When starting with wing foiling (wing surfing, wing ding) it can be a daunting prospect figuring out the right gear to give you the best start in the sport but that still gives room for progression as you get better. There are, in essence, three main pieces of equipment that you require to get on the water. These are:
This page is designed to give you a guide on choosing the right gear for you. A common mistake is to get caught up in which brand is best, it is wiser to be brand blind and focus instead on the features that you require from your gear.
As a beginner, board choice is critical to ensure that you don’t make the early stages too difficult for yourself. Much like SUP (Stand Up Paddle) having positive buoyancy is critical to ensure that you have a stable platform on which to learn.
Buoyancy of a board is given by the volume which is measured in liters. As a general rule one liter will offset the weight of one kilogram. As a beginner wing border, boards should be at least 30 liters above your weight. I.e. an 80kg rider should be looking for a board 110+ liters. This ensures that the board will support your weight, and even if the wind drops out you are able to remain on the board.
When progressing, people often find that they move onto smaller boards which give less swing weight while up on the foil. This gives more maneuverability to the rider, allowing faster turning and pumping (developing power through the foil) of the board. There is a good second hand market of larger beginner boards, which makes the resale value high so upgrading is easy.
The hydrofoil is undoubtedly the piece of kit that has the most impact on your riding. Foil shapes, dimensions and, to a lesser extent, material composition change the performance of the foil through: speed, lift, maneuverability and stall speed. There are a few components that have to be considered, most key is the size and shape of the front wing, but the length of the mast, size of the tail wing and fuselage length will factor also.
When choosing a foil front wing, in essence, larger wings are easier. They produce more lift at lower speeds and are more stable when riding. A common way to measure wings is using the area in cm^2. Entry level riders will normally be using wings between 1500-2300cm^2 depending on the prevailing conditions (bigger wings for lighter winds) and rider weight (bigger wings for heavier riders). High-aspect wings are longer and thinner in shape, they ride faster and are better for pumping, but wont turn as sharply due to a larger wing-span. High-aspect wings are not as ideal for beginners, but can still work well in some cases.
Mast size has an impact when learning, longer masts make the gear more ungainly to use and require deeper waters to ride. However, a longer mast means that you are able to ride through choppy waters without having to adjust ride height as much, they are also slightly more forgiving giving extra length for errors when trimming your height on the foil. Generally beginners start out with a 60-70cm mast, with intermediates and advanced progressing to 80-95cm.
The tail wing is a stabilizer so larger wings will give more stability while slowing down speed and turning speed. Generally a tail wing will match a front wing (large for larger front wings and vice versa). Fuselages come in a variety of lengths. Longer fuselages allow more stability at higher speeds, while shorter fuselages give more maneuverability and better pumping. Most wing foilers use medium to short length fuselages.
The key feature to focus on in a hand wing is the size in m^2. Larger wings give more power and so are used in lighter winds or for heavier riders. Wings give a large usable wind range but, as with other wind sports, most riders end up with a quiver of two or three hand wings to cater for the varying wind conditions. The table below gives a very rough guide on wind range per wing size based on an 80kg rider. Note that this will also vary with skill level, water conditions and foil size.
hand wing size (m^2)
usable wind range (kts)
Most riders will start with a 4, 5 or 6 m wing depending on the winds they expect to be riding.
5m are probably best to start on for winging in Melbourne.
Some booms wings come with rigid booms which can be better for switching hands during maneuvers. Soft handles do also work well so your choice will be completely based on personal preference.