings also sit on top of the water and float, because they’re filled with air. So straight away you have two factors which are removed, when compared to windsurfing sails, that make the breezy end of riding boards on water quicker to master. And from a kiddy wingsurfing perspective this is an even bigger win.
McConks provide kiddy 1.5m wings specifically designed with your offspring in mind. But it shows how easy they are to wield when young children can lift and wave about the McConks full size 5m version (obviously in really light airs!). The fact remains, however: if you want to get your kids into blowy board riding, and/or you yourself fancy having another option for when the breeze picks up, you’d do a lot worse than getting hold of a wingsurfing wing.
For those with ambition, and the desire to progress, there’s the wing foiling end of the discipline whereby riders fly above the water in hydrofoil mode. So, craft stuck to the water, powered by a wing, or boards flying above the sea, powered by a wing; the choice is yours. Kids and adults apply here…
For more info on wingsurfing, wingfoiling, windSUP and windsurfing check out the first two parts of this series below –
McConks Go Fly 5m wing overview
McConks 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP/windSUP/windsurf/wingsurf board over view
We’ve roped SUPM/WSUK magazine’s Tez Plavenieks in again to give us an overview of the McConks 5m Go Fly wing surfing/wing foiling wing (if you haven’t seen the first part, where he talks about the McConks 9’8 Go Free crossover board, then check it out here). The guys at SUPM have had a few different versions of the Go Fly from prototype through to the 5m version on sale now.
We appreciate for many paddlers, however, not versed in wind sports, the whole wing surf/wing foil thing may be a bit alien. (Even if your interest is pricked). But it’s actually an easy product to use and takes advantage of breezy days at the coast or inland – of which we get a lot of those!
It’d be great to think every time we head for a float we’d be on for glassy conditions. Unfortunately, the changeable, unpredictable nature of the UK’s weather means that’s never going to be the case. If you’re intrigued by the whole wing ding discipline, but not 100%, then check out the video which has a whole load of info. If you still have questions about winging or anything else McConks SUP related then give us a holla.