Fiona Wylde: back for a big wingfoil season after overcoming her shoulder injury

19th February 2023

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Fiona Wylde needs no introduction: with her impressive track record, she is one of the strongest waterwomen on the planet. Three times Stand-Up Paddle Race world champion, winner of several GWA Wingfoil World Tour events, but also world champion in PWA Youth Women’s Wave Sailing and so on… whatever the support, Fiona Wylde shines by her talent and hardwork. Fiona, a Type 1 diabetic, is also committed to saying #diabetesdoesntlimityou and to educate and inspire adults and children with T1D to live a healthy and full life. But at the beginning of 2022, after a strong crash in wingfoil racing, Fiona suffered a serious shoulder injury. Last year was therefore a special year for Fiona, between surgery, recovery and the launch of her Wylde Wind and Water program. Before her big return to the competition scene in a few weeks, we wanted to know how she had lived this year 2022 and overcome her injury, but also to know her relationship with wingfoil and her favorite spots, and also to know with which FreeWing and Starboard gear she is riding.

Photo: Eric Duran

Hi Fiona! It has been a long time! Tell us a bit about what has happened in the last few months

Hi TotalWing! It has been a while! It’s nice to connect again. This last year has been very different from previous years, but I have learned a lot and overall, I am very happy with where I am at both professionally and personally in life right now. At the beginning of the 2022 season, I crashed Wing Foil Racing in April and ended up tearing my labrum in my shoulder. I quickly returned home and visited the doctor where I learned I was going to need surgery. I had surgery at the beginning of June and was out of the water until early November. My arm was in a shoulder sling for almost three months and I did physical therapy for another 2 months before I started paddling lightly in November of 2022. After a month of light paddling, I started Wing Foiling in the middle of December. So, I have been training wing foiling for two months now and the progress has been incredible! I am feeling very comfortable and confident on the water once again. My fitness and overall strength will continue to come back with time, but the most important thing is that my shoulder is feeling solid and I am very happy on the water once again.

Photo: Eric Duran

There were many challenging moments throughout my injury, but in all honesty, I was able to focus on different things for the first time in a long time. I have been competing professionally in stand-up paddling and windsurfing since I was 16 years old, so for the first time in 9 years, I got to switch my focus and try different things. I wasn’t traveling away from home every other week and constantly going to competitions. I was able to build a routine at home and spend quality time with family and friends which allowed me to have a positive recovery. I wasn’t stressed about not being on the water, because I simply couldn’t. As soon as I got that in my head, I never felt like I was ‘missing out’. Mentally, I felt really strong. Despite not being physically able to do the things I truly love, I found other ways to share my passion for the water with other people. Everybody goes through injuries at some point or another and this injury gave me an opportunity to start something incredible, Wylde Wind & Water.

Photo: Eric Duran

Tell us, how did wingfoiling come into your life?

I can thank my dad for introducing me to Wing Foiling! My dad is an incredible athlete and picks things up really quickly. He loves spending time on the water and is a windsurfer, stand-up paddler, and foiler. My family sport growing up was windsurfing, which, is all thanks to my mom because she taught my dad how to windsurf! So, even though my mom is not a wing foiler (she rips windsurfing, I still can’t keep up with her!), I really need to thank my mom for the introduction to wing foiling and watersports. Without her, I wouldn’t have discovered my love for the water.

Anyways, so in 2019, my dad was one of the few people sailing around on wing foil equipment. I was competing so much with stand-up paddling that I didn’t have much free time. In my spare time, I would go windsurfing or windsurf foiling. But, after a while of watching my dad have so much fun, I thought I would give it a go! I told my dad not to give me any tips. I wanted to see if I could figure it out on my own. Well, let me tell you
. I floated about two kilometers down the beach before figuring out how to get the wing out of the water. So, I walked my gear back up the beach to where my dad was standing and I said, “ok, how does this thing work?” He gave me a few pointers and I was off flying!

Hood River / Photo: Aidan Nicholas

It was such an incredible experience, as I am sure you are all aware of! Where I grew up in Mexico, the wind is very consistent, but it’s typically not super strong. However, the swell is really fun and wing foiling is the perfect sport for having fun and utilizing the conditions to their maximum.

I didn’t have my own wing foil equipment for a while, so I was borrowing my dad’s. I would ask my dad when he was planning on going sailing and then I would go for a session either before him or after him, just so I could go wing. Fortunately, Starboard my sponsor for Stand-Up Paddling, quickly developed FreeWing and I now get to ride some of the best equipment in the world and be a part of the FreeWing Team!

Photo: Eric Duran

In 2021 in Morocco, you made a very remarkable entry on the GWA circuit by winning the Surf-Slalom and Surf-Freestyle events! Do you like wing competitions and do you plan to do them again?

Thank you! I had such a blast in Morocco! I knew that Wing Foiling was becoming big and there were events starting to pop up everywhere. In 2021, I was mostly focused on Stand-Up Paddle Racing and IQ Foiling. I won two SUP World Titles that year and the IQ Foil National Championship, which was my main competitive goals. I knew I wanted to try out a GWA event before the end of the year to see what it was like and the only event that would fit into my schedule was the GWA in Morocco. When we got there, beautiful waves rolled in around the point and I knew we were in for a good time. At that point in time, I hadn’t done much freestyle other than a little stock air and such, but I have a lot of experience competing in windsurf wave sailing. I actually have a PWA Youth Women’s Wave Sailing world title from 2014. During the surf-freestyle part of the event, the wind was so light that it wasn’t possible to count freestyle maneuvers, unless they were on the wave. I was riding a 6m, a 70L board and the biggest foil I brought with me, just to get up and foil. The light wind made heat management very difficult, but once I was on a wave, I felt at home! It was so much fun to be once again wave sailing, but with a whole new medium of wing foiling. I hope to wing foil in waves more in the future!

GWA Morocco 2021 / Photo : Svetlana Romantsova @romantsovaphoto

Winning the races was the cherry on top! The races were super fast and technical. They showed me many areas where I needed to improve. The best part of that event was seeing how much all of the women improved over the three days of racing. In the beginning, not everybody was at the start line on time, but at the end of day three, everybody was hitting the start line at the green flag. It truly was an incredible experience, not to mention being able to see part of Morocco! Result aside, that event got me really excited for more Wing Foil events.

I was planning on competing in many Wing Foil events in 2022, but the injury sidelined that idea. This year, I am planning on competing in multiple GWA and Wing Foil Racing events. However, since I am still receiving from injury, I am going to approach all of the events with very few expectations and with a positive mindset of learning and having fun while getting the opportunity to wing foil all over the world.

GWA Morocco 2021 / Photo : Svetlana Romantsova @romantsovaphoto

On this subject, we wanted to ask you about your favorite spots all over the world! But first, how is wingfoiling in and around Hood River?

Hood River is such a spectacular place to Wing Foil! Regardless of your level, there is something for everybody! There are very safe and protected places to learn to Wing Foil, but then there are also very advanced places for wing foiling with strong winds and big swell. There’s a little something for everybody!

Hood River with Raul Delgado / Photo: Aidan Nicholas

One of my favorite places to go Wing Foiling while at home in Hood River is at the Hatchery on the Washington side of Columbia River. The dominant wind direction in the summer is a Westerly. At the Hatchery, the swell stands up and provides epic rolling swells, perfect for jumping or carving. I would most definitely classify the Hatchery as an advanced Wing Foil spot. If you are wing foiling at the hatchery, keep your eyes out for people recreating on the water with all different crafts. You’ll see other wing foilers, windsurfers, kiters, stand-up paddlers, sup foilers, and surfski paddlers. Be mindful that everybody is moving at different speeds and different angles to the wind.

Hood River / Photo: Aidan Nicholas

And internationally, where do you recommend going on wingfoil holidays?

I grew up in a small town called Los Barriles in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Los Barriles is such a fantastic spot for wing foiling! The wind is very consistent and the rolling swell is so much fun to play on. For me, it’s like home being here, but this is also a lovely place for a wing foil holiday. There are many things to do in the town besides watersports and the food is delicious!

Los Barriles / Photo: Eric Duran

About your quiver, what is your favorite gear?

I am super proud and fortunate to be on the FreeWing Team with Starboard! That being said, I use the FreeWings including the N-Team, Air V2, and the Pro. Each wing design is designed for different conditions. My Air V2’s are my go-to comfortable wing. I love this wing for cruising, but then also for freestyle and wave riding. I use the small-size N-Team for freestyle and wave riding as well. Lastly, I ride the FreeWing Pro for racing.

GWA Leucate 2022 / Photo : Samuel Cardenas

For boards, I use the Starboard Takeoff 4’2” @47L for strong wind and the Starboard Takeoff 4’7 @70L for lighter conditions.

I am currently testing all sorts of foils and having a blast with it! I typically use a Nolimitz Mast and their masts are compatible with many different foils, giving me many opportunities to try different setups.

Photo: Eric Duran

Tell us a bit about your Wylde Wind & Water program

Wylde Wind & Water is the combination of passion, community, and fun all coming together in the best way possible. Established in 2022, Wylde Wind & Water is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit based in Hood River Oregon that I created to provide water safety education and water sports opportunities to both kids and adults in the community. In year one, Wylde Wind & Water served 311 youth and 192 adults through ten programs, teaching people about the recreation opportunities that can be had on the Columbia River and how to be safe while recreating. Our program include Wing Foil Youth Camps, Stand Up Paddle DEVO Team, Stand Up Paddle JET Team, Community Pop-up Sessions, school visits, and community water safety programs.

Wylde Wind and Water

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the whole summer was running three weeks of programs with the Hood River Migrant Education Program in conjunction with the Hood River County School District. During these programs, 53 students participated in week-long camps that taught the youth about water safety and watersports. Thanks to the collaboration with the CGW2, Hood River Outrigger Canoe Club, and Gorge Paddling Center, the kids learned to Stand Up Paddle, Kayak, and paddle in an Outrigger Canoe. The educational aspects of the program included an overview of the riparian ecosystems in Nichols Boat Basin by Riverkeepers presented in Spanish, and a presentation from a meteorologist at Weatherflow explaining with fun science experiments how to read weather conditions to make informed decisions on how and when to recreate safely in the Columbia River. Our goal with these camps is to make the waterfront a more inclusive place, and to also make sure people in our community have the resources and knowledge to be able to recreate safely at the waterfront. The migrant program was taught in both English and Spanish and we hired six high school interns whom are part of the Migrant Program, to learn about water safety and to develop a new skill set. For the majority of the students and teachers that participated in this program, this was their first time to the Hood River Waterfront, despite having lived in Hood River nearly their entire lives.

In 2023, we will be continuing our Wing Foil Youth Camps, SUP Teams and community programs. Learn more about Wylde Wind & Water at

Wylde Wind and Water Kids Clinics

Finally, what are your plans for 2023?

2023, here we are and about to take off another epic year of sport, community, and friendship! This year I am going to be competing while also managing Wylde Wind & Water. I will be competing in both SUP and Wing Foiling in the spring and fall, but I will be home in Hood River for the summer months to dedicate my time to Wylde Wind & Water and all of our programs. I am not putting too much pressure on myself competitively because I am still receiving from injury, but I am very eager and excited to see how I do in competition while competing in two sports and multiple disciplines.

GWA Morocco 2021 / Photo : Svetlana Romantsova @romantsovaphoto

I am also continuing my university education online. I am currently a Junior at Oregon State University E-Campus studying Geography and Geospatial Science. I will be continuing my studies this year, working slowly towards graduating with my undergraduate degree.

Most of all, I hope to stay healthy while taking on a big year.

See you on the water soon!

GWA Morocco 2021 / Photo : Svetlana Romantsova @romantsovaphoto

Thank you Fiona for you answers and and we can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for you! Go for it!

Follow Fiona Wylde:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

More about Wylde Wind and Water :
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

More about FreeWing:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

More about Starboard:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram

About the Author

Laurie Montagner

From SUP Racing to wing foiling, through windsurfing, wakesurfing and surfing, you will always find Laurie somewhere in the South-West of France. Passionate about watersports, Laurie spends her time surfing, whether on the wave... or online! Laurie is indeed a specialist in social media marketing and web development, from writing lines of code to making professional videos. Very much a competitor, you've probably already met her on one of the SUP and wing events all over France!

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