Author Topic: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced  (Read 10878 times)

B-Walnut

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Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« on: June 18, 2023, 09:35:56 AM »
I wanted to start an open conversation about what people are learning to ride on, as well as what you are learning on as you advance.

Some friends of mine came down from the board shop with their new "perfect beginners kit!" and I gave them as much tuning and encouragement as I could, but I was honestly a little dismayed at what the shops are pushing. This "perfect beginners kit!" included a 4.5m duotone unit, an unlabeled, but looked like, Lift 200 Surf foil, and a 32"x6'4" 20lbs+ 140l starboard board (husband and wife, probably weigh 120-160lbs respectively. It was a heroic effort for me to get that beast up on foil! They were thrilled because they could balance on the board, but I just wonder how long it will take for them to be able to get it on to foil?

I've really been directing people towards narrow boards, forget about liters so much, get something that gets you up on foil! There seems to be this obsession with easy to balance on when you aren't moving but that is such a tiny fraction of the experience. The ability to efficiently get up on foil is so much more important than having an easy balance point when you are in the water. The struggle to actually get on foil causes people to not want to crash, and not want to restart, which means they don't take risks learning new tricks/techniques. Plus, length adds a lot of stability and get's you moving/planing fast, which adds to even more stability.

Best example I've seen for a beginner getting up was just recently. A small woman was struggling session after session not getting up onto foil. She switched to the Naish Hover DW board, 22.5"x7' and 105l I think? First session on the board and she's flying across the river.

Beyond beginners: I picked up a Kalama Barracuda this year, 8'0"x21" 112l. I planned to DW SUPfoil on it and took it out winging to get a feel for it. I rode it once, and promptly sold my 5'10" and 4'8" kalama boards. I can now wing with a 2.5m wing anytime winds reach 20 knots and I can ride wildy smaller foils, Cloud IX FS700 instead of Kujira 1210 (that's -500 square cm) in the same wind with my 4.2m wing. Smaller wings and smaller foils are WAY more fun for me.

The big question I always get is "the swing weight must be terrible right?" But the reality is that it's not. My 4'8"83l Kalama E3 weighed the same amount as my 8' 112l Barracuda. The box on my Barracuda is far forward so it doesn't actually have 8' of swing, it's more in the 5-6' range. If you watch downwind sup foil videos, all those people are getting great turns on their longer boards.

So, IMO, unless you want to jump, or are prone foiling, I really think giving longer/narrower boards is worth a shot. I don't think everyone will go to 8', but I think my next pure wing board will be in the 6'6"x18" range. At the very least, let's not shoot them down based on what we think is the only way to enjoy winging!

jondrums

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2023, 10:45:02 PM »
I agree.  The barracuda shape is like an easy button for getting on foil.  Balancing side to side is a non issue for winging.  I can just barely SUP comfortably on it, but winging is no problem at all stability wise.  Even when the wind gets so light I can barely hold up the wing, the board isn't tippy side to side.

I'm sort of guessing here since I haven't been a beginner in a while - but I think the speed of the board in the water is a huge asset for learning.  You can get it going pretty fast in the water without a lot of coordinated hand/leg pumping.  Then you can let it rise up out of the water slowly rather than having to "ollie" a  big wide board out of the water.

surfcowboy

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2023, 06:41:46 AM »
I think this overlooks that we are SUP experts by and large. Standing on the board and getting to your feet is a huge hassle the first few days for most people, even good prone foilers/surfers.

As was said 2 years ago, you need two boards to start (borrow or rent). A boat you can stand on and learn to sail and then whatever you want. Kalama, wide, whatever.

If someone is an experienced water person, sure. But if not don't make their learning curve longer by giving them a 20" wide board to try to knee sail for those first sessions.

B-Walnut

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2023, 10:44:19 AM »
I think it would be interesting to give beginners both, and see what happens. I think you are both right in the sense that we are far from beginners at this point so it's hard to judge. When I think back to my 26" and 29" wide boards though, I feel like I remember being off balance on them from time to time and slipping off the side. I attribute this to the fact that I COULD get into the wrong position. With the barracuda, and a wing though, it's so much harder to actually be away from the balance point, I don't ever seem to tip over on that board, even when I put a short mast on it and am in light winds.

Everyone is so different and I'm not sure how to predict success vs failure. The beginners I posted about in the OP were accomplished kitefoilers and are desperately struggling with simply standing up on that monster board. Yesterday I took a friend out on a demo kit, 30"x6' with no foiling experience. He stood up immediately and within an hour was on foil. At the end of his first day he was ready to move on (by his own words) to something narrow and more efficient.

It's such an interesting experience, being a part of winging and supfoiling while it develops. Hard to even imagine what this is all going to look like in 5 years.

VenturaSuppper

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2023, 11:52:59 AM »
What would you guys recommend for someone who has a barracuda and a larger board at their disposal. Have lots of foil experience via efoil, tow boogie, and sup foil but hardly any experience riding switch and wing. Wanting to get into winging.

bigmtn

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2023, 12:57:13 PM »
What would you guys recommend for someone who has a barracuda and a larger board at their disposal. Have lots of foil experience via efoil, tow boogie, and sup foil but hardly any experience riding switch and wing. Wanting to get into winging.

get a wing and a skateboard and play around just learning how to use the wing.  do this much longer than you think you actually need to, practice switch.  then just take your sup board out and try to put the 2 together. get used to doing knee starts, and how to control board with wing, riding switch.  do that for 2-3 sessions, then grab your 'cuda and do a couple sessions with it. 

B-Walnut

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2023, 01:52:03 PM »
What would you guys recommend for someone who has a barracuda and a larger board at their disposal. Have lots of foil experience via efoil, tow boogie, and sup foil but hardly any experience riding switch and wing. Wanting to get into winging.

If you have access I'd just go out and try it all. Everyone learns a little differently. Some people need land training, others like myself just watched some youtube videos and went out and tried it. I had access to an 8' board to learn on and I was up and foiling with the wing in my first session without an instructor.

surfcowboy

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2023, 02:00:30 PM »
I will say, don't sleep on wing and sailing training before they foil.

I'm learning to roller skate backwards after skating for most of my life. Once I got "good enough" it was hard to stop and work on a fundamental.

Once you can mow the lawn you are less likely to focus on wing control. Once you are off the water all your thoughts go to not crashing. I discovered this by accident  by going out in lame conditions before I knew what to do. But because of that my wing handling is pretty good compared to my overall foil skill and that helps me every session.

Wing foiling is sailing. Remember that if you've never done a wind sport. It's probably my fav part now, learning and observing the wind. Fascinating.

rathawk

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2023, 05:36:30 PM »
The board that I started on was 5'2" and 24" wide.  My first session on it I couldn't even get to my knees with enough balance to the get the wing up.  I ended up taping some foam "bumpers" that ran along the rails to give an extra inch of width on each side and that made it much easier.  Eventually I got a proper board that was 5'3" and 27" wide and it was much better for me to progress on.  I'm a lightweight at 65 kgs and have surfing, SUPing, snowboarding, and skating.

I'm just over a year into it and went out on the 24" wide board without the bumpers recently and found it extremely stable. 

I personally wouldn't push a beginner without foiling experience and sailing experience into something narrower.  All that said, I have't been on any longer boards so I don't know how they feel balance wise.

B-Walnut

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2023, 11:39:20 PM »
The board that I started on was 5'2" and 24" wide.  My first session on it I couldn't even get to my knees with enough balance to the get the wing up.  I ended up taping some foam "bumpers" that ran along the rails to give an extra inch of width on each side and that made it much easier.  Eventually I got a proper board that was 5'3" and 27" wide and it was much better for me to progress on.  I'm a lightweight at 65 kgs and have surfing, SUPing, snowboarding, and skating.

I'm just over a year into it and went out on the 24" wide board without the bumpers recently and found it extremely stable. 

I personally wouldn't push a beginner without foiling experience and sailing experience into something narrower.  All that said, I have't been on any longer boards so I don't know how they feel balance wise.

Even 27" would be considered narrow here. I see most beginners out on 30"-34" wide boards. The length does, in fact, add a lot of stability but as we all know, we didn't get to try anything like that when we first learned.

VB_Foil

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2023, 10:41:14 AM »
The board that I started on was 5'2" and 24" wide.  My first session on it I couldn't even get to my knees with enough balance to the get the wing up.  I ended up taping some foam "bumpers" that ran along the rails to give an extra inch of width on each side and that made it much easier.  Eventually I got a proper board that was 5'3" and 27" wide and it was much better for me to progress on.  I'm a lightweight at 65 kgs and have surfing, SUPing, snowboarding, and skating.

I'm just over a year into it and went out on the 24" wide board without the bumpers recently and found it extremely stable. 

I personally wouldn't push a beginner without foiling experience and sailing experience into something narrower.  All that said, I have't been on any longer boards so I don't know how they feel balance wise.

Do you remember how much trouble you had on the 24" wide board with the fore/aft balance?  That's one benefit of the longer narrower boards, as you only need to focus on side to side balance.  The smaller footprint of the traction pad should reduce poor knee/feet placement when getting going.

 I remember learning on my 105L 5'11" x 30 something" wide SUP Foil board at 65KGs.  I needed a slow and lifty foil to work, and in the end that was probably for the best, as I progressed my foiling and winging a lot on my old 2400 Armstrong foil when learning.

I'm loving my 6'3" x 18.75" Armstrong DW boards for winging and learning to SUP paddle.   I'd consider myself an 'experienced' winger and a moderate beginner SUPing.  I would put the balancing level at 20% easier than my 4'10" 60L Armstrong board.  Part of that is due to the shorter 6'3" length, which will allow me to burry the nose if I'm not careful, but it does torpedo right back to the surface no problem. 

I want to get a board to have for my kids and wife to play on, and I almost picked up a used 134L 6'4" x 33" behemoth, so this discussion is very interesting to me!

Even 27" would be considered narrow here. I see most beginners out on 30"-34" wide boards. The length does, in fact, add a lot of stability but as we all know, we didn't get to try anything like that when we first learned.
I’m a 5’9” 65kg rider:

Boards:
   4' 27L Armstrong FG Wing/Surf
   4’5” 34L Armstrong FG Wing/Surf
   4'11" 60L Armstrong Wing/Sup
  
  

Foils: Armstrong HA525, HS625, HA725, HA925, HS1050, HA1125, HS1250, HA1325
Wings: BRM 2M & 3M, FreeWing Nitro 4M, OR 5M & 7M Glide

rathawk

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2023, 11:28:25 AM »

Do you remember how much trouble you had on the 24" wide board with the fore/aft balance?  That's one benefit of the longer narrower boards, as you only need to focus on side to side balance.  The smaller footprint of the traction pad should reduce poor knee/feet placement when getting going.

 I remember learning on my 105L 5'11" x 30 something" wide SUP Foil board at 65KGs.  I needed a slow and lifty foil to work, and in the end that was probably for the best, as I progressed my foiling and winging a lot on my old 2400 Armstrong foil when learning.

I'm loving my 6'3" x 18.75" Armstrong DW boards for winging and learning to SUP paddle.   I'd consider myself an 'experienced' winger and a moderate beginner SUPing.  I would put the balancing level at 20% easier than my 4'10" 60L Armstrong board.  Part of that is due to the shorter 6'3" length, which will allow me to burry the nose if I'm not careful, but it does torpedo right back to the surface no problem. 

I want to get a board to have for my kids and wife to play on, and I almost picked up a used 134L 6'4" x 33" behemoth, so this discussion is very interesting to me!


I don't really remember but I'm sure some of it was fore/aft.  The extra 1.5" on each side from the bumpers made it much easier so I'm inclined to believe that side to side was more of an issue for me on that board.

I'm very interesting in trying a DW type board for light wind winging and also for catching small, not quite breaking waves prone or knee paddling.  We don't get proper swell where I am but sometimes some small stuff sneaks through or we'll have really short period wind swell.  Maybe eventually work up to full on downwind runs.  I need more people foiling in my area so that I can have the chance to try different gear without buying it.

B-Walnut

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2023, 06:55:38 PM »
I got to demo a 7'8" long 18" wide 92l barracuda yesterday. I was able to sup paddle it as well and prone paddle and hop up into a surf stance. No chance for me to do that on my old short boards!

Pasquales

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2023, 12:55:04 PM »
Been noticing folks showing up with long narrow downwind boards to learn winging at my local spot.. 

After seeing them struggle to balance in flat water, I've recommend they borrow a slower wide SUP board and paddle around.  Usually it takes one/two session with the paddle to sort things out - like being deliberate in movement, counter balancing, knowing the max buoyant point on the board, etc...   After building confidence standing on the board, I then tell them to start with a wing.  Many have said the rush to get the latest gear didn't serve their needs, and would have been better to ask local folks what to start with.  In my observations, downwind boards make it harder for most beginners to lean the sport.     

Beasho

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Re: Narrow vs Wide Boards: Beginners to Advanced
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2023, 04:09:14 PM »
In true open ocean conditions a downwind board is a nightmare.

You can’t stand with sidewash and waves.

You need a 6’ +++ and 30” wide board to learn. 

 


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