Wing foil - Our advice
It's THE hottest sport since summer 2019. More and more people get into it and, as you know, versatility is something we love at Saint Jacques.
Being able to adapt to the conditions to get the best out of them: you surf or SUP when it's glassy (the sea is smooth), you kite or windsurf when it's windy... and in all cases you have a blast. That's what being a waterman or waterwoman is all about!
What is wing foiling ?
Wing-foil (also known as wingfoil, wing surf or wing foiling) refers to the combination of a kite wing with a foil support under a board.
THE WING FOR TRACTION
Let's go back to the beginning: this type of wing has been around for almost 40 years! And as in the world of neoprene, today's models bear a striking resemblance to the prototypes of 50 years ago. As our friend Wikipedia tells us, this wing, originally called the BirdSail, came into being thanks to the creative mind of a French man: Roland le Bail.
In practical terms, it's an inflatable kite that you steer directly with your hands.
So is it a kite? No, a kite is bigger (between 5 and 15 m2) than a wing (3 and 6m2) and is steered with a bar and lines (25m distance between the rider and his sail). The wing is therefore more compact and in direct contact with its pilot.
So it's windsurfing? Not yet! The windsurf sail sail is not inflatable and is attached to the board by a mast.
You've got it, it's a mix of kite and windsurf. It's worth noting that you don't use a harness in wing kiting, unlike in other disciplines, because we're aiming for simplicity.
THE FOIL FOR FLYING
The foil is a large fin placed under the board that allows you to fly over the water without friction. The sensation is unique, as is the speed. We've written a full article on this subject, which you can read here.
THE BOARD FOR BUOYANCY
We generally use a board with a more volume compare to its weight to get away without frustration. An 80kg rider will use a board with a volume of 100 litres. The volume of the board will be reduced according to your level and the strength of the wind.
Who is wing foiling for?
Naturally, it was kitesurfers and windsurfers who became interested in this discipline because it combines some of their characteristics. Then came stand-up paddle enthusiasts and now, with the development of new equipment, the sport is open to everybody.
Advantages over kitesurfing :
- the wing is easier to set up. There's no line to connect, so you need less space to take off and go.
- In terms of safety, you hold the wing with your hands, so in the event of a problem you just let go and it stops, no safety device to activate.
Advantages over windsurfing:
- easier than windsurfing, you'll glide faster ;)
- Equipment takes up less space.
In both cases, this feeling plus new things to try make it very fun.
Then, wing foiling is not just for board sports enthusiasts. It's a new discipline that offers unique sensations that are accessible to as many people as possible, as evidenced by the exploding number of wing schools! So get equipped and try wingfoil!
Is wing foiling easy or difficult?
Frankly, I've asked myself this question a lot, because I think there's something contradictory about it.
On one hand, wing itself is very easy to learn, fun and safe. But on the other hand, the foil is a rather technical 'tool' and it's best not to fall into it!
In practice, it seems that with the right equipment (a large board and a stable foil) and ideal conditions (laminar wind and flat water), progression is quite fast.
And frankly, the feeling of flying over the water, without friction or noise, is quite amazing and motivates you to progress in this sport.
Getting started in wing is relatively quick and easy, and you don't even need to have kitesurfed or windsurfed before.
Wing foil different practices.
In my opinion, wing foiling is a bit like athletics, it can be broken down into different disciplines and that's what's so great about it!
First of all, you use a foil to fly on a magic carpet, and you don't need much wind to do that. It's a great way to tack and it feels crazy. You admire the scenery and the seabed, then tackle the increasingly technical transitions.
DOWNWIND - SURFING
For me, this is the best and the real attraction! The foil allows you to glide with the swell. You can easily untwist the wing to hold it with one hand and concentrate on the pure glide.
Then you go back up with the wing power and do it all over again, the merry-go-round is open.
Be careful though, in hollow waves and shore breaks, the foil becomes much more technical and demanding, so it's less interesting.
Jumping with a wing and a foil is possible, and a world championship is already iset up. Railey, front and back loops with straps on the board.
There's a lot more to come for this sport, which is reserved for the most experienced riders. Be sure to wear a helmet!
Which neoprene wetsuit is right for wing foiling?
As with any water sport, you need to protect yourself from the cold, friction and even the sun.
The wind tends to make you feel colder, so be sure to protect your extremities (booties, hood and gloves).
At Saint Jacques we develop neoprene ranges compatible with all disciplines. Yes, all our wetsuits are tested in wing conditions by our testers and riders.
Less dangerous than kitesurfing and easier than windsurfing, wing-foil is THE perfect mix of all disciplines.
See you in the water then !