Throughout our history, humans have consistently found joy in the water. This should come as no surprise, considering most civilisations based themselves close to the shores. As such, throughout the years, humans would give birth to numerous watersports along the way.
It is impossible to pinpoint the origins of some of today’s sports, as these would have originated before documented times. Having said that, if we take surfing as an example, one can be pretty sure they originated in the pacific islands!
Originally, surfing is thought to have developed in Hawaii around 400 A.D., and only became popular in California in the 1920s. Surfers originally used long wooden boards, but now ride lightweight synthetic boards, allowing greater degree of manoeuvrability.
Windsurfing is a combination of surfing and sailing, and is known to be created first in 1948 by Newman Darby. In 1968 in California, Henry Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake worked on windsurfing and developed this sport to what we know today.
Likewise, kitesurfing came to life thanks to the two brothers from France's Atlantic coast, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux. They are the kiteboarding pioneers who are credited with inventing the first inflatable kite in the 1980s.
These have all been various iterations of human’s desire to harness the power of the wind and travel across the waters in doing so.
In parallel, the science of hydrofoiling was being fine-tuned. In 1919, Alexander Graham Bell, his wife Mabel Bell and the engineer F.W. Casey Baldwin raced across a lake faster than any boat had previously traveled.
Since then, people have been adapting and retrofitting the hydrofoil onto different objects such as wasterskis, kneeboards, windsurfers and surfboards!
Birth of Wing Foiling
The idea of a handheld kite has been in the watersports world for a few years now - even as far back as the 1980s. However, it never properly took off as the wings were very heavy and bulky to handle.
In the following years a few more iterations of this idea came about, but again, none compelling enough to become a widespread sport.
That is until the 2000s when the Kite Wing was invented for use on frozen lakes with skis and ice skates. This, similar to Cabrinha’s wing, was also made with stiff aluminium tubes, and so not ideal for the water.
Thankfully, more recently, the evolution of inflatable technology progressed massively, and the first handheld inflatable kites were born for use with a foilboard, and in the past 5 years, we have seen a huge surge of wing foilers!
Future of Wing Foiling
Moving forwards, we are seeing more and more people transition to wing foiling - particularly from windsurfing. This, we believe, is for a multitude of reasons.
- Firstly, wing foiling equipment is a lot more portable than traditional windsurfing equipment. Wings can be rigged/unrigged in less than 5 minutes and boards are considerably smaller/lighter. Foils also can be flat-packed.
- Secondly, it can be enjoyed at a wider range of wind speeds. You do not need gale force winds to enjoy wing foiling. Even with just a couple of knots you can get up on your foil and have some fun.
- Thirdly, it’s a new sport! People love variety in their activities, and so trying out a new sport that is extremely convenient to get into, as well as easy to transfer skills to, is a no-brainer to a lot of watersports enthusiasts.
Of course, there are many more factors that play into the rising popularity of wing foiling, but these are the three key factors we see driving adoption.
There’s a long-standing history of watersports, and we are currently just undoubtedly in yet another iteration of that timeline. More and more people are making a transition into watersports, or moving cross-functionally across sports into wing foiling due to the ease of access.
The issue is that as a new sport, wing foiling equipment is still very expensive. New enthusiasts do not want to be spending thousands of pounds on a beginner setup, as there is always a risk of them not enjoying the sport. That is exactly the problem we are trying to combat.
We wish to bring more people into the sport and to continue to grow it by lowering the cost of entry without compromising on quality or performance. It’s a mission that is core to our beliefs and is what is driving us to progress!