Among wingfoilers, apart from young people, it is rare to find people who do not come from other watersports: windsurf, surf, kite, sailing, wake… but also stand-up paddle are so many gateways to the marvelous world of the wing. As you know, here on TotalWing you are on the little brother site of TotalSUP, a webzine dedicated to stand-up paddleboarding in all its aspects. Myself editor for TotalSUP before moving to TotalWing, I also went from SUP to wing. However, stand-up paddling is not a windsport, and some practitioners experience apprehension before getting started wingfoiling. Still, having done SUP before trying to wingfoil is an advantage and can allow you to start on a good basis! To convince you, or help you convince your close SUPers, we called on Lizi Ruiz. Lizi is a stand-up paddler who used to be very competitive in the Florida SUP race scene. A few years ago, she got into wing and now makes the most of freeriding and “soul wing” as she calls it. Lizi is fully equipped with Cabrinha and JP gear available at Adventure Sports USA, these are brands that make gear for pros as well as excellent products for beginners. Lizi Ruiz tells us about her journey to crossing over from SUP to wing, and gives us all her advice to help you get started and progress.
Hi Lizi, we wanted to talk with you about how to make the transition from SUP to Wing. A lot of stand-up paddlers want to start but don’t dare when they don’t have a background in wind sports. Did you also have this kind of apprehension before you started wing?
Yes, especially since I had no wind sports background. For me the sharp foil underneath me was the most intimidating part. Once you get the hang of it those apprehensions disappear and replaced by the want to learn a new sport.
Before you started wing, how long have you been SUPing and what was your SUPing experience?
I have been SUPing for about 10 years prior to finding winging. I used to be very competitive in the Florida SUP race scene. I also, loved doing, what I call, soul paddling. My husband and I love taking our boards and exploring Florida. Occasionally we get to sup surf too. In Miami there is not much surf unless it is wind chop or a swell from a cold front or hurricane.
What are the advantages of having done SUP before starting wing?
I think the biggest advantages were my water knowledge and board balance. Once you learn how to wing it does not require as much physical strength as SUPing. Being able to read water and knowing what the tides are doing in your local spot really helps in knowing where to be at.
While in the learning phase I feel that winging is more physically taxing than sup because, you are constantly falling and getting back up. Doing what I call the walk of wing down the beach etc. It is all part of the learning process and everyone goes through it. Some people get it right away and some people, like me, it takes a little longer.
What are your tips for stand-up paddlers who want to start winging?
When I started there was nothing out there. I learned by trial and error making the learning curve a lot more for me especially since I work during the week so, I had limited water time. Now, there are so many helpful YouTube videos out there. Damo and Gwen have the best series of videos out there. If I were starting today I would take a peak at those videos first, then schedule a lesson with an instructor. In Miami we have Paula from Efoil usa that is amazing. I have referred many friends to her that came from SUP backgrounds and they are hooked.
The most important thing to remember is that winging is challenging and it is okay to get frustrated and fail at times. It is all part of the process but, once it clicks it opens a whole new world of fun. I think taking a few lessons helps lowering the learning curve exponentially.
Did you do some wing SUP to get familiar with the wing before switching to a foil board?
I did not. I did get the biggest foil board I could find. Having the extra volume helped me stand on the board like a sup surf and I had the extra balance to feel comfortable on my legs so, I could just concentrate on the wing part. As I progressed, I got on to smaller and smaller boards. Right now I’m on a 5ft JP foil board.
How did you get into wing? Did you take lessons, or learn on your own or with friends?
My husband is at fault for getting me into winging. He told me there was a new sport that he thought I would like. He was totally right. It took me about 8 months to get comfortable on foil. I took no lessons and was totally self-taught. The best part was a lot of people from our local wing community would help me along the way by giving tips here and there.
I think I kept at it because with every session I saw some sort of improvement. I’m sure if there was someone giving lessons at the time I would have gotten it much sooner but, my path was right for me 😊. I did a take one e-foil lesson which was a game changer in understanding the foil dynamics and what it supposed to feel like when you take flight 😊
Today, what is your practice of wingfoil ?
Today, I’m a soul winger, freerider, I just love getting out on the water gliding just above the surface like a bird. It is such a beautiful feeling. I’m stating to get out in the waves which is where I would like to comfortably be at by the end of 2023.
Winging has provided another outlet for me on the water. It is such a great way to challenge yourself to try something new. Every time I get out there I try to learn something new within the sport. I think some paddlers get intimidated in trying it but, if I can do it anyone can do it. You just need the right beginner gear to get out there and try it out. My biggest warning though is that it is very addicting. 😊
Thanks Lizi for your answers! If you also want to take the leap from SUP to wing, do like Lizi and go to Adventures Sports USA to equip yourself with gear from the best brands like Cabrinha, JP or even Dakine, but also to ask for advice from a team of enthusiasts!
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