Of course, on a subject like this everyone has their own opinion and their own way of doing things, that they will stick by no matter what anyone says. We, however, are talking from experience of many years and with lots of equipment that gets plenty of use. So here is how we keep our gear in the best condition possible!
The following tips are meant to help prolong the lifespan of your gear. So, even if they seem a bit over the top in certain cases, they are worth it if you plan on keeping your stuff for as long as possible!
Starting off, probably the easiest part to maintain from all your gear is the wing. There is some controversy around the washing or not of the wing, after a salty session but the general consensus I believe is to not wash it. This is mainly because, although the salt is obviously not doing it any favours, it harms the fabric wings are made of less than the chlorine found in most fresh water supplies. So, don’t bother washing it off. However, what is more important is not leaving it in the sun and in the wind. If you decide to have a break from your session for example, its better to leave it in a shady and windless place if you can find one. Extended exposure to sunlight (especially in hot places, such as Greece) weakens the fabric and allowing it to flap around in the wind can damage it further (take as an example what happens to a flag when flapping around in the wind for a long time).
For wings with windows, it is usually suggested to avoid creasing the window when packing it away. The fabric used on the wings main surface area doesn’t really crease but the fabric used for the see-through windows does. Rolling it up is fine but folding it square can damage it. Most brands have some sort of video out on how to pack their specific wing if you can’t figure it out alone. Board:
Again simple and minor maintenance needed for the board. Just wash it off after every session or at least as much as you can. Salt doesn’t really benefit anything, especially when left on it for a prolonged time. The washing helps more the pads and footstraps (if used) as well as making sure any dirt or sand has been removed from the foil tracks, to avoid damage when setting up for the next session. Most importantly, especially in hot places, is to not leave your board in the sun for prolonged periods of time. My general rule is not more that half an hour in the heat and sun. This is mostly to avoid delamination on your board but it will also keep the colour fresh and new looking!
This is probably the most annoying part of your gear to look after. Mostly because of the number of screws! Generally, it is recommended to always use some marine grease on your foil screws. This grease has to be reapplied after certain periods because as we all know, nothing lasts forever. What that period is depends on where you ride and if you take your foil apart frequently or not. If you ride somewhere with a lot of salt you might want to reapply it every 2-3 weeks or else every month is usually ok. However, if you frequently take it apart that time period might have to be shortened. If you take it completely apart every single time you ride then you might consider not using grease at all. Personally, even if I use grease, I do like to take my whole foil apart after extended periods (as I usually leave it set up) to make sure no screws are stuck or damaged.
Another tip you should do before every session is to check that none of your screws on the foil have come loose. Due to vibrations while riding, screws tend to loosen and this can cause them to brake or even to allow certain parts to come off! The last thing you want is to come out with half a foil. This is especially important after your first session with a brand-new foil.