We know it’s tempting to jump right on to buying the gear but let’s first try to understand what you are getting into in this wingfoiling for beginners post.
Your shins and feet have a “natural tendency” to find your foil under water, same as your ribs tend to find board rail when falling. Bottom line is that you will fall a lot around razor sharp foils so be smart and protect yourself so you can spend more time winging rather than recovering from injuries. Recommended protection:
- Impact west
- Long leg wetsuit
- Knee pads (thank us later)
No matter which season, hot or cold, remember to drink at least 2 liters = 1/2 gallon of water immediately before your session. Easiest way is to drink few big sips at each step getting ready:
- Before you start taking the gear out of the car
- After you pump your wing
- After you take your board out of the bag
- After you fix the mast on your board
- After you fix your foil plane to the mast
- Before putting on the wetsuit
- After putting on your wetsuit
Know your spot
If you are a complete watersports novice or someone having little watersports experience we strongly suggest you to experience the sea or the lake first hand. SUPs can easily be rented around the world and are by far the most affordable watersport. Rent one for a day or two, paddle around on windless days, and get the feeling of what it’s like to stand on the board. If you feel lucky try it on a windy day as well.
Learn about your home spot conditions because those may vary tremendously even on daily basis. Talk to the locals, and learn about tide, wave and average windspeed at your home spot. Talk to the locals, check historical data using apps like Wingduru, Windy, Windfinder and your local or National Meteo Service nail down the conditions you will mostly be riding on.
Meet the locals and learn about your home spot
Go to your local beach and talk to the wingers – we love talking about it. Don’t be shy. Ask them to tell you about their experiences? Ask them to tell you about the best spots around to learn and any possible dangers of your local spot. There are many local Facebook groups that might help you find the perfect learning spot. Here is the list of amazing global groups whose members are always ready to help:
We can’t stress enough how important it is to take lessons for a watersports novice. It will tremendously shorten your learning curve but will also teach you basics of wind, maritime law, sailing rules as well as safety and self rescue basics.
If by any chance you have skipped all of the above and already purchased the gear, it is not too late to experience them with the gear you own.
A short guide to your first steps
- Learn about terms like: Sailing Terms, Wind window, Apparent wind, Sailing rules, knot, etc.
- Meet the locals and learn about your home spot.
- These channels and websites will give you great foundation if you tend to learn yourself:
- Before you even consider getting wet, learn to handle your wing on solid ground. It doesn’t even have to be by the sea or lake. It can be a meadow, a parking lot, or a playground. Watch out for sharp objects or rough asphalt which can destroy your wing. But it needs to be windy. Watch and follow along these 3 videos:
- Once you are good at handling your wing it’s time for the next step. On a light or no wind day:
- Find a beach where there is a buoy in the water and ask if you can use it for practice
- Put your board, foil and wing together
- If it’s windy practice taking your full gear to the water at once. If there is no wind, first take your board and then your wing to the water
- Take a piece of rope with you and tie your board to the buoy rope. Best to tie it around your foil mast.
- Practice climbing on the board, handling the wing, kneeling, standing up from your knees, and standing on the board holding the wind.
- If the wind is light, don’t even bother trying the kneeling start – just stand up using the board and the wing for stability. You will at least be able to get a basic feeling of it, handle the wing and even make turns without drifting away.
- Before you get out to your first session study these two videos:
- Your first session:
- Find a safe, large, flat water with 10-18 knots of wind.
- Get someone to watch over you from the beach
- Assess the conditions, if it is above 15 knots wait for it to calm down, or come back the other day, or use the opportunity to practice with the wing on the beach. Or tie the board to the buoy.
- Try to imagine the worst case scenario, and make a self rescue plan.
- Wear a wetsuit, helmet and impact west.
- Don’t go too far out because YOU WILL get pushed down wind and YOU WILL have to walk back to where you started from carrying your gear. Better to make those walks short.
WARNING: almost half of all wing damage in the early days happens carrying the gear to the water because the wing tends to fly towards your foil. ALWAYS keep your wing as far downwind of your foil as possible.
Learning to wingfoil can be frustrating at times so remember to have fun! Every fall is part of the process – embrace it, and leave your ego on the beach.