Author Topic: My wife's wing journey  (Read 1638 times)

Phils

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My wife's wing journey
« on: June 08, 2020, 01:48:48 PM »
Can a middle aged woman with essentially zero wind or board sports experience learn to wing foil?  And if so, how long will it take?  I am going to post her progress here as this might help others who are just starting or curious about how difficult this sport might be to learn.  I will also discuss the specific challenges we face and their resolutions.

She is fit and athletic (cyclist, masters rower and  canoe paddler) but otherwise no experiences which might directly translate to wing foiling except a little bit of recreational SUP a few years ago.  She did take a couple of kitesurfing lessons over 10 years ago but found the power of the kite intimidating and did not pursue it.

She decided about a month ago that she wanted to learn to wing (with no encouragement from me), so here we go:

My first concern was that she is tall (6-2, 70 kg with long legs) and would not be able to stand up on the board, so we tried it on the floor.  She IS able to go from kneeling to front foot forward to standing while holding her hands above her head.  Check.

Next, we spent a few sessions just handling the wing on the beach or kneeling on a SUP and sailing around in light wind.  No problem.

This may have been my first mistake but at this point, we went to a foilboard.  It was my beginner board, a JL 6-5 x 28 inches, 115 L.  She is 70 Kg.  I attached an Armstrong 24 inch mast and 2400 wing to it so she could get used to the foil.  This setup was VERY difficult for her.  Lots of falling just trying to kneel on it.  Trying to plant front foot from a kneeling position while flying a wing was prohibitively difficult.

So we went with a bigger foilboard.  Armstrong 6-6 x 30, 132 L and we have been using it since.  At this point, we found a friend who was willing to take us behind his boat.  Get behind a boat and learn to foil.  Easy, right?  We have had 4 sessions behind the boat.  In the beginning, she tried to do a kneeling start using line tension to help but she couldn't really get past planting her front foot without falling so we abandoned that and worked on just her standing up (using one hand on the board while holding rope with the other) and this worked much better.  After 4 boat sessions, she is able to stand consistently and ride on the surface pretty well.  She has had 2-3 seconds of foiling before crashing.  We hope to get behind the again soon as she is finally close to foiling consistently.

As far as windy water sessions, she has had a few with really light wind and 3 with wind in the 14-17 MPH average range and she has stayed with the same wing (F-one 5 meter, only 3 handles  :)).  Even with the bigger board she was not able to come close to standing from a kneeling position for the first several sessions. Lots of crashes as you can imagine.   At the end of a session last week with 15 mph winds, she stood for a few seconds before crashing.

We read Admin's technique for standing from a kneeling position so this morning we tried it.  We had 15 MPH winds and did a 2.5 mile down winder.  She exactly one success today:  She stood and rode on the surface for 10 seconds!!!  Otherwise, she fell trying to stand about 25 times but she does like planting her front foot while holding on to the board.  She said riding while standing felt very stable.

So we are about 12 sessions in (including 4 behind a boat) and we had a break through today when she stood and rode for 10 seconds.  I believe she will get there but I think those of us who have been surfing/kiting/windsurfing, etc may not truly appreciate how difficult standing on a moving board is to a novice.

Regrets:  1.  Should have stayed on SUP longer.  2.  When she first started having trouble planting her front foot, we should have changed techniques sooner.  Using her hands on the board to get her front foot planted made a big difference both behind the boat and with a wing.

Our family is wing committed.  I just ordered a set of  "her's" Fone wings.

More progress reports to come.














supkailua

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2020, 02:48:42 PM »
Thanks for sharing.

What helped me was I paddled around my board on a calm no wind day with the foil on it. I was able to learn the best place to put my feet to maximize balancing on the board. I also changed to a board with no chimes and a lot of flotation, so that was a very stable board.

At that point I used an uphaul technique and not a knee start. I would grab the wing with the front handle, then use both of my arms to push myself up, similar to the easiest way to get up from the floor. Once up with my feet in that most stable location on the board I would grab the wing handles and then could start moving forward and get into the riding position. I found this much easier than a knee start.

It does not surprise me that the 115 L was difficult for her. I tried a 28" wide board with huge chimes in very choppy and windy conditions and could not even stay on it on my knees. Once I learned to control the wing then it was easy, but when learning and the wing is pulling you all over and you are on a tippy board in choppy water it is next to impossible.

Solent Foiler

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2020, 11:09:05 PM »
Thanks from me too. I'm impressed with her determination. It takes a certain type of person to preserve through the early pain, take confidence from the small successes and keep hold of the long term objectives in order to succeed. Kudos, and I wish her a speedy journey to winging success. I look forward to hearing about it.

I can relate, in my own way. I have a windsurf background, but I learnt to foil on my own with no help other than what I could read on the net. I learnt to foil on a big board (7'4 120 litres) for my size but on too small a foil - large Naish Thrust. It took me a couple hours of tow time just to grasp a few seconds of flight when I was reading about people seemingly being about to foil on a tow with ease and starting to move to smaller boards after a couple of sessions.

All I can say now is the investment in time is totally worth it. I was a lapsed windsurfer and winging has brought me back to the water - great considering it's 5 min walk from my house!
I'm 5'10", 65kg riding:
Gong Flint 5'6 95L
Gong Catch 5'3 34L
Naish Thrust L
Gong Pulse - 4m, 5m
Gong Superpower 6m

Admin

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2020, 01:04:38 AM »
So we are about 12 sessions in (including 4 behind a boat) and we had a break through today when she stood and rode for 10 seconds.

Phils, this is a great read.  10 seconds is awesome.  I tell myself that if you can do something once, you can make it consistent.  She is on her way now. 

You know this from your own experience, but this is the most gear specific sport around.  Just working that part out is a big part of the early days.  I had the exact same experience in my first few weeks of starting on a board that seemed like it should be large enough but was not.  A few weeks on the big board and she will be golden.

Tall and thin means a high center of gravity.  That will end up helping her but it will makes things harder for kneestarts.

Thanks to you both for sharing this!

obxDave

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2020, 02:42:42 AM »


Next, we spent a few sessions just handling the wing on the beach or kneeling on a SUP and sailing around in light wind.  No problem.


Has she tried standing on the SUP with the wing to sail? Im thinking a nice stable board in the 170+ liter range, and a small 3m wing in lightish wind. Just to get a feel for balancing with the wing on the board with some easy downwind gliding.

Phils

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2020, 03:46:49 AM »


Next, we spent a few sessions just handling the wing on the beach or kneeling on a SUP and sailing around in light wind.  No problem.


Has she tried standing on the SUP with the wing to sail? Im thinking a nice stable board in the 170+ liter range, and a small 3m wing in lightish wind. Just to get a feel for balancing with the wing on the board with some easy downwind gliding.

This is correct and what we should have done much more of it but not so much for wing flying while standing but to practice standing from a kneeling position .  Of course, human nature being what it is, it will feel too much of a step backwards for her now.

On another note, my wife's attempts have (in part) inspired 2 friends of ours who are close to 80 to take up winging.  They are windsurfers and kiters, but without much foiling experience.

I have been videoing much of my wife's struggles and we hope to be able to present a movie that will inspire many more.


AGK

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2020, 06:40:53 AM »
Just wanted to add my admiration for your wife's attitude and gumption, and thank you for posting this -- it's interesting and inspiring reading.  Keep it coming, please!

VB_Foil

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2020, 06:53:37 AM »
Good for your wife!  I broached the idea with mine and she just scoffed  ::)

One thing that can also help when picking up the sport is training on off days.  You can use a TRX style suspension trainer to practice the knee start, with the straps mimicking the 'pull' of the wing.  Add a 'bosu ball' for the front foot for added balance training. 

The hardest part is training your core to get you going across wind while still on your knees so you have that added resistance of the tack with the wing pulling you forward/up.  Trying to knee start while being pulled downwind is very difficult for beginners as there is no edge to lean against. 

You can also just do basic pulling exercises with the TRX to build up those finger/arm/shoulder/back muscles that will be under strain when learning. 

For a regular footer who does not switch stances, when I started, the rear of my left shoulder (rear arm) was getting cooked on my toe-side reaches.  With the TRX, I would plant my feet away from the anchor point and set up in a toe-side surf position. From there you can work on thoracic mobility and work on pulling up to strengthen that bent arm shoulder (move feet closer to anchor as you get stronger).   

Hope this helps in your shared journey!
Im a 59 65kg rider:

Boards:
   4'5.5" 33L Armstrong
   410 37L FSM
   5'1" 74L FSM
   511 100L FSM

Foils: Armstrong 1050, 1550, 1850, 2400
Wings: F-One Swing 3.5M and 5M, BRM 2M and 6M

Phils

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2020, 04:12:29 PM »
Time for an update. 

Since my last post, my wife suffered a painful injury to her ribs (from hitting side of board) and was out of action for over a month.  Prior to this she got in several sessions behind a boat and progressed to the point where she was able to surface ride behind the boat but was unable to foil for more than a few seconds at a time.  With a wing, she was having trouble getting her front foot planted from a kneeling position.

Her ribs are still a bit painful but much improved and she is back on the water (wearing an impact vest) with 2 sessions this weekend.  She modified her technique based on what Admin described and now is able to plant either forward foot consistently.  Yesterday she stood and surface rode for a bit on her strong side and for a couple of seconds on her weak side.  Today she stood and rode for about 30 seconds on her strong side!!!

The best news is her ribs seem to be tolerating her resumed activity.  Surface riding is a huge breakthrough for her and we are very encouraged.  I asked her today what was going on in her head when she was riding and she said she was too shocked to find herself standing and riding to consider anything.  I told her next time, to think about pumping the wing :)

We continue to be appreciative of all the encouragement and technical pointers she is getting.  There is a lot of wind in the forecast and we are being careful to not overdo things in our excitement at the progress she is making.

Chan

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2020, 09:14:47 PM »
Congrats guys,

 The hardest part is behind her, now on to the fun!  It was about this time last year when I finally had the knee starts down and was starting to fly.  What a great feeling.  I'm still learning something new each session and my what's next list is long.  Hope to see you on the water again tomorrow!

Solent Foiler

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2020, 11:37:02 PM »
Awesome - keep on keeping on!
I'm 5'10", 65kg riding:
Gong Flint 5'6 95L
Gong Catch 5'3 34L
Naish Thrust L
Gong Pulse - 4m, 5m
Gong Superpower 6m

Admin

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2020, 02:26:06 AM »
This is cool.  She is the first person that I know of that has truly started from scratch (no watersport, wind, wing or foiling background) and she is learning in the Gorge.  Oooh, I almost broke into Kipling there :).

PS:  It was great winging with you yesterday Phil.  That was sweet wind.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 02:42:39 AM by Admin »

PonoBill

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2020, 07:07:25 PM »
Admin and Chan are the only two people I know who started wingfoiling with no foil experience whatsoever. They REFUSED to try foiling behind a boat. Turned it down--flat. So what you're seeing now is a little less than a year and maybe a hundred sessions from falling off the board while kneeling. This is certainly not a short learning curve sport unless you have specific foil experience, but it's attainable. The best part is that it steadily gets more fun.
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

Phils

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2020, 04:01:07 PM »
Admin predicted a breakthrough session for my wife today

She foiled for a few seconds!!

Gorge session #4

Total wing journey session #17 including SUP and boat.

She is exhausted but very happy.

Admin

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Re: My wife's wing journey
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2020, 04:03:00 AM »
Awesome.  A few days of smooth wind and she will be cruising the surface, holding ground and working on popping up!

 


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