If you are into Wingsports you can’t miss Balz Müller. The talented Swiss has already made a name for himself with windsurfing and is currently astonishing the world with a fabulous repertoire of tricks on his Wingfoil. I found it really astonishing how in such a young sport someone can already master so many technical tricks. Balz explains the sport of wings in his video very well. As I am looking for wing-surf tutorials on YouTube, I found his are the best.
I was very pleased that Balz took the time to answer a few questions and explain his view of the new sport for our readers.
Aloha Balz, thank you for taking the time to read the Stand Up Magazin. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a passionate water sportsman who likes to try out new things!
I was very lucky that my parents are enthusiastic about water sports and followed the wind, the waves and the snow in the winter. I spent more time on boards than my own feet. I literally grew up on the lake of Biel.
I love nature and the possibilities to live with it to play! I am an adrenaline junky and love to surf violent storms and go to my limits!
Since 8 years I am taking part in the Windsurf Worldtour PWA, and was able to show self-created maneuvers like the “Shifty” and breakneck foil freestyle tricks me to the world’s top freestylers surfing.
What went through your mind when you first saw a Wing in action?
Already some years ago, I was fascinated by a video of a self made kite flying windsurfer at the Hood River/Oregon. The first image of this flying surf sail has burned a memory into my brain. I was addicted since the very first visual discovery!
How quickly did you realize the potential of this new sport?
My very first wing session was last year at the Engadinwind in Silvaplana! I had the luck to try out a wing after the competition from the local windsurfing center Windsurfing Silvaplana. So I spent the rest of the week with Wingfoiling. It is such an easy way to get away with the foil and the free feeling of flying over the water is just indescribably beautiful! I was so taken by it, that I couldn’t possibly go home without it. So I bought the wing with the prize money of the windsurfing event!
How do you compare wing foiling with windsurfing (or kite)? When is it better to windsurf (or kite) and when is it better to go out with the wing? Or is windsurfing now completely out of fashion?
Wing-surfing is a unique new water sport. I like the unlimited possibilities of the fact that your board is not directly connected to the Wing propulsion unit!
Especially when kitesurfing, these lines make everything very complicated. You need a lot of space, constant wind and someone to help you start and land. With the Wing it’s all much easier and the most ingenious thing about the wing is that you can easily bring it into an “Off Power” position, so you can surf the rolling swell waves without pressure and even bridge the strongest gust without danger. Another big advantage is the packing possibility, compared to the material battle of windsurfing, I can cover almost the whole Swiss wind spectrum with my 4.5 wing! I think that winging will not make kiting or windsurfing extinct, but I see a big increase of new motivated water sportsmen and women who found the traditional sports simply too complicated!
It is just enormously fascinating to see how the Wingsport is spreading. It brings back some memories of how SUP spread on Hawaii. At that time, the epicenter of the sport was on Maui for several years. But this does not seem to be the case in wing sports. Jeffrey Spencer did the first backflip and Kai Lenny did a frontflip, but then we’ll look at your videos. The variety of tricks you show us is enormous. What do you think are the reasons for this fast development and high performance level in a region where it is bitterly cold 4-6 Monte a year?
The reason why windsurfing on inland waterways is booming is simple, the gusty, mostly weak winds are good for winging. The Swiss Alps valley winds are ideal. You could even say that our freshwater lakes are becoming a mecca for the new sport of foiling! Many of the new wing tricks can be adapted from snowboarding and skating. So it’s not bad to surf in the snow or halfpipe during the cold months. Last season I already went snowboard winging a few times and on top of that, there is the strong westerly wind during the winter months which chases us with good suits even on the bitter cold lakes.
The sport recently got its administrative organ with the GWA and we can look forward to a world tour. In which area do you see the biggest potential of wing-foiling contests?
Wingfoiling is ideal for a great action show, during jumps the spectator gets to see what’s underneath the board that lets it fly above water surface! Therefore I see great potential in freestyle! But of course all the crazy tricks are already hard to understand so the challenge is to present it easily. Personally, I think it would be a pity if winging would become a racing sport where the competitors follow each other for kilometers on the lake and the fastest one wins! Especially because in winging you could turn after 10 meters and you could race funny little courses with pumps even in very gusty conditions.
My dream: Boardercross style races with short buoy courses and even jumps. In urban waters and close to the spectators, harbour basins, pools, beach promenades.
Windsurfing is not even half as big as it used to be for many years. Now with Winging something like a gold-digger atmosphere has arisen. Can an athlete hope to earn a living with this sport and travel around the world?
It was my childhood dream to become a surf professional, and since last year I could proudly fulfill this dream. However, there is a lot of development work in foil surfing, and it can happen that I waste a great wind day comparing and optimizing new material that is not so suitable. But of course, with the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done in wingsurfing, there is always the possibility to become a professional Wingsurf athlete! I think next year we will see if the spectators (events/media) are interested in this fascinating new sport. According to my latest observation, I am very optimistic!
Speaking of travel: Which spots appeal to you the most? What is your dream destination?
It sounds absurd but through the corona crisis I learned to appreciate our Swiss waters even more and especially the lake of Neuchâtel can create on its, unfortunately rare strong north wind or southwest wind days, brilliant wave conditions, which are a dream to wing-surfing! And additionally I am already looking forward to the next “Föhn” storm at the Lake of Uri or the beautiful panorama next summer in Silvaplana. But on your question, of course, when your fingers freeze off again you long for the warm Maui.
“What the hekc is a Wing?” I saw this video at least 10 times.”
What advice do you have for people who are just discovering the sport and want to start doing it? What is the best way to start?
It is best to attend a beginner course in your region. On the Lake of Uri at the windsurf camping, Lake Murten at the Bisenoire or the Lake Geneva Surf Shop Preverenges.
With the ideal material* and enough wind** at the first session the chances of success are very high! And I find it the easiest way to learn the sport of foilsurfing!
*140l Foilsup, grosser Foil: 2000cm2 + 4.5- 5.5m2 wing
**einfacher zu balancieren mit genug Druck im wing
How high do you estimate the risk of injury from the foil? Are there already cases in your region of serious injuries from the foil?
Foils are sharp! Touching wood – with all our crazy maneuvers nothing serious has happened yet! As long as you stay in the footstraps and are aware of what you are playing with! I have cut myself a few times while foiling, but never during a maneuver but when I was washed up on the beach or I carelessly kicked the foil while swimming.
I wish you a lot of fun while learning or practicing this wonderful new sport. Hang loose Balz
Thank you very much for your time and lots of success.
Balz Müller BIO
- Residence: Ipsach (Switzerland)
- Age: 26
- Profession: Watersport Athlet
- Windsurfing sinc: 15 years
- Winging since: 1 year
- Sponsores: MB-Boards, Ensis-Watersport, Silvaplana, Dakine Europe