Interview with Malaé McElheny

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

We catch up with the latest edition to the Duotone Wingfoil team, Mala’e McElheny from Oahu in Hawaii.

Hear the Full Interview

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

Hear the Full Interview

Welcome Mala’e, If you could give us an introduction please:

My name is Mala’e McElheny, I’m 13 and I live on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii.


How long have you been wingfoiling?

I first tried two years ago on Maui. I got a lesson from Alan Cadiz.


What other water sports did you do before wing foiling?

Before I was wing foiling, I was just learning how to kite, surfing and foiling.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny
Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

Was it a family friend who taught you to wing foil?

I think my Dad or Grandad knew Alan from windsurfing and we were going over to Maui and he got me a lesson.


Have you been using the Duotone wings since you started?

Yes, the first wing I rode was a Duotone prototype and then I didn’t ride for a while. Then my friend John Amundson got one of the first Duotone wings on Oahu and I started using that when John would go on trips. I really got into winging and I have really been liking the performance that the Duotone wings have.

Do you ride both the Echo and the Unit?

Yes, I ride the Echo when it’s flat water and I want to do freestyle and when there are a lot of waves, I like to ride the Unit so I can just hold it by the handle and it will stay in one spot.


I heard you are waiting for your Slick wings to arrive.

Yeah, I haven’t got to try those yet, but I should be getting those pretty soon.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny
Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

What is a typical day at home for you in Oahu, do you wing foil every day there is wind?

We don’t have wind every single day, it’s usually a couple of days of good wind and then it goes away and is light for a while. There are good waves for surfing and foiling, when there is no wind, as the waves become glassy. So it allows me to do other things aside from wing foiling and kiting.

And is that mainly surfing?

When it’s glassy we go surfing or tow foiling.


How is the scene out there in Oahu, is it growing?

Yeah! There are a lot more wingers now! When I first started it was just me and a few other people. Now I have someone to go winging with all the time!


Who are the riders that you look upon and that give you inspiration?

I get a lot of inspiration from the friends which I wing with, as we push each other to go bigger.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny
Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

How has your progression been going and do you have a favourite between freestyle and wave riding?

The wave riding seems to be a bit easier for me, as I already knew how to do airs on the wave without the wing. I can just hold the wing with my hand and still do the airs I know how to do when riding without a wing. For freestyle, it’s been a bit harder for me. The wing has a lot of power when I’m whipping it through flips and things and it can get yanked out of my hands.

It sounds like it’s a little more challenging in the lighter winds for doing flips and inverts.

Yeah, when it’s windy I can use the smaller wing and it’s a lot easier, I can pretty much make them every time. But when it’s not windy, when the wing goes around in the circle and generates a lot of power, it can be hard to hold onto when it has that much power.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny
Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

Do you get to travel between the islands and get over to the stronger winds of Maui often?

I haven’t been to Maui since February of last year due to the pandemic. As soon as Covid-19 isn’t too bad or gone, I’m hoping to get over to Maui to wing.


What are your favourite conditions to ride in?

For me, I really like it when it's not super windy, when there are waves too and when it’s clear water as it’s kind of scary going when the water is kind of murky.

How is the contest scene in Oahu or are you looking to be more of a free rider?

I really want to start to compete soon, hopefully, I can once Covid-19 isn’t so bad. There was one race over here that I did, but that has been the only contest I’ve been to so far.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny
Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny

What are the current moves you are or want to work on?

I want to start trying backflips pretty soon. I’ve been a little scared to try them, as I feel I might land upside down. I want to learn the backflip and some of the guys on the tour event are trying some crazy moves, and I’d like to try some of those too.

Do you know how they train these freestyle moves, do they train prone surfing or with the wings?

I don’t know how they do them, but with my friends, I have been trying rotations and airs so we can start doing flips and things with our wings.

Duotone Wing Malaé McElheny