What is Wingsurfing and Why is it Taking Off?

5 Reasons why this new watersport sensation is causing a splash and showing no signs of slowing down.

Red Bull Team rider, Kai Lenny getting air while wing foiling in the tropics

Winging has really taken off! (Pun intended) And not just for the usual suspects of lifelong boarders, sailors, kiters and windsurfers. Now people who have little or no experience in watersports are discovering the joy and freedom that wingfoiling has to offer. Here’s your beginners guide to wingsurfing and 5 Reasons Why it’s revolutionising the way experienced enthusiasts and newbies alike are taking to the water.

What is Wingsurfing?

Wingsurfing is simply the use of a handheld wing to capture the wind and send you propelling across the water on your board. “Oh, so it’s windsurfing?” No. Unlike windsurfing it isn’t a sail that’s fixed to your board. It’s a completely detached wing that’s easier to manoeuvre, control and to master.

“Oh, so it’s Kitesurfing?” Again, no. There are no lines, you don’t need a lot of space to launch and land it and as with windsurfing you can let go of your sail/wing at any time. All you need is your wingfoil board or SUP and your lightweight inflatable wing and you’re away. Also, due to the efficiency gains of using a foil and wing together it has redefined what is possible in light wind conditions and what we consider rideable waves. Wingfoils can be used in new locations in less wind, giving you more time on the water. And who doesn’t want that?

Using a foil board or adding a foil to your SUP while using a wing adds a whole new dimension to the experience. Foils have impacted water-based board sports for a while and can now be found on pretty much everything these days. A hydrofoil or simply “foil” is a hydrodynamically designed fin with wings that creates lift off the smallest amount of propulsion. This lifts you out of the water reducing friction so you can glide effortlessly above the water. Pick up a lightweight, inflatable wing to capture the wind and pull you along the water and voilà! Now you’re wingfoiling!

 

Why is Wingfoiling so popular?

There are plenty of reasons why wingfoiling has attracted the attention of lifelong boarders and those looking to dip their toe into watersports. Here are just 5 main reasons why so many are adding “wingsurfer” to their CV hobby and interests lists.

#1 You Can Take It Anywhere!

The wing is easily inflatable and comes in a tiny backpack with a pump, so adding it to the holiday luggage list or simply slinging it in the boot for a day trip is no great contemplation.

Ensis Score Wing Backpack

Slap on a Hydrofoil to your foil board or SUP and because the wings use the available wind so efficiently you can get going on much more confined bodies of water. You can now find yourself flying along lakes, lochs and calmer bodies of water, even in low winds. When you’re done, deflate, fold and back in the pack it goes, ready for the next time.

#2 It’s Weather Friendly

Unlike windsurfing and kitesurfing you’re not constantly searching for ideal conditions. A kite in gusty winds can get a bit tricky. A windsurfer in gusty conditions can be frustrating, when the wind drops you are left bogging. A Wing has huge wind range so when the wind picks up you can exhaust the power simply by letting out your back hand or if the wind drops the power of the foil can be enough to keep you flying along. With a wing you can also just put it down by your side, or completely. Lie on it for a bit, take a break, and simply pick it back up when you’re ready to get going again.

Ensis Score Wing in Winter

The wings are equipped to deal with pretty much any conditions - rain or shine, blustery or gentle breeze. The models come in different sizes from wing manufacturers depending on the type of wingsurfing you’ll be doing and in what typical wind speeds. 4m2 - 6m2 wings are the most popular choice and will cover most conditions and skill levels. This ability to take it pretty much anywhere, anytime makes it not just incredibly weather friendly but super user friendly.

#3 It’s Easy to Learn

Of course experienced boarders will catch on pretty quick and be comfortably winging in no time especially if you have already tried a foil discipline before, but one of the greatest things about wingsurfing is that it has truly opened the door to anyone that fancied trying a wind sport but was afraid to try.

2 guys wingsurfing in Stand Up Paddle Boards at Surfdock in Grand Canal Dock Dublin

It’s the ease-of-use and quick progression that sets winging apart from windsurfing and kitesurfing. For sure taking a few lessons is the best way to get you flying quicker, and booking a wingsurfing class would be a great confidence boost for any beginner, but once you have done this you can easily progress under your own steam.

Start on your knees and work your way up to standing on your SUP or foil board with a full deck EVA pad to hone your footing, with inserts for strap placement once you’ve figured it out. Beginner boards start at around 5 feet and have a higher volume, like an SUP, to support the rider when standing, so you’ve got plenty of time to get to grips with the wing. The wings have multiple wide-handled grips (or a boom like bar in some cases) exactly where they need to be while you find your ideal hand placement to steady yourself or for greater manoeuvrability if you’re looking to cut up the waves.

You’ll be astonished at how quickly your wingsurfing skills develop and after a few spills and the odd “walk of shame” from ending up too far down the beach you will be comfortably winging wherever it is you want to go.

#4 There Are Endless Ways to Enjoy It

We’re not just talking about water here. There are so many things you can do with a wing. You can also use it on land, snow, and ice. Think of it as a way to propel you across anything! So if you’ve got a skateboard or roller blades you can rip around parks. If you’ve got skis, a snowboard or sled you can blaze across the snow. If you’ve got a frozen lake, get some ice skates on, and let the wind take you wherever you want to go.

A man wing skating downhill on an all terrain skateboard.

What’s more is once you’ve got your wingfoil set up you have multiple disciplines to explore. Because the foil is detachable, and the wing is separate you get so many uses from your minimal investment. You’ll have a SUP setup, a surf setup, a foil setup, and a paddle setup, all at your disposal depending on where your mood takes you. Not only is it amazing value for money but having a handy wing set up gives you countless ways to enjoy the power of mother nature, anywhere.

#5 It’s Fun for Everyone

Whether you’re an experienced surfer looking for a new challenge or are new to watersports and searching for something the whole family can enjoy, wingsurfing ticks a lot of boxes. Because the wing is so light-weight it can easily be managed by kids. Put it with an inflatable SUP and you have the safest piece of wind sport equipment around – everything is full of air and just bounces. Everything is very intuitive so progression is quick and kids won’t get bored or frustrated.

Why not get the friends together for days out and have a play with it? Have fun learning and developing your skills. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be cruising around in synchronised formation in no time wondering why you didn’t discover wingfoiling sooner. Of course at this point the kids will be surfing rings around you, which is to be expected.

In Short…

The usability, accessibility, adaptability, and sheer fun factor is why wingsurfing is taking beaches and lakes around the world by storm. Nothing beats the pure sensation of wingfoiling. Catching that breeze as the foil lifts you out of the water and sends you flying and skipping above the waves. It is such a freeing experience having nothing attached to the board - there are no lines to tangle, no weighty sail to wrestle with. You can just pick it up regardless of your experience and take to the water. It’s all about getting going with less equipment and with less effort, but with more of the foil flying fun you’re after.

To join in on the fun of wingsurfing, shop our full range of wings, foils and foilboards here.