Windsurfing – How to choose the right board and sail

by | Jan 19, 2020 | Advice

This is a topic that has been discussed many many times in the windsurf industry, on blogs, in the pub over a beer and always with no real clear outcome.

We, the windsurf industry, here in South Africa see a tendency for the intermediate windsurfer to buy sails and boards purely on price. This is probably the most costly way to buy equipment, as you invariably need to change it not long after you buy it. You then want to sell it, but find out there is not anyone really interested in it, as it is the incorrect stuff for them as well.

Another thing that rears its head, is having the exact mast for the race sails that you purchased cheaply, otherwise, you have a big chance that it won’t rotate at all and to sail it you need to kick it to rotate.

The correct stiffness of the mast also plays a huge roll in how the sail works and trims out. What it really equates to, is Formula 1 racing where everything needs to be exactly right for things to work. It’s no good putting a full race cambered sail on to a freeride board, as the drive in the sail is completely incorrect. I’m not saying it won’t work at all but it is not fun to sail this mix.


The most equipment we see being dumped on the market these days is used full race equipment, as the racers update regularly to the latest stuff to stay fast. This is NOT what the intermediate windsurfer needs to buy as it is all VERY high tech.

These fully cambered sails are quite hard on the body as they generate huge amounts of power, so they need a strong body to handle. Also when you open them ( sheet out ) they don’t slow down very much at all as they were never intended to do this. The fully cambered race sails are also meant to be sailed well overpowered. When everyone around you is sailing a 6,0 sail, the racers are on 7,5 / 7,8 or bigger and this is what the race sail is intended for.

Do you, as an individual want this? I don’t think so. The ordinary non-cambered sails are much more fun to sail, they jibe easier (they don’t have the fast power feed of the race sail after it has rotated that pulls you over the front of the board ) can be de-powered by merely pushing on your backhand and are simply more fun. I have always advocated that a sail over 7,0 can be cambered but does not have to be the full race sail.

There are some really great small luff fast free-ride (doesn’t take in so much water when dropped) sails around that are great to use.


Once again the full race board is more difficult to use than the ordinary fast freeride boards as it is very fin specific and needs an investment of 2 – 3 fins per board. It also wants to be sailed completely overpowered (big-eyed windsurfing for us mere mortals ) for it to be in its element.

Many times you will actually be much faster on a fast freeride board in rough water than you would ever be on a full race set-up of board and sail. Freeride & fast Freeride boards have a much bigger wind range for the average sailor as they are easy to use and don’t scare you as much.

I saw in Switzerland, when I was working for Mistral, that the more you tell the average sailor not to buy a full race board the more they want to buy it. Don’t be tempted by someone needing to sell his race gear and telling you this is the fastest stuff since windsurfing was invented. If we believed all the adverts that come out from ALL the manufacturers we would be going at supersonic speeds by now.

Here at the Cape Sports Center, we sell the right stuff, to the right client, to help improve the level they are at – it is our policy to see our clients happy with their purchases when leaving our shop, you are the ambassadors to our business and we appreciate this.

If you need advice you are welcome to connect with us via telephone: +27227721114 or email


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