Pics: Oli Lane-Pierce
Why would you?
Much as with bikes having the ability to boost, increase speed, cadence, climb and aid your efforts having the ability to inject a little extra juice when wing foiling is definitely welcome. Unfortunately, the UK’s wind isn’t as steady as you’d think. It’d be nice to enjoy non-gusty Trade Winds as they do in parts of the world but with weather systems (low/high pressures) controlling our conditions we’re reliant on Mother Nature’s moods. Different wind directions, speeds and all with local effects – such as topography and tides in the mix (at least where the accompanying pics were shot) means you’re forever battling (to some degree) what’s on offer.
Electric hydrofoils and associated boards are definitely gaining traction in terms of interest and desire. The stumbling blocks of price and weight (impacting transport) does halt riders in their tracks – for now. As the tech improves and costs come down it may be we start and see more eFoils at waterway locations. Only time will tell on this.
If you’re already a wing foiler and looking for something to aid your riding (and have access) then an eFoil in the mix when conditions aren’t tip top could be a way to enhance the fun. We’re not going to lie, it’s a tricky thing being able to control a wing and control an electric hydrofoil via the handheld, Bluetooth wireless controller. The throttle is super sensitive meaning a deft touch is needed. On top of which you need to consider foil ride height in relation to water state) and all those puffs of breeze coming at you like aerated bullets.
After a few runs, however, it can be picked up quite easily if you’ve got prior foiling skills in the mix. And we have it on good authority the lightweight, super controllable nature of the McConks Go Fly 5m wing helps things enormously. Whether levitated via the power of electricity or wind alone as soon as you have something like a wing flapping about behind you it does affect stability to a degree. But as we say it’s doable with the right gear.
Our rider in question’s using a 150L board for ample float. Those who’ve seen the McConks prototype eFoil may be intrigued about its eWing foil performance. We also asked the question the answer was that it’s too low volume for a 90kg rider to get into position (for the time being) in patchy breeze. Watch this space though as we know steps are being made to get over that plateau.
So, if you’re a wing foiler looking an additional form of propulsion to enjoy winging to the full maybe an electrically powered hydrofoil could be the answer. At the very least it’s some additional fun if you can get hold of the gear.
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 –