What is Windsurfing?

Windsurfing combines elements from surfing and sailing. Read on for some basic information regarding this water sport.

Windsurfing is a water sport combining surfing and sailing. It first came about during the early 70s when a couple of surfing friends in Hawaii and from the mainland U.S.A. tried putting a sail on a surfboard. They wanted to break away from a waveless day and skim the waters with the help of the wind. When they became successful, windsurfing was born.

Materials Used in Windsurfing

Together with the development of the articulating universal joint that attaches the mast, sail and boom to the board, footstraps and harness advanced the sports of windsurfing. From the first types of cumbersome boards made of polyethylene with the complete rig weighing as much as 50 kilos, it has evolved to today’s windsurfing kit of around 15 kilos, made mostly of carbon fiber and other exotic materials.

Early windsurfers used Dacron sails. Today’s windsurfers mostly use Mylar and Kevlar enriched sails. Two types of sails had then evolved: the rotating asymmetrical foil and camber induced sails. Both have battens for rigidity, and later in the evolution of the windsurfer, to hold a much deeper draft for more stability, power and wind range.

Types of Windsurfing Boards

Wave boards are typically shorter in length and with an outline that is more curved from nose to tail to easily jump off wave faces. Slalom boards made for racing downwind are a bit wider and longer with around 90-140 liters of volume and have a sharper and flatter bottom outline meant for speed downwind.

Freeride boards, on the other hand, are a hybrid of both wave and slalom with an outline borrowed from both types, to be forgiving for the average sailor in bumpy water conditions. Freestyle boards are a mix of freeride and wave boards with more or less the same volume and length for expression maneuvers.

Formula boards are extremely wide and short with a volume of a minimum of 160 liters meant to carry bigger sails in the lightest of wind conditions and still plane. This were made for course racing meaning going upwind and downwind and all sailing angles but are bit harder to maneuver given the size of sail, board width and length of fin.

A typical windsurfer will choose a particular board and sail size for the existing conditions. It’s an adrenalin rush, pushing the board to speeds in excess of 90 kph by speed enthusiasts, or just rocketing off and drag racing with friends on any type of board.

Windsurfing is Fun

Whatever the need, for blasting through chop or jumping off waves as high as you want, or doing a hundred or more known freestyle maneuvers, the bottom line is that everyone enjoys the speed of the wind, no matter what it is.

All a windsurfer really hears is the prevailing winds howling and the splatter of water beneath them. Even out on your own you could enjoy countless hours of blasting away for kilometers on end. After a full session on the water, a windsurfer — sun-baked and too tired to pack up and head home — can still project a beaming smile brighter than anyone else’s.