Henning Nockel is a stand-out within the wing community in Europe. Having been there from the very first minute of the inception of wing foiling, he’s a true pioneer and legend in the sport. Henning’s creative approach, unique moves and incredible motivation define him and set him a cut above most of his peers. Several of his innovative trademark tricks are featured in the Duotone Wing Academy App, dissected into every single key point, to enable you to learn quickly and safely go shred with your wing Henning-style.


What inspires and motivates you to invent moves?

When I started wing foiling it was a natural process to invent moves (like the cowboy jibe, the walk the dog jibe or countless jumps like the one-handed 360 and so on), since there were literally none as it was the beginning of the sport. I enjoyed endless hours on the water all by myself, trying to see what was possible.

Are you looking at other sports for inspiration?

Sure, I’m looking everywhere for inspiration, not just sports. When I started all I was thinking about was wing foiling. I was so hooked! In the morning I went wing foiling, in the afternoon I went wing foiling… and at night I dreamed about moves that could be possible. It was crazy, even lying in bed all my thoughts revolved around new moves and possibilities. This obsession has tapered off a little, I’m still fully into it, but my head’s not all about it 24/7 like in the first 2-3 years.

How old are you now Henning? And how many decades have you been living the water sports lifestyle?

I’m 51 turning 52 in November. I like to think about my age as in I’m 6 months younger than Kelly Slater 🤙🏻 That kind of stuff keeps me in good spirits. No, I really don’t think too much about my age. It’s only people’s reactions that remind me that I’m not young anymore. But in my head, I’m still a youngster. Not that I think it’s important. I’m just naive and ‘dumb’ in that sense.

I have been into water sports all my life. My first water sport was sailing in a dinghy but even before that, I was in the swimming centre all the time. My father was a swim instructor. I started surfing as soon as I got my first chance to get to the ocean. Then got into windsurfing, which I practised like a maniac for a long time. When kitesurfing was invented, I immediately jumped on it. In fact, back then you couldn’t even buy kites or kiteboards in Europe. And then from day one of wing foiling, I got into it, even before wing foiling gear was sold in the shops. Not that I’m proud of that, I’ve just always had the urge to try new stuff as soon as I found out about it! It’s crazy that I’m not that interested in downwind foiling. At the moment I take it very easy with that. But maybe I’m just late for that show, let’s see…


After a successful pro windsurfing career, you became a pro kitesurfer and then a pro wing foiler. Winging really seems to have stolen your heart. Why? What do you love most about it and what sets it apart from the other water sports you did in the past?

Wing foiling is a dream come true for a guy who grew up in Germany. With shitty conditions and wind and waves that are hardly ever perfect for windsurfing, surfing and kiteboarding, wing foiling is a total game changer. Through this sport, I’ve suddenly got the perfect spot only 200m from my house! For a long time, I was able to learn a new move every day as the conditions even here, in crappy Germany, are always great. The sport is really magical. It’s simple, but it’s also crazy perfect. It’s always smooth if you do it right! There are a thousand opportunities to do it your way. There are no rules. Judges try making rules for the competition side of things, but forget about it! Most judges didn’t even know what they were talking about in the first few comps. If you do it for yourself with your speed, your rules and your needs, you can enjoy this continuous sense of freedom and therefore the sport stays open to your imagination. If you feel like riding with straps, do that. If you rather feel like jumping, do that or if you just want to cruise in light winds or ride waves, small or big, do that! It’s all perfectly good and that’s what I love about the sport! Don’t set rules when the sport is still so young and in the early stages of its development. Keep an open mind and enjoy the freedom, if that makes sense?!

Do you still windsurf and/or kitesurf sometimes? Do these sports help you with your winging?

These sports are extremely helpful with wing foiling. If you're a windsurfer you know how to use straps and the wing as a sail. There are a lot of similarities. If you’re a kiteboarder there are similarities like jumping and the whole feel of the technique and learning tricks. If you’re a surfer you’re an expert in wave knowledge, and through wing foiling you deepen that knowledge. There is so much more energy in waves than we thought before wing foiling came along. The foil gets the best out of shitty waves!


For you, age doesn’t seem to matter. Numerous freestyle tricks the young guns come up with these days, you’re doing as well, many of them are of course very radical and technical. How do you keep in the game and has anything changed for you with age?

Yeah, I do a lot of the latest and newest moves. But for me, it’s not that important anymore to do all the tricks or more than all the other riders. I leave it up to the young generation to be super radical and innovative. I know that I have invented a lot of moves, lots of them maybe even without recognition, but who cares! I like to focus on moves that feel stylish and fun to me. I want the sport to look smooth and I like to see the sport the way I want it to be! That’s maybe a completely different way of thinking to most other riders, but you know what, that’s perfectly fine with me. I hate pumping on the waves for example. If you can’t keep up with the wave without pumping, get off it! 🤙🏻 That’s my spirit. Of course, I sometimes will pump to stay connected. But I want to ride waves fluently and smoothly, not with force or without style. Also regarding jumps and tricks: There are jumps that I really like to learn or that I enjoy doing. But not every new move is beautiful or rad in the way it looks. The sport, for me personally anyway, at the stage and age I’m at, has to look and feel good, not forced or unnatural. That’s how I roll.


What’s your strategy when learning a new trick? How do you approach and go about it?

Don’t try to force it, but rather go for it when it feels ok! Develop a good feeling and sense for your very personal process. To learn new things you must believe in yourself and your abilities. Try to “feel” the move you want to learn first, and then give yourself time. When I’m on the water in a long session, there usually comes a point when I don’t think too much and I’m fully in the moment, feeling very connected to my gear. I think everyone has those moments, they might feel slightly different from individual to individual. But that time anyway, usually is a good time for me to try something new. Often I try new moves 2 hours into a session or even later. Also, a very important aspect of my strategy for learning new tricks is, I do everything 500 times and more! You just have to put in the work, there’s no way around it. For me, rarely sticking a new move comes easily or without hard work. I put in the time. But I try to take it easy in the process and not force things, I hope that makes sense.

What does a typical session for you look like? Warm up, jumps (tricks you already can do vs learning new moves etc), freeriding…?

It really depends on my mood on the day. I have had hundreds of sessions where I took it super easy, all by myself in cold freezing temperatures. The first two years of my wing foiling journey were different, I was totally frothing and I did soooo many moves all the time. I spent so many hours just trying stuff and getting smashed. Nowadays sometimes I go for one hour and don’t even get wet. Generally, I go for moves that I feel confident in and that I solidly land. It just feels really good. And then, at some point, I start mixing it up and I try new things in between going for my favourite routine tricks. And I like to ride for a long time!!! It makes me happy… all this time on the water, often alone, can be so energising and it fuels my creativity. Try to keep it interesting for you, that’s very important.


Do you do any land-based training as well?

No… but yes!! The moves I want to learn, I always visualise in my head first. I surf the waves with the wing foil in my dreams. I know from experience that one can learn so much from riding waves. We’re only at the beginning of waveriding in wing foiling. And it’s so much about style. I can probably learn and improve for the next 10-20 years and won’t reach my goal of riding with flow, power and ease.

You’ve been wing foiling since the very, very early days. Is it still as exciting for you as it was in the beginning? How do you keep your motivation up?

My froth is strong! I’m more committed than ever. This sport is the future, no joke!! Most people don’t realise how many possibilities there are in wing foiling!!! Even the brands I reckon are not fully aware yet. There is so much potential for kids as well. It’s not an issue for me to try to keep motivated, I just love this sport and there’s no doubt in my head that it’s going to be what I’ll be doing for the next few years… until something new comes along. Funny enough, it doesn’t seem like downwind foiling is what’s going to get me excited or at least not yet anyway.

What’s your favourite gear set-up?

82cm mast // 60cm fuselage
850 Carve 2
55 litre board
3.5 D/LAB Unit

How do you see the future of wing foiling?

I think I answered that already…. Very, very bright!!!

Any tips for people wanting to get into the sport?

Get into the sport with the help of some friends or people you know and who you can trust. Download the Academy App and learn the basics. Watch my wing ding tutorials. Buy the right gear!!! There is so much gear on the market that makes the learning process really difficult. Believe me, we have been testing and putting our hearts and souls into it; it makes a huge difference when there is so much passion involved and of course also knowledge and experience. Here at Duotone, we all truly live for this sport, every single person working here is 100% committed and I can honestly say that you can feel that in the gear we design and manufacture! Don’t get me wrong there are a few other companies as well, which bring out decent winging equipment, no doubt! Just saying, make sure you get some of the good stuff. In windsurfing or kitesurfing, in those sports that have been around for a long time, it’s a bit different, most brands are pretty advanced. But in such a new sport like wing foiling, there is a lot of gear around that can really slow your learning curve down and with that, really dampen the fun factor. And that’s a fact! Keep it simple and start with a few good pieces of equipment! You don’t need all the foils and wing sizes right from the get-go. Just go one step at a time and enjoy the ride!!! It’s the best sport I know!! 🤙🏻

Thanks so much, Henning, keep on ripping and inspiring!

Photos by: Wingfoilshots


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