I am finding that wing foilers are doing super long runs out to sea to gain ground upwind. Wings are so slow it takes me up to an hour to go 3-4-5km upwind when I can do the same run in a single beat in 15 minutes.
I never go more than 500m out to sea on a kite foil. I tend to follow a similar rule with wing foiling and just accept that I will spend an hour going upwind. It gives me the chance to run downwind and do ins-and-outs on the way back.
I rarely see other wing foilers doing upwind runs. They tend to congregate in a single spot and just ride back and forth. I regularly see people riding 2km out to sea. I suspect in part it is because they're not strong on gybing. It could also be that windsurfer thing of "go straight as fast as you can for as long as you can then crash".
Absolutely it is *usually* better being on a wing when you run out of wind. You can sit and drift back downwind and pump up onto the foil if a gust comes along. My kite foiling mate broke a line and dragged 2km back to our starting beach. The wind also lulled and I sat on the wing board and chatted as we went. When the wind came back I checked on him from time to time. He was able to drag all the way back to our launch beach.
Thing is, you are hugely more likely to get stuck without wind with a wing. That's the point of this thread. Two knots wind drop and you're stuck. It almost never happens on a kite foil. If it does then bum dragging (sitting in the water working the kite to drag you in), self-rescue, or simply wait for a gust to relaunch. Even then, I am only a few hundred meters from the beach. It's pretty easy to swim/paddle that short distance.
One of my worst wing foiling experiences was being 2km out to sea chasing a gust. Paddling and seeming to get no closer to land and being swept down the coast to less favourable landing options is not fun. After about 45 minutes I picked up a gust and rode home. That's never happened with a kite and foil. The worst is dropping the kite in too light winds and having to self-rescue. I have over 1000 kite foiling hours and several thousand kite boarding hours. I have way more "shit I'm stuck" episodes with wing foiling.
Once you get back to the beach the adventure is not over. I have walked 3km with a kite foil board under my arm and a packed up kite. It's easy. Most walks of shame I can just fly the kite as I walk. Try that with an 80-100ltr wing foil board with a 2000cm foil hanging off the bottom of it.