Winging Vs. Windsurf Foiling:

A Windsurfer’s Guide to Wing Ding

Will my windsurf foil gear work for winging? What conditions favor a wing? Which favor a sail? What sport wins in the tease breeze, and which is the safest? Tyson Poor and Wyatt Miller team up for answers that save money, hassle and your noggin’.  

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Video Transcript

EDDY: Hi everyone. I am here with two people i consider to be the masters of water toys. These guys — you put them on anything out on the water and no matter what they’re riding they tend to make it look like the right tool for the job. There’s a reason for that. This is Tyson Poor and Wyatt Miller. These guys run Pro Windsurf La Ventana down in Baja where they spend months and months …

WYATT: We started as a windsurfing resort and then we added windsurf foiling. Now we have wing foiling, ATVs, sailboats. have all the water toys and we do it all. Whatever the day throws our way. We’re out there playing, and encouraging all the guests to spend as many hours as they can on the water.

TYSON: We spent the last 13 years down there doing this.

WYATT: Yeah I think this is year 13. Lucky number 13.

TYSON: We’re pretty dialed with the proper toy for the proper conditions and watching people learn to do these things so seeing what works what doesn’t.

EDDY: So I thought who better to talk about how to take some windsurfers that are looking over the fence at winging and help them do that. And Tyson what actually brought you guys together for me was – you told me one day, because i couldn’t find any wing foil gear even though I’m a co-owner of Big Winds, to stop my whining and grab my windsurf foil and a windsurf foil board and just get out there.

TYSON: Yeah, the ease of use from the windsurfing side of things with the the longer fuselage just gets you into winging and foiling and everything a lot easier. I mean it’s like trying to learn how to surf on a short board or trying to learn how to surf on a long board. You’re going to progress so much faster on that longer fuse that you’re using. You’re able to still use your windsurfing board, which you don’t want to necessarily take out of your quiver.

WYATT: When you start winging you really want the biggest board you can get. You want all that stability and all that float and just make it as easy as possible. And if you’ve already got 125-130 liter windsurf foil board, that’s really exactly what you’re looking for in a wing foil board. And then people wonder about whether the long fuselage of a windsurf foil work with winging and the thing is the longer the fuse the less reactive the board is to front foot and back foot pressure. So it’s more stable front foot to back foot. So actually starting on a windsurf foil board and foil with a with a longer fuselage actually makes it easier. The only downside that it has is that once you get better and you’re starting to just foot pump the board you lose 50 or 60 percent of your pumping efficiency with that longer fuselage. But it makes riding way easier because the board is less reactive front foot to back foot pressure. So you’re less likely to breach and less likely to touch down.

TYSON: It’s a lot more stable and a lot easier so that longer fuselage really helps you just kind of cruise in a straight line and get the feel of everything. And then you can kind of graduate to the next step: shorten the fuselage, make the board smaller, get used to a different wing.

WYATT: And in general you’re going to start winging on your 120 130 liter wing board but super quickly you’re -especially a windsurfer – you’re going to be able to step down because the balance is so similar. They’re going to step down from that 120 130 to a 90 within like a week or two weeks. So you might as well use your windsurf foil board that’s 120 and then just wait until you’ve kind of got that down. Then step into the 90 liter range of your wing foil board.

EDDY: So windsurf foil boards, and the long fuselages of the windsurf foils, are good?

TYSON and WYATT: Absolutely!

WYATT: It totally works. It’s easier and then you know you kind of save your money for your prime tiny little wing foil board that you’re going to graduate to.

EDDY: And just to be sure, with some windsurf foil boards, unlike a wing board, you may not have a full deck pad. So you probably want a wetsuit because your knees might be getting chewed up a little more.

WYATT: Yeah the one thing you might want to do if possible is try to slide your foil a little further forward than you’re used to windsurf foiling or you’re going to have to remove your back foot strap because your back foot is going to be right there on the tail where your back foot strap is. But if you do have a track, or you attach a Power Plate to the bottom of your Tuttle Box that gives you some adjustment, you can slide the foil forward forward and stand a little bit better in the middle of the board.

EDDY: Great. Now you guys you guys have all the options, and you were just mentioning you love going to Baja because you don’t have to rig everything. It’s all right there ready to go on the beach. Some hypotheticals here – just to figure out when you choose which toy — especially with winging now in the mix. Let’s say it’s blowing 15 to 25. It’s a good solid wind. What are you guys reaching for first if you have no obligations you can grab whatever you want?

WYATT: Yeah, if it’s windy I’m windsurfing still. TYSON: Yeah, same.

WYATT: It’s more speed. It’s more power. I definitely still like it best if it’s really good conditions. Then you know i could do whatever I want i still go for the windsurfer. Just because it feels more speedy and more powerful and you know it’s not foiling.

EDDY: OK, how about light winds? Let’s say we’re talking to some windsurf foilers out there. Do you feel as though a wing or a windsurf foil one has an advantage over the other in terms of getting up and flying in light winds?

TYSON: I don’t know if one sport necessarily has an advantage. I think they can both now – especially with the size of the foils that people are making – that we can we can get up in super light winds on both. But you do have the advantage of windsurfing if the wind shuts off completely or down to like three knots you’re still standing on a board with a rigid sail in your hands. And you can get back to where you where you started no problem. Upwind, downwind, everybody knows who windsurf foils knows sailing up wind is a breeze. It’s like having a center board so so wherever you end up you can come back. Whereas on a wing specific board, once you progress to smaller liters it does get harder if the wind does decide to completely drop. So if you have really light wind that has the possibility of shutting off almost completely i’d rather be on a windsurf foil kit.

WYATT: Because you can slog home. You know you’re gonna stay dry and comfortably slog home. On the wing board you’re gonna be half sinking and trying to get some power and you can’t get up wind as much. So if it’s super marginal and weird, I’d rather be on a windsurfer because i can get home. But i feel like at this point it really comes down to the size of your front wing on your foil. If you’ve got a big old front wing you’re really similar sizes winging and windsurfing.

TYSON: If you can get up and go windsurfing you can get up and go winging. If you have the right the right size foil, the right wing, in light winds there isn’t much of a difference between the two sports.

EDDY: How about this one – You’ve got a customer arriving at Pro-Windsurf La Ventana. They’ve got a week. They’re inspired by all the wind sports. They say I want you to teach me the one that takes me the farthest in my one week. Which sport do you think offers the easiest path into either flying on a foil or or not, but just gets them out there and having fun?

WYATT and TYSON: Winging.

WYATT: The learning curve is so quick.

TYSON: That’s a lot of variables. If the person has no water sports experience whatsoever with wind or water sports or anything it’s it’s going to be winging.

WYATT: Especially because what we find with kids coming down to our resort is we can give them a wing on the beach, and the parents are out there windsurfing, and the kids running around on the beach and having the time of their lives.

TYSON: A wing is the greatest beach toy.

WYATT: They’re running and jumping off the dunes and getting extra hang time, and this whole time that they’re so enthralled with playing with the wing and the power of the wind they’re learning so much. And if you have like a kid like that with the windsurf sail – you can teach them the beginner lesson and standing on the board on the beach, but they’re not having that same level of fun and therefore they’re not learning as much. So you know you can hand a kid a wing on the beach and they’ll spend like two three hours a day for five days on the beach and then when you put them on the water their wing skills are so elevated that they progress really quickly.

EDDY: OK, how about for the the windsurf foiler. If he’s looking over the fence at winging, what are some of the reasons that winging could be a good option? What are some of the advantages of winging?

WYATT: I think where winging really shines is it’s definitely the best vehicle for riding swell. Windsurf foiling you’re standing more outboard, and more on the tail of the board. In winging you’re really on the center of the board, right over the foil where you want to be to really ride the swell. Windsurfing or kiting riding swell is all about ditching the power in the in the sail or the kite. With winging you can actually ditch all of the power really easily, whereas windsurfing you’re going to tend to have a little bit of power in the sail the whole time. So i think like if you’re just trying to ride swell and get that surfing feeling winging is it. But windsurfing for me is when your windsurf  foiling it’s faster, more powerful, more carvy, more charging.

TYSON: The awesome thing about winging is it’s the closest thing to surfing. You see a lot of surfers transitioning over to winging that weren’t weren’t interested in windsurfing or kiting at all. The second they saw wings – because you can just shut it off completely and ride a 1.5′ bump to a 20′ swell. It’s the closest thing to surfing.
You can get towed in. The wing is your your own tow in vehicle to get you out into the swell then you shut it off completely and all you’re doing at that point is riding the foil on the board, cruising around, using the energy of the wave instead of the energy of the wind to keep you going. So the wing opens up huge options. I mean if you’re in gusty spots – we sail out here out at The Wall and if the wind turns northwest, all that swell is stuck on the Washington side and there’s no wind at all and you’re coming in full tilt windsurfing you just slow down. But if you hop on one of these wings you come in, hit that swell, and you ride it two miles downwind on one swell, come back up in two seconds, two miles back down.

EDDY: So you guys were talking about the luffability of a wing being a big advantage for swell riding. When I windsurf foiled, which i did a lot of three or four years ago, my chief complaint here in the gusty Gorge was that once I started getting overpowered I just put my tail between my legs and tried to get in. With the wing, I feel like if it’s a gusty day winging it can be a safer option for foiling. Do you feel that’s true?

WYATT: I don’t know about safer because windsurfing when you’re holding onto the boom you maintain separation from the foil. When you fall on the wing once you give up that board you have no idea where the foil is. But as far as being overpowered winging, you don’t really get overpowered. You can just hold it higher and higher above your head and you begin hanging from it. Windsurf foiling – you’re right. If I’m super lit windsurf foiling I’m gonna go change my sails. You get more wing range with winging for sure.

EDDY: Another thing for me when I was windsurf foiling was the more dedicated I became to it, that when I hopped on my normal windsurf gear, the more caddy wonked I was. When I wing and then windsurf – the two sports are siloed. They play better together. You guys do all these sports so much is there any chance that some of your worlds get blurred, and it throws you off a little?

TYSON: When you hop back from a wing or windsurf foiling to regular windsurf? EDDY: Yes.

TYSON: When you go back to windsurfing you’re like, “Why am i not going fast enough right now!?” You think those first two pumps you should be up and flying. So wind surfing takes you that little bit longer to get going. You feel those gusty conditions a little bit more if you’re underpowered.

WYATT: And the leg pump of regular windsurfing – you’re like oh my gosh I’m pulling so hard! I’m pushing so hard.

EDDY: Did it always pull this hard?

WYATT: Exactly. The big difference I feel, the hardest thing to adapt to gear wise is changing your foil front wing. I don’t I have maybe three or four foil front wings I use all the time, whether windsurfing or winging and maybe I’ve used them both 100 times. But when I switch to a new one i’m totally thrown off for half an hour.

EDDY: And what does that look like, Wyatt? Do you actually fall or is it just the jumps are a little lower?

WYATT: For the first 30 seconds there’s some some really uncalled for crashes that’s for sure.

EDDY: So with you guys being here in the Gorge and watching winging just explode this summer, but still from what I’m hearing being hardcore, loyal windsurfers, what are the days where without a doubt you’re grabbing your wing? I heard the swell riding, I heard when it’s really gusty and kind of wispy wind where it’s coming through in bursts. Are there any other wind dynamics where you’re like I’m definitely wing foiling today more so than windsurf foiling?

TYSON: Not so much. I mean the nice thing about light wind days is you can take both and just go explore. There’s no swell, so you’re going to be on a decent sized sail and a decent size board and foil and and, for me, that’s the most fun part about those light wind days is being able to go from here as far west as you can and then come all the way back.

EDDY: And you feel like that’s a little better suited for windsurf foiling? That’s where windsurf foiling has a greater advantage?

TYSON: Yeah, you definitely have that safety factor of if the wind shuts off.

WYATT: I feel like the big difference too is if i was going to do a big Event Site up to the Hatchery and back for a big upwind and big downwind I get a better angle and go faster on the windsurf board. to like Butif everybody was saying hey let’s do a downwinder from Viento to the Event Site, I’d much rather be on the wing for
downwind riding swell. You know I just can go upwind with a lot more ease and a lot more efficiency on the windsurfer. And it’s really fun to go upwind on a windsurfer. I haven’t got to the point where going upwind is really very fun on the wing, even with the harness. You’re just kind of working it you know.

TYSON: That’s coming from this guy’s race background …

I heard someone mentioning that hey Wyatt, now you don’t have to rig your sail, you can just pump up a wing. Which can you do quicker?

WYATT: Oh definitely the windsurf sail. We can time ourselves and do it in like a minute and I’m just still not a fan of the pump. I actually have the little electronic pump in the van so I can get it mostly pumped up and no one can see me do this very much is still a hard thing to take as a windsurfer.

EDDY: Tyson, are you okay with the pump?

TYSON: Yeah I’m fine with it.

EDDY: You better be because you’re Cabrinha’s kite manager.

TYSON: Yeah man, we got to figure out some way to catch up to Kai Lenny here.

EDDY: You guys thanks so much for joining. We’ve got a lot of the gear you see … well, some of it at Big Winds, but it’s all at Pro-Windsurf La Ventana.

WYATT: It’s there! We’ve got all the toys ready to go on the beach. All the newest stuff is coming down to us brand managers first.If you want to come ride the newest stuff come on down to Baja this winter.

EDDY: All right thanks so much!

WYATT: This long fuse is my favorite back loop crazy front flip windsurf foil.

EDDY: If forced to do a backflip on a windsurf foil or a wing foil which one has you sweating? Definitely wing foil. Because long as you hold on to the boom windsurf foiling you’re going gonna maintain distance from the foil. But if you go upside down with the wing foil and it comes off on your feet … you have no idea where it is. You just lost all control. I just imagine it coming down and getting me right in the head. So i like having the boom and keeping my distance from the foil.

EDDY: Are you wearing a helmet?

WYATT: Definitely wearing a helmet on the wing foil doing flips. Not so much on the windsurf foil.

EDDY: Tyson are you wearing a helmet?

TYSON: Yes sir.