Many people wonder what wind strength we can hope to sail with a wing foil. Several parameters have to be taken : the rider’s weight, his technical level, the equipment used and the water conditions.
Obviously the lighter a practitioner, the sooner he will be able to take off, but you still need to have good technique and suitable equipment. If you want to exploit light winds, it is imperative to use a board on which you are floating when stationary. To know what volume allows you to float, take your weight (in kgs) and add about 15 to this value, you will get the volume needed in liters to stand on a board when stopped (for example for a practitioner of 85 Kgs , 100 Liters will be required). It should be noted that a rigid, light and compact board will have better pumping skills, and will therefore make it possible to start faster.
The size of the wing is also an important parameter, even if there are significant differences in power between models for the same size. Prefer rigid models, much more effective at pumping, and which maintain a more constant power base. 5m² is a good compromise for an average size, but the brands are developing larger surfaces likely to allow them to sail in even lighter winds.
The foil is a determining element to be able to navigate with little wind. You have to choose a foil with a good lift (ability to fly at low speed). Of course a bulky foil (around 2000cm²) is generally recommended in small conditions, but the more efficient foils for taking off early are above all those who have good pumping skills, and therefore have a good lift.
The technique is essential for planing in marginal conditions. An advanced rider who is efficient for pumping with both the wing and the foil will start much earlier than a beginner. It also takes a lot more energy to successfully take off the board. A calm water will facilitate navigation in the light wind, pumping in choppy water is even more technical.
The question everyone is asking is: untill what wind force can we expect to sail with a wing foil. Personally, with a weight of 87Kgs, a board of 100 Liters, a wing of 5m², a foil of 1800cm² and a good gliding experience, I can successfully start from 10 knots on a calm water. However, at 10 knots the transitions are not smooth and you have to put a lot of energy into pumping during raises. A wind approaching 15 knots brings better sensations, and will be more suitable for a beginner.
With the evolution of the material, in particular the development of biger wings, we can imagine in the near future being able to better exploit the light winds.
Here is a video showing the start in a wind of around 10 knots (material: Foil Korvenn Super Lift 920 matt 65cm, Board Korvenn Sup Glider 5’8 ″, Wing Korvenn 5m² – rider: 87 Kgs).