What are the main trends in wing foiling, in terms of riding styles?
Wing racing has experienced a big boost during the past year and this will probably continue in 2023. Wave riding and freestyle entered the wing scene pretty quickly, but racing just established itself and we see more and more riders actively compete in events. Many previous kite or windsurf racers made their first experiences with wings in the first years and now feel the urge to compete with wings as well and new racing competitions provides a great opportunity for them.
What customer profile is driving more product demand at the moment (newcomers/experienced, kite/wind riders/exclusive wingfoilers)?
Still newcomers generate the highest demand, which is a good thing, because that means that wingfoiling still attracts many new riders to the sport. On the other hand experienced riders stay with the sport and tune their individual setups with new gear. Between kiteboarders and windsurfers it is pretty evenly spread, because both see certain correlation with their original watersport. The whole handling of wings is rather similar to a windsurfing sail, while the construction of wings feels more natural to kiteboarders. Additionally it is exciting for both to experience something new and go through the whole learning phase again. Most wing riders are still active in other watersports, but the amount of exlcusive wingfoilers definitely increased. In the future this trend will probably continue and we will see more riders, who absolutely dedicate themselves to wingfoiling.
In what market section do you expect the biggest growth?
In total the biggest growth still happens in the beginner to intermediate segment, because more and more watersports schools and centers add wingfoiling to their programme and generally the sport still attracts a lot of newcomers. However high-performance gear for either racing, freestyle and wave riding steadily becomes a bigger part.
How popular are and will become land variants of the sport?
Personally I think land variants will play a minor role, because the full potential of wings can only be unfolded in the water. Wingfoilers will also use their wings on land or maybe even in the snow, but not exclusively in most cases. Water provides a great playground to push the limits with wings and as many wingfoilers come from a watersports background this will always be the environment, they feel most comfortable in.
Which of your wings are selling well and why?
The Cross and Poison wings share sales pretty equally at the moment, because both cover their individual application area. The Cross attracts a lot of newcomers and watersports centers, because with its windows and easy-to-use flying characteristics it features everything to make quick progress in wingfoiling. The Poison excites wave riders and freestylers with its incredibly light construction and therefore low-end performance and direct handling.
How many wing designs will you offer this year?
We will launch another addition to our wing collection within this year, so we’ll offer three different models for 2023. The basic goal is to form a range with one wing for beginners and intermediates, one wing for wave enthusiasts and one wing for racers and those, who seek maximum speed for freestyle.
What are the main trends in Wing construction, materials and design that the industry is progressing towards?
It’s exciting to see, where the different brands are heading with the use of materials and how many opportunities a rather young sport like wingfoiling offers the designers. Everybody is testing new materials, handle systems and outlines, even the positioning of windows changes year by year. But the main trend will probably be the diversification of different handle systems, because all of them have their right to exist. Soft handles provide outstanding lightness and comfort, which will keep them a great choice for wave and beginner wings in the future. Hard handles lead to a more direct handling and will probably enter more brands’ constructions in the future.
What materials and construction techniques are you using this year? Will you launch any innovations for 2023?
The highlight cocerning construction is definitely the new Dacron material from the world’s leading manufacturer for sail cloth, we use on our 2022 wings. This Dacron provides an incredibly stiff skeleton of the leading edge and strut, which enhances the wings’ overall performance. For 2023 we are already looking to make another step forward, testing different materials at the moment and we’ll definitely have something exciting to present for 2023.We also work on different handle systems, which will be implemented in different wing models to provide the perfect handle for each wing’s application area.
Any standout graphics, artwork collaborations or pro models in your current collection?
We follow a consecutive path with our designs and try to progressively adjust our graphics year by year. Also it’s important for us that everybody immediately sees that he is riding a GA product, whether it’s a windsurfing sail, a wing or a kite. That is why we have an internal graphics team that works closely with our board shapers and wing designers in order to make sure that each design looks great on the different products.
To us it is not really important to have Pro Models, because our philosophy is to provide all our customers with products of the same quality and with one design. By not expanding our product range too much, we can better focus on each single wing, foil and board in order to get the best performance and value for our customers.
Have you implemented any new sustainable practices in your production and shipping processes?
We take part in several sustainability initiatives with our forwarders and we are really happy that a lot of these services can be linked with sustainability projects that contribute something to environmental protection.In addition our manufacturers always look for new materials to implement into the production and try to optimize the production process to use exactly the right materials that both make our gear perform as it does and also help decreasing pollution. One key point is also to be able to use as much of the raw materials for the end product as possible to reduce waste and that is something our manufacturers really focus on. It’s the small details in production, design and distribution that hopefully add up to some bigger impact.
How are you supporting retailers to sell this category?
Most important support is communication, because this is still a young sport and the development in regards to products and the demand is rapid. We try to implement our retail partners’ feedback into the development of new products as quickly as possible and on the other hand keep them in the loop concerning changes on a regular basis. Constant communication is the key to success, when you want to make the right decisions in such a dynamic market and sport like wingfoiling.
Have you suffered any stock or delivery issues due to supply chain bottlenecks? If so, what solutions have you implemented?
The global logistics situation was tensed up due to the pandemic and everybody faced problems that just could not be prevented in the first place. So when a container is stuck in a traffic jam in the ocean, you can’t do too much to solve the issue, but you can update retailers, who desperately wait for gear that is stuck in that container, and try to find a solution together with them. It could be replacing the requested product with an alternative, re-arranging shipments or just updating the retailer on the current status, but only communication can lead to such a solution.
But we learned a lot from the past few years and try to keep the stock levels of the most requested products high, have a steady flow of shipments coming to our warehouse and make detailed plans with our retail partners.
GA Wings Poison
The Poison stands out with its incredibly light construction, which boosts its light-wind performance and neutral handling, when riding waves. The stiff leading edge and strut provide great pumping abilities, direct handling and easy controllability even in stronger winds, which rounds out the Poison’s overall performance together with fast acceleration and superb upwind potential.
GA Wings Cross
An updated profile, new construction and upgraded features enhance the renowned all-round performance of the Cross in each category. Stiffer and more padded handles as well as a new split window design add comfort and safety thanks to the better overview, which makes the Cross the perfect all-round wing for all skill levels. Increased rigidity provides direct feeling, power and pumping performance.
GA Wings GTX
Something brand-new is on the horizon and we’ll launch a new addition to the GA Wings collection later in 2022. The GTX will provide maximum performance and speed potential, so racers and freestylers should keep an eye on this upcoming launch. We can’t share specific information and imagery yet, but stay tuned for more in the near future!