We’ll start off by saying that our subject in the accompanying pics has only just started stand up paddle boarding and had zero wind activity experience before taking hold of the new McConks Go Fly 6m wing. There’s lots of chat about how wings are super easy to use because of fo their lightweight nature, easy pack capabilities and almost intuitive handling on the water. This theory needed to be put to the test so we asked our friend Oli if he’d be game.
Purposely we gave the chap as little info as poss, instead wanting to see how he coped. Conditions were pretty idyllic, if not that breezy. With Med like weather, warm seas and a mere puff of westerly breeze Oli took the Go Fly 6m and got involved.
You can see from the pics that straight off the bat Oli was up and riding on his knees with the 6m Go Fly placed accurately. Instinctively he made sure the wing had as much power as poss. Compared to windsurf sails, for instance, the sheeting angle of a wing isn’t as critical. At least not until you’re looking at more high performance wing riding such as being on foil. That said Oli did a good job of keeping it in place and getting a wriggle on across the wind. He also managed a few downwind turns (gybes) and was happily huffing back to the beach. There were a few walks back upwind and a couple of stacks into the drink but by and large the chap nailed his first session. Unfortunately the wind died a death soon after so we couldn’t take things further. As far as answering the article’s title question, however, that’s a resounding yes! If you’re looking for a way to make use of breezy autumn days the wings certainly fit the bill and aren’t difficult to get started with.
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!
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.