TAAROA wingfoil pioneer, Benjamin Tillier, tells you how to get started in this brand-new sport.

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. Our Wing Foil Freeride pack is ideal for your first flights and will accompany you long after!

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)
  • Feet well centered in the middle of the board (a strap can possibly give you a reference for your front foot)
  • The back foot is rather advanced at the beginning to feel how the foil behaves and you will move it back little by little, it is him which will enable you to engage the takeoff.
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. A rather consistent wind is preferable so that you don't have to pump (either with the wing or with your feet) and you can concentrate on finding speed. I would say that you should opt for a 4 to 5m wing in 15-20 knots for a 75 / 80kg weight. With your progression the sessions can start from 8 - 10 knots afterwards!

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 good way to start warming up: you have to mount your foil with a screwdriver to warm up your wrists, then pump up the wing by bending your knees, and then play with your wing on the beach before getting in the water.

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 several different, equally fun directions:

  • The wing in stroll mode and super instinctive manoeuvres without having to move away from the edge even in irregular wind conditions.
  • Downwind or surfing, the slightest swell becomes an incredible spot!
  • Freestyle, to turn the wing in all directions and send small jumps, 360 or other even without the slightest wave, with an already bluffing international level.
  • And the wing in race mode, in slalom or in race with more and more surprising performances.

Have a nice session! 

TAAROA wingfoil pioneer, Benjamin Tillier, tells you how to get started in this brand-new sport.
FLY 4 ALL SA, Corentin Legris 9 December, 2020
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