Over the last two decades I have travelled thousands of miles with my windsurfing equipment. As a kid, I transported my board and sails in a trailer behind my bike. Later I used roof racks, car trailers, vans and even self made campers to get to the water. In this blog I share all the pros and cons per method that I have tested.
How to transport windsurfing equipment? I found transporting windsurfing equipment over land for longer distances cheapest by roof rack. If you have to much kit for that, or if you want more comfort, a trailer can improve the ride. A van, especially one that one can sleep in, can really add to the windsurf road trip feeling. Depending on local tax laws, converting a van into a camper can be lucrative.
Many windsurfers start by lowering the backrest of their passengers seat and stuffing everything in their car. Other ways of transport offer great advantage and don’t have to cost much more. I found that choosing the means of transport your kit has impact on comfort, safety and travel speed.
My Personal Test Results: Pros and Cons of Roof Racks, Trailers and Vans
For a couple of years I travelled with my gear stuffed on my passengers seat. Although this might be fine in theory, a few disadvantages led me to buying a roof rack. Seeing crash test dummies on a slow motion video of a car crash initiated this change. Ever wondered what happens to you if your car gets hit and your, very unforgiving windsurf board and boom are between you and the side of the car that gets hit?
All kit in a car. Besides the previous point, I found that it is always tempting to stuff an extra board in to the car. If you have to brake hard, kit might move, even if it is strapped. All of a sudden your view to the side mirror can get blocked. This is why I stopped transporting kit in my car since I had a second board. If I carry only one board in a car I never make concessions on safety. Strapping every piece of kit firmly to the car so it can’t move. Never letting something get in my direct line of sight to my mirrors or windows.
Roof rack. I found a roof rack a great solution for transporting my windsurfing equipment. Appart from the fact that I feel safer I also found a few extra advantages. A roof rack allowed me to transport more kit. It leaves the seats free so I can car pool with friends. The fuel saved can pay for the roof rack over time. It always good to have a nice conversation on a longer trip. A potential downside is that fuel consumption can rise a bit due to more aerodynamic resistance. This can also generate more sound while driving. Finally, on the way back, wet sails and suits might not improve the smell in your car.
For safety reasons think that using solid straps is a must. Always follow safety and handling instructions of the car, roof rack and straps etc. A point of discussion among windsurfers I know is the way to place the board on the roof. Straps that are pulled tight over the boards rail can damage it. The rail is important for the way a board sails (upwind!). Therefore I always place the board on the rack with the deck up. Boardbag and foam rings over the roof racks bars can protect your kit.
Trailer. At a certain moment, I liked to take more than tree boards and all stuff with me. If you have a family or you travel with friend this might sound familiar. Maybe you are just lucky to have a huge amount of toys. Over time I bought several trailers to carry multiple boards, sails and bikes at the same time.
Second hand trailers can be found online for prices that are interesting compared to new ones. I liked the DIY hours I spend on tailor making the trailer for my purpose. Advantage was that I could go sailing with two friend in the car and six boards in the trailer. Ideal for longer road trips or holiday’s. If I travel with my girlfriend we can take both our kit and additional mountainbikes.
A few potential downsides have to be considered. In many counties there are special speed limits for cars with trailers so that can slow travelling down. Parking might require a bit of extra practice. Fuel consumption went up a bit when using a trailer that was lower that the car height. A trailer that was over a foot higher that our car resulted in fuel consumption rising significantly, especially at higher speeds. Unfortunately aerodynamic resistance doesn’t increase linear with speed, it increases faster.
Van or camper. I have seen them on every windsurf spot around the world that I visited. Windsurfer vans or campers. Personally I have always dreamt of having one. I have travelled with other surfers in their vans. I experienced they have the same advantages as trailers without many of the downsides. Of course a van might consume a bit more fuel than a smaller road car though. Buying a van especially for your hobby can be expensive.
As mentioned, converting it in to a camper can save quite a few tax dollars in some countries. Camping in your van can save money compared to staying in hotels or apartments. Check local law before you decide to camp in the wild because it’s is often restricted or forbidden.
It’s not just for practical reasons that windsurfers carry their equipment in a van. Every time I had a BBQ with friend in front of a van full of boards and sails after a great day on the ocean I just felt an ultimate sense of freedom.
How to Carry Windsurf Equipment to the Water? Carrying windsurf equipment to the water can be done in several ways. Safety for yourself and people around you should always be a priority.
- If conditions allow it, board and sail can be carried together. Making sure that the equipment is not pushed against the wind is important to avoid loss of control over it. Many windsurfers keep their body between them and their kit, and their back or side to the wind while walking to the water.
- Board and rig can also be carried separately. Since boards have less chance of being blown away it might be wise to carry them first. The mast base can be attached to the board for additional grip. Boom, mast, sail and harness can be bundled up and strapped with the uphaul for easier carrying.
Windsurf Board Roof Rack Tips. Many windsurfer use roof racks to transport their windsurf equipment. Here are a few tips I use to protect my kit while doing so:
- Using pads over the hard steel bars and board bags over the board can avoid damage to your boards. Especially when straps are pulled firmly attach everything.
- Checking straps regularly for damage on strap or clasp and replacing them when damaged.
- Using extra straps for the second board if I put two of them on top of each other.
- Using a solid gear bag for mast, boom and sails instead of putting them as loose itmes on the rack.
- Not putting too much kit on the rack. When driving at higher speeds or in windy conditions this might get risky.
- Safety is always a priority so follow manufacturers manuals and guidelines