How to learn, the kit and what’s to know about the local Lake Garda sports
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There are some amazing sailors at Malcesine who have done wing foiling since the days when little was known about the small coloured sails suspended above Lake Garda’s waters.
In a short while, the wing foils multiplied and here on Garda it’s a sport of increasing popularity that enthuses all who try flying on the water.
We went to find Ivano, a super sporty local, part of the wing foiling group who teaches kitesurfing and wing foil, rents and sells kit, to ask him about this new sport.
Hi Ivano, tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Ivano: I’m lucky enough to live in Malcesine which is a fantastic place where you can do loads of sport. I love both the mountains and the lake and I’ve been passionate about board sports since I was young. I go kiting, wing foiling and snowboarding and I’m an instructor and expert in these sports. I also go mountain biking, skiing and paragliding: living in a place like Malcesine, it would be a heresy not to do these activities!
When did you start wing foiling?
I started doing wing foil in 2018 out of curiosity in the times when we all thought it was a horrible sport to watch. In the beginning the kit was limited and prototype, only available in a limited range of sizes. It had been erroneously aimed at light winds and therefore its first impact was not a good one.
I’m a real heavyweight and understand completely the meaning of “light winds” – after 2 days of teaching myself in light breezes, consuming lots of energy for little result and lots of swearing, I was ready to let all my kit sink in the middle of the Lake.
But, with the rapid evolution of the kit and a bit more understanding of the sport, the next spring, after another 2 days of hard work, my love for this sport was born! In a short while we had a great community established full of the emotion and mania that is typical of the exploratory first steps in a new sport and which saw us all working together and being excited about everyone’s victories.
I felt like I was a boy again in the 90’s when I first discovered snowboarding. In those days too we were a close group happy to be hated by skiers, and now we are enthusiasts snobbed by hardened windsurfers and kitesurfers.
The foiling revolution has started and just try Wing Foil if you want to change your ideas!
Garda is a great place for Wing Foil because as well as being well known for our constant winds, the lake is quite flat which makes it easier for learning. There is a nice long chop (small waves created by the wind) which is ideal for downwind surfing on our lake – what a great sensation!
Can you do Wing Foil on the Lake all year round?
On Garda, you can sail all year round! In January, the water is a fantastic Caribbean colour although the temperature is a bit different: All is possible with a good 6mm wetsuit.
What is the best time to go out wing foiling?
Every moment is a good one. With a good kit setup, you can go out in light breezes and strong winds alike.
What are your favourite places?
Being a surfer, I like to go out in the early morning with the Peler, our north wind, at Malcesine Park. The further you go downwind, the better chop you will find to surf and, when the wind allows it, it’s nice to go to the Assenza islands, to Castelletto and to Crero.
Some info for those here on holiday: The strongest moments for the Peler are when the sun’s rays hit the water off the western shores. After this, the wind starts to lose its force and finally dies to allow the Ora, the southern wind, to blow, on a normal day, from midday. If you go out in the average Peler you will find perfect conditions between the Olivo and Assenza islands.
Are there different disciplines as there are for Kiting and Windsurfing?
Wing foil is best done in waves and now freestyle and race racers have a good following and more technical and specific kit is being produced.
Do you need to know how to Kite, Windsurf or Foiling to learn Wing Foil?
Wing Foil isn’t the easiest sport in the world, nor the most difficult. You can easily learn this sport without any knowledge of water or winds. Logically, anyone who has already learnt watersports will have an advantage. Understanding the wind is the most important thing, but the style is very similar to windsurfing and you will be in a great position if you already know how to foil.
How long does it take to learn?
With a good instructor, it can take 5 to 10 hours to learn the basics to be able to go out alone.
At what age can you start?
You can start very young: to start with you use a board without a foil but with a big daggerboard which will be fun from the start. In this way, even primary school kids can take up this sport.
Do you need to be sporty to do Wing Foil?
You don’t need to be super sporty to do Wing Foil. In fact, the beauty of this sport is that it doesn need a lot of energy but doing it is a good cardio workout and it keeps you in good shape. Instead of spending hours on a bike, Wing Foil will flatten your stomach and be loads of fun!
Is it difficult to stay on the foil at the start?
Beginner’s foils are quite big and give a large surface area to foil on and thus flying over the water becomes more simple.
Is it dangerous?
If you use freeride kit, the risks are similar to those or any other watersport. Going towards competitive Foiling, the foil becomes thinner and can be sharper but before you move to a different kit you need more experience.
Stories of foils carving up people are myths. Many sailing centres are using Wing Foils to give youngsters their first foiling experiences. You could say that it is the first step to the America’s Cup!
What’s it like to be suspended above the water? Tell us what it feels like.
Flying above the water is fantastic and relaxing. There’s hardly any noise – you only hear the breeze and a bit of spray from the fin. You can sail for kilometres down wind and get home really easily. You can surf the waves, jump, go hard or simply go for a trip on Lake Garda with Wing Foil, stopping at a beach bar and enjoying your free-time in our wonderful natural environment. As a great friend and fantastic foiler once a SUP person “It’s always a show here”.
Some advice to start in the right way.
Learning with a school is strongly recommended. Then, if you are happy swimming, you can sort yourself out but to get the best experience without destroying your energy, you can learn quickly and simply.
What kit do you recommend to a beginner?
To learn quickly, you need a high volume board and a generous foil. Again, if you go to a school, this is the kind of kit you will learn on.
With a small investment in your lessons, you will learn quickly and avoid expenses on oversize kit, buying a setup that you can use for a long time once you have learnt.
What kit is best to cover the Lake winds?
Wing Foil kit is very personal and should be chosen based on the wind, your ability and your style. The HydroFoil is at the centre of the sport and there is a great difference between one kit and another: there is kit that is simpler, faster wings, wings that make planning easier or turning easier and a mix of all these things. The choice and possession of Foil kit becomes a real mania!
How does your rental work?
Final marketing: As well as doing Wing Foil, I run the Kite Point Shop. We research all the new products and nearly everything that arrives in the shop will be tested on the water. We all try the kit and swap opinions.
We have become the tailors of Wing Foil and so we can suit every Wing Foiler with a perfect setup.
If you stop by, we can organise a personal demo, show you new products and give you advice: it’s always possible that this is followed by a beer with the local Wing Foil addicts!VISIT IVANO’S ONLINE SHOP