Choosing An Effective Windsurfing Board

Since the creation of the original "Windsurfer" by Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer in 1968, windsurfing boards have undergone dramatic changes. During the early 1970's, longboards were common. They used a retractable keel to serve as the "spine" of the board and were built to leverage lighter winds. Shortboards were also common during the 1970's and were designed for planing (i.e. bouncing along the top of the water). During the 1980's and 1990's, other windsurfing board designs became prominent.

As the sport evolved and different forms of windsurfing were introduced, the construction and design of the boards also evolved. Today, there are several different types of boards. Below, we'll discuss contemporary boards along with the best boards for beginning windsurfers.

Types Of Windsurfing Boards

In the past, windsurfing involved using longer boards to cut a path through the water (commonly referred to as slogging). This technique is no longer widely practiced. It has given way to planing, largely due to the increased speed and maneuverability. Smaller boards are more effective for planing, especially in high wind environments. Today, most windsurfing boards are manufactured shorter and slightly wider than the boards used a decade ago.

Freeride boards are generally designed for planing across flat waters and mild swells. Wave boards and freestyle boards are excellent for performing tricks such as high jumps and aerials. Slalom boards are effective for achieving maximum speed, but they do so at the cost of maneuverability.

Windsurfing Boards For Beginners

Most windsurfing instructors recommend that beginners purchase a board that includes a padded deck. This is because many novices have difficulty learning to climb onto their board easily. As a result, they have a tendency to scrape their knees on unpadded surfaces. Also, a common suggestion is that beginners invest in a board that includes a center fin. While experienced windsurfers don't need the fin, it can offer an additional level of stability for novices. The fin can also be useful in learning the basics in light wind conditions.

Generally, most beginners should use a windsurfing board that is at least 80 cm. in width and has a volume that exceeds 180 liters. Those who weigh more than over 180 lbs. should use a board that is even wider and has more volume.

How Much Do They Cost?

Prices for windsurfing boards vary wildly. If you're just getting started in the sport, you should consider purchasing an inclusive package. These packages usually incorporate the board, sail, mast and boom. That is, every component of the windsurfing board is included. These packages are often designed to allow beginners to get started easily and quickly without worrying about assembling the necessary parts. Plan to spend between $1,000 and $1,500.

The price you'll pay for buying new components separately will depend upon their construction, durability and brand name. Some boards can cost nearly $3,000. While the most expensive boards are typically made from the best materials, they're not necessary to enjoy the windsurfing experience.

All Windsurfing Boards Are Not Created Equal

The most important thing to remember is that different windsurfing boards are designed for distinct purposes. The board you choose to purchase should suit your objectives. If you're interested in speed over maneuverability, you'll need a longer board with less width. For performing aerials and other tricks, a slightly wider board with less volume should be used. In the end, investing in a good windsurfing board is a matter of figuring out what you want to accomplish. Then, ask experienced windsurfers for their suggestions. Once you become a proficient windsurfer yourself, you'll find others asking you for advice.