WING SPECIAL from the SUP to the Wing

The reason why I would like a Wing is that I have more opportunities in the water. I do not want to buy another board plus foil again for expensive money. I see the Wing simply as a nice addition to the SUP. Bart still agrees with me on that – but only as a beginner: “You’ll see once you learn the Wing and know how to use it, you’ll want a foil very quickly.” Bart calls wingsurfing “3-D surfing”: “You get to “fly” with a 4 m2 Wing in already very little wind. You’ll never get into planing quickly with a regular SUP.” Bart advises me to first learn how to run height with the Wing, and then when I don’t have to do any more “Walks of Shame”, I’ll already see how quickly the desire arises in me to switch to a foilboard.” I was already afraid of that. Then I’ll probably already start looking for cheap secondhand material.

 BEGINNER LESSON WITH ANNIE REICKERT

So I dig around the island for wings, but without success. But I do meet up with a very talented athlete named Annie Reickert, thanks to the efforts of OZONE Kites. She will give me a little introductory course in wingen. For those who don’t know Annie yet, I’m happy to introduce her briefly here:

ANNIE REICKERT // Annie turns 19 this year and grew up on Maui. She didn’t get into water sports through her parents like most Maui kids. “Sure we went to the beach on the weekends and surfed, but my parents aren’t windsurfers or surfers in that sense,” she explains to me. Annie grew into the “Maui watersports scene” through friends and SUP, demonstrating very great talent and courage. Many say Annie is the female version of Kai Lenny. That’s not too far fetched either, as Annie is also well known in the Jaws lineup. She even participated in the WSL Big Wave Contest at Jaws this winter. Annie travels the world as a sponsored athlete and was the first woman to foil across the Kaiwi Channel at M2O two years ago. So much for her accomplishments. She is also very personable as a person, enormously friendly and enthusiastic. You can tell that when she says or does something, it comes from the heart.  

So much for my instructor, now for the gear: she brought me a 65 liter foil downwind SUP and her Prone Foilboard. I have my 8’2″ (109 liter) SUP and an 8′ longboard with a 20″ width. I think I might give that a try too.

 Annie explains her material to me. There’s a good $5,000 in the back of the pickup. This sport is not cheap.

Annie inflates the Wing in 30 strokes in under a minute. That’s what I love most about the Wings: they inflate so quickly and are ready to go. You should inflate the Wing quite a bit, up to about 8 PSI, as we see on the scale. Then you can also test the pressure well at the end of the Wing. “Not in the middle,” Annie tells me, “but at the end, because there the Wing is a little softer. Definitely not too little air, because otherwise the Wing will bend.”

Most wings like a 7 PSI to 9 PSI pressure.

So let’s put the lady in the water first. She uses her 23 liter miniboard with footstraps and stands in the chest-deep water on this board. The foil is on the bottom. She pumps the wing three times and off she goes. It’s that simple. Simply fascinating sport. The speed she achieves is breathtaking. I have to be able to do that, too. Annie shows me a few jumps and cruises up and down the beach at the drop of a hat. Now it’s my turn. I can’t even think about such a small board. It’s all about SUP and Wing, so today (and probably for quite a while, as it will soon turn out) I have to use my Wave SUP. So I start my pr.ventive “Walk of Shame” and go now already 100 meters up the beach. As I water in with my board and the wing, I realize again very quickly that I still have a lot to practice. Kneeling on a board is easy, but in 25 knots of wind with waves and a wing in my hand is something completely different.

This is exactly where SUP comes in handy. It’s an absolute illusion to think you can learn the sport on a small board. My SUP is wide and stable enough to keep the fidgety wing under control while I stand up. As a “goofy footer” it is then easy for me to sail out to sea. But what I really have a hard time with once again is the jibe. Bart advised me to change feet instead of turning my shoulders. So I try that and promptly lie down in the water. Now getting up with the “wrong” foot in front is out of the question. So I have to twist my body. That works also to some extent, but rather badly than right. I half-kneel back to the beach. Annie laughs at me and says that it went really well. She is such a nice person, but I have a different opinion. Once again more up the beach to the next attempt. This time a little further up than the first time.

The same scenario plays out: I’m already losing H.he, just to get the stubborn wing under control, but then it goes quite easily I find. Now comes the jibe again and I’m already lying in the water again.

I don’t want Annie to get bored with me, so it’s back to the beach on my knees. Annie is actually pleased with my performance – considering that this was my sixth attempt after my first time four months ago with Bobo. Making an attempt with my longboard proves completely hopeless. I will never get up on a board 20″ wide. I still briefly try Annie’s Foil SUP with 65 liters. But that doesn’t work either. I have no chance of kneeling on it, it’s just too narrow. If I want to do the sport properly, I probably won’t be able to avoid buying one of those short, wide boards that look like doors. Although I don’t really fancy a “door board” at all. Since Annie doesn’t have all afternoon to watch me, let’s take a quick summary of what I’ve learned and what I need to practice now:

Annie says I have the skills to learn the Wing and Foil fairly quickly. I just need to spend a lot of hours on the water now with my SUP and the Wing (if I ever have one). I can’t get around that. If you want to have Spa. you have to go through a tough time first, that’s the price of admission. We had that last summer with the Foil (see issue #16). Annie advises me, if I am then ready for the Foil, to use a slightly larger Foil. But she says that if you’re good later on, you can also do well with a surf foil. So for me now there is no other option than to get my own wing and then practice, practice, practice …

That’s exactly what I’m doing now. My “trying times” are now over and I just have to spend a lot of time on the water now. Now that I finally have my own wing, I’m going to Kanaha for two days in a row to .ben. The conditions for beginners are not really ideal here. The wind blows with 25 – 30 knots and it is extremely choppy. A 4, 5 meter wing is certainly a bit big for such conditions, but if I can do it then I can go “flying” in light winds. (to be continued)

Conclusion

Who learns the fastest?

You are:

• Windsportsman and can foil: You can get started with wing and foil.

Foiler, but not a windsurfer: my advice is to learn the Wing first without the Foil. Your SUP is board enough. It will not take long.

• You are a windsport enthusiast, but you have never been foilboarding before: You can start with a foilboard. However, you will have a hard time with the foil at first. Protective clothing including helmet is very advisable.

Material: The Wing is a super SUP and foil board accessory. The ease of material handling is hard to beat, except for normal surfing (surfing).

Three in one: you can foilwings, foilsurfing and foildown winches with one set up. If you then know the waterstart, you will travel extremely light with a small board (Pronefoilboard) and have three sports in your luggage.

The Wing is easy to learn, affordable in price and can be learned with any board. If there is no water, even a skateboard will do.

Big question: what is better a boom or loops. We have explored this question in this report.