Windsurfing is an exciting sport practiced on the water that many people passionate about adventure, nature, and adrenaline love to do. A simplified definition is that it is a mix between surfing and sailing, where athletes use a surfboard with a sail (or rig) attached to it. Athletes use the sail to propel the board, and use it to do impressive tricks.
When talking about windsurfing equipment, it is only natural that people think about the surfboard and sail as the only pieces of equipment needed to practice the sport. There are actually many parts and pieces of gear used to ensure that the sport is practiced safely and with enjoyment. Things like helmets or buoyancy aids are important things that many people don't remember when thinking about starting the sport. Take a look at a complete list of windsurfing equipment below!
The board is the main piece of equipment in windsurfing. The board is in touch with the water, and where the person practicing windsurfing stands to swerve above the ocean.
For beginners, it is important not to buy a board right away. It takes some time to learn the sport and understand the nuances between boards. They come in different sizes, materials, widths, and volumes, all of which influence overall performance.
The name is pretty straight forward, but a board bag is a bag in which windsurfing enthusiasts carry their boards. With so many beautiful spots to windsurf around the world, it is only natural that those passionate about the sport travel the world to practice it.
There are many different models of board bags to choose from, and some can carry up to three boards. The goal is to protect the equipment and to be easily carried, so take that into consideration before buying yours.
The boom is another essential accessory to windsurfing. It has a "wishbone-like" shape, and is attached to the mast, providing support to the sail. The boom is also held by the person on the board, allowing them to control the sail, and do tricks and maneuvers. Booms are most commonly made of carbon fiber or aluminum.
A buoyancy aid is a vest used by athletes in many sports, including windsurfing. The vest serves as an aid to help people float, and can protect from eventual falls. Keep in mind these are different from a life jacket. While buoyancy aids will simply help you not to drown in the water, they are not enough to keep you floating, as life jackets. Aids are more comfortable and lighter than life jackets, which is why they are commonly used in windsurfing.
Not only is windsurfing an exhilarating sport to practice, but also entertaining to watch. That combined with the beaches where the sport can be practiced makes it worthwhile to have a camera to record the whole action. There are plenty of options in the adventure/sports camera department. Cameras can be fixated on the tip of the board, or even the sail.
Constantly taking cold water and wind on the ears, as it happens in windsurfing, can have consequences that may lead to injury in the ear canal. Therefore,for those who practice the sport as part of their daily routine, it is a great idea to invest in a pair of surfing specific ear plugs, which protects the ear canal from said wind and water.
The fins are small, triangular shaped pieces of equipment that are attached to the bottom of the board. They are underwater the whole time, and although small, they play a big part in speed, smoothness, and controllability of the board. Fins can be longer, shorter, and overall vary in shape. Different shapes have different purposes, and people practicing windsurfing must know how to choose the perfect fins for their needs.
The harness is a piece of gear that together with other pieces of equipment, will connect the windsurfer to his or her rig. The harness is like a belt, which the surfer wears. That belt has a hook, through which some cords (the harness lines) will go through and connect to the boom, that way attaching the surfer to the rig. The point of using a harness is to take some of the sail's weight off of the surfer. That way, surfers get tired less quickly, and the actual surfing time increases.
The harness lines are the pieces of equipment that connect the harness to the boom. The harness lines' two extremities are either tied or attached to the boom, making a secure U-shaped tie. It is easy to connect the lines to the hook on the surfer's harness with such a format. The set up allows for safe support, and is not hard for the surfer to unhook themselves from the harness line if necessary.
Helmets are not mandatory in windsurfing like they are in football or baseball. It comes down to personal preference to wear one or not. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that it can make the sport safer. While windsurfing on calm waters, without trying to do many maneuvers is not dangerous, when trying out less calm waters or doing loops, a helmet is a good idea, and can protect the windsurfer from serious head injuries. If you have a helmet, you can even attach a camera to it, and record the action from your point of view.
The mast is a piece of equipment that looks like a pole fixated on the windsurfing board, and supports the sail. Although a mast may look quite simple, its importance cannot be understated. The mast connects the sail to the board, thus supporting forces and variations from both pieces of equipment. There needs to be an accurate connection between mast, sail, and board, otherwise the experience of windsurfing can be compromised. With that in mind, some things to consider when looking for a mast are; percentage of carbon in the mast, stiffness, and the bend curve.
The sail, in combination with the board, is the most important piece of equipment in windsurfing. The sail is attached to the mast, which is attached to the board. A windsurfing board moves by having the wind hit the sail, and thus propel everything forward. Sails are different in size, material and shape. Each different windsurfing situation requires a different sail. For beginners, smaller sails are easier to control. The combination of the sail, the board, and the mast is called the rig.
Many windsurfers practice the sport with sunglasses, or sometimes even prescription glasses, if their sight is not good enough to safely surf. While wearing the regular every-day glasses is for sure not a good idea (they can fall, break, and overall just makes the whole experience more complicated), you can windsurf wearing graded glasses. These are resistant, plastic-made glasses that come with straps that ensure that they won't fall into the water nor move around when you're trying to surf. They can be made to have dimmed or prescription lenses.
Wetsuits keep windsurfers warm when in cold waters and also protect their bodies from bruises and other possible injuries. Although they are not a "mandatory" piece of equipment, it is probably a good idea to wear one if you are windsurfing in a part of the world where the water is cold. Remember, wetsuits will not help you float, you will still need to wear a buoyancy aid. The suits are made out of neoprene and come in different fits and thicknesses.