Mastering the Water Start Technique

Mastering the Water Start Technique in Wing Foiling

In our previous article: “5 Essential Tips for Smooth Wing Foil Board Progression”, our third tip was “Mastering the Water Start Technique”. This is essential for smoothly transitioning from paddling your board to riding via wind power. In this third installment of our series, we'll dive into the intricacies of the water start, providing step-by-step guidance to help you master this fundamental skill. By honing your water start technique, you'll unlock new possibilities for gliding across the water with grace and efficiency.


1. Positioning and Preparation

Before attempting the water start, position yourself in the water with your foil board perpendicular to the wind direction. Ensure that the wing is fully inflated and positioned downwind and above you, ready for deployment. Find a comfortable depth where you can stand on the board while still having room to paddle and maneuver.


2. Initiating the Water Start

To initiate the water start, take up an kneeling position and begin by holding onto the wing with both hands and positioning it above your head. Keeping your lead arm straight overhead, pull in with your rear hand slightly. As the wind catches the wing, use its power to generate some forward momentum. As you gain forward movement, get onto your feet, using the wing handles above you to steady yourself. Once you are standing, lower your lead arm slightly to gain more forward-directly power. It is important that you not let the wing tip touch the water. Remember to “punch-out” with your rear hand if your tip touches.


3. Balancing and Stabilizing

As you taxi across the water, focus on maintaining balance and stability on the board. Until you gain confidence in this step, do not attempt to get onto the foil. Keep your weight centered over the board's midpoint, with your feet positioned shoulder-width apart for optimal stability. Use small adjustments in your body position and wing handling to counteract any shifts in wind or water conditions. Your goal should be to maintain a level board, keep steady pressure from the wind in the wing, and steer your board 90-degrees or better across the wind.


4. Engaging the Foil

Once you've achieved confidence and stability with the board on the water, it's time to engage the foil and begin riding. You should expect to ride for several sessions on the water’s surface. You will know you are ready when you can easily capture the power of the wind, AND you can steer your board across or upwind slightly.  To engage the foil, pull in your back hand to gain more speed, shift your weight slightly backward to initiate lift, and allow the foil to rise out of the water. You should expect the board to go slightly downwind as your foil engages. Once you are on foil, focus on leveling your board, and reducing your wing pressure. With the board off the water, you do not need the same amount of wind power to continue forward. Use gentle twisting pressure between your back foot and your back hand to control your direction of your board, using your eyes to direct yourself. Work towards maintaining a smooth and controlled level ride across the water.

In your first several foiling attempts, be patient, and don’t fight the board or the foil. It is best to go with the flow of the board until you understand how to control it. Work on getting onto foil as well as returning to the surface. We call this up and down motion “touch ‘n go”. By spending time performing this maneuver, your learning curve will shrink, and your success rate will grow significantly.


5. Fine-Tuning and Refinement

As you become more proficient in the water start technique, focus on fine-tuning your movements and refining each step in the process. Experiment with different hand positions and wing angles to optimize your efficiency and control. Practice initiating the water start from various positions and angles, building confidence and versatility in your skills.



Mastering the water start technique is a pivotal milestone in your wing foiling journey, opening the door to a world of exhilarating possibilities on the water. By following these steps and dedicating time to practice and refinement, you'll develop the skills and confidence needed to execute smooth and seamless water starts in any conditions. Stay tuned for the next installment of our series, where we'll explore further techniques and maneuvers to elevate your wing foiling experience to new heights.


PRO TIP: Try to remain in calm water conditions during this process. It is difficult because you also need wind. Off-shore winds are more difficult because you can get blown out to sea, while on-shore winds tend to create very rough water. Jetty’s are helpful in side-shore conditions to allow the wind that we want, and the calmer waters that we want. Low winds offer a very difficult learning environment, while gusty and stormy conditions are the worse to learn. We find that 16-22 mph winds are good to learn in.


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