Mala'e McElheny

I am a young winger on the North Shore of Oahu that enjoys spending time in the water with my friends and family. I am committed to water sports and helping my family and community. I also enjoy school and learning new things.
O‘ahu, Hawaii
12 years old
Wing foiling since 2019

Sponsors

Amundson CustomsPatagonia SurfDuotoneGoFoil

Sports

SurfWindsurfSurf FoilWing FoilKite

Questions & Answers

What other water sports do you do and how long?

I started surfing when I was 4, foiling when I was 9, and kiting and winging when I was 11.

What do you like about wing foiling?

I dreamed of foiling once I saw Kai Lenny do it and after I realized that my friend John Amundson was doing it. Wing foiling was an obvious choice because of the speed, freedom, and possibility of big air. I love the simplicity of the gear and the days we can go out that otherwise would not look that great for other ocean sports.

How did you learn and how long did it take you to wing foil?

I was fortunate to get a lesson from Alan Cadiz on Maui. He was able to help me get up on foil in about 2 hours. We had seen Instagram posts of the wing and it was like "I have got to try that!" It seemed like the wing would add such an awesome experience for the foil and it sure has! I was lucky that John Amundson had taught me to foil and let me borrow my first foil when I was 9. John also let me borrow his brand new Duotone Foil Wing right after I had a lesson with Alan. John has always been generous with his time, equipment, and knowledge! Of course, I am grateful that my parents have helped me so much with my wing surfing and also that my dad and grandfather both come from a windsurfing and kiting background. Slowly but surely I am teaching the rest of my family how to wing!

What is your favorite gear combination and why?

My sponsors are Amundson Customs, Go Foil, Duotone, and Patagonia Surf. On a typical day here I will wing surf on a 4m Duotone Echo, my 4'2" Amundson Customs "Slim Pete" model, and I will usually be on the Go Foil GL120 on a 36.5" or 28.5” mast. On Oahu we are stoked if the wind hits 20 miles per hour, but we are lucky that you can find waves most days somewhere on the island! I think this winter in Hawaii will be awesome to see how big of waves people will be wing surfing on. When it gets really windy I can ride my 3.3m Duotone Echo with the Go Foil GL100 or GL80. Its always super fun to be on a smaller wing because I can try new tricks without the wing tips hitting the water. I am grateful to be riding what I consider the best equipment out there. Thank you to everyone that has helped me out and thank you to Ken Winner and Duotone for getting wing surfing out to the world for us to enjoy!

What was your favorite wing surfing session?

Last year I was able to share sessions with Kai Lenny, Zane Schweitzer, and Bobo Gallagher on Maui. We had so much fun. It is inspiring watching the Maui crew expand the boundaries of this sport.

What do you want or believe will significantly improve the wing foiling gear?

Wingers are going to move toward much smaller boards when the conditions are right. Also, maybe wingers will be using much smaller front foil wings like kite foilers use. Lastly, inflatable boards will be interesting for travel and adventure.

What tips or recommendations do you have for anyone who wants to start?

To learn how to get up on foil with the wing it is best to find somewhere with flat water. You do not want to be in super choppy conditions because it will be harder to stay balanced on your board. The flatter conditions will also make it easier to paddle back to shore if you need to. It is really important to choose a safe place to try the wing. Also, you would want to go with some one that can help you if you need assistance. One thing to consider is what your plan is if you end up down wind. Always make sure you have a strong leash to the wing as well as a leash to your board. As I mentioned, I was fortunate to have a lesson from Alan Cadiz of @hst_watersports. Alan Cadiz has great winging instructional videos on-line on Youtube as well. I think it is useful to study as many winging videos as you can and also to make sure to: 1. Spend time flying the wing on the shore so you get used to it. 2. Spend time using the wing on a large SUP or windsurf board so you can learn how to stay upwind with the wing before going on a board with a foil. 3. Make sure the first time you go out with a foil that you are using a big enough board that has lots of flotation and that you can paddle back to shore if needed.

What is your biggest water sport achievement?

Since my friends and family helped me get started at a very young age I think I have been able to help show others that foiling and winging is something within their reach and are sports that are fun to get involved in. Also, I am glad to keep a balance between sports, family, school, and community service.