5 top tips on how to find the best learning Wing Foil locations
You have the gear, you’ve had a couple of wing foil lessons, you have some idea of what to do, now all you need is an ideal location to get into the sport.
This page is all about how to find an ideal location to learn how to wing foil safety.
Question: Is the best location to Wing Foil the closest spot from my house?
Answer: Well…yes.. that may be convenient, but that may not necessarily be the best location where to safely learn the sport of Wing Foiling. The location close to your house may be better suited to when you can sail up wind and have confidence in your ability.
Some wing foil spots are not always at the same location as other water sports like sailing, kiteboarding, windsurfing or SUP locations. This may be because of the following:
-During light fluffly winds, sailing boats float through a lull and bob around until the wind comes back.
-Kiteboarder can ride in ankle deep water, where as wing foilers require at least 1m deep water.
-Windsurfers can ride in knee deep water and handle stronger winds earlier in the learning phase of the sports.
-SUP locations do not require wind, although the water is deep and calm, you may be in the lee side of land, buildings or trees.
So, what makes a great location to wingfoil?
1 – Calm sea state
There is enough going on when learning to control the wing foil board, foil and hand wing at the same time. A calm sea state will only help the learning phase of your progress. Ideal calm sea state locations are lakes, inshore harbours or sheltered from the open ocean. Small 1 ft (30 cm) wind chop below knee high can be tolerable.
Avoid larger rolling swell and wind chop as this combination can cause extra frustration early on whilst learning to wing foil. Avoid areas with strong tidal currents.
2 – Deep water with no obstacles
Choose an area with at least 1m depth of water. Sounds like an obvious item on the list, but you will need more water depth if you have a “sinker” wing foil board.
Know the location in regards to high and low tides and be comfortable with your level of experience.
Avoid the shallow areas of the coast line and keep your distance from other water users. Marine buoys can have long lines below that could snag or catch your foil. Sea lettuce or seaweed can also catch around your foil or mast and you will instantly slow down, or be unable to pump out off the water.
Learners walk back up wind between flights.
3 – Wind
The best wind to learn how to wing foil is around 15 knots, or 15 mph.
If the wind is lighter than 15knots, it will take more technique to learn how to pump off the water. This comes with time and experience and not always possible when learning in lighter winds.
If the wind is stronger than 20 to 25 knots, you may be capable of wing foiling. It may come down to having the right level of previous ocean and water experience, or if you are closely coached by an better rider. Typically these stronger winds will exhaust your arms and shorten your session until you have mastered a better technique.
Wind direction also plays a key part to the success of your early wing foiling. We would recommend a location that has side shore winds. This is because you can get into deeper water faster whilst also able to safely come back to shore when necessary.
It is best to avoid direct onshore winds because you will constantly end up being pushed onto the beach. It is also best to avoid winds that are offshore (winds blowing from land to water) because self-rescuing could become much harder.
4 – Entry in and out of the water
Being able to safely enter and exit the water is also a key item to think about. The hand wing and wing foil board can be tricky to carry early on. Let’s not make things harder for yourself by trying to walk a long distance over sharp rocks, shells, or estuary mud.
The best locations are where you can rig up on the grass or beach, and walk a few meters out into deep water quickly.
Mr Kiwi Foil Frother him self, Shaan Millar.
5 – Down wind exit location
For your first few sessions, you are going to drift down wind. This is just part of the sport when learning. Before heading out, look down wind and think about a safe exit location. If there is not exit location, consider another location.
You may have a friend with a boat or jetski who can assist in heading back up wind.
Whilst learning to wing foil, remember safety is always paramount.
-Ensure your wing leash and board leash are maintained and connected securely as they are your “flotation device” if the wind drops or you need a rescue.
-Ensure others are keeping an eye on you in the water. Tell a friend where you are going and when you will return.
-Check your equipment at the end of every session. This will allow you to maintain or purchase new gear if necessary.
-Check the forecast and know what the weather is doing. Going far from the coast whilst the wind is dropping is not a great idea.
Armstrong team rider and local ripper Jonno Begg showing how to back-wind, Auckland, New Zealand.