You've taken a lesson and got stoked!
You've begged, borrowed, or rented gear to get out a few
times; and, now you're sure -- THIS IS IT! -- I'M READY
TO GET INTO THIS SPORT FOR REAL. You're thinking --I
gotta get my own stuff, but... just what do I need?
Well... you need 6 pieces: (1) a board (with
fin).....(2) a sail.....(3) a mast.....(4) a boom..... (5)
an extension, and.. (6)a mast base/universal joint
assembly. (Oh, that's right...you need two other things
-- wind and open water -- but those are free.)
(And, oh yeah,
you'll want assistance rigging up new gear the first time.
I ALWAYS deliver "first gear" personally. We'll
set it up together and go over everything in detail.)
Let's consider the five components individually;
but, if you don't want to read my advice below, then just
click on these suggestions, then call or e-mail me to get
a price and delivery quote:
Best first Boards for 2011:
VIPER -- BIC's "CORE"
Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) option:
WHOPPER <> Fanatic FLY
much more on the SUP revolution HERE)
Chinook POWER GLIDE
<> Aerotech's "AIR-X"
or value-packaged as complete rig with mast, boom, base/U-joint)
board to start on?
question is easier to answer in 2011 despite a wider
field to chose from in "first boards"
than ever before. This is because we've just had
our 2nd revolution in windsurf
boards in just one decade! "Whoa!",
you say, "I don't even
know about the first revolution -- I missed that
-- and now there's a 2nd? I don't really care about
either. I just want a proper board for me...Hey,
is this going to be a long story?"
Well...sort of...but the story explains a lot along
the way, even though I'm going to skip around as
I tell it.
Windsurfing boards used to be
long, heavy, narrow, and very tippy. They slipped
through the water efficiently in the hands of the
expert but they were a disaster to learn on. The
sport suffered severly. Then there was a revolution
in entry-level equipment in the very late '90's
-- the "wide-style" revolution -- in which
width-wise stability was "discovered".
Boards were made much, much shorter and
the volume (floatability) was built into the middle
to the rear of the boards where the rider stands.
Things were better for the beginner. But, of course,
that was followed, in the early '00's, by the obligatory
experimentation with good ideas carried WAAAY to
the extreme. (There is something not-right about
a board wider than the top of the car it's being
carried on.) Initially, I was
worried about this whole revolution -- I feared
the whole sensation of surfing
would be lost to beginners on these huge, door-like
platforms. But, board designers calmed down by '05-'06
-- at least some of them did -- and have learned
how to enhance the wide designs to achieve higher
performance boards that are quite stable, get on
a plane easily, cruise comfortably, and are lighter
feeling underfoot. Life for the beginnner was now,
well...SWEET! This, the 1st revolution,
was now mature.
Then, about 4 years ago, in '07,
windsurfing had another revolution sneak in the
side door. This time it came from from the regular
wave-surfing scene: the stand-up paddleboard
(or SUP, for short.) .
The SUP is really an old Hawaiian surfing concept:
a big, wide, easy board one can stand on and, with
a special long paddle, catch any kind of wave while
already up on the board, standing and relaxed to
enjoy the ride. People also found out they were
a delightful way to get exercise and enjoy "walking
on water" even on calm, flat waterways. And
then, next thing...whadayaknow.... windsurfing manufacturers
thought, "Huhm, let's try a mast track
for our sails on one of these things"
and, there you go...Revolution #2: an awesome,
fun, very beginner-friendly, multi-purpose board!
A LOT of bang for your buck, dude! For windsurfing,
these boards are excellent, ultra-stable learning
platforms, sail upwind and plane delightfully (in
enough wind). They glide in light-to-moderate winds
with a simplicity of elegance that delight even
high-wind snobs (such as myself). SUP's, as designed
by windsurfing brands, are true multi-purpose, multi-mode,
multi-venue boards. But, there are trade-offs with
a SUP, so your first decision is, Do
I want to only windsurf with this new board, or
might I also want to surf waves, explore calm flat-water
venues under paddle power, and maybe even teach
windsurfing to my kids and buddies on this thing?
Don't say "no" until you give it a look.
SUP-ing is the fastest growing watersport in the
world. The SUP is such a big story it gets it's
on page...<<<>>> Any way you go,
life for the beginner is better than ever.
So... if you're still with me,
let's look into 5 critical characteristics of "first
board" design and how they might impact your
The 1st revolution in "first
board" design, 10 years ago, was
Board designers quickly realized that the ideal
beginner's board would be even better if it was
and capable of intermediate
skills (so you don't outgrow it
so quickly.) Manufacturers sought to make boards
with all five of those characteristics in one board.
That ain't easy. "First board" choice
often was all about where you're willing to make
a trade-off, i.e., lightweightness
means less durability.
, Greater initial
stability (width and bulk)
typically means sacrificing
future intermediate skills performance
(manuverability and speed). But, as I said
before, by about 2006 board shapers had come much,
much closer to understanding and dialing-in the
most-maximized, all-round shape. There are
still some design trade-offs to consider but they
aren't nearly as extreme as way back when, at
least not among any boards I endorse.
Whew!...we're almost done, but
not quite yet. Let me elaborate on that
"capable of intermediate skills"
thing. If you call me to discuss board choice, we'll
talk about this for sure. Once you become an advanced-beginner
level windsurfer, you would be able to notice, if
you had alternatives to test, that a given board
will have natural capabilities that another
may not -- relatively speaking. Some boards seem
inclined toward easier
manuvering and upwind ability while
other shapes are built for early
planning and speed in light winds. This
distincton is endlessly discussed in the world of
windsurfing board design. You might as well be aware
it's out there. Your
personality, goals in the sport, and general athletic
ability will determine which factor concerns you
....There are a couple other things
you need to think about. 1) the usual conditions
you can expect to sail in most of the time, and
2) your lifestyle -- how often will you be able
to get out there on the water? This highlights the
other design characteristic worth some elaboration:
most cases you will be able to get to the lake or
beach only when you have scheduled time off -- which
is not necessarily when the wind is blowing at 15+mph.
It may be 5 mph and puffy or it might be a steady
"lake wind advisory", yet, that's the
day you're off and ready to go. You want the equipment
to "work" as well as possible in whatever conditions
you encounter. I want you to have fun the first,
as well as each and every time thereafter you go
windsurfing. Also, the frequency with which
you get on the water will greatly determine how
fast you progress. If it can't be weekly, you need
gear that is forgiving and doesn't require all your
attention on balance each time you get out.
Stability -- which
comes from volume and width (obviously), but also
length -- is the key to (1) drastically
reduce the learning curve and (2), more importantly,
have fun from the very beginning.
#1: A Word on Width
and Length: Boards can get too wide
to perform "all-around" as they say. Too
much width = excess drag, weight, and bulk that
will hold you back in several categories. You can
get all the stability any reasonable person needs
without going over the 80 to 90 cm wide range. And,
concerning length, a board can
definitely be too short, also. Stability
is affected by the length axis significantly, but
of even greater concern is how a too-short board
narrows the margin for error in the critical sail
trim, or angle, that all beginners work hard to
maintain in order to sail comfortably across the
wind. I NEVER ever teach first-day lessons in the
sub 280cm boards for that reason (although your
first board can be a little bit shorter than that
in light of your future developing sailing abilities.)
I have a "too-short' model listed below due
to its one patented, unique feature that certain
individuals might value.
So...I said all that to
say this: My goal is to help you get a board that
is (a) stable platform
for learning and carefree light-air cruising at
the lake, (b)
has high-performance characteristics so you can
progress through all the intermediate skills,
such as planning in the footstraps, getting in
the harness, going FAST under control, and perhaps
carving your first jibe, (c)
is easy to handle and durable out of the water,
and (d) a good
value, and, oh yeah, if a SUP
is right for you, add (e)
possibly useful for other fun activities on the
water. So, relax! -- It's easier
than ever to get the right board and be successful
in this sport -- for everyone! I'm ready to discuss
any of these factors mentioned here with you personally.
SURE YOU DON'T BUY A USED BOARD THAT IS NOT FROM
THE WIDE REVOLUTION OR IS FOR ADVANCED WINDSURFERS.
For guaranteed success, here are my 2010 "First
Board" recommendations. (Click on the hyperlink
to see the board and specs.) Remember, MSRP
may not be my price -- there is room for discounts
on some models -- and NO national catalog mail order
house beats me or would dare, in reality, to match
my no-hassle guarantee of satisfaction.
VIPER -- (MSRP: $1299 ) Developed
after extensive testing and feedback on all major
entry-level boards on the market,
including classic "old school" beginner
boards, up to the latest, most extreme "wide
body" designs, the VIPER's are, all things
considered, perhaps the very best all-round first
board choice for beginners looking for advanced
performance capability in their 1st board.
It has proper length and reasonable, moderate width
in two sizes: 220 liters and 190 liters. The larger
220 VIPER is 285cm x 85cm wide. The 190 is 280 X
80cm wide. Both VIPER's have an outline that is
not only a little bit longer, but it is "straighter"
which gives improved rig steering. The even-volume
distribution helps sub-planing performance and adds
counterbalance to the sail rig when you progress
to the point of hooking in a harness and using footstraps
on a plane. Overall EVA deck, High Resistance Skin,
retractable centerboard, multiple beginner-friendly
Trade-offs: Not cheapest, but
otherwise, this is it!
back to top
CORE 293 D -- (MSRP: $1099) It's
a classic, windsurf board outline shape upsized
to beginner friendliness. And least expensive MSRP
first board! A board on which you can both learn
the basics of windsurfing and then progress right
through to your first shortboard. Unique among the
other first boards shown here in 2ways: (1) it does
not have the EVA (synthetic rubber)
deck; and (2) it is a lighter weight, similar outline
to classic, all-round short boards. Based on the
shape of the tremendous world-wide success of the
BIC Techno 293 One Design, the CORE is a proven
performer in a wide variety of conditions. (293cm
X 79cm wide and 205 liters volume.) For a beginner,
the high volume, stability and a
fully retractable daggerboard make it an
ideal learning platform. When the wind picks up,
the Core 293 D becomes a true "free-ride"
board on which you can learn how to plane, sail
in the footstraps, waterstart and gybe! It's an
ideal first board for the aggressive-minded
beinner and one that many keep forever
into their advanced years as their light-wind, big-sail
freerider. (Note: The CORE has a regular, non-skid
top deck construction like all smaller, performance
Trade-offs: less wide and stable
(width-wise) than some here; no super-easy footstrap
position options; no EVA deck protection
back to top
WHOPPER CLUB (stand up paddelboard
with center fin-- MSRP: $1299) With the WHOPPER
CLUB edition, everybody
sails, everybody surfs!! What a complete
package! So many features for windsurfing AND wave-surfing
user-friendliness! Lot's of stability: 34"
(85cm) wide and 10' long. May be the easiest board
ever to learn to surf the SUP way. For windsurfing,
the center fin arrangement and multiple mast base
inserts for choosing a sail position make it a tried
and true entry-level windsurfer. Extras!! High density
EVA nose and tail bumpers to reduce risk of injury:
extra strong side fin boxes; standing area color-coded
tp indicate best paddling position and point to
stradle when uphauling in windsurf mode. Only SUP
out there with a suitable windsurfing centerboard
substitute. Carrying handle insert at mid-point
makes toting to the water easy...it's light anyway!
And when the wind isn't blowing, this board will
catch the smallest waves with ease. It's almost
impossible to nosedive. This board is a extremely
popular bestseller, not justworldwide, but more
importantly, also right here in the SE United States.
(The Starboard company, and Whitecap both, have
surfers with 20+ years of wave riding expertise
who LOVE this board as a SUP surfer! Quite shocking
what a sweet surf board it is at this width. Whitecap
has references if you want to investigate further.)
(A specialized stand-up paddle is $99 for aluminum,
$220 composite, $300 all-carbon.)
Trade offs: Not set up to take
footstraps, so not likley to deliver advanced-intermediate
>>back to top
"Link" -- (MSRP: $1249)
An excellent entry level performance hybrid! Traditional
due to it's round nose shape and fittings, yet it's
not hugely long so that it can have reduced bulk
to enhance speed and manubverability in higher winds.
220 liters and 300cm long x 80 wide. A very easy
board to control under full power. Those retro,
island-style good looks don't hurt either!
Really, a sweet choice for multiple users of various
sizes, abilities and agressiveness, especially in
a flat-water venue (i.e., lake or protected bay).
Full EVA deck and removable integrated wheel
at rear for easy transport.
Trade offs: Not
cheapest. A bit heavy, relative to some. No super-easy
foostrap options (but several moderate progressive
||Freight and shipping
concerns: Whitecap now gets some models in
with no freight at all! But some may be "plus
freight" which can be from $85 to$125. (The nationwide
windsurfing mail order catalogs charge freight too.
When they don't, they are making it up somewhere else
on you.) For first-timers, if at all possible, I personally
deliver and lend hands-on help to set up the rig and
make sure it's right. If distance requires direct
shipping to you, I am still resposible for handling
any problem issues, damage,etc. It's a full-satisfaction
guarantee you have in writing right here.
and Sail Recommendations
A complete sail
rig has 5 main parts:
1) the sail, (2) the mast, (3) a boom, (4) an extension,
and (5) the mast base/U-joint.
Sails from the last few years are also much better
than the old beginner's rigs. They are lighter
weight and without mechanical cams (cup-like
devices that grip the mast where the battens (ribs
of the sail) meets the mast) so they rig
easier, uphaul (lift from the water)
easier, and transition
from one side to the other on turns much
easier. Most men should start with something in
the 6.2 to 6.7 sq. meter range. Lighter women, something
closer to 5.5. I often have good close-out deals
on some sizes of '09 and '08 sails. Some used ones
out there are quite suitable. Things I would want
to talk with you about: Should you get one or
two to begin with? Which size(s)?
Are you planning to take it in the ocean? Are
you going to go out whenever it blows...or just
good values on high-quality "first" sails
in complete rigs that include mast,
boom, base, and extension:
POWER GLIDE complete rig .....
5.5 at $689 and 6.5 at $725 (MSRP: $722 and
<<<<<<< Until this rig
came along last year, I never endorsed the pre-packaged
"kit" rig approach. The sails might be
OK, but the rig components were always too cheap
and flimsy. But Chinook exploded that stereotype
with this totally awesome total rig! A
100% X-Ply sail -- top durability!! Beautiful, too
(By the renowned designer, David Ezzy.) Comes with
the first fiber-epoxy mast I can stand behind in
years -- very light! Also, Chinook's standard "Sport"
model alloy boom, standard high-quality extension,
and very sweet euro-pin mast base that I always
sold in "first" rigs. I'm still amazed.
This is a "kit" rig I am proud to sell.
if you want a full-on performance
sail with greater durability and state-of-the-art
features. I specify this as a best "first gear"
choice due to it's light-weight, easy-rigging, all-round
freeride design -- and price. For beginners, I'll
do a 5.2 or 5.8 at $489 for sail
only. Scrounge a used mast or boom, base and extension,
or let me complete a reasonable package. (You get
the increased durability of "all X-ply"
construction in this sail model. Easily worth it
if you live or sail in the ocean.)
back to top
If you don't go for a packaged "complete"
rig, then we build the rig component by component:
I have in stock the boom you ought to get.... $139.
A super value in a quality aluminum boom by Chinook
or Epic Gear. These are exactly like the boom I
started on and often still use; they're $30 cheaper
than other manufacturers and way less than hi-tech
carbon ones you don't need.
The mast: For years, most beginners started
with a basic epoxy for $159. I did for my first
2 years. But, the other lighter option is the carbon-composite
which, for the basic 40 % carbon one I would recommend,
you jump to about $290. They are lighter and more
responsive and someday you will want one. For now,
choose between the epoxy or 40% carbon, unless you
can easily afford a higher percent carbon and lightness
of the rig is very important to you.
base and Universal joint
and mast bases are really simple, but there are
several systems out there. Only two are really standard.
Let's go over it....
The mast base extension sticks into
the bottom of the mast. It has two purposes: (1)
It has the imbedded pulley wheels on it for
downhauling the sail, and (2) it adjusts
the lenght of your mast to fit sails
of various sizes. Extensions come in 3 or 4 standard
lengths and each is adjustable in the amount of
length they add to your mast. You only need one.
This allows a given mast to adjust to fit a variety
of sail sizes. Get a longish one. Why not? It only
costs a few bucks more and then you have more flexibiity.
>>> Both pieces together: approximately
An extension is made to accept a U-joint/mastbase
(also commonly referred to as just the
mast foot or mast base) of the
same style. There are only two current styles:
(1) the double push-pin cup , or (2) the Euro-pin.
Either is perfectly fine and readily available in
shops, etc. but the base and extension styles must
match. This universal joint top piece inserts
into the bottom of the mast base extension and locks
in place. The flexible piece of the U-joint comes
in two shapes and materials, the black rubber hourglass
or the urethane tendon. Either is
fine. The bottom of the U-joint assembly usually
has a threaded bolt and stainless or brass square
washer to insert in the mast track of the board.
Then, there is a mechanism to tighten down the whole
assembly to the board, usually by twisting, which
pulls the washer up tight inside the mast track.
(Yep, can you believe that?! -- it all comes down
to that washer holding the sail to the board!) I
sell, and use myself the Chinook, and Streamlined
brands of extensions and U-joints. Expect to pay
about $58 for the longest mast base extensions.
The Chinnok rubber "Twist-On" is a twist-and-release
U-joint that is simple, reliable, inexpensive ($61)
and great for beginners (and you'll still be using
it when you're an expert).
A WARNING: If
you get this fantastic used-board-with-sail-and-everything-deal
from your brother-in-law that has an old,
obsolete mast track and mast base/U-joint
system, you will be very mad when you realize that,
if a piece of this system breaks, that's it --
the board is worthless.The sail, mast, and
boom should work on another board, but if you can't
find the obsolete replacement U-joint parts -- and
I'm pretty good, but I can't work miracles --just
toss out the board. To prevent this from happening,
call me before you buy that used stuff. I'll go
over it with you.
||Other minor necessities
Up-haul line -- The basic bungee
one is $11. (Or, the braided rope for easy grip
-- $23.Or an E-Z-Uphaul for $32
Boom bra pad --
$13. Attaches to the boom at the mast clamp to cushion
the blow if the boom slams into the nose of the
Hand-held rigging tool
That's all, folks!