It was in the mid-1980s that Tom Magruder experimented with the first wingsurf prototypes. They were rigid wings and secured to the board (a normal windsurf) by means of a small tree. Unlike what happens in a rig intended for windsurfing, the mast provided a double cardan joint, one at the connection of the board and one near the wing, as can be seen in the video below.
During the following years other similar solutions were tested but none of them managed to overcome the prototype phase due to a whole series of reasons. The first is the remarkable skill that was required of the rider, the second, no less important, was due to the fact that, having to be the rather small wing, it would have provided enough thrust to enter the plane only in conditions extremely strong wind, so much so that almost all the prototypes that saw the light were tested in extremely windy spots, such as the Columbia Gorge.
Set aside for decades this variant of wind powered water sport, it was the development of Foiling, in particular SUP Foiling, that brought some iconic waterman to reconsider the use of Wingsurfing wings in this context. The reason is very simple: a modern combo of SUP Foiling (board and Foil), requires a very minimal thrust (and therefore speed) to allow the Foil to generate sufficient lift.
It is demonstrated by the fact that a strong stern wind is sufficient to allow a SUP Foiler to maintain the speed necessary for the Foil to generate the necessary lift so that almost all the most prestigious SUP Downwind races (such as M2O, Olukai etc. ) now have a Foil division.
As it was for Windsurfing, Kiteboarding and Stand Up Paddling, Wingsurfing is NOT a fashion but will experience growing success which will make it the ideal sport that can complete the trio mentioned above. We are only at the beginning and an obvious and exciting acceleration of evolution of both the technique and the materials intended for Wingsurfing awaits us.