Whether you are a pro rider, a passionate geek or a Sunday wingfoiler, the wingfoil has taken a very important place in our lives for several years now. Freestyle is becoming ever more impressive, the foils are going faster and faster, the gear is progressing and renewed each season… But to truly enjoy our sport with durable gear, it’s important to take proper care of your wing. A well-maintained wing will last longer, perform better, and keep you safe on the water. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of wing care, including how to clean, store, and repair your wing. We’ll also cover some tips on how to prolong the lifespan of your wing, so you can spend more time foiling and less time worrying about maintenance. To find out more and get an informed opinion, we called on John Lewis, FreeWing Product Designer. FreeWing offers a very complete range of wings with different programs: the FreeWing Pro for speed and racing, the N-Team for versatility, freeride and waves and the Air V3 for all-round performance and pro-level freestyle. These wings are built with different and innovative materials such as Hookipa or X-Ply, which you will need to take care of! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced wingfoiler, this guide will help you keep your wing in top condition!
Clement Colmas and the FreeWing Pro
How to take care of your wing ? – Rinsing and drying your wing
Should we systematically rinse your wing after a session? Everyone has their version on the subject, especially in relation to navigation in freshwater or salt water, some say that salt water will preserve the wing, while fresh water will make it moldy. For John : “for the best care, yes I would rinse the wings after sessions to clear off salt and fresh water and leave them to dry completely. The ‘protection’ salt can offer is questionable. It can cause damage to the clarity of the windows for example so I prefer to rinse and dry.”. About drying, John advises to fully dry your wing before storing “although we haven’t found much physical performance loss from the wings being wet, as any material that is stored wet for an extended period, things will start to smell.”. But do not dry your wing just anyhow! Do not leave your wing in the sun as this will damage it : “the UV will damage all materials making them more fragile and the internal pressure will increase if left inflated potentially damaging the seams (this is why our Ho’okipa wings are white)”. John also recommends to no suspend your wing for drying or storing, to prevent bladders from moving/dropping. If you want to know more, visit this little tutorial from FreeWing on How to Unpack and Pack Your Wing.
White Ho’okipa material (FreeWing N-Team) is more resistant to UV and sun exposure, but don’t leave it there too long! – Inset: John Lewis, FreeWing Product Designer
How to take care of your wing ? – Folding your wing
If sometimes you can be tempted to roll your wing into a ball in its bag, know that it is not recommended! The preferred folding technique is “rolling the wing from the wing tips then folding the centre strut” because it can “avoid damage to windows and the canopy from the valve and other hard parts such as leash”. And about the windows, they are not as fragile as they seem, they “can be rolled and bent, we would just advise, where possible, to avoid folding a crease through a window for an extended period of time.”. But, if you have the possibility, is it better to fold the wing to store it or to suspend it in the sail loft? “Fold over store suspended to prevent bladders moving/dropping. Deflate a little if you want to leave inflated, the less loading on the bladders and seams the better. Fold and pack away completely if you’re not using the wing for more than a week, or deflate to a point where the wing has a shape but is very very soft, and then handles suspended so that the bladders don’t move.”.
How to take care of your wing ? – Clean your wing
Not everyone wing in clear water and on beautiful beaches, sometimes we end up with wing full of mud and dirt. So how do you clean them without damaging anything? About cleaning products, John “would avoid bleaches and strong cleaning products but honestly, this is not something we have looked into too closely. I would say dishwasher liquid/soap is good.”. Special attention should be paid depending on the materials of your spi you wish to clean: “X-ply is more film than normal canopy cloth, so can definitely withstand more intense cleaning but avoid sharp items in general, a brush should be okay. I would advise being more careful about brushing normal canopy cloth as opposed to X-ply as it is more likely to stretch if lots of force is applied to it.”
X-Ply material can withstand more intense cleaning (FreeWing Pro)
How to take care of your wing ? – Durability of a wing
In fact, the question of how to take care of your wing can arise from the moment of purchase. Indeed, the purchase of a wing with a more durable construction and materials will necessarily increase its lifespan. We then asked John about the materials used at FreeWing, namely the Ho’okipa, used on the Pro and the N-Team wings, as well as the X-Ply, used on the Pro wing: “X-Ply and Ho’okipa as used on our Freewing Pro is probably the most durable combination on the market. X-Ply is massively stronger and more durable than normal canopy cloth and Ho’okipa is a lot more durable than normal Dacron used in most wings, far more resistive to slashes from a foil for example.”
Like Orane Ceris, you can bring your Ho’okipa wing in the waves! (Freewing N-Team)
And how long are you going to keep these wings? John said that “a normal wing typically has a lifespan of 6 months to a year, depending on use. I would say 4 years for an X-ply Ho’okipa wing”, but we hope that with the tips in this article you will make them last even longer! We also wanted to know if certain temperature conditions would be unsuitable for certain wing materials, but the answer is no: “no temperature limits in normal conditions you may ride in, e.g. -10 degrees Celsius to +40. We test our products in Thailand, Norway and South Africa to get a full range of conditions tested.”.
From Dubai to the mountains, Orane Ceris takes her FreeWing everywhere! (Left : photo by @foilandsail, FreeWing N-Team ; Right : FreeWing Air V3)
How to take care of your wing ? – Wing damage
Despite all the good maintenance and precautions you take to your wing, when sailing, it can quickly happen to damage it, especially with the foil. In this case, what to do? Depending on where the damage is located, you will have to proceed differently. For the spi, John tells us that “the benefit of the rip stop or X-Ply materials we use in our canopies is that they limit the extent of the damage thanks to supporting fibers in the material (you will see if you look closely). So if you have a small hole, you can continue to ride back to shore to repair without causing further damage to get in safely (provided you don’t fall/put a secondary hole in the wing).”. However, for the structure, leading edge and central strut, there is more urgency: “if you have a small hole in the structure, it is advisable to ride to shore to repair as soon as possible, as the bladders underneath are very fragile once pressurized, like a balloon basically, so sharp rocks etc will easily puncture and the structure will deflate quickly.”. So don’t try too hard, shorten your session and go repair or have it repaired if you want your wing to last for a long time!
Thank you very much John for your precious answers which will allow us to have durable wings that we will keep for a long time! If you also have advice for maintaining your wings, do not hesitate to tell us in the comments on our social medias!