Choosing Your First Windsurfing Board

Buying a windsurfing board is always going to have complications, defined by your location, skill level, storage, bodyweight and your own aspirations.

It is important to be realistic as to you skill level and buy something suitable so that you can speed up the learning curve.  Whether you’re and advanced sailor or or looking to take some windsurfing lessons then get your own kit, it is worth having a read in this log about Choosing your first windsurfing board.

Below is a checklist of useful information that is worth understanding before you spend any money.

Let’s get started with a number of key-points, that you can answer yourself.

Where will you generally sail?

Let’s say you’ve just had some private windsurfing lessons and are now ready to get some kit.

Being a total beginner means you need to carry on sailing on flat water, so you’ll probably looking for a harbour or lake somewhere. This also means you’ll need a board that is probably similar to what you learnt on, being wide, stable and fairly long.

Somewhere that is not that choppy helps massively as you will find it easier to control the board an keep making those tack and gybes.  This really is where a board that is forgiving will really help, so you don’t want something to narrow or low volume as this really increases the difficulty.

I would add that as a beginner, the conditions you sail in will massively dictate how quickly you progress and it is so important not to head out in conditions that really are beyond your level. You won’t learn anything and could even get hurt or break kit.

For us we have Chichester Harbour that will offer perfect conditions when the tide is right and then we have Bracklesham if the sea isn’t too rough. And don’t forget Hayling Island on the beach front as they have a protected area, with a massive shingle bank that can cut out a lot of the waves.

Wherever you sail as a beginner, something like the RIO from Starboard is a really good shout.  259 litres is a good size for most people unless you’re really heavy,  100+ kgs.

Board Volume

This is a big part of choosing a windsurfing board as it means you will either float or sink.

Our school boards have about 250 litres and are a mix of Starboard RIO and Starboard START which gives them plenty of float relative to a persons weight.

As you get better and start heading out in stronger winds, you’ll be looking for a lower volume board, as they will generally feel less cumbersome as you start planing and using footstraps. For more advanced sailing sessions we use the Starboard GO which delivers basic performance, with reduced volume.

Board type

All of your decisions come back to where you sail and the conditions combined with your skill level.

Entry level

This is perfect for beginners and if I had to keep a board in the lockup, for those days when I fancy a relaxed light wind sail in the harbour, then you can’t go wrong with something that has stability and volume to make life easy and relaxing.

Progression level

Getting the volume down a bit and reducing width  makes the board more responsive and dynamic.  You will find that extra challenge will sharpen your skill up and improve your balance and allround awareness.

Longboards and retro kit

If you find your sailing on lakes and don’t always have that much wind I would seriously recommend looking at something like a retro board or long raceboard as they’re so much fun.  They’re quick in light winds, will always get you home, have plenty of volume and you’ll be sailing loads.

Inflatable boards

From a convenience perspective these boards are great as you can pack them away and don’t need a big storage area. They will still deliver great fun in the right conditions.

SUP Windsurf boards

This is another board I really love as it gives so many options.  With a SUP windsurf board you can have a quick paddle, then when the wind kicks in you go sailing. You could even have a little surf.

Wave boards and freeride or slalom

If you really start to take it up a notch, then you might start to look at wave sailing or blasting along. This will require smaller boards that are much more specialised. You will find freeride boards, wave board, slalom boards or even speed boards are out there to have a go on when you’ve got the skills.

Brands

There are plenty of brands to choose from, be it brand new or used kit.  Everyone you speak to will have a preference, be it a long term like of a brand name, a particular shape, fin setup or simply affordability. Below is a list of some of the more well known brands of windsuring boards that are worth looking at.

Most brands will do optional constructions, which helps to vary price along with different shapes and disciplines be it freeride, freewave, wave, slalom, speed or general allround boards.

  • DUOTONE
  • Fanatic
  • JP
  • Naish
  • Severne
  • Starboard
  • Bruch
  • Simmer
  • CS
  • Flikka
  • Witchcraft

Weight

The weight of a board can have a big effect on how it sails and handles.

For beginners, most learner boards are a bit heavy and it is often easier to have someone help you move it around with you – I do that with the school boards as they’re heavier and big in size.

As you start to  progress, you will want lighter kit as it will plane easier and be more manageable.

Sails

You can use any size board with a sail e.g a school board could be used with a school right, large slalom sail, wave sail etc.   In that instance it is just a sail and your choice is based on what you need and what you can uphaul or manage. As a beginner you don’t need anything big and even a 4.5m delivers plenty of power in light winds on the right board.

You will find a difference when going to smaller boards, especially when planing.  Much larger sails may not be well matched to smaller boards, but at this point in your sailing journey you should have had the chance to go on some demo days and experience the kit and try things out.

Buying a second hand board

There’s lots of kit out there to buy second hand and nothing at all wrong with it as long as you are smart in what you buy.

If I am buying a used board, I go over it closely looking for any damage or soft areas and cracks.

Things to look for when buying used kit would include

Dings

Dings are small holes in the board skin. Due to the material make up of a board being either carbon or glass fibre, it is pretty easy to repair the board, but it is important to dry it out if water got inside.

If you find a board that has had a few knocks and repairs, press around the area to see if it is soft.  You’re not going to be able to tell if is dry inside, but any softness is a good indicator of whether a board has started to delaminate.

Cracks

It may just be superficial or it may go deeper. Either way, it is worth getting it properly repaired and made good. If there has been a repair, do a check again to make sure it is solid. Sometimes you might find bubbles or water coming out of bad repair jobs when the sun hits the board and this needs resolving immediately.

You might find that it is just chipped paint and no repair is needed, but if you’re unsure, it really is worth getting it checked over.

Taking on water

If a board has taken on water, then it will get heavier and begin to delaminate. 

This is where the outer structural skin will begin to detach from the inner foam core. This makes the board soft in areas.  That said, boards can still be used til they literally die a full death, so overall windsurf boards can last a very long time.

eBay

Check out  beginner windsurfing boards on ebay to advanced boards, but make sure you are ready with the right questions.

Summary

The article “Choosing Your First Windsurfing Board” by Ian at Surfs SUP Watersports  gives you a quick introduction about boards and how they differ and what to look for. 

Read the next blog about about Understanding Windsurfing Equipment. It details some useful information about the kit you will be looking at and how the features work.

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