Welcome back to MACkiteboarding Wing Wednesdays. This is Tucker and Jeff, and today we're going to talk about our favorite light wind wings for 2023. We've finally gotten the chance to spend a lot of time on these wings, and there's some exciting new stuff coming this year for light wind. There's been an increased focus on that segment from a lot of brands, so we're going to talk through some of our favorites and some reasons why you might make those choices or which one might be right for you.
Not everyone lives where there's a lot of wind, so a question we often get is, "Which wing would work best to get up in lighter conditions?" While we feel it's best to learn the sport in at least 18 knots of wind or more, today our focus is on which wings can get you up and riding and up on foil in that 12 to 14 knot wind range.
Jeff: The five wings that I tested were the Duotone Slick, the F-One CWC Strike, the North Nova and Mode, and the Ocean Rodeo Glide. I tested those all on the size 7. I was on a 1200 cm2, 930 Axis front foil and 78 liter Code board, and I used the same foil and board for all these wings. The idea was to see which one got up on foil and riding the easiest.
Tucker: Yeah, that's definitely helpful for those experienced riders looking to get more sessions on those light wind days. I would also say we've had a lot of demand from beginner riders who don't live somewhere that gets 18 to 22 knots on the regular, so rather than buying a 5m they're going to buy a 7m and learn in 14 to 16 knots. That's not quite as easy, but totally possible, though those conditions do have flatter water and a calmer environment, so there are positives to that. Besides, you're going to learn faster with anything that gets you on the water more. If you're in a light wind zone, especially in a season where you know it's going to be light, going with a larger wing can really help you get more sessions out there on the water. I think we can both agree that, for a new rider, having adequate power is really key.
Jeff: Yeah, it's huge. So I weigh 175 pounds, and of the five that I rode on size 7, I'll start with my number one pick: the F-One CWC Strike definitely got me up on foil and riding with the most ease. I didn't have to work as hard and I spent the most time up on foil right around 12 knots. I had to work hard to get up, but the Strike had that low end grunt and pull in, and I was able to get up the easiest of all the five wings that I tried.
Tucker: That one does have a great low-end draw. It's also super easy to handle because of the outline, and the dihedral in it makes it feel smaller than it is, so I think that helps with pumping ability. Another one that I would compare to the Strike CWC--and I'm a huge fan of the Strike--is the Nova Light Wind. I was always a bit of a Strike fanatic for those super light wind days and I definitely like the 6 and the 7 a ton; I've used them a lot. I did find that the Nova Light Wind was a little stiffer, so for me as a heavier rider and somebody that's usually riding smaller foils and smaller boards, having a stiffer wing to gain a little bit more efficiency in the pump as well as something that can handle more high-powered riding was something I appreciated in the Nova Light Wind. It's not such a difference that it's going to make or break your decision, but I do really like the handles on that one. I feel it's really comfortable, and they're a little bit more balanced than the F-One, which tended to be a little backhand heavy for me at my weight.
Jeff: And that was my second. The F-One CWC Strike was number one, and the North Nova Light Wind was my second in the lineup for the ease of getting up on foil in the lightest conditions.
Tucker: Yeah, definitely. If you're looking for that bottom low-end, easiest-up-on-foil experience in those light winds where you don't really need to have a lot of fitness or a lot of extra technique, I think those two stand out amongst the crowd. I know we also rode the Slick SLS. We both enjoyed that one a lot, and I think that one offers a bit more range, especially in the top end. I really like the boom as well. If you're a new rider to the sport, the boom offers a certain "easy button" in handling that I think a lot of people really appreciate, and it does give you a nice, stiff framework to start with.
Jeff: Totally. That was my third. I did find, to piggyback on what you said, that once I was up on foil, the boom was nice for making those transitions, your jibes and your tacks. It took the guesswork out. Another thing that I noticed with the Duotone Slick is that, if you are in light conditions and have waves, and you're riding the wave and you sense that you need that little extra power to keep you going on the wave, that boom is nice. You can open it up a little bit and hold it with one hand to keep you on the wave.
Tucker: Yeah, on the small waves where the wave might not have enough push to keep you going and most wings are just going to stumble over anyway when you're moving downwind, having that that one-hand boom is a handy little trick.
Jeff: So those are my top three for getting up in about 12 to 14 knots, which was the lowest that I'd been out in a while. I'm about a year into winging, so I've usually stayed in that 15 knots or more range. But for this test I really wanted to do it back-to-back in the same conditions and see what would get me up and running, and those three were my top.
Tucker: Yeah, I'd agree. For anybody looking for bottom-of-the-barrel ability to get up and ride, I think those are the best three wings out there right now, especially for a new rider that doesn't have the technique to really work a wing and build apparent wind on the water before liftoff. That's a more technical riding skill, so I think that's something that people can look to grow, but even as an advanced rider I think it's nice to have something that gives you adequate power out of the gate and not have to work super hard. If that's your primary focus, who cares if you can't ride in 20 knots with it. You have smaller wings for that. I would also mention the Duotone Unit V2 or V3. They're very grunty, very lifty, and have a ton of power for their size even though they're not a "proper" light wind wing since they only go to 6.5 meters. But for a lighter rider or for somebody that doesn't want a 7 or an 8 in their quiver, I think the 6.5 is pretty impressive.
Jeff: For sure. In my top five, the ones that slotted in at four and five were very close in their characteristics. Those were the Ocean Rodeo Glide and the North Mode. Both of those, I felt, took a little bit more skill to get up on foil, but I was able to get up in the light wind. Once up, I think those two shine. They felt very comfortable, smooth and powered, even in those light conditions. I felt those two were pretty close, so those slotted in at four and five for me.
Tucker: And for me, those two slide in at one and two because I don't usually want to grab a light wind wing and just for go for a cruise. I do, and it's fun to do that, but when I'm selecting a quiver I'm looking for performance. I want to ride that 7m wing powered up when other people are moderately powered on 5 and 6 meters, so I'm not necessarily looking for maximum bottom range; I'm just looking for performance and speed and maybe even top end range because I don't want to transition to a 5 and be underpowered or just moderately powered. I always want to have proper power and good speed because I'm riding a smaller board and foil a lot of times, and if you're riding in waves, especially big waves, it's nice to have that constant source of adequate power but also be comfortable. You can ride a lot of these wings overpowered, but they're very physical and exhausting. They're not confidence-inspiring if you're riding them powered up, whereas the Mode and the Glide are both very comfortable to ride overpowered. They drive forward and create so much apparent wind that they feel like a race car compared to some of those other light wind wings which are awesome in getting up on foil, but then they max out quickly.
Jeff: Yeah, though that's why I put them at four and five. I was looking at just getting up on foil in the lightest conditions.
Tucker: I totally agree with your assessment. Based on ease of getting up and maximum low end, your picks win for sure, but in terms of what I want to ride, I'll sacrifice some light wind cruising days in favor of some really high performance days.
Jeff: Yeah, the Mode and the Glide are the ones I would choose when it's blowing more, hands down. I agree that the ones that can get you out of the gate the best do tap out on the higher end pretty quickly. The CWC is a great wing to get you up on foil, but as soon as it gets in overpowered conditions it's a lot to wrestle. It's very physical and you get blown off the water. That's the trade-off, but I would agree with you that the North Mode and the Ocean Rodeo Glide are a go-to for more performance, and you can go to higher levels of wind.
Tucker: Definitely. They're very sleek, very fast, and really clean into the wind in a tack or luffing them out. There's not a lot of drag with those; they're efficient for sure. It's kind of like a medium aspect foil versus a high aspect foil. There are reasons to choose both, and it's the same thing here. I think for some people there's room for a 7 CWC and a 6 of something else.
Jeff: That would be me. I weigh 175 pounds, so I have a 7 CWC for those really light days, and then I'll drop down to the 4 or 5.5 Unit that I've been riding. I'm pretty excited about the North Mode, though.
Tucker: Yeah, you can really expand the upper end of that range. I almost treat the 7 like a 5. It has more low end, and of course you're going to have more power and speed, but the top end's pretty comparable to most 5s out there, and then the 5.5 is pretty comparable the most 4s out there in terms of high end. Having a 7, 5.5, 4.2 quiver is really good and logical, but maybe you still want an 8 CWC or an 8 Nova Light Wind in that mix for those 10 knot days.
Jeff: Yeah, that's my takeaway. I think you're probably going to have one light wind specific wing, and obviously it's going to be a larger size. Pick the one for your weight. For me, that would be the 7.
Tucker: Cool. Sounds like we're on the same page. Those are some of the highlights for light wind wings. If you have any questions for us, you can pick up the phone and call MACkite or jump on our website for live chat, and we'll get one of our wing experts to talk you through what might be the right one for you. You can tell them all the details about where you ride, what you're struggling with, and what you like, whether that's a certain color or handle system or whatever. We'll talk it through with you and find the right wing so you can maximize your time out there on the water.
Jeff: That's what it's about: sharing the stoke. We'll see you next time.
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