When I was teaching windsurfing the other day it occurred to me how difficult it can be to pick the best board to learn windsurfing. So, I did some research and testing to find out how to pick the best board for learning.
What is the best board to learn windsurfing? When learning windsurfing there are a lot of new things to learn at the simultaneously. Therefore the board used should support the learning as much as possible. That means a board that is wide, has a soft deck with enough grip, has a daggerboard and a minimal volume of 200 liters, to be a stable platform, is preferable. Examples are the Starboard Rio and the BIC Sport Tough-Tec Beach Windsurfer.
Many windsurfers that try to learn the basics experience difficulties that could have been avoided. Choosing the right board, sail, instruction and place to learn can improve learning a lot. Did you know that something as easy to do as using the daggerboard can get you windsurfing upwind much faster?
Choosing a board to learn windsurfing.
As mentioned before there are a lot of features on a windsurf board that can make or break your first days on the water. I will share some experience and knowledge I gained over the years as an instructor.
Volume makes the board float. To begin windsurfing means you have to stand on the board and pull the sail out of the water. After that you are probably going to need all your attention to get into the correct position with the sail in your hands. More volume makes the board float better and keeps it more stable in the water. Volumes of 200 liters, or more if you weight more than 80 kg/ 160 pounds, will improve your first experiences.
Over the last decade manufacturers have made (beginner) boards wider to increase stability. I’m not saying that you can’t learn windsurfing on a 340cm/11ft board with 220 liters of volume. Trying a modern board with the same volume that has a width about 80cm/31inch and a length just over 300cm/10ft will probably be easier. Centering the volume around the mast and a bit behind it, the area where you will be standing a lot while learning, puts the volume where you need it most.
A daggerboard is like a large extra fin in the middle of the board. It provides the surfer with more stability and it makes it far easier to sail upwind. Most boards have one that you can retrace into the board, even while surfing. So if you get more advanced you can use the same board without the daggerboard.
I have climbed on my board many times and, especially in shorts, bruised the skin on my shins many times. That is why I always try to get a board with a soft deck padding/grip.
Choosing the Right Board for Learning
There are still quite a few boards that have the features mentioned above. Still no two beginner boards, from different manufacturers or types, give you the same experience. I found the best way of picking the ideal board to just test them myself.
A good thing here is that many brands have rental stations. You can often find them at the brands website. This link is an example of Starboard centers and shops on the global map.
Windsurf schools often have more than one type of board that you can use for lessons. Just asking if you can try an alternative can easily give you the opportunity to feel the difference for yourself.
Examples of Beginner Windsurf Boards
As mentioned there are several brands that offer beginner boards. I share a few links to their web pages so you can easily have a look yourself. The order is random and they don’t pay me to do this. Just see for yourself what they say about their beginner boards so you get more of a feeling about what can be important for you.
|JP Australia||Funster||link to brand page|
|Naish||Kailua||link to brand page|
|F2||Xantos 160||link to brand page|
|Bic||Beach 225D||link to page|
Lately inflatable windsurf boards have found their way to the water. I tested one and found it pretty nice to use. Upwind sailing was a bit harder. Probably because the wrong daggerboard was applied. Inflatable boards are sometimes crossovers between windsurf boards and Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards. I’m not sure if this compromises pure windsurfing convenience a little bit. On the other hand SUP can be fun to do and a deflated board requires far less space while travelling.
Where can I Rent Windsurfing Equipment?
If you want to try before you buy, renting can be a nice option. Of course it’s wise to make sure you can sail safely by yourself. Otherwise take a few lessons. Most windsurf schools have a broad range of equipment that can be rented. Brands sometimes show shops and centers on their website so you can easily find them. Just googling a brand and ‘windsurf rental’ also did the trick for me.
Where Can I Buy a Beginner Windsurf Board?
Of course your local windsurf shop might be the place where most people start their search. If there is no shop around buying online is an option. I found two beginner boards on Amazon that are probably just fine. BIC Link or Starboard link or even a complete inflatable windsurf/SUP board including a beginner sail: Amazon link.
Choosing the Right Sail to Learn Windsurfing
Once you have picked the right board, you need a sail to go with it. Many brands have special sails or complete rigs for learning. Also they offer special rigs for kids that have sails with a extra small surface.
When learning, I find it easiest to take a big board with a lot of volume. And a relatively small sail. This might be a lot more forgiving while practicing. A sail size that you can just hold on to will pull you off the board sooner in case you make a little mistake.
Of course the wind speed and your strength are a factor. I teached a girl windsurfing the other day. Her bodyweight was 52kg/104lb. she was fit and wind speeds were between 8 and 13 knots. It was her second lesson. She liked a 3.0m2 beginner sail with a light aluminium mast and boom. Ask your local instructor for advice if you are in doubt. If a sail has cambers it is less suited for beginners.
Beginner windsurfing packages. Some brands offer special beginner windsurf packages. They include a board, a sail, mast, boom and mast base. They can offer good value for money. It’s likely that all components are adjusted for each other. There are several categories like: entry level, freeride and wind/SUP crossover packages. Keep in mind what you want to use the equipment for when making a buying decision.
Windsurfing rigs package. Rigs can be bought in separate parts but are also offered as packages. Often these are rigs in the entry level of the market. Categories that can be found online are: entry level / beginner, freeride, youth, Wind/SUP crossover.
Windsurfing sail size for beginners. Learning windsurfing requires focussing on a lot of things together. The size of the sail is an important factor in the success of first lessons. Therefore the sail size should not be too big. This will exhaust students to fast. Sails that are too big also tend to be too unforgiving when mistakes are made. Using a sail that is large enough to give the student enough power to feel the wind pull the board forward is probably enough. Later on bigger sizes can be used for more speed.
Extra info about the new sport Hydrofoil Wing Surfing
Recently I started learning Hydrofoil Wing Surfing. For this sport a wing is used to generate power in stead of a sail. 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?
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