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It’s so exciting to be at the forefront of a brand new sport. Wing foiling (or wing surfing) is the next great thing happening to the water sports industry as we speak. It has taken world by storm and we’re absolutely hooked! So what’s so special about it? Let me explain.
I’ve done plenty of water stuff in the last 30 years. I’ve been sailing since I was 6, being put on an Optimist sailboat with no idea that this will start a life-long passion for being wet, cold and… stoked! Fast forward decades and I’ve been sailing, racing, windsurfing, surfing (with little success), SUP surfing (more like it!), kitesurfing (on pretty much anything that floats) getting the air kicked out of me when wakeboarding... And now this new kid came to the block and I'm all over it!
When the wings were first introduced some 3 years ago to the mass market, as windsurfers and kitesurfers we’ve looked at this and thought - “well, this ain’t gonna last”. I remember going to Naish dealer meeting with Robbie Naish in Tarifa, who was over the moon with this new sport and already pushing limits on the water. We were all getting a bit intrigued but that was it. Couple years went by and a lot of my friends started winging, being slightly frowned upon by their kiting and windsurfing colleagues, and they’ve dragged me into this affair too. And I’m very glad they did.
The thing with most water sports is that it takes a lot of practice to really enjoy them. SUP is a fairly easy-entry discipline but it doesn’t do that much to me on the flat water, maybe apart from jumping on the race board to do some cardio (I absolutely hate running). I love SUP surfing though but, again, this takes a lot of practice and quite a few bruises to get to a decent level. Sailing is a totally different ball game altogether, windsurfing is a hard graft again to get good at. Kitesurfing is fairly easy to master the basics and smoothly progress - but for some it seems a bit too extreme. Which is fine, we're all different.
Wing foiling (since this is a new sport there’s tons of different names for it still, a lot of folk call it wing surfing so... whatever works for you) on the other hand is fairly easy to master. We’re running lessons on the basics if you need a hand. The use of the wing itself is pretty easy, even for folk with no previous wind sports experience. Spending some time playing around on the beach to understand how to hold it, how to flag it out (i.e. ditch the power) and how to generate pull takes a couple of hours.
Then, ideally, you can try it out on a SUP board to get into grips of using the wing to keep your balance on the board and how different angles impact both power delivery and help in changing the direction of travel. It’s basically a massive grab-handle that you can use to prevent yourself from falling into the water. Soon after you’re ready to play around with the foil board. At Skymonster we’ve got 140 litre foil SUP’s that we use for teaching the basics combined with a steady Naish Jet 2000 foil. Super stable setup that makes the whole learning experience fairly easy.
This way, in a matter of few days, we’ve had some of our friends flying on the magic carpets back and forth. I think this is really it - it feels like riding a magic carpet! You’re floating above the water, everything goes silent as there’s no real drag, just the mast cutting through the ocean. Pretty idyllic… until you fall in. We all do, nothing to be ashamed of - if you don’t fall you don’t learn, right?
The great thing is that you can do wing foiling anywhere. We’ve got loads of lochs in Scotland where kitesurfing isn’t doable and windsurfing wouldn’t be fun due to the gusty winds which are not all that noticeable when wing foiling. We often find ourselves having too much wind for flat-water SUP’ing too. That’s when the wings come into play. They allow you to experience places in a way you never did before. They’re inflatable so they fit into a small backpack, foil breaks down into a small case too. Couple of minutes and you’re ready to go. More advanced riders will appreciate the ease of catching waves with the wing surfers too.
It’s not here to replace kitesurfing or windsurfing but it’s an another great thing to do and where we can be nobs at! It opens up a lot of new spots, it’s superbly easy to learn easy to live and travel with (there are inflatable wing foil boards too) - what’s not to like?
We went through a number of different wing foiling and wing surfing setups - including wings, foils, boards of different volumes - so if you have any questions give us a shout. We’ll do a writeup on the equipment soon too, pointing out the differences in wing shapes, foil and board sizes and what’s a good starting point for everyone. In the meantime - our email box and phones are open so feel free to give us a shout! Or, if you want to learn to Wing Foil in Scotland - head over to our Wing Foil Scotland school here.