/ Windsurfing /

Windsurfing Gear
how to windsurf
Windsurfing boards are typically made of plastic or fiberglass. Small boards that cannot support your weight are appropriately called sinkers and are for windy days and very experienced sailors. In addition to a fin at the rear of the board, larger boards have a removable centerboard, which helps going upwind. Although starting with a board with centerboard used to be considered mandatory, designs and attitudes have changed, and it is possible to learn on a board that has just a rear fin. The fin is a critical part of the whole as it counteracts the lateral force generated by the sail. Boards often have foot-straps, which help the intermediate and advanced windsurfers better control the board while on a plane. When choosing a board to try out, keep in mind that a wider board is more stable which will let you progress faster.

The sail is what your audience will remember (in addition to your unexplained and spontaneous jumps into the water), as they often use colorful panels. The size of the sail should reflect wind conditions as well as your abilities. A larger sail should be used in lighter winds, while the smaller ones are designed for stronger conditions. In addition to variable sizes, there are various shapes or cuts depending on the intended use. The race sails tend to be more stable but heavier and capable of handling a wide range of winds. Freeride sails are typically lighter, more maneuverable and certainly preferable for someone getting into the sport. Finally, wave sails tend to be smaller and emphasize strength to cope with more demanding conditions.

The mast is typically made of some combination of fiberglass and carbon. Mast and sail should be "matched", following the length and stiffness recommendations of the sail manufacturer. The mast attaches to the board using a mast base (to which the sail is also secured) and a mast foot, which includes a flexible u-joint or tendon. This joint or tendon allows the sail to be maneuvered in all directions. All these points are typically covered in a first windsurfing lesson and if the equipment is provided to you

The mast helps give the sail its shape as it is forced into the sail's mast sleeve. The wishbone attaches to both the mast and the clue of the sail. The wishbone is what you hold to keep the sail up and control it. Beginners typically rely on an up-haul rope to pull the sail out of the water and get going.

Depending on air and water temperatures, windsurfing can be practiced in a regular swimsuit. Cooler air or water may require a wetsuit. These come in a variety of shapes from the "shorty" with short sleeves and short legs, to the long john (no or short sleeves and long legs) to the full body suit. Full body suits come in various thicknesses for different conditions. Finally, for the cooler days, a "steamer" will keep you warmer. These full body suits are thicker (3, 4 and 5 mm) and offer a tighter fit than regular wetsuits, letting less water in and keeping you warmer. Hardcore enthusiasts that practice the sport in cold weather use drysuits that do not let water in. Many of these wetsuits are available in kid sizes.

Depending on what is at the bottom of the water, water shoes or slippers may be necessary. Some areas are notorious for shells or glass and you should inquire before going barefooted.

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