Do you want to get into freestyle winging? It’s easier than you think. This series is your guide to mastering freestyle moves and maneuvers with simplicity in mind. With minimal equipment, you’ll have fewer distractions, allowing you to progress quickly. Whether you’re starting or aiming to improve, this comprehensive guide has you covered. We will also take a look at the gear recommended for freestyle wingfoil progression. Let’s get started on your freestyle winging journey!
A Wing Foil Freestyle Article by Erik Håkman
LIGHT WIND CARVING
Learning Upwind 360s and Downwind 360s in lighter winds is a fun way to improve your wing and foil control. The key to both versions is controlling the wing while backwinded.
Start your backwind practice by working on the Downwind 360 and aim for a 360 where you exit the rotation with the board in the water, then gradually work towards completing the move on the foil and eventually shift your focus to maintaining the backwinded position for as long as possible.
Enter the move like a jibe, but keep the wing sheeted in with the leading edge pointed down as you pass the point where you would normally let it flag. Transfer your weight to toe side as you enter the new tack, bring the leading edge back up and push the wing to the back of the board with a straight front arm and bent back arm. Open your front hand and push on the center strut (right where the front handle connects to the wing) to balance the wing while you feather your back hand to control the power. Keep carving through the turn and finish by pumping the foil and sheeting your back hand in to complete the 360.
The Upwind 360 has the same core elements as the downwind version, but a slightly trickier entry and exit. Enter the move like a heel-side tack, drive the wing back and keep carving hard through the wind past the point where you would normally bring the wing over your head for the handle pass. The key to a smooth transition from front to backwinded is in the weight transfer: Bring your weight from heel to toe side. Keep the wing back and start pushing on the center strut as soon as you backwind the wing. Stay backwinded for a few seconds as you carve downwind and complete the 360 by sweeping the leading edge over the nose of the board while sheeting your backhand out to open the wing to the wind.
The key to air tricks is wing control and air awareness.
Start by doing lots of straight jumps, tweaks, donkey kicks and raileys. Practice tucked jumps with bent arms and legs and hanging jumps with straight arms and legs. This will help you gain the air awareness needed for basic tricks and start building towards the height you need for more advanced tricks.
To elevate your jumps, focus on how you project the wing during take-off and fly the wing mid-air. The goal is to turn all your speed into airtime. Sheet your back hand in to power up the wing, pop the foil close to the water (try not to let the board touch the surface), send the leading edge up as you take off and aim to fly the wing over your head in mid-air. Once you’re airborne, steer with your front hand and use you back hand to control the power in the wing.
Once you feel comfortable in the air you’ll be ready to start spinning, and the foundation for most air tricks is the Flaka, a jumping Upwind 360 where you do half or more of the rotation in the air by pulling the wing back and down to your hips while twisting your hips upwind mid jump, land just past 180, and finish off by sweeping the wing through the wind to complete the rotation in the water. It can be learnt with small jumps in light winds and will (with some practice, and more wind) eventually become a Frontside 360, where the full rotation (board and wing) is completed in the air before landing.
The key to progressing your 360’s is a controlled, floaty jump where you stay close to the wing and focus on going as high as possible before starting the spin by pulling the wing back and down to your hips and spinning the board with your hips and legs all in one smooth motion. Once you’ve spun the board past 180, sweep the wing through the wind mid-air to complete the second half of the rotation. This will backwind the wing briefly before it starts to power back up to help you control the landing. To avoid landing with the leading edge in the water, use your front hand to guide the wing through the wind and up while following with your head and shoulders. Practice using both an overhand and underhand grip on your front handle to see what works best for you. Bending your arms helps you speed up the rotation.
Once you’ve mastered the Frontside 360 it can be turned into a Pushloop, but we’ll save that for later.
A foil set with an 82 cm mast and 2 front wings, like the Glider 900 and the E-Type 1700, is a perfect quiver for you to make the most out of most conditions.
The 900 is strong, light, fast and great for jumping. It will give you the speed, pop and rebound needed for air tricks.
The 1700 is stable, easy to pump and has a super low stall speed. Perfect for working on carving moves, backwind riding and transitions.
Rig your mast in the front of the box. Having the front wing pretty much centered between your feet will generate lots of front foot pressure and give you great lift and pop. Set your 900 up in neutral but try using the front wing fuselage extender on your 1700 for even better light wind performance. Push your stab forward in light winds and keep it in neutral in stronger winds.
Bigger boards (<10L of volume above your weight) make the basics easier but tend to weigh more, spin slower and can be hard on your knees in landings. Small boards (>10L of volume below your weights) are light, nimble, spin fast and save your knees in big landings, but tend to need more wind and more work to get foiling.
Medium boards (volume around your weight) are a great compromise between efficiency and weight. Not quite as forgiving as bigger boards, or as easy to whip around as a small board, but a nice middle ground that will work well in most conditions.
A good choice for a 65-75 kg rider would be something like a 70L Wingboard or a 58L Take Off. Base your board choice on your style of riding and the conditions you are most likely to be riding in. Light winds and carving tricks benefit from more volume while a lower volume board is better suited for strong wind jumping.
A 5m to drive the 1700 for or the 900 in light to medium winds. The 5 is stable, powerful and gives you a lot of lift and stability. Perfect for carving tricks and easy jumping.
A 4m to power the 900. The 4 is easy to whip around and great for to boosting and spinning fast in medium to strong winds.
The N-Team wings are super light and powerful. With a recommended PSI of 10 (5m) and 11 (4m) they have an extra wide wind range and will let you pump on foil in lighter winds while also giving you a speed boost and more airtime.
Good luck with your freestyle winging journey!