The Inland Paddler: New Year, New Things!

Winging in the New Year

Sometimes, I get bored. I get bored quite frequently, actually, when work, weather, whatever, keeps me having to paddle on my local training lake too much.  I am a paddler who needs variety. Too much flatwater and I itch for the waves, or the bumps, which are few and far between.

So, on New Year’s Days in the past, I have resolved to love the conditions or my inland situation more. And that’s worked, to some extent. I’ve learned to paddle a variety of different craft to keep things lively and interesting. And that’s worked to a certain extent.

But this year, I am going to focus on learning some completely new things, and hopefully continue to improve where whitewater sup is concerned.

The new thing?

The wing.

About a year or so, I saw a video of windsurf and sup pioneer Robbie Naish’s new contraption– something that looked like a cross between a windsurfing sail and a kite.  Handheld, it allows one to glide or sail across the water with a board, without need of a mast and boom. As a sailor, it was appealing.  But, I soon forgot about it.

Until my Thanksgiving trip to Maui last year. The wing has, pardon the pun, really taken off on the Valley Isle, where it’s being used as a way to more quickly and with less effort, get up on a foil board.  Several good friends are either learning to “wing” as it’s called, for foiling or as an entry into kiteboarding.

Being the early adopter that I am, I decided to give it a go.

While it is less gear intensive than windsurfing, and easier to travel with and transport, the learning curve is pretty steep. My initial outings with the wing were less than impressive. At one point, I even lost hold of the wing and it went sailing across the Kahului Harbor on its own, with me prone paddling my board like a madwoman after it.  Part of the issue was the board – a shorter sup surfboard, while plenty stable, lacks a fin long enough to serve as a keel or daggerboard.  So, it’s best to use a foil board or a windsurf board so that you can have full maneuverability.

This is were the New Year’s goals come in.  After my brief foray into winging on Maui, I am resolved to master it this year, and then ultimately windsurfing.  I have a Starboard windsup inflatable, which has the daggerboard, so I have no excuses for getting back out on the water with the wing.  Will I look ridiculous here in Raleigh, NC, where most folks don’t even know what a foil board is? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely not.

One thing I do worry about though, is losing the initial more “minimal” approach that the wing affords because I will be using it on a windsurf board. Should I get a foil board? The thought has crossed my mind.

The one thing that’s been keeping me away from the foiling trend is the idea that the foil is basically a great big machete…and I already have a history with the Ginsu knives that are sup fins. A total of 54 stitches worth of history. The foil just doesn’t seem like a smart thing for me. But on the other hand, if I can master the wing…..hmmmm. Lots to think about.

For now, I’ll use the gear that I have available. I love learning new things, and the more options I have for getting out on the water, for having fun, and using the powers of nature to propel me on the water, the better.

Hmmm…I wonder if one could “wing” Chattajack??

I’ll keep you posted!