To embark on your own personal wing foiling adventure, three core ingredients are needed: location, conditions, and a kit.
Getting a kit entirely produced and assembled by the manufacturer has a number of principal advantages. First, the purchase cost is usually lower when compared to buying individual elements separately. Second, the gear has an overall better visual and performance synergy.
Krzysztof Mruk, editor-in-chief of the Wingsurfing.pl portal, is ever busy testing and sampling new toys on the market and Unifiber wing foiling kit was no exception.
The gear tested:
- Inflatable Impulse board 5'4
- Aviator Wing 5.3
- Foil Navigator 1600
- Accessories: two leashes, bags/covers, screw set with a screwdriver, pump with wing/board adapter
Here is what they found out.
(For the original test report, visit Windsurf.pl website)
UNIFIBER IMPULSE 5'4
- Length: 163 cm
- Width: 72 cm
- Thickness: 15 cm
- Capacity: 130 L
- Weight: 7.6 kg
- Pressure: 15-20 psi
Impulse boards were created mainly for novice pilots, but their potential extends beyond the learning stage. We find here a large carbon stiffening plate with tracks to mount the foil, a glued PVC edge that gives the tail a cleaner water release, screw holes (and screws) for fixing the straps, and a handle for carrying the board.
The larger 6'0 model is also equipped with an insert for a windsurfing mast base, which allows you to quickly adapt the board for foil flights with a windsurfing sail. All this is in a pumped hull, made in modern Fusion Composite Dropstitch technology, which ensures great durability and the best stiffness to lightness ratio.
We are already familiar with the high quality of Unifiber inflatable boards. Here is also no disappointment. The board is made simply perfectly. All elements have been evenly and carefully combined, creating a hull with a very smooth surface. It is quite thick, so straight away we are aware that this is an inflatable in front of us. However, with pumped boards greater hull thickness brings one important advantage: the thicker the board, the stiffer it is for a given pressure.
In the set we get three comfortable straps, attached to the board with four screws (for each strap). The connection method is solid and prevents the straps from twisting. Unfortunately, we do not have much choice of where to screw them, only one position is available. If the rider would rather put their feet in a different place the option remains to ride strapless. The strap positions suited us quite well, perhaps it would be nice to move the front straps 2 cm back, but in general it was not a problem. The positioning of the footstraps is an extremely individual matter, which is why it is difficult to make an objective assessment here. In any case, the foam mat on the board has such good grip that if you do not plan on jumping then riding strapless is a very pleasant alternative. With the straps screwed in, a minor drawback turned out to be the handle for carrying the board, which sometimes interfered a little with the positioning of the back foot. In this case, it helps to remove the neoprene wrapper from the handle and leave the carry strap itself.
The set includes a well-sewn backpack, into which we can easily pack a deflated, folded board, and even attach a bag with a foil or a partially-assembled foil (without a mast). The set is complemented by a leash to connect the board with the surfer’s leg, and a good quality pump with an adapter, thanks to which one pump will inflate the wing and the board.
UNIFIBER AVIATOR 5.3
Unifiber's Wing was the biggest curiosity for us. This is the first wing of this manufacturer and at the same time a bold entry into a new market segment. We expected it to be a typical wing for beginners, in which standard construction solutions would be used, and we got a really interesting and modern product, which a company with many years of experience in wingfoil would not be ashamed of.
The first good signal was that it has only two hand grips on the strut. These are fabric straps, offering a comfortable grip and a wide range of hand positions. This is a much better solution than a few handles stuffed next to each other, which only increase the weight of the wing and force you to change the grip more often. Their connections to the tube could be a little stiffer, but there is no reason to complain. We were less keen on the seam through the middle of the tube, straight under the handles, where the hands sometimes come into contact with the surface of the strut, and the seam makes it a little rough in feeling.
At first glance, it can be seen that the wing was built with a view to being a compromise between low weight and solid build quality. There are no windows, but sensitive parts have been strengthened with Kevlar patches. As a result, the wing makes a solid impression and is light in feel.
The modern character of the Aviator is emphasized by the sigmoid bend of the transverse tube, which seems quite short and does not protrude much beyond the line of the wing tips. What surprised us most was the fitment of the wing with two valves, separate for each of the tubes, on which we find different pressure recommendations.
The main tube is pumped to 7 psi, while the transverse tube is pumped to 9 psi. The tubes are connected to each other by a hose that allows for closing of the airflow between them (the same way as kites use). This solution makes it possible to obtain a very rigid strut, which plays a role, for example, when pumping with a wing, and at the same time a slightly more flexible wing frame, increasing the sense of comfort in stronger winds. This is one of the newer construction "patents", used so far by only a few companies.
The Aviator is distinguished by a deep profile, and tensioned material on the trailing edge so that it does not resemble a loosened curtain. With the wing, we get a very comfortable hand leash and a sufficiently large bag, into which we can effortlessly pack a rolled-up wing.
UNIFIBER NAVIGATOR 1600
- Front wing area: 1600 cm2
- Stabilizer area: 310 cm2
- Mast length: 75 cm
- Hull length: 65 cm
For the test, we received the average size of the Unifiber foil. In addition to 1600, there are also 1300 and 2000 sizes. The front wing of the Navigator 1600 is characterized by an average aspect ratio and is supported by a fairly large stabilizer with an area of 310 cm2.
The wings are mounted on an aluminium fuselage with a length of 65 cm, which is connected to an aluminium mast with a length of 75 cm. The whole foil makes an extremely solid impression.
All elements fit perfectly and connect with strong M8 screws with a Torx head. The set includes a compact cover, all necessary screws, and a practical screwdriver.
A curiosity is the way of connecting the stabilizer with the foil fuselage. The wing here is mounted on a slightly concave saddle, and thanks to a slightly longer notch for the screws we can move them a little forward or backward, which causes a change in the angle of inclination of the stabilizer.
Screwing the stabilizer more at the front gives the effect of better lifting during take-off, while moving backwards gives better control and higher flight speed.
Navigator 1600 looks modern and sportier than typical foils dedicated to beginners.
We will also mention that in the screw set are longer screws for fixings typical of rigid boards, and shorter screws for an inflatable board.
IMPRESSIONS ON THE WATER
The Unifiber Impulse board after inflating to 20 psi becomes super stiff and stable, which is helped by a large stiffening plate on the underside. We do not feel excessive flexibility on it as sometimes can be identified with inflatable boards.
A volume of 130 litres and a larger width make it easy to quickly take the starting position. The hull of the Impulse is not long, so once we stand on the board, it seems quite compact.
It’s time to reach for the wing. The lightness of the Aviator 5.3 combined with a deeper profile allow for easy and effective pumping. The wing willingly fills with wind and generates good drive. This is helped by a properly tense trailing edge that does not release excessive wind.
At this point, our foil comes into play. The take-off on the Navigator 1600 is incredibly gentle. We do not feel here the abrupt lifting of the front wing upwards, known to us from some other foils, forcing us to quickly balance with pressure on the front foot. Instead there is a very linear, even lift: with the Navigator we have great control of the lift-off and plenty of time to react. For novice pilots, this will be a big help.
The whole set quickly stacks up for a stable handling on the tack. The flight is balanced and enjoyable. Once again, we were surprised by the control over the foil. Even at higher speeds, the Navigator does not tend to rise above the water and lose control. This is by far the easiest foil we have sailed on so far. At the same time, it is quite efficient and fast, given the recreational size and shape of the wings. It handles brilliantly on the straight, and also turns efficiently, offering a lot of control during manoeuvres. It is accompanied by the very friendly character of the wing.
Piloting the Aviator 5.3 is easy and fun in a wide wind range. It can effectively use small gusts for take-off and easily sets itself in a neutral position in stronger winds. Under optimal conditions, it offers good drive without overloading the arms. Two longer handles work very well, allowing you to find the perfect position for your hands. It smoothly moves from a freeride role to manoeuvring tasks. While it doesn’t allow you to fly as close to the wind or reach the top speed of more performance-orientated wings, it offers great comfort, control and versatility, and as such is perfectly suited to its purpose.
After a few longer tacks, we were impressed by the behaviour of the inflatable Unifiber board. Flights on it are not a watered-down compromise. This is a really cool board for a recreational wing foil. It's wide and buoyant enough to be a very easy learning platform for light to moderate-weight surfers, yet short enough to offer exciting flight, foil control, and slick manoeuvrability.
The Unifiber set made a very positive impression on us. It is a piece of high-quality equipment, well suited to the requirements of beginners and intermediate pilots. Its capabilities are not limited to the initial stage of the adventure with the wing foil, but can be successfully used at a later stage.
It can also be used as a compact travel kit for more experienced surfers when taking a rigid board with you becomes problematic. All elements of the Unifiber kit are also available separately.
So if you are looking for a very easy, well-made, rigid and compact inflatable board or a solid, fabulously simple and efficient foil, or maybe a lightweight, universal wing, Unifiber offers all of these.
Tester: Krzysztof Mruk
Translator: Jarek Łęgowski