Windsurfing is a cross between sailing and surfing, an individual sport for action-loving water enthusiasts.
Choosing a Windsurfer
Windsurfing boards are rated in terms of volume and length. Volume refers to how much flotation the board offers. High volume and long lengths suit light wind sailing, while low volume short boards are for high-wind performance.
- Longboards: Up to 12’6″ in length, fitted with a centerboard, stable, less expensive. Designed for light-wind sailing.
- Shortboards: Under 10′ in length, no centerboard, less stable, and more expensive. Designed for high-wind sailing.
- Transition Boards: 10 – 11′ long. Suited for lighter weight users in light to moderate winds.
Windsurfers are available in three different materials: poly, fiberglass and epoxy.
- Poly: Durable and inexpensive white plastic material. Heavier boards used for beginners and rentals.
- Fiberglass: A polyurethane foam core is covered with fiberglass cloth saturated with polyester resin. These boards are shapely and fast, and more expensive. Often used for high-wind boards. Fiberglass boards are fairly easy to ‘ding’ (usually happens when transporting), but also easy to repair.
- Epoxy: Same construction as fiberglass boards, but epoxy resin is used in place of polyester resin. Epoxy is stronger, lighter and results in a very responsive board. Very popular as a board material.
Windsurfing sails are available in three materials: Dacron, Mylar, and Monofilm.
- Dacron: Lightweight but can stretch out of shape.
- Mylar: Coated dacron. Holds shape better than dacron, but is subject to delamination over time.
- Monofilm: Newer material which holds its shape better than mylar. Monofilm is clear, allowing good visibility, and strong. It is the sail material of choice on many of the newer boards.
- Soft: Made of dacron or mylar, and found on beginner boards. Lightweight, inexpensive.
- RAF: Found on beginner to intermediate boards. Lightweight and easy to rig and handle.
- Camber-Induced: High-speed, high performance sails for advanced high-wind windsurfers.
- Rent a beginner board to learn the basics. If you buy one for learning, you’ll quickly “outgrow” it.
- Start with light-wind equipment.
- Neoprene gloves are recommended, as windsurfing can be hard on the hands.
- Footgear is recommended. Use neoprene booties or sport aqua socks.
- Lycra shirts are great for sun protection and added warmth.
- Stay with your board. It can be paddled to shore if necessary.
- Choose good water: away from other boaters. Keep an eye out for floating debris. Even a small branch or block of wood can be a hazard, and can ‘ding’ your board.
- Sail with a friend. If you must go out alone, file a sail plan that includes where you’re going and when you are expected to return. Wear a waterproof watch so you can return on time.
- Tie a whistle to your PFD.