SUP foiling unlocked with Indiana’s frequent flyer Gunnar Biniasch

Gunnar Biniasch, Indiana Paddle & Surf Co. Rider, the brand’s foil board designer and the Wingfoil World Champion, has been taking podium after podium on the the international wing foil racing scene and the season has just started brewing! On top of competing and being heavily involved in Indiana’s R&D processes, he’s advocating for SUP and wing foil, breaking the sport down to user-friendly tutorials and “snackable” video content to support aspiring riders on their becoming-a-frequent-flyer journey.

TotalSUP caught up with Gunnar to take a deeper look at SUP foiling, tackle the misconceptions and outline the non-negotiables when it comes to this rad sport exploding worldwide.

Photo by Florian Scharscher

Hi Gunnar, welcome to TotalSUP and congratulations on a great start to the season! Could you tell us more about yourself and your watersports background?

I live on the Canary Islands, specifically the island of Fuerteventura. I have lived here for over 20 years. I got into foiling back in 2009 when I saw the first carbon foils at the PKRA World Cup in Germany. I ordered one and I got hooked on it immediately. Me and my shaper friend saw that there was a lot of room for innovation an improvement, so we started making our own foils in 2010. The rest is history.

Photo by Florian Scharscher

Foiling has exploded in recent years…What are the key drivers in your opinion of transitioning to the sport from other disciplines (SUP, kiting etc.)?

The key to the success of foiling is that it can be adapted to almost any board sport on the water. Regardless if you are a kiter, surfer, windsurfer or stand-up paddler. Foiling will give you more time on the water and make those marginal days very fun again. If you are proficient in your sport, it’s usually not difficult to learn the foiling version. For example, if you have good kite skills, paddle Skills etc. you can easily learn as all you need to master is the balance and control of the foil. I really recommend taking a couple of lessons. If you learn the key points from someone who knows what they are doing, your progress will be much faster.

Wing or a paddle – What’s your favourite activity? Wingfoiling, downwind SUP foiling…?

I love all foiling disciplines. I try to do them all as equally as possible. Of course as we have less wind and more waves on Fuerteventura in Winter, I do more SUP and surf foiling in Winter, and more wing, kite and downwind foiling in the Summer when it’s windy.


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“Start small * Start slow”: We love your YouTube video tutorials packed with user-friendly foiling know-how! Can we dig right into the realm of SUP and surf foiling?

What is the biggest barrier to start SUP foiling?

Finding an easy, long running wave that is easy to learn on.

Do you have to be a proficient SUP rider before you start SUP foiling?

Yes. You should be proficient enough to catch green waves on a SUP before attempting SUP foiling.  Even if you are a good (kite or wing) foiler catching a wave without wind power is a not so easy and takes some practice.

Can you start learning SUP foiling on flat water?

For sure, yes. It will be a good way to practice your paddling skill. However, you should be realistic and must accept that the specific downwind/flat water SUP foil Boards take a good amount of paddle and foil skill to get flying on flat water. That, however, just means you need to practice and you will learn with time, the good thing is that learning on flat water is very safe.

What’s the best way to learn foiling?

Take a few lessons behind a boat or at a cable park

Wiping out on a foil – How gnarly and dangerous is it?

Just like in any sport, crashes are part of the game. The paradox in foiling is: Usually crashing hard at speed is very safe as you fall a safe distance away from your board and foil. Crashing at slow speeds can result in you falling on your board or foil. This is why you must use a good impact vest and helmet.

How to safely fall off the foil board?

The safest way to fall off your SUP foil board is to let yourself fall backwards and kick the board away from you. Especially in waves. If you do fall forward, also try to kick the board away in the opposite direction. If you get washed together with your board and you do not know where it is, use the paddle to protect your face and head.

What’s the optimal board size to use?

To learn: Bodyweight (Kg) +50-75% = Volume. So for example if you weigh 80kg that is 80kg + 40kg = 120L minimum Volume for learning.

What’s the best type of a leash to use?

A heavy duty coil or roller leash. These can extend to a safe length, but stay out of the water when you are riding and paddling.

Water safety – what are the key factors to take into consideration before you set out?

a) Never go alone
b) Consider the safety of other water users before your own safety
c) Always wear a leash
d) Do not learn on crowded breaks
e) Never bail your board
f) Wear appropriate safety gear
g) Be aware of the conditions

What are the biggest misconceptions about the sport of SUP foiling?

The biggest misconceptions are that it is very hard to learn and that it is a lot more dangerous than other surf sports. Compared to surfboards, SUP and surfboard fins, foils are quite dull and round on their leading edges so I do not consider being hit by my foil more dangerous than being hit with a surfboard or SUP. Being hit is never good, but it happens, and I have a lot more scars from surfboards and SUP fins than I do from foils.

Could you tell us more about your collaboration with Indiana?

I met, Maurus Strobel, CEO of Indiana, in 2016 on Fuerteventura and taught him how to kite foil. We struck up a great friendship and I then helped to develop their first SUP foil boards and foils.

Photo by Claudia Tanja H.

What’s your Indiana set up?

For SUP foiling I mainly use the SUPFOIL 103L and the Downwindfoil 7’0″ Boards. For foils I use the XAR 750, 900 and 1050 for wave riding and winging and the HAR1200 for Flat water Paddle ups and downwind.

What’s in the pipeline?

We have a new 1396P Large Pump Front Wing coming and I just designed a new front wing for our Ambassador Steeve Fleury, the LeDoigt Pro. There are also new sizes for the Downwind Foil Boards in development as well.

Thank you so much for your time and insight! Keep flying high!

Photo by Claudia Tanja H.

To find out more about Indiana Paddle & Surf, visit: 
> Indiana Paddle & Surf

Explore the 2023 Look Book here

Follow Indiana on Facebook and Instagram

Follow Gunnar Biniasch on Instagram and YouTubeGo check it out and find out more about this awesome sport by getting Gunnar a coffee!


About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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