Recently I started learning Hydrofoil Wing Surfing. Now I want to buy my own hydrofoil board wing and accessoires. So, I did a lot of research to find out everything I could learn to make the best buy.
So, what gear do you need for hydrofoil wing surfing? And what do you need to know to make the right choice? The gear you need consists of a special board with a hydrofoil attached to it via a mast and special screws. You also need a wing for propulsion. Two leashes, to attach the wing and the board to respectively your ankle and your wrist, are recommended. A helmet is needed for safety. Wetsuit and shoes will protect you from the cold.
- To hydrofoil wing surf you need a special board and, of course, an appropriate wing.
- You also need a hydrofoil that is attached under the board with a mast and special screws.
- The use of two leashes is recommended especially when you are relatively inexperienced. One leach to attach the wing to your wrist, the other to attach the board to an ankle.
- A helmet is recommended for safety.
- A wetsuit and surf shoes can be recommended, unless you sail in (sub) tropical conditions.
- Many brands have entered the marked with wings, boards and foils. They seem to develop gear rapidly. You can even buy an inflatable board!
- A new sport, with new gear, that is rapidly developed by multiple brands gives you as a buyer a lot to choose from. So a little research before choosing can make a lot of difference.
The hydrofoil board
Hydrofoil boards are especially designed to get the surfer planning fast. They are wide and short. More advanced models have shapes that help the surfer get back in to ‘hydrofoil hover mode’ fast after they ‘bounce’ on the water surface.
It is important to choose the right amount of volume. Too much volume might make the board feel inert while surfing or gliding on the foil. Too little volume might make starting difficult. Having too little volume can be dangerous if one picks the wrong spot for practicing. If you can’t get enough speed to glide on the foil, you might drift off downwind.
During the lessons that I took I learned a rule of thumb: For beginners, a volume of ‘bodyweight in kg + 35 Liters’ is recommended. You can read more about this in my blog How I Learned Wing Surfing And Why < >.
Well-known brands that produce boards are for example:
Naish and Starboard produce hardbody boards. For what I have seen they are very nice. Although I had to get used to the prices a bit.
Inflatable boards and their performance
F-One also produces inflatable board. I used a 140L inflatable board during my lessons and I was surprised how strong and stiff it felt. Almost like a hardbody. During my research I asked a few guys about buying an inflatable board. Some where really happy with their F-One inflatable. One guy told me a disadvantage compared to hardbody boards can be the shape. Since hardbody board can have a more nuanced (with channels for example) shape they might help steer the board up again after a touchdown on the water. Thus avoiding crashes, saving you energy and adding more fun.
What is the performance of an inflatable wing surfboard compared to a hardbody? Comparing the performance of inflatable surfboards with a hardbody is tricky. Different factors like weight, curve in the outline, lateral stiffness and torsional stiffness have to be compared. The outcomes have to be weighted in one end result. I researched many manufactures websites to learn about the performance of inflatable surfboards. “The inflatable surfboard has a 95% performance of a rigid board” was the most specific anser that I found. You can check it at the Gong-Galaxy website. Other manufacturers claim, like Naish, that the inflatable does not compromise on performance.
Gong-Galaxy produces the most economic kit that I could find online. During my research a talked to a dude who owned a Gong board. He told me that the are pretty good when it comes to value for money. He bought one for practice purpose. It was a 140L board. After using it for more than 20 times he was happy with his purchase. However, now that he mastered the basics, he bought a 90L board from a less economic brand.
Gong also offers package deals on their website. They include board, wing and hydrofoil. All set to go surfing, in one deal. (I do not get any commissions via this link).
Of course there are more brands that produce boards. This is just a summary of my research. Not mentioning a brand doesn’t mean anything about its quality or value for money.
The Hydrofoil, Its Mast And The Screws
The hydrofoil is a kind of wing under water. Its shape forces the water to flow faster over the wing than under it. This way it creates lift like the wing of an airplane. I think that surface, shape and price are the three main aspects when choosing a hydrofoil. Of course there are more like weight and strength. But for beginner and intermediate purpose I consider them less relevant here. Often when you buy more advanced and expensive models, they have better weights etc.
For this blog I focus on surface and shape since prices are easy to see for everyone themselves. And everyone might have a different budget. I have a dedicated blog on picking the best board to match your needs if you like.
Surface Of The Hydrofoil
Like volume in a board providing buoyancy, surface of the foil helps creating more upward lift. So, the more surface your foil has, the less wind or skill you need to get in to hovering mode. Of course the shape plays an important role here, so all things being equal that is.
So, what is a good amount of surface for learning? And what surface comes next when you master the basics and you want more speed an perhaps a few tricks?
My hydrofoil wing surf teacher, as well as a few guys on the beach that I asked told me that a 1800cm2 surface is good for first lessons. I used it on the F-One RocketAir 6’6” for my first lesson.
If you get more experienced other sizes and shapes can provide more agility and speed. F-One for example offers foils for advanced riders with surfaces from 1200 cm² up to 2200 cm². The differences are that the smaller the surface the lesser the score on ‘take off’ and ‘Pumping’, and the higher the scores on ‘Speed’ and ‘Carving’.
Interesting to see is that the advanced models are made of carbon instead of aluminum. That provides better load transmission and better stiffness throughout the different parts for maximum control according to the manufacturers website. It does often up the price a bit.
A little extra info to help comparing surfaces of different wings by different brands
During my research I got a little confused about the way different brands indicate the surface. As you can see at the image of the Gong foil it says 2100cm2. Though the guy using it for beginner practice, told me it was comparable to other brands wings with a 1800cm2 surface. I found the reason for this on the Gong website here a distinction is made between the Projected area: 1844 cm², the Upper surface area: 2137 cm² and the Felt surface: 2100 cm2. What can I say?
The good thing is that several brands, like Gong and F-One. Help you choose by indicating what a one can expect from a specific hydrofoil. If you click the links in this paragraph you will find that F-One gives the hydrofoils scores for: Takeoff, Speed, Carving and Pumping. Gong gives info about how well the foil is suitable for specific body weights, windspeeds, types of use and performances. See for yourself what suits you best. I do not get any commissions from Gong or F-One.
The Hydrofoil Wing
With more than 25 years of experience testing different windsurf sails I was exited to test a few wings. Reading about wings and asking users about their experience is nice. Feeling their power is far better.
So far I tested the Ozone Wasp 2 (4 m²), and the F-One Swing (5 m²). I was impressed by the power, the lift and the easiness of handling that both wings provided. I liked them both and I will be the first to admit that I just don’t have enough experience with wings yet, to write a good and fair review. So I don’t.
For this blog I think the best info that I can give is from my research. Multiple established watersport brands have started to produce wings for hydrofoil wing surfing. For example I mention brands and one of their wings:
- Duotone Slick
- Naish Wing Surfer
- Ozone Wasp V2
- Slingshot SlingWing V2
- Cabrinha CrossWing X3
Personally I think that buying a wing has a lot in common with buying a windsurf sail. It is very important to know what you are going to use it for. So you can make up your mind about what specific characteristics you need. And of course it’s good to know your budget.
Prices that I have found during my research varied between €999,-/ $1171* for an Ozone Wasp v2 (5M²) and €499,-/$584* for a Gong-galaxy Wing Plus (5 m²). The Wasp V2 seems to be an allround high performance wing. The Gong Wing Plus seems more designated for easy and fast learning.
Wing Characteristics For Easy Learning
So, the Gong-Galaxy Wing Plus is an example of a wing for easy and fast learning. According to the Gong website, beginners need a light wing with a wide range of use. The more expensive models often claim to have updated their wing recently. Example is the Wasp V2 that is a further developed version of the V1. They often describe the versatility of the updated wings. They are more powerful, more stable and so forth.
The Duotone Slick, for example is described as the most versatile all round wing Duotone offers. Combining features for both beginners and experts. So, my cautious conclusion is that I have to choose between spending more money at once for buying a wing that suits me as a beginner and will keep me satisfied as I learn more. Or buy a relatively economic beginner wing and sell it once I master the basics and need more expert features.
Of course there is a lot more to know about hydrofoils and wings. Specific characteristics of the main wing, the stabilizer wing, the fuselage and the mast can really impact your riding. What mast length is ideal for beginners? Or what main wing profile helps a beginner take of easily? All questions that I wanted ansewerd before buying.
In case you, like me, want to know al there is about hydro foils, wings, stabilizer wings, masts and fuselages I have good news. After writing this blog I started some more profound research. I wrote a special article about the various parts of a foil. Moreover I researched what types of parts and foil setups are ideal for beginners and more advanced riders. Understanding more about how the foil works, can really benefit my buying decisions and my riding. So, I put a lot of work in it. Got curious? here is the link to my article.
Two things to keep in mind:
Second hand wings seem to resell fast in the current market since new models seemed out of stock quite often when I visited online shops. I heard guyts on the beach saying they sold a Gong wing after using it about 15 times for about 80% of the original price. Wings at E-bay where sold within a day he said.
During the first practice sessions the change of damaging your new wing is probably higher that when you get more experienced. The foil hitting the wing once the board is upside down in the water can puncture it. That requires a little patch work on the inflatable tube. Or a much nastier replacement of a part of the sail cloth. This could be a reason to start with a wing that is a little more economic.
As a hydro foil wing surfer it’s handy to attach the board to your ankle with a special leash. They are offered online for around €26,-/$30,-*. An example is this leash offered by Naish.
A leash to attach the wing to your wrist will proof very handy after a crash. Make no illusion about swimming faster than a wing getting blown downwind by the wind.
Pumps to inflate the wing, and in some cases the board are also indispensable. Examples can be found at the Duotone website. Other brands offer them to. They might be included if you by a wing or board.
The Suit, Helmet and Shoes
A wetsuit is nice to keep you warm. It also protects the skin against small cuts. After my first lesson I found out that the foil blade had cut my skin through my wetsuit. I also had a few bruises on my shins. It all happened while swimming next to the board after one of many crashes. If you have an old wetsuit I would use that one for the first sessions. In case you want to buy a new wetsuit, maybe my blog on that topic can be helpful.
Neoprene shoes can provide you a little extra grip on the board. The also can prevent skin damage on top of your feet while doing numerous attempts to stand up on the board. If you practice in waters with sharp objects on the bottom, you might consider surf shoes with an extra (Kevlar) protection layer in the sole. I did and it saved me a few nasty cuts in my feet.
Helmets were obligated during my lessons. A crash can cause the head to hit gear. Also the eardrum can get damaged because of the ear hitting the water surface. Helmets can be bought at many watersport equipment dealers. Personally I would always choose a helmet that is designed for watersport purposes. Many brands offer helmets. I have been using a Protec helmet to my satisfaction over many years. Your experience is valuable to other readers. Want to share it?
Please leave a comment
So guys and girls.. this is what I could find about Hydrofoil Wing, Board and Parts. In case you have purchased equipment I am very curious about your experiences. Please let me, and other readers, know via the comment section below.
In case you would like to know more about my hydrofoil wing adventure. I have a blog about my first lesson that you might like.
*= €1,00/$1.17 rate of 25 sept 2021