Buying windsurfing equipment and choosing new sails can be a little bewildering at times. Whether you’re a seasoned windsurfer looking to upgrade or come back to the sport after a while away; or you’re just starting out on your windsurfing adventure, read on for our guide to choosing the perfect sail for your board.
The main thing to consider is size. The lighter the winds you plan to sail in, the larger the sail you need. Your body weight is important too, as the heavier you are the more drag your body will create, and so the larger the sail you’ll need.
The size range of windsurfing sails is wide, but standard sails suitable for beginners will be between 2 and 7m².
If you already have your board, then you should find a sail range printed on it that will fit. Other than their size, the main difference between different types of sail is in the way they are constructed. The simplest sails (often used by windsurfing schools for beginners’ training) have no support battens, making them light and easy to manoeuvre. However, they tend to lack stability in stronger winds, so aren’t a good choice if you’re looking to buy.
Most new sails will have battens to keep them stable. Some sails have full battens across the width of the sail, while others have full battens at the top and bottom, with some shorter leech battens in between. Battens provide stability, but add weight and make the sails harder to handle.
Beginners trying the sport for the first time, enthusiasts buying windsurfing equipment, or people taking their first windsurfing holidays should look for a good, general purpose sail that will allow them to progress to faster wind speeds safely. Generally, sails with fewer, lighter battens or leech battens are best for beginners, who benefit from the easier handling. Beginners shouldn’t surf in winds stronger than 20 knots, so should choose a sail based on wind speeds of less than that.
As your windsurfing improves, you may want to look for new sails that can handle stronger winds, up to about 25 knots (wind speeds higher than that are best left to the experts). Generally, 15 knots is considered to be the ideal speed for recreational surfers looking to work on their planing skills, so choose a sail with that kind of speed in mind. Check the average wind speeds around the area you plan to windsurf in: if they’re generally high, you might want to consider a smaller sail.
Specialists and Experts
Windsurfing has several different disciplines within it, and they require different types of sails to match. Racing sails are large – up to an impressive 15m² – so that they can catch the maximum amount of wind possible. Wave sails are small – down to around 3m² – designed to be used in strong winds. Most standard freeride sails come in between that range, so if you want to try out different disciplines, you might find you eventually need additional windsurfing equipment and more than one sail.
- How to buy Windsurfing Board Bags
- New Windsurfing Equipment 2012
- Windsurfing Equipment: Buying your board and gear
- Adventure Sports & Travel Thoughts
- New Adventure Travel Ideas
- Our Experts
- Top 10s
- Travel Gear
- Adventure Sports Insurance: What Does The EHIC Actually Cover?
- Kayaking Challenges: Paddling 1300km in handmade kayaks
- Child-Free Sports: Time to reclaim the wave?
- New Zealand: Spiritual Home of Adventure Sports
- 5 Things Cyclists Never Do
- Kevlar Swiss Socks that Rock!
- Adventure Race Events: Trying the Toughest Challenges on Earth