Choosing Your First Wing Foiling Foil
Dating back to the early 1900s, the hydrofoil has long been regarded as an efficient method of travelling across water. They have previously had many commercial applications across ferries, military vehicles, and recreational use. However, in more recent years the technology was picked up in the water sports scene. Initially used by America’s cup boats to give them a speed advantage, it has now made its way across to almost all water-based board sports.
The foil is a vital part of the wing foiling setup. It provides an upward lift which, when paired with the wing, allows the rider to gain good momentum in almost any conditions. However, much like all of the wing foiling equipment, there are a whole host of foil options that cater for all abilities; making sure you get the right one will undoubtedly make your wing foiling discovery more enjoyable.
The foil comes in 5 parts:
These parts are joined together to create the foil, which is then bolted to the bottom of your board ready for you to take to the water.
The Mounting Plate
The mounting plate is the part of the hydrofoil that is connected to your board. When purchasing a hydrofoil, it is vital to ensure the plate has compatible mounting hardware to your board of choice.
At ENSIS, we have engineered our foils to work seamlessly with our wing foiling boards. Our newer mast models are built with a detachable carbon fibre base plate, while our older model models come as a solid structure. All of our mounting plates are built to fit into any double US box and can be secured using countersunk size M8 bolts with a length of 30mm.
The mast is the largest part of the foil, connecting the mounting plate to the fuselage. Masts are commonly made from carbon fibre to minimise weight without compromising on strength. Masts come in various lengths. A taller mast is better for performance as it keeps you higher out of the water, causing less resistance, as well as providing more leverage for manoeuvres and turns. However, as a discoverer, taller masts require more energy and are harder to control. We recommend opting for a mast that is around 85cm or less to make your wing foiling discovery as smooth as possible.
The fuselage is the bar that runs parallel to the board at the bottom of the mast, connecting the front and rear wings to the rest of the setup. Constructed from carbon fibre to ensure strength without added unnecessary weight, fuselages often vary in length. A longer fuselage offers stability but hinders manoeuvrability, while a shorter model will provide agility but require more control. As a discoverer, we recommend looking for a longer model as the increased stability will make your learning process smoother.
The front wing is the larger of the two wings and connects to the front of the fuselage. This wing is crucial to the hydrofoil’s performance, as its size and shape equate to the bearing capacity of the foil and ultimately influence how the foil behaves in the water. Aspect ratio (AR) is often mentioned when referring to front wings, representing the relationship between width and chord length. The narrower (higher AR) your front wing, the greater the speed and efficiency. Although speed may be exciting, it does require a higher level of skill to keep it under control. We always recommend starting out with a wider front wing as they give better lift, and as a result, require less speed to float.
Additionally, the front wing can come in a few different shapes, the most popular being flat or curved. Curved wings are naturally less stable, transitioning smoothly from one turn to the next, which can make them more enjoyable for carving. However, one drawback of curved wings is that their tips generate less upward lift, resulting in a smaller effective surface area. On the other hand, flat wings generate lift evenly across the entire surface, making them more efficient, and causing less drag.
The back wing, sometimes referred to as the stabiliser, connects to the rear of the fuselage. As its alias suggests, the back wing’s main functionality is to stabilise your ride. They do this by countering the lifting force that comes from the front wing. Much like the other parts of your foil, the size of the back wing also influences the speed. A larger back wing provides more stability, whereas a smaller wing will allow for more speed and easier turns. A general rule of thumb is to match your back wing with your front wing – large with large and small with small.
Back wings are usually similar in shape to the front wings. The most popular designs are either flat or curved, and both come with pros and cons. Acting like fins on a surfboard, curved wingtips provide better control over the wing; having upwards or downwards-pointed wingtips on the back wing enhances directional stability. Whereas a flat stabiliser offers more manoeuvrability in carving and manoeuvres in the water.
Certain foils offer the ability to modify the angle of the back wing, enabling you to adjust the lift without altering the size of your wing. This is commonly referred to as shimming, and consists of an angled piece of plastic that is placed beneath your stabiliser before it is connected to the fuselage. A greater angle will generate more lift at lower speeds, whereas a smaller or neutral angle will provide better control and a more stable experience.
What is Aspect Ratio (AR)?
The AR of a hydrofoil foil refers to the ratio between its wingspan (distance between the front wing tips) and length (the central length from top to tail). In simpler terms, it is a measure of how long and narrow the foil is relative to its width. A high AR means that the foil has a relatively long and narrow shape, while a low AR indicates a shorter and wider shape.
A higher AR generally results in several benefits. It can improve the lift-to-drag ratio, which means the foil can generate more lift with less drag, leading to greater efficiency. While they also tend to provide better performance at higher speeds and exhibit reduced induced drag, resulting in increased stability and manoeuvrability. Lower AR foils tend to be more maneuverable at lower speeds, but also generate more drag and have a lower lift-to-drag ratio compared to foils with higher AR.
AR influences the foil’s performance characteristics, including efficiency, stability, manoeuvrability, and lift generation. A lower AR results in a more stable ride, and creates adequate lift when riding at a slower speed; making a low AR foil ideal for wing foiling discoverers. However, the speed at which the foil rises is influenced by your weight. Consequently, individuals with greater weight will require a larger foil. While a smaller person may initially experience quicker lift-off with a significantly larger foil, they may struggle to maintain control as the foil becomes harder to stabilise.
As industry experts, we understand that there is a lot of thought and research that needs to go into finding the perfect foil. Luckily, our fantastic team have engineered and built some of the best wing foiling foils on the market; guaranteed to provide a smooth wing foiling discovery.
The ENSIS INFINITY wing foil has been engineered for everyone; from the ambitious discoverer to the expert rider. It is easy to control and offers excellent manoeuvrability and agility. With three different options, this wing caters for a range of rider weights and abilities; with the INFINITY 1800 designed for riders up to 115kg.
The ENSIS PACER offers its riders high-end performance. The early and easy lift is matched with good stability and smooth control. Although suited for all wind conditions, this foil can be particularly good in light winds. The three models are built for a range of riders, with the PACER 1700 being ideal for the lighter and more advanced rider; while the PACER 2400 is suitable for any ability, with a rider up to 120kg.
If you’re looking for more of an ‘all rounder’ foil, then the ENSIS FLOW 1Foil4Sports offers a multipurpose high-performance foil. Giving riders the ability to use this foil for wing foiling, wind foiling, SUP foiling, and surfing. This foil is ultra-stable while providing a great turning ability that is appreciated by all riders, from discoverers to experts.
To keep your foil safe while stored or travelling, we strongly recommend getting a bag and some wing covers. Even the slightest bump or scrape could have an effect on the performance of your foil. Carbon fibre can be fragile when stressed in a way that wasn’t intended by the engineers designing the foils, so it is vital that you take good care of your kit.
Our wing covers can be bought separately or as a pair, and fit snuggly over your front and back wing to keep it safe from any bumps and scrapes. While our foil bags are padded for extra protection, and designed to fit 2 fuselages, 4 compartments for wings and masts, and a zipped pocket for small parts.
We take great pride in knowing that ENSIS products are trusted and used by some of the top riders in the wing foiling industry. This is why we can say with great confidence that our products will be the perfect fit for even the newest riders. We recently caught up with team rider Joshua from South Africa, to find out their thoughts about ENSIS products.
- How long have you been wing foiling?
I have been wing-foiling for 3 years! Been an amazing journey so far.
- How did you get into wing foiling?
I’ve been a kitesurfer my entire life, and have been around wind sports for as long as I can remember. I heard whispers of wind foiling when it started gaining popularity, I was not convinced until I saw on social media what riders were doing with the sport and I was instantly hooked.
- Tell us about your go-to wing foiling setup.
My go-to foil is the ENSIS INFINITY 1100, ROCK’N’ROLL 57l board and any TOPSPIN wing I can get my hands on. I actually use and like all the wings. This setup is super versatile and can handle most conditions with ease, my favourite is in the ocean a mix of wave riding and freestyle.
- What do you love about Ensis products?
Great performance, great quality and great aesthetics. I’m never disappointed in my gear after a session.
- What would you say to someone starting their wing foiling journey?
You’re in for a fun journey! I would recommend they start with a beginner-friendly foil, the INFINITY 1800 is a great first choice and make sure they buy wing size and board size appropriate for their wind conditions.
If we have piqued your interest in wing foiling and you would like to learn more about the sport, head over to our ENSIS Academy page for more guides on how to find the perfect gear. Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and one of our wing foiling experts will happily guide you. Happy wing foiling!