Introduction to the Wingfoil Gybe
The gybe will be the first maneuver you learn in wingfoiling. It is an easy way to change direction as it involves less input and variables than the tack. With most new wingfoiling skills, it is important that you practice on the beach before you go onto the water. One of the most important elements to the gybe is the timing and accuracy of the wing flip. You can practice this by standing on the beach with the wing and walk through the gybe as if you were doing it on the water.
It’s important to learn using your preferred stance. That is, if you have a “regular” stance (right foot back) you should do your first gybes going from regular to coming out switched (coming out of the gybe going in the opposite direction twisted so your right foot remains back - don’t change your feet). The opposite is true if you are “goofy” (left foot back), you must attempt your first gybes with your left foot back.
To learn the wing gybe you want to be nicely powered up. It’s important you have good speed going into the gybe. During the maneuver you will take the power source away (the wing will not be driving you) so you must hold speed around the turn. This can only be achieved by going into it fast and being efficient during the carve. The slower you are at the beginning the less stability you will have at the critical points. Speed is your friend!
It is also helpful to have flat water conditions. In flat water you will not have the amplitude of the waves to deal with. Flat water takes away one of the many variables and allows you to make pitch control mistakes.
As I mentioned, you want to be powered up so a large wing will be beneficial. That being said, if it is too big the tips will hit the water and it will be hard to reposition. The best compromise is around a 5 meter wing. The wing also needs to be light and have large, easy to reach handles or a boom. The Armstrong A-Wing V2 comes with an attachable boom which is perfect for this.
In terms of foils, you want something that has good glide to carry speed, has a low stall speed and is very stable. The Armstrong Carving Freeride V2 is a great hydrofoil for gybing as it has all these characteristics more.
Set Up and Entry
You set up the gybe from a reach (90 deg from the wind) with good speed. If you entre too slow you will stall before you bring the power on the new side; too fast and you will be out of control. The gybe is initiated by leaning into the direction of the turn to start the carve. As you do this, you must sheet in (pull in with your back hand) and raise the wing above your head. At this point it’s important to manage your pitch control as the extra speed will want to lift the nose of the board. You can counter this by leaning very slightly forward with your hips. This is a very small movement and it’s important to know that as your speed washes off during the turn, you will need reverse this to maintain a level platform.
As you turn down wind you must look up towards the new direction. It is a very common mistake to look down towards the nose of your board, which normally results in a crash! You will feel the wing go light in your hand and this is the exact point you must flip the wing onto the new side. Simultaneously, you need to carve the board (an arc inside the wing) at a rate that is consistent but not drawn out. Too often I see people getting distracted with the wing flip, fail to carve the foil around and loose speed and they head downwind. The key is to get the wing in your new hand and carve back on to the wind as soon as possible.
You’ll be please to know that, at this point, all the hard work is done. All that is left to do is regain stability in your (now switched) stance. This is achieved by winging close to the wind. That is, above a reach. This powers up the wing and allows you to use it as an aid to balance.
The gybe is a relatively easy maneuver to master if you are on the correct equipment and enter it with speed. The key points are to look in the new direction you are going, keep a tight and consistent carve and manage the pitch as your speed changes. As with all elements of wingfoiling, practice is really important. It will take some time to get use to these new skills and expect lots of crashes! Here at the Hydrofoil Academy we can help you progress faster with 1-1 lessons and coaching. We also can kit you out with the perfect equipment set up at the Hydrofoil Shop; just give us a call and we will give you all the tools to help you nail your first wingfoil Gybe!
Clear skies and good winds,