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 six 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 2015:
windsurfable Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)
FLY 11'6" (and
much more on the SUP revolution HERE) <>
complete sail rig
<> Aerotech's WindSUP pre-rigged
sail <> Aerotech's
or value-packaged as complete rig with mast, boom, base/U-joint)
board to start on?
question is easier to answer in 2015 despite a wider
field to chose from in "first boards"
than ever before. This is because we're now well
into the 2nd revolution in windsurf
boards since the turn of the melinium.
"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 around the year 2000 --
the "wide-style" revolution -- in which
width-wise stability was "discovered".
Boards were made much, much shorter and
the volume (floatability) was put 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 next few years, 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 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 pretty SWEET!
This, the 1st revolution,
was now mature.
Then, about 7 years ago, in late
'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 to 12 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.
stability (width and bulk)
typically means sacrificing
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 2015"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 -- (Typically, I sell this
board at $1449. MSRP is $1599 )
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
foostrap positions. (Also available in 2 smaller
sizes but these are really too small for an adult
beginners first board.)
Trade-offs: Not cheapest, but
otherwise, this is it! >>
back to top
CORE 293 OD (One Design) -- (MSRP:
$1399) 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
NANO 205 -- (MSRP: $1350) The NANO 205 is 205 liters
of volume -- duh! -- so it has 15
less liters of volume, a bit narrower at 80cm, and
more length at 300cm vs. the similarly fitted-out
Fanatic VIPER. Full EVA (rubberized) deck pad. All
the features of a great first-board that can
take you to the intermediate level, such as multiple
footstrap positions, thinner rails, and length that
lends toward better glide in light wind than shorter,
wider boards. The NANO is a higher performance and
stiffer version for sailors looking at a compromise
hull between displacements and planing board. The
dagger will allow great options in any wind with
astonishing performance in heavier conditions. Top-quality
construction, great durability at a value price.
Thin rails for ultimate maneuverability.
Doom deck shape for planning efficiency.
: Max durability at minimum cost.
back to top
WINDSUP models --
11'8" in AST composite ($1579) or bamboo ($1959).
best-selling windsurfable SUP in 2013!
Retractable daggerboard construction.
175 or 220 liters. Surf,
windsurf, paddle anywhere, ANYtime-- you will always
be on the water!
The ideal board on which to learn
windsurf or SUP. The step tail (an Exocet trademark)
is integrated into the swallow tail. This feature
allows the board to take off and turn perfectly
in SUP mode while still giving you the choice of
windsurfing mode. The dagger option will give plenty
of options in any wind conditions.
||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
complete sail rig has 5
main parts: 1) the sail, (2) the mast, which comes
in 2 pieces, (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 2014 and maybe even 2013 and earlier
sails. (Some used ones out there are OK, too, but
there actually more pitfalls with used sail rigs
than with used boards. Be careful and consult with
me first.) 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 whenever?
good values on high-quality "first" sails
in complete rigs that include mast,
boom, base, and extension:
complete rig with 35% carbon mast, Epic Gear "SLIM"
boom -- 5.0 at $588
rig with 75% carbon mast, Aeron premium boom
$878 ~ 6.6 at $981
For a dealer who had never been a fan of pre-packaged
"kit" complete rigs that were typically
just cheap crap, KONA blew me away with this VERY
high-quality complete rig deal. The sail is
a no-cam power slalom sail made of a combination
of monofilm with double-layer X-ply in the stress
areaa of the foot, head, and clew to keep it as
light as possible -- just what a beginner needs!
A reduced luff curve allows for easy, hassle-free
rigging. A tunable sail that can be adjusted for
light wind or tightened up for the bigger wind days.
It's a true, real-deal performance sail!
if you want a performance
sail with greater durability and state-of-the-art
features. Made with 100% X-ply construction for
greatest durability. 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 $474 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.) A 5.2 complete
AIR-X rig all new with a 60% reduced diameter carbon
mast would be $982 and a 5.8 at $998.
back to top
Aerotech "WindSUP" pre-rigged sail --
$399 to $525 complete
-- a great value!! OK,
it's mostly pre-rigged, but without a doubt,
this is THE most innovative product in windsurfing
sails in a decade. It dserves a litle discussion.
windsurfer actually enjoys rigging -- and then de-rigging
-- a sail. The WindSUP mostly eliminates that task!
The sail can go from the roof of your car
to the water in under a minute. Just pull
the mast bag off, fold the boom down and roll the
sail out. Attach the outhual and you're ready to
<> The windSUP
is all about bringing windsurfing back to a simpler
time with a few modern touches. With
its vertical battens, this sail offers the convenience
of keeping the sail on the mast but still maintains
a modern outline with a fat head and increased area
below the boom. <>
This is a lightweight rig ideal for the lighter
beginning windsufer, a family at the lake, or anyone
looking for simplicity and ease-of-use for lighter
Pop this on an SUP or any longboard and remember
how fun windsurfing can be in 5 to 10 knots of wind.
( BE AWARE: This is not a rig to take the
aggressive beginner into the advanced-intermediate
level of the sport. It's not built to hold the power
of big wind, stand up to pounding in ocean surf,
or the general abuse a heavier or aggressive new
windsurfer often inflicts on a rig. If you feel
you need that sort of durability, that's why the
two choices above are there! But, then again,
the price on these WindSUP rigs is so low, you can
hardly feel your wasting your coins on one of these.)
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.... $230.
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 $280. 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!