Humans are constantly looking to replicate the feeling of flying, and wing surfing is one of the best efforts yet. Wing surfing is a unique combination of foil surfing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing. The surfer rides a foil board while holding an inflatable sail that helps increase speed as well as the longevity of the ride.
Wing surfing increases the number of days you can enjoy your foil board and the sensation of surfing, because it can be enjoyed when the waves are less than perfect, and winds are strong.
If you’re new to wing foiling you may think you can just go buy an inflatable wing and that’s that – but it’s not quite that simple! Wings come in a range of sizes, and picking out the right size inflatable wing will take a bit of research which I will help you do in the following article.
Understanding Wing Foil Wind Ranges
Wing surfing, for the moment, is the newest water-based board sport. It requires skills associated with the sports of sailing and surfing, including managing a sail that is held with two hands rather than attached to the board. The goal is to harness the power of swells and wind to glide freely across the water.
Wing foiling can be experienced in areas without waves, but it can also be practiced in waves. The wing can help you return to the line-up or connect separate wave sections into one extremely long ride.
Sunglasses designed for watersports!
Use code WINDFOIL-NATION at checkout for 5% off.
Wing Sizes Overview
The sail you use while wing surfing is referred to as the ‘wing.’ All wings serve the same purpose of helping you maintain movement and gain speed while gliding on your foil board above the surface of the water.
Wings are measured by area in square meters and are available in a range of sizes, such as 3m², 4m², 5m², 6m², 7m², and 8m². They can also be purchased in varying shapes and constructions. The size wing you choose will be dependent on the weather conditions in which you plan to wing surf.
Here’s a table showing the general wind ranges you can expect from the different manufacturers given a wing size. Always check the manufacturer recommendations, this is just a suggestion. Also keep in mind that heavier people will need larger wings to get them going, so if you’re around 180 lbs or more, consider leaning towards the larger wing for a given range.
|Wing Size||Wind Range|
|3m²||20-45 knots (23-50 mph)|
|4m²||14-30 knots (16-34 mph)|
|5m²||10-25 knots (11-28 mph)|
|6m² +||8-18 knots (9-20 mph)|
Many people find they like one wing for lower wind days like a 6m², and then something a bit smaller for when the wind is higher, like a 4m². This depends on how the wind varies where you’ll be wing foiling.
Wingfoiling Wind Range Chart
If you’re looking for a quick reference of wing sizes and how they relate to wind ranges, here’s an overview of wings from top manufacturers currently on the market today.
All wing range estimates were taken directly from the manufacturer – you can see there’s quit the variety in recommendations, but the sizes follow the same general pattern. That 4-5m² range is going to be a sweet spot for many people.
Choosing a Wing Size
The wing size you choose can have a major effect on the way you wing surf. The biggest factor to consider when choosing a wing size is the weather conditions in which you’ll be using your wing foil.
A larger wing is meant for lighter wind conditions, as it is able to catch more wind.
Conversely, a smaller wing can be used in heavier wind conditions, as it will offer plenty of surface area to gain speed while remaining manageable to hold.
A small wing won’t be effective in light winds, and a large wing will be impossible to manage in heavy winds.
Generally speaking, a 4m² wing is recommended for the average rider weighing less than 155 pounds, and a 5m² wing is recommended for beginners over that weight. Beginning with a wing that is too large can be a safety hazard for yourself and others.
A large wing will feel cumbersome at first and could cause you to gain more speed than is comfortable. It’s better to be underpowered than overpowered when learning a new action sport like wing surfing.
Wing Size Wind Ranges
Wing sizes are designed for different wind ranges. Each wing manufacturer will recommend a wind range for the size of wing you plan to purchase. You may be interested in purchasing just one wing size to save your budget, but we find that a lot of avid wing surfers have at least two sizes of wings in their quiver. This allows them to surf a wider range of wind conditions.
For example, the popular foil surf company F-One provides a size chart for purchasing wings, which shows the ideal wind range for each wing. The small 2.8m² wing is meant for winds of 25 to 42 knots, while the average size wing of 5m² is designed for winds ranging from 12 knots to 25 knots. Choosing an average-sized wing between 4m² and 5m² will allow you to wing foil in a wider range of conditions.
The Duotone wing and foil company offers a variety of wings for varying conditions. Their “One For All” Slick model is designed to be a versatile wing that easy to handle and fly in all conditions. However, they also manufacture higher performance wings for those who are commonly wing foiling on waves or performing complicated maneuvers.
Holding the Wing
Another factor that may determine which wing you purchase is how you prefer to hold it. There are two primary styles of holding the wing, including soft handles along the center of the wing or a hard boom-type item that is attached from the wingtip to the tail.
Riders tend to have different preferences as to which construction is more comfortable to hold. We recommend trying both options before purchasing.
Wings also come with a leash attachment, and which one you choose is also a matter of preference. Some leashes attach to the wrist of your front hand when holding the wing, and others attach to the waist. Try them both and choose whichever feels more natural.
More Expert Advice
Foil surfing and wing surfing gear can feel expensive if you’re purchasing it all at once. The average new wing costs around $800. We suggest testing gear before purchasing whenever possible. This can give you a better feel for varying wing constructions and sizes, so you can determine which ones you can successfully manage. This will also help you determine which style of leash attachment and wing holding style you prefer.
A variety of wing constructions are available for purchase, but two styles have become the most popular. Some wings are designed to be extremely light but do not include the reinforcements to remain durable over time. Those with reinforcements tend to be slightly heavier, but they are more resistant to shock and are much less fragile. We suggest investing in the latter for stability and longevity.
Other tips from our experts:
- Start wing surfing with a qualified instructor. He or she can help you determine which gear is best for your size, skill level, and local wing surfing conditions.
- Wear protective gear, such as an impact jacket, helmet, wetsuit, and booties to protect yourself from injury.
- Try foil surfing first without a wing to get a feel for standing up and riding with your hands free. A jet ski or boat can tow you to let you get a feel for foiling without having to worry about your speed or riding a wave first.
- Ensure that your landing area when learning is downwind, as it will take some practice before you learn how to remain or sail upwind.
- Inflate your wing just before you plan to surf and in an area that is away from the wind. Attach the leash to yourself as soon as it is inflated. It can be exhausting or even impossible to recover a wing that has flown away in the wind.
Wing surfing is a new sport and much of the equipment is still being developed. In a short time, wings have become much easier to use and more performance driven. Always consult an expert when questioning which wing setup is best for you and your current location.