Congratulations on making the exciting decision to transition from riding an efoil to learning to wing foil! Approaching this from a coaching point of view, I'm here to help you navigate this new phase of your water sports journey and provide you with five valuable tips to ensure a smooth and successful wing foil board progression. While both sports share some similarities, wing foiling introduces new challenges and techniques that will elevate your experience on the water.
Tip #1. Choose the Right Wing Foil Board:
Selecting the appropriate board is crucial to kickstart your progression on the right foot. A larger board with extra volume provides better stability and buoyancy, making it easier to balance when starting and during transitions. Aim for a board size that is 40 liters greater than your body weight in kilograms. I weigh 80kg, so I would start with a 120L board. A board with a width of 30 to 32 inches can help with stability and ease of control. As you gain more confidence and proficiency, you can gradually downsize to a more performance-oriented board.
Tip #2. Get Comfortable with Your Wing:
Just as you've become accustomed to the efoil, it's essential to familiarize yourself with your wing before attempting to take off on the foil board. Practice handling the wing on land, learning how to properly hold and maneuver it through the wind. Develop a strong grip on the wing handles and practice your arm motions as if you were already riding the foil board. This pre-conditioning will make the transition to wing foil boarding on the water much smoother. Learn to hold the wing in your preferred stance, and then again in your switch stance. It is better to learn to switch your feet now in the beginning before you get too competent on only one side.
Tip #3. Master the Water Start Technique:
Unlike efoil riding, wing foiling requires a water start technique. Begin in a kneeling position on the board with the wing fully extended above you, capturing the wind. As you feel the power of the wind in the wing, transition into a standing position while simultaneously sheeting in the wing to generate lift. Balancing your weight and the wing's power is crucial during this phase. Keep your knees slightly bent to absorb any choppy water movements and maintain control. Your objective is to ride ninety degrees to the wind, and to stay on the water, not on the foil. Repeat this process until you can efficiently and consistently take off on the foil board. Learn how the wing feels when it gets powered up, and when the wind drops off.
Tip #4. Learn to Manage the Wing's Power:
One of the most critical aspects of wing foiling is understanding how to control the wing's power efficiently. Properly sheeting in and out the wing allows you to adjust the lift and speed generated, affecting your board's performance. Your back hand controls how much power you have. For stability, you may want to keep your front hand slightly raised above your shoulders to let the wing act as a handhold that helps to keep your balance. For forward movement, you may want to drop your front hand to be level with your shoulders. Essentially, your front hand will indicate which way you want to apply the force on the wing. Finding the right balance between power and control will enhance your wing foil board progression significantly.
Tip #5. Practice Transitions and Turns:
As an experienced efoil rider, you already possess a good sense of balance and foil control. Now, it's time to translate those skills into wing foiling. Practice smooth transitions from riding on the water to riding on the foil. Initiate gentle turns by shifting your weight while subtly steering the wing. By sliding the wing towards your back foot, you allow the wind to turn your board upwind, and vice versa. Gradually progress to the gybe turn in both directions. Many wing foilers prefer to gybe while in their strong stance. Working to develop these skills during every session will not only enhance your overall wing foil board progression but also add an extra layer of fun and excitement to your sessions.
Embarking on the wing foil board progression journey from efoil riding is an exhilarating endeavor that promises immense rewards. Remember to choose the right board, get comfortable with your wing, master the water start, manage the wing's power, and practice various maneuvers to ensure a seamless transition.