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Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 in Equipment |

Easy Windsurfing Repairs | Part 1: Preventing damage

Having to repair your equipment is never fun. Whether its a hole in the sail, a crack in the board or a snapped line, it can ground you on a windy day. That’s why, we’ll start this mini series on basic DIY windsurfing repairs with simple tips on how to prevent damage in the first place!

1. Transport

Whether it’s going down the road or flying to another continent, packing your kit well is super important. A little bit of forethought and careful planning can make travel a lot safer for your toys equipment.

When you’re travelling by car, you’ll most likely have to strap the board down to the roof rack. When doing so, do not over tighten the straps holding the board down. A ratchet strap can easily crush the boards hull with a couple of tons of force. The joint between the bottom of the board and the deck is especially vulnerable. The problem only gets worse if you try to strap a rigid boom or mast on top of the board!

Surf board incident on a motorway. Board sticking through a smashed windshield, heavy damage.
|Sieplywa.pl|

However, that is not an excuse to not strap down your boards properly! Just use your smarts instead of brute force! Use at least two straps on the front and the back of the board. That way, the widest part of the board is ‘locked in’ between the two, which prevents it from sliding off.

For maximum safety, place the board upside-down with the front curve pointing down at the windshield. For longer journeys you might also want to take the fin(s) off. Both those things aim to minimise how much the board will want to fly away.

However, even the best attached board is susceptible to damage if left unprotected, be it on top of a car or an airport conveyor belt. Special quiver bags for boards, masts and booms are your best bet. The thick padding of those should prevent your stuff from damage by flying rocks on the motorway or underpaid luggage handlers.

Equipment packed in a quiver bag to avoid damage in transport.
Prolimit Windsurf Session Bag: the quiver that fits all you need for one session.
|Windsurf Magazine|

2. At the beach

When you finally get down to the beach, the rush to get going can make your head spin. Slow down! That’s when a lot of damage can happen. Take your time unpacking your equipment. To rig the sails, find a nice soft spot of sand/grass. And when keeping your equipment on the shore, align the rig with the mast towards the wind and push your fin into the sand. That way, when you’re just popping away to get changed, your stuff won’t fly away from you into the distance…

It’s a smart idea not to leave your sail in the sunshine for too long anyway. Each minute of exposure slowly degrades the monofilm material and shortens the lifespan of the sail.

Kit left on the beach in a safe manner.
|Lagoon Watersports |
Board nose protector

However, the majority of damage happens when you’re out and about on the water. The most common one is by far a cracked nose of a board after a ‘catapult’. Although sometimes it just can’t be helped, there are a few things you can do to make it less likely:

  • Watch out for shallow waters – they’ll send you flying off the board and your boom right into the fibreglass
  • Get into the front strap early when planing to avoid loosing control and launching yourself into the air
  • Invest in a nose and/or mast protector – even professionals can have worse days: a nose protector will strengthen the fragile parts
Mast deflector / deviator preventing damage to the nose of the board
Surfbent deviator deflects the mast away from the board.
|WindFoilZone|

As for the damage to the sails, the single biggest culprit is usually the harness hook. That’s why one of the key points taught during our Improver Windsurfing lessons is the proper fall technique: during a fall keep your arms straight and do a ‘push up’ to get off the sail.

3. Maintenance and long term damage

Had a good session? You definitely deserve a rest and regeneration, but so does your equipment! Storing your kit inappropriately can significantly reduce its lifespan or even lead to direct damage.

First and foremost, rinse everything with fresh water before putting it away. Wetsuit, sail, board – everything. Salt residue can wreck havoc on delicate surfaces – and in the case of a wetsuit, it can make it stiff and uncomfortable too!

When it comes to sail de-rigging, it’s also important to make sure there’s no sand or dirt on the sail and that it is dry. As you roll the sail up, bits of debris can scratch the delicate monofilm surfaces and prematurely destroy the sail. For long term storage, it might also be a good idea to loosen the battens, to give the material a bit of a break.

Finally, it’s important to remember that most damage to boards or sails will get worse if left unattended. That’s why it’s important to give your sails and boards a quick checkup after each session.

Sails will often crack and break where you might have bumped into them with your knee or the harness. However, a crack, loose seam or a tear in the material can occur anywhere. Therefore, it’s important to give the luff and all the panels a good look as you pack the sail away.

As for the board itself, two key areas to check are the nose and the bottom. Even small cracks and holes in the hull can leak water into the core of the board. This can almost irreversibly make your board heavy and leave the deck feeling soft and mushy.

Damage is done… what to do?

Damage to your equipment can and will happen! That’s why, in the next part of the series, we’ll cover step by step instructions for quickly dealing with small board cracks. Right in time to get you right back onto the water.

Windsurf safe and see you out there!

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