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Wing foiling appeal. What’s the deal?

Wing foiling is the most rapidly growing area of watersports next to SUP. Stand up paddling definitely has the edge, in terms of popularity, due to it being more accessible. Wing foiling is most appealing to riders coming from existing performance watery backgrounds such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and SUP surfing (or foiling). Wingsurf, or wing SUP, is another area where there’s work being done by some brands to open up the appeal of riding wings further. But it’s the wing, combined with a hydrofoil, where most interest is pricked. But why?

The dreaded wind (inconsistency).

In most places around the world – but definitely the UK – scoring decent wind forecasts for windsurf or kitesurfing can be an arduous activity. Even when you reside in close proximity to good wind locations it’s not guaranteed.

Take this winter (‘21/’22) as a case in point. Whilst there’s certainly been breeze it’s not been epic. Often falling short of what many experienced windsurf and kitesurfers would ideally want. Yes, we recently had to contend with Storm Eunice. But winds of 70+ knots isn’t exactly conducive for the everyday rider. In fact, it was pretty much unsailable for the majority.

Wing foil fun and games.

A good windsurfing/kitesurfing forecast would ideally see a steady blow blowing across the beach in 25 knot wind band. This is what most recreational riders would see as fun. There may be a few waves in the mix, but nothing too testing. Recently the problem has been these forecasts have been scarce.

Often winds are very gusty, the wrong direction and falling way short of the aforementioned 25 knot mark. This’ll sound ironic to stand up paddle boarders because any gusts greater than 10 knots are deemed too hard work for paddling. That leaves the middle (low strength) wind band between 10 and 20 (ish) knots a bit of dead zone. You can bust out the big windsurf and kitesurf gear. But this equipment and style of riding can be prohibitive. Enter wind foiling, with much smaller and minimal amounts of kit and things start to look up.

Wing foiling wind strengths.

The beauty of foiling, across any discipline, is not having to rely on all time forecasts. When Mother Nature’s serving up lackluster conditions any rider armed with a foil is primed to enjoy an all time session. Foils supercharge the session and make scoring an almost guaranteed, done deal.

Foil boards are compact. When coupled with a modular hydrofoil system – that breaks down post-session easily – and an inflatable wing (also easily storable) the need for roomy transport becomes obsolete. The range of conditions that wings, foils and the associate board can be used in is also much broader than with standard stuck to water fin gear. From a rider’s point of view this means less gear is needed for a great variety of conditions at a wider range of locations.

Wing wang gang!

One example we often hear is of the kitesurfing variety. Whilst kite technology has improved np end over the last few years there’s still more risk of flying a kitesurfing kite than a wing foiling wing. Kites really don’t like unsteady, gusty winds. As such most kitesurfers congregate at open water venues where’s there’s lots of space, minimal overhead hazards and more chance of less gusty winds. For a kitesurfer who owns wing foil gear suddenly spots such as inlets, estuaries and lakes have now become doable. This can mean much less traveling time to score a session and/or a choice of a much more diverse range of locations. Plus, again, wings are easier to set up versus kitesurfing kites and associated kit.

Wing foiling meditation.

The frictionless and silent ride of hovering atop a foil is both addictive and meditative. There’s really nothing that compares. Even ‘mowing the lawn’ (going back and forth), which most rider do, is pure fun and will keep wingers coming back time and again.

Bliss out and meditate with winging’.

Once he/she dials in their skills, and can complete turns (gybes/tacks) without dropping off foil the addiction becomes more. As does the meditative element. It’s easy to fall into ‘the zone’ when wing foiling. Buzzing round figure of eights during the course of session. Riders switch on autopilot and are engulfed by the moment of what’s occurring. All thoughts subside and a state of calm permeates. This may sound like Zen rubbish but ask anyone experienced wing foiler and they’ll confirm what’s stated is true. Throw some sun and blue skies into the mix – which you tend to get with foiling conditions due to less ‘weather’ being needed and it’s not hard to see why wingers have a love at first sight moment.

The real reason wingin’ is super popular.

Whilst all the above is definitely true, and reasons that make wingers come back over and over, there’s a bigger reason why wing foiling is so popular…

Man and woman have been fascinated by flight for generations. The story of the ill-fated Icarus and then the Wright brothers’ inventing the very first aeroplane, da Vinci’s first helicopter sketch and so on all prove this fascination to be real.

Sitting watching birds display their hydrodynamic prowess it’s hard not to be mesmerised. And humans have always looked for ways to recreate nature’s ‘tech’ and enjoy the same experiences. Essentially wing foiling is flying – albeit above water. But the rider uses two wings – the first being the front hydrofoil wing, the second being the inflatable hand wing –  to recreate this on (or above) the water. With two wings (three if you count the foil’s stabilising tail wing) you’re literally as free as a bird. Yet all within a very accessible and relatively safe environment. Unlike Icarus, you’re not dicing with death. If all fails then a big splash is mostly the outcome. Yes, you do have to mindful of the foil but you get what we’re saying.

Another way to enjoy wingin’.

Flight, of all kinds, is fascinatingly addictive. Wing foiling serves up the experience is a very lo-fi but fun and achievable way. Anyway who learns to foil will get this. And even those onlookers who don’t can appreciate what’s going on. It looks voodoo as well so definitely draws the eye.

The McConks Go Fly wing.

McConks has dabbled with foiling over the last few years. We supply the super easy to use Go Fly wing which you can see here. We appreciate as a brand, however. McConks is known for SUP first and foremost. As such it’s perhaps a little confusing for newbie paddlers to understand where inflatable wings sit. If you have zero prior watersports experience you not ‘get’ wing foiling’s synergy with stand up paddling. Likewise, if you’re 100% focused on SUP then you may not even have winging on the radar. Which is understandable.

For those looking to branch out, however, wing foiling (or even wing SUP at the start) is an extension of paddling. When it gets too breezy for SUP there’s a real reason to bust out the wing and keep afloat. In time you may want to add a foil and get involved with the whole flying above water movement. We know plenty of Supers who’ve done this, happy to paddle when the breeze drops off.

A wing (and foil) really is complimentary to SUP. And with the gear being so accessible it’s the easiest way to experience flight on your own terms and enjoy the sensation of soaring like a bird.

For more wing foiling (and foiling knowledge in general) head over to the McConks guide here.

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