Since I began WWF the size of both the front foil wing and sail that I ride has decreased significantly as skill has improved. I went to my log to find out exactly what percentage of my sessions have been on smaller foil and sail sizes compared to larger sizes since I began WWF in 2020. I wanted to know which decrease in size was more significant, smaller foils or smaller sails. I used cut-offs of 1600cm or smaller for foil size and 3.8m or smaller for sail size as these are generally considered to be smaller sizes for this discipline. The results are very interesting:
You will notice that all four seasons had very similar wind strengths for the sessions that I experienced. This makes the comparisons easy as there are few confounding variables to adjust for. As expected with improving skills, both sail size and foil size decreased as skills improved. However, if we consider 2020 as the baseline year, then the percentage of sessions with sail size less than 3.8m increased from 52.4% to 66.7%, or a 14.3% absolute increase in the number of sessions with the smaller sail size, while the percentage of sessions with foil size less than 1600cm increased from 3.2% to 69.1%, or a 65.9% absolute increase in the number of sessions with the smaller foil size. In relative percentages that's a 27.3% increase in sessions with sail size less than 3.8m, and a 2,059.4% increase in sessions with foil size less than 1600cm.
After analyzing these numbers the results are astounding! As a percentage, the number of sessions on smaller foils increased by a HUGE amount over the four years, with the greatest increase between years two and three. The number of sessions on smaller sails increased by a small amount, with the greatest increase again between years two and three. The slight difference in wind speeds is not enough to be a significant factor in these results.
In conclusion, we can see that, for me, the skills required to learn to ride smaller foils takes longer to learn than the skills required to ride smaller sails, but the progress can come VERY, VERY quickly. So, if you are striving to improve your skills then start with smaller foils now. Don't wait! In just a couple short years you will be riding them well.
Eric L. Mihelbergel is an intermediate/advanced windsurfer, kiteboarder, and foiler living in the Great Lakes Region of New York State who enjoys sharing about windsports and fitness.