THE

WINGSURFING

JOURNEY

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Part Six

EQUIPMENT: BOARD

By: Neal Gent

THE

WINGSURFING

JOURNEY

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Part Six

EQUIPMENT: BOARD

By: Neal Gent

VOLUME, YOUR ABILITY AND YOUR BODY WEIGHT: HOW DOES THAT WORK? The majority of wingsurfing boards provide as much stability as possible at the shortest length, which means that the current trend is for short, wide board designs. In an ideal world you’d be able to multi-task your board / foil and use the same gear for SUP / surfing / winging. While that may be possible, try to focus more fully on what’s going to be ideal for wingsurfing. A board’s volume is a numerical figure that describes how buoyant it is. At the very beginning, more volume underfoot is your friend. You have enough to worry about dealing with the new wing and the concept of foiling, without having to balance on a sinking platform as well! Most manufacturers seem to advise a good starting point by taking your weight in kilos and adding 40 litres to give you a safe volume that you’ll be able to stand up on and ride. So a rank beginner who is 80 kilos should be looking at a board of around 120 litres.

If we take someone 75-80kg in weight, who has some windsurfing / kiting / foiling experience, it’s unlikely they will need such a big board for very long, but again their first goes will be made considerably more rewarding on a board with upwards of 100L of volume. Somewhere between 5’10’’ and 6’5’’ in length with at least 27’’ of width would be somewhere suitable. If you are coming from windsurfing / kiting and have some foiling experience, then the board you take your first steps on is potentially not going to be what you want by the end of the first day, though. Whether you have any prior experience in watersports or not, I would strongly suggest going to a school / shop and covering the basics on their beginner set-up. You could do that with your own wing, and even your own foil probably, but you’ll outgrow a really big board quicker than you think. Once you’ve established your base level with an instructor, you can then decide how brave you want to be in your first purchase. Image below: Matador, Gustavo Arrojo, Tarifa, Spain Photo: Amores Creative

DO GET EXPERIENCE ON A BIG BOARD Essentially, if you’re serious about getting into this, you have to get hold of a big enough board to give you the thrilling sensation of the freedom that winging provides. Go too small and all you’ll experience is sinking constantly and falling off. Thinking you can just step straight onto a board of 75 or 80 litres with no prior experience is a big mistake. Maybe you have a friend with a SUP foil who would let you borrow it? Or just bite the bullet, buy a suitably big board, have fun and understand that there will be plenty of people wanting to buy a second hand big board. It would be better to learn to ride and outgrow a board, than to struggle for much longer on a smaller, more advanced board. Once you start leaning harder into turns, when you start catching your rail in the water, you’ll know it’s time to upgrade to something smaller. NEAL’S BOARD PROGRESSION I started out with a big board; 6’2’’ x 27’’ 115 litres, which shrank considerably and quickly with my second board; 5’5’’ x 26’’ 80 litres. I could now use this board for every session very happily. If you’re into progression, or like me enjoy surf foiling and want to ride smaller boards, you’re going to want a second board and may well need more than one wing in your quiver. But worry about that later!

WHY ARE SMALLER BOARDS SO ATTRACTIVE? Once you’re up and riding, the smaller boards feel so good because they’re altogether more compact. There’s no feeling of ‘swinging’ around with lots of unnecessary length or volume when you’re carving and you’re less likely to accidentally touch down when you’re carving thanks to the smaller outline. Once you have a few weeks of experience under your belt and you’re pushing forward, 75 - 85 litres is generally a good size and, crucially, from a safety point of view, will still be relatively easy to paddle home should you need to. The really good riders are now using boards of as little as 30 litres. To do a board start you need to be able to balance with the board on your feet, sunken under your weight to waist deep as you flap the wing for power. Aside from that they offer little extra buoyant float / help if you need to paddle home if the wind drops. So have fun, take your time and don’t be in a rush to drop down too early unless you’re coming into wingsurfing with lots of other windsurfing / kitesurfing experience. Image below: Titouan Galea - don't miss our interview with him here! Photo: F-One

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