Start Winging with Slingshot Sports and Foil Academy
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Within the last few years, winging has started to emerge as the popular new watersport. What is winging, you ask? Winging is essentially a melding of windsurfing and kiteboarding which has converged to create a crossover sport that offers a new kind of freedom for riders as they are able to ditch cumbersome rigging, setup and risk of injury. Winging consists of flying an unattached lightweight handheld wing while standing on a SUP-style board using the wind to power ryou across the water.
As watersports are near and dear to my heart, I decided that I needed to check out the sport of winging to find out what it was all about. First order of business was finding a board with a keel fin that would work and I landed on two options: add a keel fin to a existing hard SUP, which can be done with the sUP WINDer from Slingshot Sports or get a board with a keel fin. Since my ultimate goal is to be able to wing foil, I opted to pickup the Tracker 7′ Airtech Package w/ sUP WINDer from Slingshot Sports which has a smaller foot print than a regular SUP and is closer in size to a foil, thinking that it would allow me to gain experience on a more compact board.
Slingshot Sports Tracker 7′ Airtech Package w/ sUP WINDer
The Tracker 7′ Airtech Package w/ sUP WINDer from Slingshot Sports comes with everything you need to get started and more. The kit contains the 7′ Tracker Inflatable Board, a Paddle, a Rear Fin, the sUP WINDer Keel Fin, a Pump with adapters for both SUP and wing inflation, a Patch Kit and a Carry Backpack.
The Tracker inflatable board has a unique fin configuration that includes the sUP WINDer center keel fin and a rear fin. This combo helps keep the board on track, making it easier for beginners and also aides you with staying upwind, which is of the one of the keys to success when learning to wing and windsurf.
The Tracker can also be used as a SUP, thanks to the included paddle, which is also the best place to start to get comfortable with the smaller sized board.
In addition the Tracker has a center threaded insert that allows you to attach a universal sail for windsurfing, making the Tracker 7′ Airtech Package a 3 in 1 board and a truly easy decision for purchasing. If you would like to get more details on the Tracker package visit www.slingshotsports.com.
Next order of business was figuring out what wing would work for my experience level and wind environment. Generally wings vary in size from 2.5 meters up to 7.5 meters. The basic principle for choosing a wings is; the smaller the wing the more wind you will need and the large the wing the less wind you will need. However, there are a few other considerations to take into account, the weight of the rider and the fact that a larger wing with be heavier and less maneuverable.
With all of those factors in mind, and looking over Slingshot’s curated gear recommendations for winging, I decided to go right in the middle and hit the sweet spot with a good wind range and middle of the road handling, opting for the 4.4 meter SlingWing V2.
Slingshot Sports SlingWing V2
The Slingshot Sports SlingWing V2 package includes, the Wing, a SlingWing backpack, Safety leash and Bladder patch kit. The SlingWing V2 has an ultra-light weight construction that offers near effortless handling and also helps reduce arm fatigue in lighter wind conditions when the wind does not help hold it up.
With 5 comfortable handles the SlingWing delivers plenty of options for beginners to obtain the right the hold and get just the right angle for an almost effortless ride.
The cambered dihedral shape of the SlingWing V2 helps usher in stability and allows you to orchestrate the wind, body and board into speed and control.
The SlingWing V2 is constructed with an extra tough D4 canopy material that is matched with double leading-edge bladder seams allowing for higher PSI inflation and more added tension across the wing. Which means no flapping and a sturdy and stout wing for easier handling.
From here it was time to learn and master the basics of winging, which to me is done in about five steps:
Fix Steps to Start Winging
STEP 1 – Learn to control the wing. Practice with the wing on land to get a feel for it before heading out on the water, so you will understand how it reacts to the wind and how to handle and control it without having to worry about balancing and staying on the board. The more time you spend learning wing control on land, the more success and know how you will have on the water.
STEP 2 – Practice riding the board as a SUP. If you have SUP experience, it is a matter of heading out and getting comfortable with the smaller footprint. If you don’t, start by taking the board out on your knees and paddling around and once you are comfortable, try going to one knee and final standing. Stay out and explore until you get familiar and steady with the smaller board.
STEP 3 – Practice riding on your knees. By lowering your center of gravity, this allows for a much easier and more stable ride. Practice with keeping the wingtips out of the water and holding the wing high above your head. Riding on the knees is a great way to get a feel for how the wind and board will react. This turned out to be fairly easy and gives you a good understanding of what to expect without ending up in the drink.
STEP 4 – Begin to stand up on the board. With the wing above your head, pulling in on the backhand for a little bit of power, go from kneeling on both knees, to front foot planted and one knee down (almost like a lunge), then stand up. You’ll want to stand on the back half of the board with your front foot on or near the carry handle.
STEP 5 – Practice staying upwind. Go on longer reaches with more pressure on your back foot. Pull the wing back towards the tail of the board to keep the nose pointed further into the wind. Once you can sail back and forth, and return to the same spot you launched from, you’ll know you have successful tackled the sport of winging.
If you would like the more in depth version that goes over every little detail you will ever need to know about winging and wing foiling, check out Slingshot’s exclusive Foil Academy. It takes you on a step by step journey to winging and wing foil progression with over 30 hours of video lessons, that are broken down into easy to consume short sections and sub sections. And best of all it is free. If you are interested you can check that out at www.foil-academy.com.
Winging Experience with Slingshot Spots
The toughest part about winging for me is that it is a wind dependent sport, plan a day at the lake and it turns out there is no wind or get a windy day and there are items on the to do list that can not be put off. Some of that can be mitigated a bit with the help of www.windy.com, which gives a pretty accurate 10 day wind forecast – also available as an app for ios and android.
When the stars did align, my winging experience with the Slingshot Sports Tracker 7′ Airtech Package and SlingWing V2 has been nothing but positive. The Tracker board was easily to learn on and comfortable to ride, even on those early days of long learning sessions. The SlingWing V2 is incredibly light and optimally rigid, has comfortable handles and plenty of them, which offered up the perfect holds and easy maneuverability on every outing. The only thing that I would have changed is to step up the size of the wing to a 5.4 or even the 6.4, only because the lake that I was learning on had winds that were consistently in the 8-12 mph range and it would have made the learning process a bit easier.
Overall the Tracker board and Slingwing where great choices for my entry in winging, they are easy to transport anywhere and are able to be setup in just a matter of minutes and packed away just as fast. Next summer I will be looking forward to getting a Slingshot Foil under my feet and see if I figure out the freedom of flight.
Final Thoughts on Slingshot Sports
There are plenty of wing product options on the market nowadays, but my experience with Slingshot Sports has been second to none, both in terms of gear and through the passion for watersports that is seen on their website and through their videos on Foil Academy. You can tell that they truly want everyone to be able to learn and experience the joy that recreation on the water can bring. So if you are looking for or are interested in anything from winging to windsurfing, kiteboarding to wakeboarding and beyond, head over to their site and check them out at www.slingshotsport.com, you will not be disappointed that you did. Some Sling Shot products are also available from www.amazon.com.