Looking back at the season, I remember a lot of fun during the lessons. Helping someone to windsurf the first few meters is a very special moment time and again. I realize that many people will eventually buy their first windsurf board after having a few lessons. What do you need to pay attention to when buying a board (online)?
Nowadays there are many different boards a beginner can choose from. The recent introduction of the inflatable boards and the SUP / windsurf crossovers, provides even more options. Buying kit online becomes more and more normal. Al this together can make the life of a windsurfer a lot easier. Or harder, if you don’t know what to look for.
Since buying a beginner board was a topical theme for a friend of mine this year, I did some research on the topic. I searched online for reliable info. Asked a shop owner about the latest trends and I tested a few boards on the water. Combined with over 20 years of my own experience I made a list of tips. Things that I look for when somebody asks me to help buying a beginner or intermediate windsurf board. Hope you find a few things that you can benefit from.
I already blogged about beginner boards a few weeks ago. You can use that info as background info. This blog is more specific about buying tips.
Have a realistic image of what you will use the board for
When I started windsurfing a little more fanatic, I loved to watch video’s of pro’s ripping it up in the waves. Someway I thought that in a few years I could be doing that too. It almost made me buy a board that was way too radical for me.
A realistic image of what you will be doing and learning is important. In my case it prevented me from buying a first wave board that was too hardcore. Its shape was great for wave riding. But I just was not good enough at sailing upwind to navigate the round edges upwind. And I was better off with a bit more volume too.
Ask yourself how many times you will be windsurfing with the new board per year. If you buy 10 more liters of volume, would that enable you to windsurf more often?
On the other hand, perhaps you are pretty fanatic. In that case buying a board that fits your needs now, might be a choice that is a bit too much on the safe side soon. In this case, for example, you could consider buying a board that not only has a dagger board, but also has features that make it a great freeride board wile sailing with a only fin. Foot straps could be on your wish list too, as well as a construction type and materials used that are a bit more stiff. Check my blog on best boards to learn windsurfing for more info on this subject.
Things to consider if you are a little more experienced
If you have more experience the same can be true. Perhaps you have been sailing on lakes for a while. Maybe you want to sail at the ocean for the first time. If it will be an occasional free ride attempt at low tide, your choice will be different than if you have set your mind to learning some bump and jump moves. In that case a more free wave like board could be better. Make sure your sails of choice match your ambitions to. Bump and jump attempts with a camber induced sail are a lot harder than when using a freestyle or wave sail.
What sail range are you going to use?
Suppose you own, or had lessons with a a 5m2 freeride sail. Perhaps you ar also thinking about the next step in sails too. What I’m saying is: If you buy a board that goes well with a 5m2 sail, and you want to extend your range by buying a 6.5m2 (to go faster in the same light winds that you had lessons in), you might want a board that has a recommended sail range between 4,5m2 and 8m2. Just so you can add a 7,5m2 sail as a third step.
If you have a 5.0m2 sail now and you plan to buy a 4.2m2 sail to sail in stronger winds, you might need a different board.
Paint a picture of how your level will be in 2 years
I keep this paragraph short since it is a little more of the same advice as above. If you plan to go sailing a lot in my experience a board choice that is a bit more radical can be OK. Just make sure that you don’t go to radical on the volume. Too less volume can spoil a lot of fun if you have too many day’s that you can just not get planing as a result.
Nowadays brands like Goya have boards that they recommend to buy 5 or 10 liters more than you are used to. Since they have made outlines and volume distribution in a way that these boards feel smaller. I like this idea since I hate to be floating while others are planing. A bit more volume in my newest wave board has really increased my window of opportunity. Giving me more hours on the water so I learn faster. As a result I can sail a board that is a bit more radical.
Think of who else is going to use the board
I know couples that own 4 boards together. Because their body weights differ 44lbs/20kg they extend their range by sharing boards. This requires a little mutual adjustment on the subject of preferred board characteristics.
If you buy a board to do some vacation only free riding there are also a few options. If your kids want to have fun with the board too you could consider a SUP/Windsurf cross over. Also an option if you just want to have some Stand Up Paddle fun yourself on the non windy days. These crossovers come in inflatable versions too. Amazon has a complete kit. Check Amazon here if you like to see pictures.
Be aware that these SUP/Windsurf cross overs boards and accessory rigs might not be build to deliver the same performance as (high end) windsurf only kit. Nevertheless they might add a lot of fun if is the kind of product that you are looking for.
Determine your realistic budget (and stick to it)
Windsurf stuff is not cheap. Many boards come in different editions. A full carbon edition, for example, is lighter and more stiff, but also more expensive. Having a realistic budget always helped me in my attempts to get the most fun per dollar.
Example: if I spend $300 more on a board because I want the most expensive edition and I spend $250 more on a mast because it has a higher % of carbon than that can surely ad to my fun. But! If I stick to my budget per item. I would save $550. That money could, with a little luck and som research (during the end of the season when new models come out) buy me an extra new sail of an one or two year old model. Like in buying a new 2017 model in 2018 when the 2019 models come in stores.
Having 2 sails instead of 1 can almost double the time you can windsurf. Is that adding more fun for you than half the time with the better board and mast? This is personal. All I am saying is that the right buying strategy and budgets can help making decisions that improve your windsurfing more.
Think of what else you need (Rig?)
A board alone doesn’t get you planing. I don’t want to repeat myself and this tips has some overlap with the previous one. So let me just add this. A realistic and complete wish list can help in more than one way.
Financially it can save money. Either by buying multiple items at one time online and thus saving shipping costs. Or if you buy in a shop, perhaps you can negotiate a little quatity discount. I have had a situation where I just called a shop that was also selling online. When I told the salesrep what I needed he offered me a small discount if I would buy the stuff directly online via his (pretty new) webshop. Since it was a boom of a brand that I trusted and a sail that I had in an different size I had no doubt the quality was no issue. Quick way to save a few bucks.
Practically it is nice to know what you have on your wish list. I mean for now, and later on. For example if you buy a new boom, the range of extension will determine if the next sail you will buy will also fit. I always hated it when I found out that buying a new sail meant buying a second boom too. Nowaday’s I have one boom that fits all my sails.
Make a list of key features your board should have (dagger board, footstraps)
This one is important. Not just the what, but also the why. If you want foot straps, for example because you really want to freeride on a level with feet in the straps using a harness, than you have to be realistic when it comes to crossover SUP/Windsurf boards. Maybe a real windsurf only freeride board meets your needs better.
If you benefit from a large dagger board because you just started and you sail in waters with a current. Perhaps an inflatable with a relatively small dagger board is not the best option. On the other hand, if you want to save space and weight. Perhaps because you want to take your board with you in a car full of kids. The inflatable can be just what you want.
Check a few reviews to get a feel of what you want and need
Online many board reviews can be found. Reading a few of them gives you a feel of what is important when deciding what to buy. If you are looking for a freestyle/wave board for example, just checking a few websites from different brands gives you a pretty good idea of what can be important. What are the variables they talk about next to volume and with? Materials used, weight, shape, rockerline etc. Again: what and why is important when comparing.
Here are a few websites that could be interesting:
Search on more than one website
Ok, this one I made easy for you by adding a few links in the previous paragraph. I do it because I feel it is important. Just compare the Mistral Freeride boards with those of the others. Learned anything you can use? I did 😉
Check your storage space
Ever seen what happens if you slam your trunk door and the mast inside your car hits your front window? That is what I mean by checking space before trying to store something 😉 .
Windsurf equipment always, in my experience, seems to take more space than I thought when seeing it in a shop or on a wide beach. Not only do you need to stuff the board in a space, you need room to manoeuvre around it to get it etc.
In the recommended gear section you can find a few storage tools. I use stuff like this to place my boards high in my garage. Nobody can incidentally damage them with a bike. And I can store more stuff in my garage. Having them on the ground or standing up against a wall seemed a recipe for damage.
Check your means of transport
Ever tried to check your mirror on the passenger’s side and saw nothing but a board bag? I always feel surprised how much stuff doesn’t fit in my car. That’s why I bought a trailer a long time ago. Roof racks can be an alternative. Check the recommended gear page https://improvewindsurfing.com/recommended-gear/ if you would like some more info.
Consider sale offers and models from a few years before
I already mentioned the option of buying a 2017 model with a discount in 2018 when the 2019 model are in shop. Off course availability is an issue, but I have always felt it was worth trying. A little google research and a few phone calls have saved me quite a bit in the past.
I have a type of sail in a few sizes. The year of production of these models differ 3 years. The newest version is better than the oldest but it saved me quite some cash. Therefore I never buy boards or sails that are more than 3 years old. Ok, maximum 4, if the deal is very good 😉
So, these where my tips. Of course this blog is not 100% complete. I just share my own knowledge so you can see for yourself if it benefits you to improve windsurfing. If you have additional tips: feel free to share them via a comment.
Extra info about the new sport Hydrofoil Wing Surfing
Recently I started learning Hydrofoil Wing Surfing. Since you read this article I assume you might be interested in this new, easy to learn watersport. I found that, compared to windsurfing, I needed less wind and less strength to have fun. Want to read my blog about Hydrofoil Wing Surfing?