Choosing your equipment for wingfoiling can be a daunting task, especially with the number of options and information out there and even more so when you are going for your first setup. Obviously, everything I will mention here will differ according to your level, your natural abilities in the sport as well as your conditions. But hopefully the info will serve as a general guideline:
Wings are most likely the easiest of your choices. In the case of wingfoiling, the direct control you have with the wing and the whole setup of it being a foil sport means that you should be ok with having just one wing (at least to start off with) and the disadvantages of being overpowered or underpowered do not affect you as much. So, in other words you can’t really go wrong if you get an average size wing for the conditions in your area. The only differentiation at this point should be the weight of the rider. For an average male (75-90 kg) I personally would say that a wing between 4-5 meters should be fine depending on the average wind of your area. Most people I know are pretty comfortable on a 5m. However, if you are going to go straight for 2 wings then you can go for something like a 4m and a 5,4m. Obviously this is not the same in areas with super strong winds or the opposite. But from 10 to 20-25 knots these sizes should work. Keep in mind that, especially for someone not too advanced, more power in the wing usually makes the whole process easier.
Boards are a little trickier. First of all, unlike windsurfing or kitesurfing, there are two major factors to look at when choosing a wingfoil board. The first and obvious one is volume and the second is the length. There can be a huge difference between a 100-litre board that measures 5’8 and one that measures 5’2. Obviously, the floatation of the boards remains the same but the stability and ability to get off the water changes. The simplest way to explain would be that the longer a board is the more stable it will be and more easily it will pick up speed, therefore helping you get on the foil sooner. The downside is that long boards will not feel comfortable when you become more advanced because of the boards front weight and swing factor during flight. On the other hand, a short board would be the exact opposite. Harder to balance and get lift but much nicer while flying.
As for the volume, for a complete beginner that has no previous experience in windsports the bigger the better in the start. Starting out on something like a SUP in this case might be even better. But just a rough estimate (always talking about someone around 80kg) would be a board around 140-160lt. If you do have previous experience on the water and with windsports especially then something smaller would be fine and could be used for a longer period. A nice all-around board would be something around 120lt. If you are someone with loads of water sports experience and that spends a lot of time on the water you could go straight for a smaller board. 90 – 100 lt or even really push your limits and go for something like a 75. This is all possible but definitely not easy. The only reason to challenge yourself with such a small board would be to be able to keep your board indefinitely and not have to change when you get more advanced. (Starting on the very small boards would of course mean that you have the conditions to back it up)
Now here is where the hard part starts. What foil to get?! When looking into buying a foil, the sheer amount of choice makes it extremely difficult to choose. Even more so if you have no foiling experience from other water sports. Foils differ when it comes to the actual surface area, the aspect ration and the overall shape of the wings as well as the size of the rear wing, the fuselage and the mast length! So, a lot of variables to understand before being able to figure out what to buy. Already overwhelming right? Don't worry, you will slowly get the hang of it. Let me start to help you by saying it might be easier to get a already constructed and recommended setup, especially as your first one. Many companies sell full foil setups designed for certain levels or different wind power and conditions. That would be the easiest choice as it would save a lot of hassle. And lets face it, if you are still in the beginner level you wont be able to tell the difference and the chances of buying something that will fit the style you will develop when you are more advanced, is slim at best. The most important part of the foil to think about would be the front wing. You want to start of with something big, meaning easy to lift with and stable. Nice, smooth and easy riding in straight lines is your top priority for now. The surface area of your wing should be something between 1500cm and 2500cm. Main differences being your weight and the wind you will be riding in. So obviously lighter people or areas with lots of wind want to be looking at something closer to the 1500 range and heavier people or less windy areas need something closer to the 2500 range. For someone around 80kg in winds around 15knots, for instance, a front wing around 2000cm would be the best for learning and progressing on. The construction of you foil (carbon/fiberglass) is not really important at this stage, especially if you are not thinking of keeping it way into the future. But we do all love carbon, don't we? Rear wings are usually a bit more straight forward. There are still different shapes and types but generally speaking the larger your rear wing, the more stable your ride will be. Usually a rear wing around 420 up to 500 is very stable and you don't need anything bigger than that. You could go straight for a smaller one and challenge yourself, meaning that you could also keep it for later in the future. A fast 400 would work for most foil setups and its not too extreme, while allowing you ease of use. When it comes to the rest of the setup I would say it is all less important than the wings. The fuselage for example can be shorter or longer. Shorter allowing for more mobility and easier board pumping while longer being more stable. A good all around size would be, in my opinion 65 – 70 cm length. The mast length in particular does not really affect your riding but it is important knowing the depth of your local spot where you will be riding. Otherwise, longer masts tend to help in wavy spots to avoid accidently falling out the back of a big wave and generally give you more space for errors. My favourite to teach on is probably a 75cm mast. However, like previously mentioned, you will most likely end up changing foil once you reach a certain level. So, go for the easiest and cheapest you can find to save yourself time and money when choosing.