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Lessons & Associations Catalog The Basics


For the gear junkie, you'll love windsurfing. There's so much stuff you can fill any garage in no time flat. Even at the intermediate level, you may already have acquired a number of sails and a couple of boards. Different sailing conditions require different equipment, and you'll want backup equipment if something fails. Also, most windsurfers never get rid of their first beginner board. Since they're always getting new converts, there are plenty of people to use it.

Equipment is rarely identified as either male or female, and even rarer is the equipment made differently for women. Basically all equipment is unisex with a few exceptions like harnesses. The main issues are weight, height, and average sailing conditions when buying windsurfing equipment.

Windsurfing Boards

A board's characteristics are defined by the volume (how much water it displaces and an aspect of buoyancy), weight, length, width, bottom shape, shape of the rails (side of the board), distribution of weight throughout the board, and construction or durability. For example, a flat bottom will help the board get up on a plane faster. Where as a V shaped or rounded bottom will enhance turning and carving by improving the rotation from one rail to the other.

Windsurfing boards fall into two main categories, longboards and shortboards. Within these categories there are many styles and types. Longboards have a winder range than shortboards, because they don't require a significant amount of wind. A longboard can cruise on a light wind day. Longboards have a centerboard and are typically more buoyant than a shortboard, making them easier to learn on. They're best for light to moderate wind and flat to slightly choppy water conditions. The Olympic windsurfing class uses a longboard.

Shortboards are shorter than longboards (ya, got that.), are usually less buoyant, and for the most part don't have a centerboard. Shortboard styles usually fall into four categories: slalom, race-slalom, convertible, and wave boards. The newest board design on the market is the light-air recreational boards. These boards are designed to provide plenty of action in lighter wind.

  • A slalom board is quick to plane and fast. They're a good board for first-time shortboard sailors.
  • A race-slalom board is more extreme, where speed is the top priority. They're light with the flattest of bottoms. The foot straps are placed out close to the rails of the board.
  • The convertible board offers the widest range of performance in a shortboard. The design combines both slalom and wave board aspects. Convertibles are usually thin with thin rails like a wave board, and have foot straps on the outside like a slalom board. Many of the features are adjustable allowing the sailor to adapt their rig to the conditions and style of sailing. This board offers the widest range of uses, because of it's varied features and adjustments.
  • Wave boards are thin with thin rails and have the lowest volume. They have a rounded or V shaped bottom, which makes it easy to transfer from rail to rail, enhancing turning and carving. Though it makes them difficult to plane and slow. These boards are made strictly for riding waves.

AHD, Advanced Hull Dynamics
Tel. 1-305-591-3922

Tel. 1-203-783-2500
Web site:
Bic Logo

Tel. 1-800-DROPUSA (376-7872)

Tel. 1-509-493-4938
F2 Logo

Tel. 1-541-386-9500
Web site:
Fanatic Logo

Tel. 1-800-424-4359
Web site:

Tel. 1-800-364-4639

Tel. 1-509-493-4938
Mistral Logo

Naish Hawaii
155a Hamakua Drive, Kailua
Hawaii 96734 USA.
Tel. 1-808-262-6068
Web site:
Naish board designs are marketed under Mistral.
Naish Logo

3575 23rd Ave., South Unit 107
Lake Worth, Florida 33461 USA
Tel. 1-561-585-5033
Web site:

993 West Third Street, North Vancouver
British Columbia V7P 1E4 Canada.
Tel. 604-986-0041
Web site:
Roberts Logo

Tel. 1-541-386-7879, 1-800-738-4705
Web site:
Seatrend Logo


In the beginning, protecting your feet will be important. Though as you advance, it becomes much less so. You may be more comfortable without them, because you'll be able to feel the board and straps better without.

Any dive bootie or water shoe will work. Water shoes are available at most beach shops or at scuba diving shops.


The fin is an essential part of sailing dynamics. It provides stability and helps prevent the board from side slipping. Fins come in many different sizes and shapes. A large fin offers greater stability and lift. On the other hand, a small fin provides better maneuverability and turning.

Rainbow Fin Company
783 San Andreas Road
La Selva Beach, CA 95076 USA
Tel. West Coast 1-408-728-2998, East Coast 1-407-777-5936

True Ames
53 Aero Camino
Goleta, CA 93117 USA
Tel. 1-805-685-8341


There are several styles and options in harnesses. There is the jacket or vest design, which like a life jacket goes over the shoulders and around the chest. Many of these also offer extra back support and are approved as a personal floatation device. The other type is a seat harness, which goes on something like a diaper.

Most manufacturers make unisex harnesses, and offer women's sizes. However, Da Kine Hawaii makes a seat harness specifically designed for women.

Da Kine
408 Columbia
Hood River, OR 97031 USA
Tel. 1-503-386-3166
Web site:
Da Kine Logo

Hot Sails Maui
Tel. 1-888-WINDSRF
Web site:
Hot Sails Maui Logo


When it's time to buy a sail, it's also time to review the basics of sailing and how the sail produces forward motion. These basics will provide you with a starting block to then discuss sail shape and design. Of course this is not necessary if you only plan to be a casual windsurfer and spend your days cruising the bay.

Most of the terminology you'll be hit with is confusing. But like any sport or industry, coming up with their own lingo is supposed to be cool. Once you figure it out, and it isn't that difficult, you'll be able to talk the talk.

Sail sizes are measured in square meters. They range typically from 9.0 square meters for light wind to 3.5 for heavy wind. 5.5 to 6.0 is the average size for moderate wind. Though depending on your size and weight you may want a smaller sail. Most new sails are made with a clear Monofilm fabric. This allows you to see what is around you while you're sailing. Especially important if you sailing at higher speeds. Sail materials are a science unto themselves. You'll hear terms such as Dacron, Mylar, Monofilm, and Kevlar. Beginner sails and older sails are usually made of Dacron. Kevlar is extremely strong and often used to reinforce areas of the sail. It's important to get a sail that is durable and will hold its shape. Depending on use, a sail should last from 2 to 4 years. It is important to take good care of it, since it's an expensive investment.

Today, most sails are fully battened. Battens are narrow rods that are place in a pocket that is sewn into the sail. They help maintain the sail shape. Fully battened is good. When you talk about battened sails, you'll also hear the term "twin cam" or camber inducers. There are two types of fully battened sails on the market, RAF (rotating asymmetric foil) or cambered. Cams keep the batten in the centered and perpendicular to the mast, and rotate the sail around the mast. The battens on a RAF sail are forced to one side or the other of the mast, and required wind for the sail to proper shape. The differences can only be argued by the best sailors and sailmakers. It's a personal choice.

Windsurfers require several different sail sizes to adjust for varying wind strengths. A set or group of varying sized sails is referred to as a quiver. One sail company, Multi-Sail, offers 3 sizes in 1 sail. They have a patented design that allows bottom sections of the sail to be removed in order to reduce sail size. The cost is about the same as one sail, and the write-ups are consistently very strong. Check them out.

Gaastra America
Oregon, USA
Tel. 1-503-386-9500
Web site:
Gaastra Logo

Hot Sails Maui
520 Keolani Place
Kahului, Hawaii 96732 USA
Tel. 1-800-753-4270, 1-808-877-4433
Web site:
Hot Sails Maui Logo

Tel. 1-800-366-8584
Web site:
Multi-Sail Logo

Naish Sails
Tel. 509-493-4938 or 1-808-262-6068
Web site:
Naish Sails Logo

Neil Pryde
Tel. 305-591-3922

North Sails
Tel. 509-493-4938

406 Oak Street
Hood River, OR 97031 USA
Tel. 541-386-6756

Oceanic Sails
315 5th Street
Hood River, OR 97031 USA
Tel. 1-800-778-7782
Oceanic Logo

Tel. 1-800-738-4705
Sailworks Logo

112 Oak Street
Hood River, OR 97031 USA
Tel. 1-503-386-9400
Web site:
Sailworld Logo

Spars (Masts and Booms)

The most important issue with spars is keeping the weight light, especially for women. The hot material is carbon, which is light and strong. The higher the percentage of carbon, the lighter and the more expensive the mast. A mast of 60% carbon is a good intermediate level mast and less costly then 100% carbon.

You'll want spars (mast and boom) that adjust to your different sail sizes. It's best to buy your sails first and then get the spars to fit your sails.

2500 Cascade Street
Hood River, OR 97031 USA
Tel. 1-541-386-5005
Web site:
Chinook Logo

Tel. 1-800-738-4705 or 1-541-386-9212

Tel. 1-508-291-2770
Web site:
Fiberspar Logo

Tel. 1-800-669-5423

Tel. 1-714-891-7414
Powerex Logo

Windsurfing Hawaii
Tel. 1-509-427-8113
Web site:
Windsurfing Hawaii Logo


Your wetsuit will help protect you from the wind and cold water. You won't need as thick a wetsuit as you do for scuba diving. A 3mm warm water scuba diving suit can be used as a cold water windsurfing suit. This is because you exert more energy windsurfing than scuba diving, and you're not continually in the water. For most a wetsuit shorty (a one piece t-shirt and shorts) or a farmer john (sleeveless) works best.

Body Glove
201 Herondo Street
Redondo Beach, Ca. 90277 USA
Tel. 310-374-3441
Web site:

Da Kine Hawaii
Tel. 514-386-3166
Web site:
Da Kine Logo

1071 41st Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062 USA
Tel. 1-408-475-7500
O'Neill Logo

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