Best Places to Wing in the United States
Published on July 25th, 2021
When the logistics and cost for sailing exceed what people can endure, the sport has a problem. However, it’s only a problem when failing to consider the options. Not everyone suffers with the burden of storage and launching.
For fun and access, the board sailors dominate the category. While the learning curve is a bit steeper than sailboats, there is no better connection to wind and water than boards with sails, kites, or wings. And for what is needed to go sailing, the wing sailors win easy.
Global Wingsports Association, which promotes wing sailing on water, land or snow, has witnessed an explosion of wing surfing over the last 12 months. In this report they offer advice on the best places in the United States to session your new wing.
You can ride rolling swell off the island, session at kite beach or ride waves. During the Summers, the trade winds in Maui are in full effect, making for great, strong conditions. Winging has been exploding here!
Head to the Kahului harbor to learn before taking your skills to Kanaha (aka Kite Beach) to play in the waves. Or go on the famous Maliko downwinder and ride the ocean swells created by the strong summer tides!
• Hood River: Hood River is a watersports and wind mecca for a reason. With the hot desert on one end of the Gorge and the cold coast on the other, the venturi effect is in full swing throughout much of the year–you’ll find wind-enthusiasts on the water deep into the winter months. With the consistent breezes, Hood River is a must for any winger. Besides having great places to learn (the hook is the secret spot for learning here) and many epic downwinders, rolling river swell enables you to glide and fly for miles.
• Floras Lake: This is a magical little spot in Southern Oregon. Situated directly on the ocean, a strip of sand separates a small lake from the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Sea breezes are strong and steady in the summer months and the lake becomes a playground for windsurfers, kiters and wingers alike. Floras Lake creates a safe learning environment for winging because you can’t get too far offshore. Head here if you’re just getting started with winging.
• Crissy Field: On San Francisco Bay, just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge is a world-class site…but the conditions are gnarly. Frigid waters, chop and huge container vessels plow through the open shipping lanes beneath the bridge. Add in tides that can easily suck an unsuspecting water person out to sea and you’ve got one of the most legendary places for wind in the US. You’ve also got an extremely busy Coast Guard.
However, the powerful, gusting winds do make for good wing conditions and the spot has seen a surge in wing foilers. Use caution and common sense and you’ll certainly have an adrenaline spot at this US locale.
The launch is easy here and there are tons of tanker waves to play on, making this spot fun, despite the intimidation factor! When there’s a south swell head over to Fort Point and ride the waves.
Other notable spots around San Francisco are:
• Coyote Point
• 3rd Avenue
• Sherman Island
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Well-known as the surf capital of the Midwest, this area also blows. In the summer, the thermal wind kicks in and the beaches are filled with kiteboarders and now, wingers. Sheboygan might not be the first place you think of when you think of US wing locations but its prime location on the west side of Lake Michigan brings with it lots of potential for water sports.
• Grand Haven, Michigan: One of the meccas of the Great Lakes kiteboarding and winging scene. The spring and fall offer uncrowded beaches for launching and landing but beware of the crowds in the summer.
• Muskegon, Michigan: A wide, friendly beach makes for easy launching and water access. Winds blow from the north and south here and Muskegon offers up sessions on both of these wind directions. It’s extremely user-friendly as during the summer months changing rooms, rest rooms, vending machines, and concessions are all available.
• Outer Banks: This is an island chain that sits off the coast of North Carolina. They are unique in that there are different bodies of water on each side. On the west side of the islands is the Sound, a flat, salty and shallow bay. The flat water runs for miles along the coast. On the opposite side is the Atlantic Ocean.
The wind blows from all directions, which means that you can get a variety of sessions in from downwinders in the ocean on north-easterlies to flat water sessions on south-westerlies. If you head to the Outer Banks, you’ll most likely get sessions in and you have a low chance of getting completely skunked.
The sound side is a great place to learn to wing because there’s no swell. Once you’ve mastered the wing on the flats, take your skills to the ocean and play in the waves of the Atlantic. To read more about wing foiling on the OBX, click here.
• Jupiter: One of the windiest and waviest places in South Florida. Jupiter has an outer sandbar that locals call Jupiter cloud break.
• St. Petersburg: If you’re keener on flat water riding and doing downwinders, the West Coast of Florida has some great locations. Both St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay boast easy downwinders and fun, flat water.
• Miami: There is an amazing, secret location near the causeway. It’s narrow and the current makes a small standing wave. It’s unique in that so many kiters drive by and would never know it’s there but it’s perfect for winging!
• Destin: Coastal waterways make for great entry points. Just be careful of sharks. We’re not kidding.
Other places of interest:
• Folly Beach – Charleston, South Carolina
• Big Lagoon and Clam Beach – Northern California
• Valdez, Alaska
• Dylan Reservoir, Colorado