With his natural talent showcased on both still and video, Benjamin never lets us quit dreaming about foiling sessions in the turquoise waters of Nouméa. Here, our innovative ambassador from New Caledonia gives you advice on getting started in the amazing new sport of wingfoil.
What shouldn’t you forget to do before jumping immediately into wingfoil?
Firstly, it’s important to get familiar with wingfoil on land; first by playing with the wing itself on the beach for feel and starting to anticipate its reactions. Follow this up with trying nonfoiling on the water with a paddle board or daggerboard windsurfer, first on your knees and then standing up.
As soon as you’ve mastered this step, prioritize a higher-volume board (120L for a beginner of 75-80kg) so you can have more stability. Regarding the foil, choose one with a mast that’s not too long (80cm is ideal) with a lower-aspect front wing for better lift. 1600 or 2000 cm3 is ideal for taking off at lower speeds.
Before your first takeoff on foil, make sure you know how to get back upwind nonfoiling (board in the water) so you don’t end up swimming or walking a kilometer back to your starting point. Whether you’re “goofy” or “regular” stance, take your first flight with your good side first. A few small tips include:
- Keep your front hand above your head (avoid dragging a wing tip in the water)
- Maintain a wider stance and well centered in the middle of the board (centerline)
- Advance your feet in the beginning, to feel how the foil behaves, and move back little by little.
What are some settings to take into account as a beginner?
Don’t forget to take speed into account – we need speed to take off! In the beginning, the stabilizer should be more advanced (flat or less negative lift) to reduce power and master takeoff with back foot pressure. As soon as takeoff is controlled, we can move the stabilizer back (more lift) and balance the feel 50/50 between each foot. Pumping the wing is efficient with the back hand. Pumping the foil with your legs is also great for catching a wave!
What conditions are ideal for getting started?
When we begin, it’s important to have the flattest water possible to stabilize your foil. Stable wind is also important to not have to concentrate too much on pumping (either with the wing or with your feet) and keep the focus on getting up to speed. I would say to opt for a wing of 4m in 15-20 knots for a 75-80 kg rider.
Where is the best spot in Nouméa for beginner wingfoilers?
The ideal spot, without hesitation, is the Anse Vata! You’ll find flat water, with a stable, sideshore trade wind, and a wide beach for walking back on foot if you drift!
What warm-up would you recommend for getting the most out of your session?
Rigging is a great start: warm up your wrists by turning some screws to set up your foil, and then make sure to bend your knees a lot while pumping your wing full of air. Then, play with your wing on the beach before going on the water. You don’t need more than that, it’s already a good start, and you’ll see on the water that it’s a bit more physical than it seems.
What’s a good beginner wingfoil setup?
The UP with the 1600 front wing, with the stabilizer advanced for less power. For lighter wind or for bigger riders, the 2000 front wing is ideal.
Anything else to add?
According to me, the practice of wingfoil is opening in three different, equally fun directions:
- Adventure-style wing with instinctive maneuvers on long, stable tacks, even in irregular conditions
- Wing Downwind, even the smallest swell becomes a new surf spot!
- Freestyle wing, to turn the wing in all directions and feelings and send some jumps, 360s, or other tricks, all without a single tiny wave.