What is Wing Foiling

Wing Foiling is a relatively new sport, and refers to riding a board with a hydrofoil attached to the bottom, while generating power through the use of a handheld inflatable wing.

Also called wing surfing, wingfoiling or wing foiling is a wind propelled water sport that developed from kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing. The sailor, standing on a board, holds directly onto a wing. It generates both upward force and sideways propulsion and thus moves the board across the water. The recent development of foilboards, which plane very early on a hydrofoil fin and thereby lift off the water producing low friction, represent the ideal complementary hydrodynamic platform for wings. Wingsports are poised to become wildly popular.

The history of wing foiling begins with the invention of wing surfing dating back to 1981, when aeronautical engineer Jim Drake, the inventor of windsurfing, and Uli Stanciu, European windsurfing pioneer, together invented the first wing. Their concept was based on the symmetrical shape of the flying fish. Unlike windsurfing, their wing was hand held and not fixed to the board via a mast.

Sailor showcasing the first wing design in the early 80\’s

80s revolutionized water sports and designers took a stab at different ways that a hand held sailing wing could be used to move across water or land. The Wind Weapon is no doubt an example and a prelude to a modern wing foiling.

β€œWind Weapon” patended as β€œSailing wing” – US Patent US4682557A;Magruder Thomas A, Crowell Robert L ; 1984-10-17

\”Slingwing\” was introduced by Slingshot\’s co-founder & designer Tony Logosz who used it on a wind foil board with a large, high-lift foil in the Columbia Gorge. In March and April 2018, Hawaiian Flash Austin tested 3.5 mΒ² and 4 mΒ² handheld wings on a SUPfoil in Maui. Kitesurf manufacturer Duotone started to market its wing in the spring of 2019. From the summer 2019, Robby Naish and other kitesurf manufacturers were offering inflatable wings.

In contrast to other sports, the wing is not board-bound: it can be used while riding a surfboard, kiteboard or standup paddle board, but also in combination with a skateboard, snowboard, or even on inline skates. Wingsurfing on boards equipped with a foil is particularly popular, as it is possible to plane with small wings at around 8 knots. Wings come in different sizes; typically the smallest are around 2.8 mΒ² , and the largest around 7 mΒ²

Wing surfing companies have founded an organization for the sport called the Global Wingsports Association. They have organized a world tour starting in 2021. There are two disciplines: surf-race and surf-freestyle.

Technically, but also in terms of application, wingsurfing has numerous similarities to both windsurfing and kitesurfing. For example, the wing is controlled directly instead of using lines, but it still has a similar construction and functionality to a kite. The question of whether wingsurfing is a variation of kitesurfing, windsurfing or a completely independent sport is not just of a theoretical nature: it also concerns, for example, the extent to which kite bans at the spots also apply to wingsurfers.

Either way it looks like lots of fun.