What is wingsurfing and why should you try it?

Aug 22 2023

a wingsurfer in action

Winging is the new sensation taking the watersports world by storm, but what is it? We chatted with Doug, a senior instructor at Calshot Activities Centre, to get the lowdown.

What is winging?

Winging combines elements of windsurfing and kitesurfing. Using a wing-shaped sail and a board, you use the wind to propel yourself across the water, and once you’re a confident wingsurfer, you can add a foil to start wingfoiling. The concept of wingsurfing has been around since the 1980s, but the sport has boomed in popularity since the late 2010s as equipment became more user friendly. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic helped build the hype around winging, as lots of people took up new outdoor activities.

It’s popular with former windsurfers and kitesurfers who’ve retired from their sport due to injury thanks to its low impact on the body. Requiring low wind speeds, winging is also a great entry point for watersports novices.

What do you need?

Unlike some other watersports, winging needs relatively little equipment, and this can all easily fit in the back of the car. You’ll need a board, a wing, a buoyancy aid or impact vest, a leash, and a pump. If you’re wingfoiling, you’ll also need your foil and a helmet. Doug recommends keeping a screwdriver with your kit to be able to put your foil together.

a man wingsurfing on the Solent

Learn the basics

To keep yourself and others around you safe, it’s important to get some basic terminology down. Familiarise yourself with wind speed and wind direction to make sure you aren’t on the water in conditions that will put you in danger. The Met Office have guides to understanding marine forecasts and interpreting the Beaufort wind force scale. If you’re taking to the water in a coastal location, it’s essential to check the local tides before you go.

It’s also a good idea to learn about the equipment you’ll be using. Beginners will benefit from knowing the anatomy of the board and wing so that they can get to grips with their technique. People who are seriously into winging should know how to look after their gear to make sure it’s in good working order.

Why give it a go?

Aside from being a great introduction to watersports, Doug describes winging as an experience “unlike anything else” – and take it from us, he knows a thing or two about being on the water!

Winging also provides plenty of opportunities for progression. Beginners start off wingsurfing while they get used to the sport, generally moving on quite quickly to wingfoiling. Learning the technique is a fun challenge and once you’ve mastered it, it’s time to start getting some tricks under your belt.

Fancy giving it a try? Calshot Activities Centre offer RYA accredited courses in wingsurfing and wingfoiling. With access to both sheltered and more challenging water, Calshot’s Lagoon can provide an experience that’s second to none in terms of excitement, enjoyment and skills development – whatever your pace. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop with our latest news.