An Introduction To Windsurfing Competitions

While many windsurfers are content to enjoy the open waters, the cool breeze blowing through their hair and the bright sun on their skin, others want to compete. Whether for personal glory, wealth, or the thrill of competition, these windsurfers participate against each other in a wide range of tournaments. Some match their skills with the best contenders in the world by participating in the Olympic Games. Other windsurfers have a passion for speed and compete in racing events locally and regionally. There are many types of windsurfing competitions. Below, we'll provide a brief overview of the most popular.

Olympic Windsurfing Events

Windsurfing has been included in the Olympics since 1984 (for men) and 1992 (for women). Each rider is outfitted with the same rig. That is, they use the same board, sail and mast as other riders. This is referred to as a "One Design" class. The Olympic committee decides on the design for uniformity amongst riders. This is to prevent any rider from gaining a competitive advantage due to upgrades or modifications to his equipment.

Formula Windsurfing Events

Formula windsurfing is mostly about speed. The boards that are used for these events have to meet requirements established by the International Sailing Federation. 2 of the most well-regarded competitions in the formula class are the German Windsurf Cup and the Euro Cup, both organized in Europe.

Slalom Events

Slalom windsurfing events are typically marked with huge numbers of riders racing along the water at speeds that can exceed 30 knots. They're organized in heats where riders race around a course that includes buoys and straightaways. The riders with the quickest course completion times from each heat advance while others are eliminated.

Super X Events

This is one of the most recent windsurfing competitions to be introduced. The event is a blend between racing and performing a number of tricks. Along a short course, riders are tasked with a number of maneuvers such as jibes, front loops and spocks. They must perform these maneuvers with precision while racing to the end of the course.

Speed Sailing Events

As the name suggests, speed is critical in these competitions. Speed sailing requires intense wind conditions to propel riders. It's not unusual for participants to exceed speeds in excess of 80 km/hr. In speed sailing events, riders race along a 500-meter course. They can compete on the course multiple times and their fastest 2 times are used officially for an average.

Freestyle Events

This competition is focused on tricks and maneuvers. Windsurfers perform a number of moves on their boards and are judged by how well they perform them. The number of tricks, the breadth of their range and how many mistakes they make under a time limit are used to measure their skills. Each rider is given a final score by the panel of judges. The highest score wins the event. Freestyle competitions usually draw a large number of spectators.

Wave Events

While freestyle events are performed on flat water, wave events measure the skills of a rider when interacting with the waves. Points are awarded to riders who can perform stunts while going out on the waves and when returning. Similar to surfing tournaments, wave competitions are organized in heats where participants compete directly against each other.

Windsurfing competitions attract a certain type of personality. The riders tend to be aggressive competitors who aren't afraid to experiment during the event. Performing in these tournaments isn't for everyone, but they remain popular spectator events (especially the freestyle and slalom competitions). If you're a beginning windsurfer, consider attending one of the events described above. It's a great way to observe some of the best windsurfers in the world as they ply their art.