Looking to get into watersports but is too afraid to start with the “complicated” stuff? You might want to start dipping your toes into the craft that is windsurfing. With windsurfing, all you really need is enthusiasm, water, and wind (except for the basic equipment, of course, which we’ll get into later, I promise). It is a reasonably easy boardsport, and to be honest with you, although it is considered an “extreme sport,” it’s one of the safest water activities for beginners as it is a gradual process, and it only gets a little risky as you progress with your skills and experience.
You can windsurf everywhere, including the open ocean, lakes, rivers, or even indoor pools, so it is a fairly accessible activity for everyone. Not to mention it’s a social sport, so it’s a chance to be a part of communities centered around windsurfing so you can make friends along the way.
What is Windsurfing?
Windsurfing is a composition of surfing and sailing. This sport’s essentials board to stand on connected to a sail that is powered by wind, which propels the rider across the water while holding a rig to control the movement. Yes, you read that right; the wind powers this sport, so if you are concerned about being environmentally friendly, you may want to consider windsurfing.
Originated as a Polynesian watercraft, the concept of windsurfing dates as far back as the 20th century. Back then, sailors and fishers would use small sailing boats to navigate the Pacific Ocean in an upstanding position. The official windsurf model that we know today, however, was created by Sidney Newman Darby Jr. in 1964 when he connected a hand-held sail to a wood plank using a joint made of nylon rope.
With Hoyle, his wife Diane, and Jim Drake’s help, the “Windsurfer One Design” got patented in the US, and the windsurfing model dramatically expanded through Europe from the ’70s to the ’90s. In 1984, windsurfing became an Olympic sport at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
Fitness Level Requirement
Now, I am not saying you should be a heavy-weight-lifting-athlete-level fit to become a windsurfer. However, it would not hurt if you start in good shape because, essentially, this activity will require cardiovascular strength, muscle performance, and stamina. Who would want to begin the windsurfing process and be done in an hour or two because they have entirely knocked themselves out that fast?
Before you dive into windsurfing, I think it’s vital to know that your whole body will pretty much hurt during your first sail. A lot of your muscles will be put into work like your forearms, upper back, core, lower back, and hamstrings as you try to maintain stability, control the sail power, lean back on the windsurfing board, etc. To manage these muscles, though, you need a passably strong cardiovascular system to supply them with good amounts of oxygen.
With all that being said, the most important limiting component that you should work on to be able to start windsurfing is endurance. As windsurfers continually turn wind power from the sail into motions through the windsurfing board, they use body tension to conserve energy and maintain an easy pace. You can also train for high-intensity bursts of energy as windsurfing requires specific maneuvers and sudden movements to control the sail.
For windsurfing rookie to pros alike, this sport is a great way to get health and fitness benefits while having the best time in the water because it does not feel like exercise. So, what are the amazing things you can gain from windsurfing?
1. Its mental health benefits
I do not think it’s ever a bad idea to spend your days surfing across the open water, soaking up the sun, and forgetting your worries while standing on board. With windsurfing, you can get your happy hormone fix and improve your overall mood just by getting your body moving.
2. It can strengthen your core
Like with other water sports that involve a type of board, maintaining your balance and keeping a nice stance is important in windsurfing. Now to do this, you will have to keep your core engaged at all times, so you do not fall into the water. Side note: windsurfing is a good activity if you want ripped abs.
3. It’s a good cardio
As I mentioned above, windsurfing requires a solid cardiovascular system to ensure you have enough oxygen supply in your body to keep your muscle performance at best. With windsurfing, you will need your heart to pump more blood than usual to your major muscle groups; that is why it is a fun way to get cardio exercise.
4. You can lose weight
From engaging your core to your cardiovascular system working extra hard, windsurfing is a great activity if you want to burn calories and lose weight. On average, you can burn at least 1000 calories an hour while sailing up to 20 miles per hour. Shed some weight by shredding some waves, if you know what I mean 😉
Choose the right location
When learning how to sail, finding a good spot with flat water and light consistent wind is key. I would suggest you start practicing windsurfing on a lagoon or a small lake with at least 100 yards worth of space. Try avoiding areas where there are powerboats, jet skis, or swimmers because aside from safety purposes, you do not want the wake they make on the water to interrupt your sail.
Find the ideal wind strength & direction
For windsurfing beginners, it is best to find a place for windsurfing with the ideal wind blow of 3 to 5 miles per hour. Anything stronger than that will make your first experience not enjoyable. Make sure that the wind direction is parallel to the shore so you can sail out and then back in easily.
Practice on Land
Before going into the water, try and have a feel on what the pull on the sail will feel like so you can gauge what position is needed, where to focus your weight, and imagine the direction your windsurfing board will be pointed at.
Windsurfing gear: The basics
- Board – Being one of the most important parts of the windsurfing kit, it helps to have a wide, and preferably a “floaty” board for beginners to help you maintain balance. A windsurfing board with a volume of at least 200 liters will get you the confidence to master the craft.
- Sail – With windsurfing as a sport that is literally powered by the wind, having the right type of sail is vital for your setup. I would suggest a sail with a size ranging from 2.5 to 4.5 square meters for first-timers, and then slowly increase as you develop your windsurfing skills.
- Boom – The handrail that windsurfers hold on to is called the boom. It is essentially attached to one end of the mast of the sail. This rail allows board sailors to steer and control the sail. When you are looking for windsurfing gear, make sure that the boom is set at your chin or shoulder height.
- Mast and Mast Base – The mast is a crucial part of the rig of a windsurfing kit. It is the central pole where the sail is placed and is made up of carbon. It is usually lightweight for easy maneuvering when windsurfing. Now connect this to the sail is called the mast base, which can be found 150 cm under the sail’s tail. It is basically like an elbow that fastens the sail to the board.
- Rig – The windsurfing rig is the culmination of everything mentioned above: the sail, the boom, the mast, and the mast base. For windsurfing rookies who are interested in buying their own kit, getting a “rig package” is ideal as it has all the equipment you will be needing.
- Wetsuit – For board sailers who live in a warmer climate (lucky, by the way), they might not need a wetsuit to go windsurfing. But, for those of us who experience colder seasons, a wetsuit is always a good idea. For beginners, wearing a wetsuit would be ideal to protect you from potential abrasions that you might get from windsurfing.
Read more about the types Water Sports Equipment for all water sports.
Top 5 Windsurfing Boards on Amazon
For a beginner trying their hand at windsurfing, choosing the right board out of a variety of windsurfing boards available could be confusing. However, one of the things that you must remember when starting out is that stability should be your #1 concern when choosing the right board for yourself. After all, how can you windsurf when you can’t even stand on the board? This is why for beginners, I recommend trying out the boards that are high in volume with a wider surface.
With this in mind, I’ve listed down a couple of boards that you can consider as you start out on your windsurfing journey. I rated them based on (1) skill level, (2) speed, (3) maneuverability, and (4) price.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Why does this say it’s a paddleboard?” Well to answer, it’s because it is partly a paddleboard. But surprise! It can also function as a windsurfing board. Inflatable boards like this one are commonplace these days because not only are you able to windsurf AND paddleboard, but it is also considered to be more portable and durable compared to traditional boards.
The Freein Windsurf Paddle Board is no different. In fact, it boasts its usage of military-grade materials to vouch for its durability and stability while on the board. At the same time, with it being inflatable, it is 100% travel friendly which makes it perfect for even some last-minute plans to the beach! However, due to its thick, rounded rails, it could be harder to maneuver which is why it is only suitable for low-wind conditions.
Similar to the first board on this list, the BIC Sport SUP AIR Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard is also an Inflatable variant that can serve as both a windsurfing board and a paddleboard. Its highlights are generally the same with it being portable, durable, and lightweight due to its thick Drop-Stitch construction and Dyneema internal stringer. Apart from being easy to carry around, it’s also easy to assemble with the parts being provided when bought so you can transform from paddleboard to windsurfing board without so much of a sweat. It’s also great for rider stability as it is high enough in volume to carry max rider weight.
Now we’re on to traditional windsurfing boards! The TAHE Beach 185 D Tough-TEC Windsurf Board boasts its Tough-TEC Polyethylene build, which makes it durable and lightweight—much easier to carry! For better feet comfort while standing on the board, the surface should be padded to be slip-free so you don’t have to worry about slipping and falling off. Plus, good news for windsurfing beginners: its surface is wide enough for stability but isn’t so much so that you sacrifice your much-needed maneuverability in windsurfing!
The NIXY Newport paddleboard is an all-around inflatable SUP of 10’6″ x 33” x 6” that you can use for windsurfing as well as standup paddling. It is an ultra-light stand up paddleboard that is built with a dual-layer woven drop stitch that is made to last. The pack includes a carbon hybrid paddle, a dual-chamber triple action hand pump, a multifunctional bag to carry it, detachable fins, a hybrid coiled leash, and a full repair kit. With the NIXY board you get a 2-year warranty as well.
|Skill Level:||Beginner to Intermediate|
Finally, last on the list is the BIC Sport Techno 148 One Design DTT One Design Sailboard. While it is one of the heftiest on this list in terms of price, this board makes up for it in terms of quality. Apart from its Epoxy CTS construction which makes for a sturdy yet light board, its highlight is mainly its capacity to be fast on the water. Much like the other boards on the list, the BIC Sport Techno 148 has complete features for comfortability with its thick pads and foot straps for easier maneuverability. All in all, this board is great for those setting their sights on windsurfing in the long run.
|Skill Level:||Intermediate to Advanced|
How to Windsurf for Beginners
Assembling the board
Assemble your windsurfing equipment or “kit,” as experts say, by the instructions included in the manual. If you do not have your own kit, which is likely if you are a beginner, just make sure that you rent your equipment from a reliable place and check if the parts are secured in place to avoid any potential incidents before getting into the water.
Wear safety gear
Of course, windsurfing, just as with any watersport, wearing the appropriate safety gear like a coast-guard-approved life jacket or a buoyancy aid is essential and can save your life if the unexpected happens. You want to be as safe as you can so you can focus on windsurfing.
And yes, even if you know how to swim, while you are still learning to windsurf, it’s best to wear the proper safety gear because the odds are you will be up against the wind and waves, and we know these things are unpredictable.
Stay close to the shore and avoid dangerous areas
Do not be overconfident and go too far from the shore. The wind might be strong enough for you to lose control of your sail, and that would put you into a difficult situation. Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid areas with large rocks, swimming spots, and boats to prevent unwanted accidents.
How to launch your windsurfing kit
To launch your windsurfing equipment, walk towards the mast and pick up the boom. Now pull the sail towards the back of the windsurfing board and lift it while pushing it towards the water. Make sure that the wind is blowing over the mast to avoid backwind incidents for a smoother launch. When you are deep enough in the shore, and the board is floating in the water, put your windsurf kit down.
How to get on the windsurfing board and turn around
When your windsurfing board is floating in the water, and the fin is not touching the bottom, but the board’s daggerboard down. With your back facing the wind, place your on the centerline of the board, shoulder-width apart. Now slowly climb onto the board, reaching for the uphaul before fully standing up on the centerline. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart as well. To pull the sail up, bend your knees, lean back slightly, then slowly pull the uphaul until the sail is out of the water.
When your sail is entirely up, hold on to the mast just below the boom. Keep your head up, your arms straight, legs bent but shoulder-width apart on either side of the mast, and back straight with a good posture.
To start steering, lean the sail towards the back of the windsurfing board to turn its nose in, towards the wind. Lean the sail towards the nose of the board to turn away from the wind. With the sail at 90 degrees to the board, it will always point across the wind.
Tack or turning 180
To turn 180 degrees, lean the sail towards the back of the windsurfing board from the secure position, and take small shuffling steps around the mast. Keeping your head up and looking towards where you are headed, keep your knee bent and arms extended. Keep turning by taking small steps until you are in a secure position but on the other side of the windsurfing board.
To learn how to jibe, simply lean the sail across the front of the windsurfing board. Doing this will turn the nose of the board downwind, which is what you would want. I think this is a little bit more complicated for a beginner, so I suggest you practice your tack first before getting into jibing.
From the secure position and the windsurfing board pointing across the wind, take your front hand off and then place it on the boom. Now, take your backhand off the mast and take a step back along the board’s centerline. Your back foot should be along the centerline as well, while your front foot should face forward by the mast. Make sure to keep the rig in front and at 90 degrees to the board at all times.
At this point, you will need to pull the sail to the balance point. Look forward while you pull the rig across in front of you to keep the balance. Then, put your backhand, shoulder-width apart, on the boom and gently start to pull the back of the sail towards you.
The next step is to drop your weight low over your flexed back leg while keeping your front leg and arms extended. Then, look at the direction you are going to and twist your body to face forwards. Your head, shoulders, and hips should be facing the front.
In theory, the steps for turning around seem pretty easy. But for windsurfing beginners, it can be a little tricky. From the sailing position, let go of your backhand and place it onto the mast. Then, step into the secure position again and do a 180-degree turn or tack so that the windsurfing board faces the back (the direction where you launched your sail in the beginning). From this, slowly go back into a sailing position so the wind can push you towards the shore. To stop your sail, just gently lower your sail into the water.
To land your windsurfing kit, pick your sail up while the wind is blowing across the mast and then pick up the back of the windsurfing board, making sure to lift the fin. Do not forget to hold on to the boom as well. Then, walk out of the water and put the kid down gently on the shore. (Tip: To avoid damage, do not drag the fin or the sail when coming out of the water).
Planing (slightly advanced)
Now that you already know how to sail, let us make your experience a little more exciting by introducing “planing”. With planing, it is basically when the sailing is fast enough to glide over the water, much like a speedboat would do.
For this windsurfing trick, you may use a harness attached to the sail and the foot straps attached to the windsurfing board. Opposite to the secure and sailing position, with planing, the technique is to stand upright and use your weight to lean into the direction of the wind, contrary to the pull of the sail.
As the windsurfing board accelerates, stay low, pulling down through the harness, then start to move your feet further back slowly. At this point, your feet should be close to the foot straps, and you can easily slide your feet in.
Additional Tips for Windsurfing
Research the right-of-way rules and local regulations
Of course, rules still apply in the water, even if you just plan to sail your windsurfing board peacefully. Following right-of-way rules and local regulations can prevent you from getting into trouble or avoid any accidents during your windsurfing sails.
Taking care of your kit
If you have been sailing in salt water, do not forget to rinse off your kit with fresh water and remove the sand before you put it away. Make sure you dry your equipment as well before leaving it in storage.
Sail with the Wind!
I hope this step-by-step beginner guide taught you a thing or two when it comes to the basics of windsurfing and has given you the confidence to start your board sailing journey. As always, for a smooth-sailing (pun intended) experience, do not forget to do your research and find the best location, the right equipment, and the correct safety measures before you hit the water. There is a certain freedom to feel when you are gliding across and flying over the water when windsurfing and I am not gonna lie, it is quite addicting.
If you still have questions about windsurfing, or you just wanna talk about water sports, do not hesitate to DM me on our Facebook or Instagram. I would be more than happy to help you sail the wind! Also, don’t forget to leave a comment and follow us!