Wing boarding is taking over the wind sports industry. With such a massive influx of new riders and a rapid development of gear there is a strong second-hand market. However, it pays to be wary when buying second hand wings. There are a few key issues to look out for.
Wing boarding is a very new sport and there has been lots of research and development put into the equipment. This means that in general, most older model wings are simply not as good as a current model wing. They may be less powerful, less user friendly and/or more uncomfortable to use.
These older model wings should be avoided as they will actually slow your progression and make the learning process harder.
As there is such a fast development in the equipment, not all wings are created equally. There are many different designs, in shape, handle type, materials etc.. It is always worth doing some research on a wing before you purchase it, there are plenty of resources online with reviews and guides to help make the decision.
You should also pay attention to the brand of the wing and how common it is in your location. If lots of people are riding this brand it implies that spare parts and repairs may be easier to get than if it is a more unknown or unpopular brand.
Although wings look similar to kites, they tend to age much faster. With regular use a wing can lose its performance in just one season. This is partly due to pumping the wing when getting onto foil stretching the canopy material. In the store we call a well-used wing 'bagged out' as it begins to feel loose like a plastic bag.
While still usable, you need to be aware that a 'bagged out' wing will be much less efficient when making power through pumping. This means you will need more power (stronger wind) for a comparable wing size. If you are after a light wind wing, avoid anything well used as it will make getting on foil so much harder.
With experience you can feel how 'bagged' a wing is by pumping it when inflated. But as a general rule of thumb, a wing that has had regular usage over one season will produce less power, and a two-season old wing may be very inefficient to pump with.
Wings take a beating. Especially from beginners, freestylers and strong wind riders... You know what, wings take a beating from basically all riders!
It is very common to stick a foil tip through a wing, if you are lucky just through the canopy, if unlucky it may pierce the bladder also.
When buying second hand always look for repairs. One or two small and/or professional repairs to the canopy may not have much impact on the wing's performance or lifespan. But multiple repairs may be because careless rider, or a particularly eventful crash, both of these can indicate performance issues.
Repairs to the leading edge or strut tubes will almost always be associated with a pierced or broken bladder. You should be very careful when buying wings with bladder repairs, as this type of damage can be hard to fix and guarantee. A wing with a slow leak is not going to be any good to use on the water. When buying second hand wings, always inflate and leave it up for minimum of 30 minutes to ensure that it doesn't have a slow leak.
A golden rule is always: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Wings have value, if you see one being sold at a low price, it is very unlikely that the owner is selling it below its value, and much more likely that the wing is not worth much due to age, model type or damage and will hinder your development in the sport.
In a perfect world we would all be able to buy a new, current-model wing. But if you need to go second hand to meet the budget remember to work through the following points:
- Model & age
- Model and brand popularity
- How well used it is
- Damage to the wing
- Bladder issues