Basics of Windsurfing
Learn to Windsurf
Basics of Windsurfing

Selecting a Sail

Bluefinz article
by Sukhdev

With so many sail types, models and sizes how do you go about selecting a sail? The past few years have seen major changes in sail design, with a proliferation of both sail types and sail sizes. Sails have got larger with improved wind range. There is much more emphasis on light weight and easy handling, recreational sails are now much easier to rig. As the sport expands into niches, specialized sails such as freestyle sails are now common. Lets make sense of the different sail types first and understand their characteristics. This then can serve as a starting point for us later discussing how to select a sail.

Article Exerpted from Sukhdev on Bluefinz in 2006, that are no longer available online

All About Masts

Bluefinz article
by Sukhdev

Masts have a huge impact on rig performance. This article takes a tour of the subject of windsurfing masts, including some faqs.
Mostly they stay invisible. Stuck in the luff of the sail, they go about their job of being the backbone of the rig. Yet masts are a very important tuning element, having a huge effect on performance and handling of the rig. The whole subject of masts is jargon laden and can be intimidating to most sailors so we will try to unravel the mysteries and share some pointers regarding usage and tuning. Below is a typical specification of a mast.

460 IMCS 25 100% pre-preg carbon Race Constant curve

Let's break down that technical sounding stuff one step at a time. Its worth understanding this esoteric looking stuff. The list below is quick decode of the specifications and the sections that follow it delve into the various parameters that make up mast specifications in more detail.

460 refers to the length of the masts in centimeters. (mast length)

IMCS 25 is a measure of the stiffness of the mast. (imcs)

100% pre-preg carbon tells you about the construction materials used to make the mast. (construction)

Race tells you its intended use. (mast usage)

constant curve tells you the manner in which the mast deflects as downhaul is applied to it.(mast curves)

Later in the article we examine how the mast can be used as a rig tuning element, followed by some pointers on the care of masts, tips on buying a mast and finally safety considerations when a mast breaks.

Mast length

Masts these days come in standard lengths in centimeters such as 370, 430, 460, 490, 520, 550 and 580cm. Fortunately mast measurements have all become metric. The easiest way to determine what length of mast is needed is to check the specifications on the sail itself. There are instances however when you may not want to conform to suggested specifications and we will examine that later but in 90% of cases just go with what the manufacturer suggests.

Article Exerpted from Sukhdev on Bluefinz in 2006, that are no longer available online

Choosing your First Board
Tom Mae, TWC Instructor Emeritus

Long board, Short Boards, Wide Boards, Race Board - It's enough to make your head spin - below are some helpful tips on choosing your first board.

New windsurfers often ask how to choose a first board. For new windsurfers sailing in light winds and gradually progressing to stronger winds, a board between 160 litres and 250 litres is recommended. There is an old rule of thumb for choosing a board for lighter winds. For each pound you weigh you allow one litre of volume. Therefore a person weighing 160 lbs could consider a board with 160 litres or more and a person weighing over 200 lbs will need a board with over 200 litres for fun light wind sailing.

A wide, stable board allows concentration on learning to control the wind with the sail without worry about falling off the board. (Using a smaller sail that you control, rather than one that controls you, is essential)

A kick-up centre board gives better windward performance, and can be retracted when the wind picks up and the fin takes over. The ability to handle stronger wind conditions will come with practice, which is really fun! Typically, 160 litre+ boards have a retractable centreboard. Once a sailor has progressed to the point that they can sail fairly well upwind without a centreboard, there will be more boards from which to choose.

Weight is a factor and you will need either a board that will hold you above the surface of the water, or enough wind/sail-size to get you moving onto the surface. It takes a bit of time to be able to handle the larger sails (7.5 to 12 metres) that many windsurfers use today.

Board weight is also a consideration, if you want to be able to lift up and put your board on your car's roof racks without help. The lighter the board the greater the cost. Consequently, also it becomes more fragile and must be handled more carefully.

You are best to choose a board for your abilities and the predominant conditions you will sail. For example, in Maui winds are stronger and steadier than in Ontario, so board and sail sizes will be smaller in Maui than here. Many people who have sailed well on an older style longboard of 220 litres or more, move to a board of 120-140 litre size and find they are no longer having fun. This problem might be solved by buying a 180 litres to 220 litre or more board (depending on sailor weight).

It is always best to try a board before you buy one. Try your local windsurfing shops to see if they rent.

One board will get you going, but as you get more into the sport of windsurfing, you will want different boards and sails that suit the conditions of the day. You may end up with one all round board for light to medium wind (suitable to teach friends and family), and a second or third board, for stronger wind!

Local windsurfing stores are able to offer support in purchasing new gear, and continue to hold swaps for used gear. Toronto local shops are:
Board Sports:
Silent Sports:
Maui North: