What The Foil #3: Front Wings

This week is all about getting high.  Let’s talk about front wings and how they provide lift to get you flying.  Front wings come in all different sizes, shapes and profiles which change the foils performance or application. Changing your front wing is one of the easiest ways to completely change the way your foil flies.

A flock of front wings. Front wings come in many different profiles, sizes and shapes.
  • Size – the general rule of thumb here is the bigger the front wing – the more lift that will be generated.  Big wings will generate a lot of lift, are more stable,  get you flying sooner in lighter winds, and tend to top-out at slower speeds. We love bigger wings for foil beginners, heavier riders, SUP-surf foiling, and lightwind wing or windsurf-foiling. Smaller wings on the other hand require more speed to get flying, but they reward you with faster speeds and greater maneuverability. Smaller wings are great for windier conditions, lightweight riders, jumping, bigger waves, and are typically better suited towards advanced riders.
Here are the three sizes of front wings from Slingshot’s Infinity Hoverglide series. The 65cm wing is great for more experienced riders and higher winds while the bigger 99 is an awesome choice for beginners and lighter winds.
  • Shapes – Front wings are usually classified as being a high, low or mid aspect wing. 
    • High aspect wings typically have longer wingspans, narrower cord lengths, flatter profiles and a more slender look overall.  High aspect wings can be very efficient as they provide a lot of lift without a lot of drag. This lets them accelerate quickly to impressive top speeds, and can cause them to be more responsive to rider inputs than other wing types. These require riders to be a little more on it but are great for pumping, gliding and increased speed. This makes them great for more experienced riders and downwinding.
    • Low aspect wings are shorter, thicker and stubbier.  They tend to look more shovel shaped. These provide a lot of lift paired with more drag so they tend to be a little slower.  Low aspect wings are like elevators in that they provide slow, stable, steady and predictable lift.  They remain stable at low speeds. Those qualities make low aspect wings great for beginners. They also do well while surfing as they limit speed and keep you from outrunning the wave.
    • Mid aspect wings are meant to be the best of both worlds.  Seems like these wings slightly tend to trend to being a little more high or low aspect so you need to decide what characteristics are more important to you and go from there.  
Low aspect front wings have more a shovel shape to them while high aspect wings resemble glider wings.
  • Wing Tip Profile –  Wing tips either point up to sky (dihedral) or point down to the ground (anhedral).  These aid in your turning capabilities as well as add a slight amount of lift.  Dihedral shaped wings look similar to seagull wings.  This shape tends to slow down a little through the turns but makes turning pretty easy as you don’t have to put too much work into turning.  Anhedral shaped wings zip right through turns but require a little more intention from you to make that turn happen. 

No matter the size, shape or profile, you can’t have a front wing without a rear wing. Rear wings are a crucial element to your foil setup and for the next W.T.F we’ll talk about rear wings and why they are so important.

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