We met with Will Harris, a wing foiler who also sails for the Malizia sailing team, to find out what all the fuss is about and to get his top suggestions on how to get started wing foiling.
Wing foiling has gained popularity and is expected to take over the beaches this summer. How and why did you initially become interested in wing foiling? And do you have any pointers on how to get started?
I initially learned about wing foiling through social media. It’s really popular right now and appears to be everywhere. The fact that it appeared to be straightforward and secure drew me in. The equipment is simple, and foiling is a pleasurable sensation. I used to kitesurf and kitefoil, but the wing foil is a lot more sophisticated and takes a lot more water space, so you can’t perform it in as many places as wing foiling.
My advice for getting started is to take a lesson. That’s because it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re just starting out, and you could injure yourself or destroy expensive equipment.
You’re an avid sailor and kitesurfer; was it difficult for you to learn to wing foil or did it come effortlessly to you?
The most difficult aspect of learning to foil is being accustomed to the sensation of foiling and finding your balance when you do. I had a good feeling for the kitefoil because I was familiar to it, and I was up and riding on my first try.
Where is your favourite spot for wing foiling?
The wing works well on both wavy and flat water. I now prefer flatwater places around the Solent for practising manoeuvres. But I suppose that ultimately I’ll start looking for wavier areas to surf the waves as well.
What do you typically wear during wing foiling?
When I do any kind of foiling, I always wear a helmet. The risk of losing control of the sharp foil is always present. My helmet is light enough that I scarcely notice it’s there. Because the water is somewhat cold this time of year, I wear a 5mm wetsuit. I wear it with a hood and 6mm wetsuit boots. I avoid wearing gloves because they make it difficult for me to feel on the wing. I’m also considering purchasing an impact vest since I believe it would make me feel safer.