Winging worth it?

Related to the other thread on wing volume for prone foilers. I’m interested in people that prone’s perspective and intention when winging.

I’ve been learning to wing on the DW board over the past few months as the surf has been complete shit and so have the DW conditions in the UK. I’m at the level where I’m able to tack OK on the easy side, and ride some bumps and swell with the wing flagged. The board is my 8’6x18 downwind board and progression 140, and I’ve just got a used 60L (70kg) f-one rocket.

My goal is to spend more time getting better at downwind primarily, as well as wing wave riding. Eventually deflate downwind though that feels very far away due to how slow slogging up wind is proving to be.

I’ve had some fun doing downwind in small “bay run” micro bumps and playing around at stall speed of the foil.

A few questions:

  1. With the wing I find it much less satisfying to ride a wave, is this possibly getting used to the the wing in hand? How to overcome this?
  2. Realistically, how likely is doing an upwind in 20kn to get a 5km of downwind run? I feel like whenever the wind is +20kn the sea gets too rough to realistically tack 5km upwind
  3. I find that I cannot pump the progression 140 nearly as well when I’ve been winging than when prone. It feels like my feet are always too far forward?
  4. The Cabrinha hand leash is always hitting me in the eye when pumping the wing, this is by far the most irritating part of the whole deal. Waist leash rather?

Here is a video of the setup. I eventually want to wing in the bumps beyond the breakwater, incredibly messy out there.


I’m coming from winging to prone via FoilDrive.
Regarding 2 and 4:
Give a harness a try. It makes going upwind much easier although you have to hook the harness lines with your thumb as otherwise they too will flick you in the eye😊
Borrow a longer mast and try that. If it’s really choppy then maybe a 90 but not if you’re using a large span wing (unless it’s a HighMod)
Yeah, use a waist leash. Going from proning back to winging I find the wing in general to be a pain and the wrist leashes just seem insufferable.


I was a long time prone foiler who was super anti-wing but now I’m on it for a year and a half and it’s fucking awesome! I’m 100% focused on shredding and ripping waves in shorebreak. I find that compared to prone the wing let’s me just turn the volume up on my riding. I was the ideal candidate tho, 5 years prone, 5 years kite foil, used to windsurf. I progressed fast. I work really hard to dial in whatever the wing needs to do in my hands to the point where I can do some complex shit now and not even think about it or look at the wing.

It’s not a “downwind” thing for me though. I hate the logistics and bullshit of DW but also, shredding real breaking waves is better for me. On days with an upwind line (sideshore wind peaky on the nose wave) I’m riding the line upwind, face to the wave backside to the wing flagged on the front riding handle. Since I’m going upwind on the wave I’m never really having to “work” upwind. I’m just shredding the whole time, probably 10x turns per min. It’s exhausting. Massive power output.

For my other wind direction we have a shore runner wave and that one I work downwind because the wave doesn’t go upwind and also my stance is wrong for the good upwind wave riding.(the upwind line is backside to the wave). For this I’m alternating between power in hand and flagging on my flying handles riding the line downwind. It’s a few waves at a time tho then I kick out and sail 100 yards back upwind to whatever peak I’m working. The upwind is a nice rest after throwing a lot of turns and working the wave really hard. This direction with the upwind I’m probably 3x more turns that a prone session so lower power output but still a lot.

Bigger board - the extra board weight compared to prone is a mass dampener. It’s more weight to throw around in pumping and turns and def makes both more physically demanding but probably easier from a technique perspective. I’m a high output person so I don’t mind throwing some energy at it.

How the wing changes being on a wave - having a thing in you hand helps, just as a counterweight and balance aide. You can just do more. On the upwind line it’s phenomenal since it’s always flagging nicely and never in the way. Also your always powered up with apparent wind you can reach out and grab some power whoever you really need it. Downwind on the wave is more of a mixed bag. I feel like it’s always in the way and I’m overtaking and running into it but that’s getting better. Also there’s almost 0 apparent wind so putting the power back on means making an upwind turn before sheeting but a strong prone background means I can pump hard for 2 secs to make that happen.

Pumping - the sweet spot for getting your wing board on foil is probably forward if your good wave stance. I ride straps and I’m just in front of the straps to get on foil and in the straps when riding. I feel like the straps help me get away with being extra far back(I can press the foil down by pulling in back foot).

Cab leash- I ride the cab leash and love it! I fly the front of the wing off it for backside upwind power and ergonomics, walk the dog off it. It’s nice and grippy in hand with a reliable stretch and it really taught me that I can use it for all kinds of maneuvers. I feel like if it’s hitting you in the face there’s something wrong with your pump technique. My pumping the wing is almost entirely counterweight for pumping the foil so my hands and the wing are moving down to the foil more than they”re moving towards me.

My biggest advice is don’t ever ever ever look at the wing. Watch the water and the wave and keep your eyes on where your going(part of why I don’t like downwind- wing is always in front of you) Doesn’t matter if it takes 5 reach-and-misses to grab that handle just look where your going and keep pumping and you’ll make it. Take your eyes off the water to look at the wing even for a second and your screwed.


agree completely! Shredding on the wing uses incredible amounts of energy, 1000kcal/hour according to my apple watch, you are tired that night. This is due to the fact that on a good wing day in the surf you are literally catching a hundred waves and having so much fun it’s outrageous.

Your questions:

  1. Yes I think it is probably less satisfying to ride a wave winging than prone, but the tradeoff is that you ride 10x more waves so it evens out.

  2. Regarding your 20km upwinder, I do those sometimes but it’s not really worth it since you can stay in place and have fun so easy once you figure it out. Rough seas shouldn’t really matter but I guess it depends on how rough…

  3. For board feel I definitely recommend a small board once you figure it out (<60L).

  4. I also have a wrist leash and when pumping the wing to get up I put part of it in my hand on the grip so it doesn’t slap me in the face. Never used a waist leash but lots of people swear by them so may give it a try.


The messy bumps beyond the breakwater look like they would be a lot of fun with the wing. Looks like the conditions I often see. From what I can tell (video is always a bit hard to really guage) those conditions shouldn’t be too challenging on the foil, but getting up might be. There appears to be a pretty turbulent spot where you went down where the ocean current is meeting the breakwall, so you are going to have to navigate that or rig on the upwind side of the breakwall. Looks like a fun spot to progress with a lot of options.

Rig what you’ve got, but getting up in those choppy conditions (beyond the breakwall) can be really challenging on the narrower downwind boards. I find a lower volume shorter board much easier to get up in messy or cross grain conditions. You also have better feel of the foil when you get up which will improve your pump.

You mention not being able to pump as well when winging vs prone. I’m not sure Ive felt that, and in fact I move my back foot forward to pump (you say you are too far forward). DW boards have a lot of deck area real estate. I find it helpful to add some markings or put some deck traction to mark off where you want to be standing. This might help.

Going upwind for a 5k downwind is definitely doable, but maybe try it with a shuttle first. You are going to tire yourself out with the upwind leg and you might not have good energy for the downwind. Get the downwind dialed first if you can, then figure out how to upwind it. Assuming the wind is cross-shore, you might just find its easier to sail way offshore and then surf in a bunch of times instead of doing an actual downwinder. The side shore makes flagging more natural too. Also, its not just about the wind direction - you need to pay attention to currents and tide too. If you are working against the wind and current you are going to struggle to make ground upwind.

I’ve tried every leash combo and my personal opinion is that rigging the wing to my waist and board to my ankle works by far the best for me. I find the wrist leash to be limiting, and you can’t paddle out that way. I don’t like the board on a waist leash because I find the leash is always wrapping my thigh, and I also don’t like wing and board pulling the waist leash.


Prone for 5 years. Winging for 1.5 years.

Prone Pro: freedom to pump around and do tight turns in the pocket of the wave. Con: Sitting around waiting for minutes at a time. Paddling.

Wing Pro: No down time. All riding all the time. You can upwind/downwind so you don’t have to arrange a shuttle. See above for more Pro’s about wave riding. Con: The wing is in your way sometimes. This can be overcome by becoming a better winger.

For example: Do you ever see Titouan Galea going back to SUP foil? He was a SUP racer before foiling. He’s a good paddler. Have you ever seen him with a paddle and a DW board? When James Casey asked Titouan to do a deflate DW, Titouan just looked at him in a “why would I ever do that” way.

The main reason to wing over prone. Winging allows you to get out of the surf zone where they annoying grumpy shortboarders are. It’s a big ocean, we don’t have to play in the kiddie pool near shore if we don’t want to anymore.

I think the dedicated wing board will help give you a different perspective. I just got a DW board to try for light wind. I don’t see myself using it in 20 MPH wind though. Dedicated wing board for good wind.

The goal is to have the wing in your back hand if possible. I do admit it’s a bit like driving the jetski and foiling at the same time. But, the trade off is worth it.


These guys have already answered your question. Winging is king for time on foil and maximizing wave riding time. If it’s windy enough, using a prone board is easily doable once you’ve figured out a starting technique. Stink bug (any variation of it) is most efficient no matter what board. I’ve gone to a waist leash for the wing and calf leash for board. I was constantly wrapping a wrist leash around my neck every time I tacked and a shorter waist leash eliminated that.

DW board is great for light wind and dialing in your setup but imo nothing beats a prone board for performance.


I forgot to add in. This is my preferred method too. Long waist leash connected to the front handle of the wing. (not the pump leash string) I use a leash long enough to wrap around my body when I do behind the back tacks.

Double coil calf leash to the board. Harness is also well worth using. Get a cheap weight lifting belt. Attach your wing leash to that. Put a harness hook on it. Way better than the 2 inch waist belts I’ve tried. Or putting a hook on an impact vest with 2 inch webbing strap.

This for example.

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Thanks all, some things to consider. This summer has been a writeoff - today a massive “winter” storm, when it passes I’ll have a go on the smaller board. I had my best session on a 44L board but too close to the prone board so went 60L.

This is essentially me too, easy gybing second session and trying tacks the thirds. Partly why I think I am doubting putting more time into it is that it is too similar to kiting - and if riding waves doesn’t feel great then really struggle to see the point as other getting in the water I don’t really want to invest in more seemingly disposable wings. But lots of emphatic endorsements here for various reasons putting time into the wing.

You can see my flaps in the video, I mostly have been underpowered and requiring 5-10 flaps for that reason, when powered it hasn’t happened.

This is what it feels like. Honestly this is what most wingers look like to me when pumping - they are pumping the board but it doesn’t take much to know they are barely sustaining their momentum. I have markings for downwind but when winging I end up forward of them, and end up flappy pumping as below. My back foot stays relatively stationary generally unless very light wing but front foot ends up forward unless it is very stable conditions and I can just trim it out.

yeah this is what it feels like! good analogy

He is paid to do what he is told :smiley: I would imagine. Cabrhina doesn’t have a SUP line (yet…), or is he North now.

This is the biggest appeal - logistics of shuttles is definitely not worth the effort for 99% of sessions, and I think this is largely why I’m interested. The local prone spot now has limited appeal in prevailing wind conditions (cross onshore) and so the wing is having a look.

Another question - for the stated intention - do I need to bother with new tech wings? This second hand Cabrhinha mantis 4m, 15-25kn typical conditions. It hasn’t bagged as badly but the leach is hooked. I’ve ridden it in 30kn and love that you can just flag these things, so not phased on the top end, I’ve ridden it in 10kn and that is shit even with a downwind setup, think need bigger.

One point in defense of winging dw boards. Offshore wind seems better for winging waves because it keeps the wind out of the way, but I’ve been sometimes intimidated to go out when it blows offshore. But having a dw board is a nice safety factor for the paddle speed.


He was F-one who does have a DW line and DW boards. He’s Cabrinha now though.

I’m in the gorge and brought my 2.5 year old, bagged out V1 wing as a backup. It’s fine, like putting on an old shoe.

Are the newest tech wings amazing? Yes, but they are not mandatory.


I prefer prone over winging also however I will say I really sucked at prone foiling until a season of winging got me so much time on foil that next round of prone foiling I was able to consistently pop up and actually do some pumping. So yeah prone is king for riding waves, but winging will get your time on foil to get better. Would recommend winging just for more ride time. Also unlocks a lot of places you cannot get to without a wing. Once you get good enough to go sub 60L or to the board sizes that are more like large prone boards than wing boards, the riding will be more fun also.


Hi Matt

For the leash not slaping in the face I ALWAYS (since this used to happen to me) grab the leash with my thumb of the front hand (front handle). That’s it, problem solved. Never been a big friend of using waist leash for the wing, but that’s optional and that’s another story that I’m not sure if it’ll solve the slap in the face :joy:


Hey Matt!

1 - Yes, if you have a wing that flags neutral easily, it’ll get better. But as I’ve sailed different spots around, I find that not every direction of wind it’s easy to go wave riding with the wing. Here we have cross-on winds and those I find really nice, also a range of cross-off and side winds are ideal since you can flag neutral and ride the wave with the wing simply following and not getting in the way. But if the wing get too much in your way (in front) then it’s not so fun, is this what’s happening to you?

2 - Once again - It’ll depend on the direction of the wind relatively to the coast and swell, but quick answer, YES! I’ve done around 5K downwind and upwind in like 50 minutes. But somehow - for me going totally upwind to gain around 2 to 3 km, could take me up to 30 minutes, because of the relative position of the coast at launching point for the downwind. You gotta send it and see how it goes, but definitely possible. Upwinding with a higher aspect more span foil will definetly help on your upwind angle, also good technique is required. Harness will help, but for me, if after the upwind the target it’s to go downwind sup, then harness will be another hassle to take off in the bag and I won’t do it.

3 - If you mean pumping on the 8’6" … I can only imagine that board been too long and taking a toll on the pump ability.

4 - Already gave my opinion there, just hold the leash with your front hand thumb or full hand, and it won’t be floating over when pumping.

By the way, about the Titouan post, I was there with him, shared a tow sesh in the same boat, he’s a beast, learned so much from him. He’s on another level on the wing, and that spot the wind it’s SOOO off-shore and the wave being left, it was perfect for him, but I never got to be confortable as a regular to try carving as hard as I do on my home spot, the wing was just dragging so much and my hand was really unconfortable. But great experience and awesome waves!

Have a great one mate!


Thanks Omar! Glad to hear that it wasn’t just me with that leash problem. I started doing the same thing, and the one time I didn’t I got hit in the eye in that last session.

This is interesting, I think I’ve only ridden once where the waves lined up that I wasn’t riding over the wing the whole time, and it was on the backhand (a right) so I think maybe a similar experience to you at the left, with no way of flowing with the wave and the wing, and just zero apparent wind to fly the wing when on the wave. Maybe Chicama will change my mind :smiley:

It was your insta posts that got me thinking, and wanted to see if maybe peculiar to your bay. I can imagine riding upwind in a sheltered bay to a headland and then a big send off into the ocean would be viable, and then beat back upwind to the start. Nothing like that here, mostly big ocean stuff.

What is weird is that I downwind the same setup, and prone it a bit for testing, and in those situations the pumping is “fine” (obviously not great, but effective). Add the wing and it gets worse. Maybe because I am new to winging.

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Worth it?
It wouldn’t be worth it if you have to use a 4.5 or bigger while wave riding though that’s more the case with onshore winds. Places like Chicama or One Eye the wing is always going to be behind and out of the way. In the Gorge (always straight onshore) it’s generally 2.5 - 3.5 conditions and tiny wings are pretty much a non issue. Having done enough “wing drop” downwind wave riding now I can see that the added visibility simply doesn’t make up for all the advantages the wing adds.


Awesome to see all the wing stoke on this thread! Depending on your your relevant experience winging can definitely provide some frustrating days, but these days I’m having so much fun every time I go out. So much time riding downwind on swells relative to the overall length of the session I wouldn’t want to replace it with any other discipline just in terms of quality time on foil. Hooking into a harness and being on a fast, efficient foil definitely makes getting upwind way quicker and easier.

One thing that has occurred to me reflecting on my prone foiling and winging experiences is the variation the happiness I feel. When surf conditions are good, out with a couple friends, and I’m on my game I’ve had more stoke and outright happiness prone surfing than any day on the wing. On the other hand, I still have really frustrating sessions prone surfing, while winging most days I’m just plain having fun.

I guess what I’m saying is my average happiness is the same with both but with prone surfing it’s like I’m dating a girl who’s out of my league and we both kinda know it…


One thing I’m finding with winging is getting the old kiting days feeling of hanging around at the beach waiting for the wing to pick up. As they call it in the paragliding circles: “para-waiting”

With prone I get in the water, I don’t bother checking, I just get to the beach and get in the water. With the wing that isn’t as feasible as you can’t just sit around waiting in the surf zone for a gust to come through.

Maybe a bit of a jaded take but couple that with the very linear progression of winging (learn to gybe, tack, tack other side, duck gybe etc) and I guess I can predict where it will end up, in the same category as kiting and windsurfing. Oskar Johansen said it in the recent Generic podcast, once he could reliably downwind without a wing he never once even considered it again. This from a surfers perspective. I’m a crossover like everyone on this thread in that I do both, but having that familiar feeling :smiley:

However, watching this clip (just the linked 20s bit), I may take some a bit more time to investigate. This is just down the road, and seemingly the handle pass is key, would be a kiter too that does such fluid transitions.

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As usual everything depends on your conditions/life circumstances.

If you always have good downwinding conditions and you always have the time for the shuttle, well then maybe there is no need to learn to wing.

Best is to have the tools/skills for all the conditions, here’s my order:
-Huge waves/wind = kitesurfing
-Sideshore strong wind = downwinding disciplines
-Sideshore/onshore medium to light winds = winging
-light/zero winds with medium or big waves = regular surfing
-light/zero winds with small waves = prone foil