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Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Equipment |

How to Choose A Windsurf Sail

Deciding how to choose a windsurf sail or quiver of sails can seem a little overwhelming to anyone relatively new to the sport. The good news is we can give you a basic understanding of the different types of windsurf sail and what style of windsurfing they are each suited to. Also, some guidelines for deciding what size windsurf sails to get in your quiver.

Lets start with the various types of windsurf sails…
Fundamentally there are two constructions, monofilm (used by the majority of windsurfers) and dacron/mylar (used mainly as trainer sails for beginner/improvers). Monofilm windsurf sails are made of a clear, relatively rigid plastic that holds a good shape when rigged properly (see our post all about how to rig your windsurf sail) and use every ounce of wind, turning it into forwards momentum. Dacron windsurf sails on the other hand are made from a cloth material and are designed to give as the wind hits them, making for a mellow & forgiving ride – great for those learning on a beginners windsurf course.

Freeride Windsurf Sails

2014 Goya Nexus Windsurf SailGenerally in larger sizes, anywhere from 5.5m up to 7.5m+ sails. This category of windsurf sail is all about blasting along in relatively flat water conditions on freeride boards. They are cut with a fairly full profile to catch as much wind as possible and have 6 or 7 battens to give a more rigid shape. Now a days they don’t usually have any camber inducers (cheese wedge shaped widgets that fit around the mast to give an even more ‘wing like’ profile to a windsurf sail). This keeps the weight down, makes them more maneuverable and avoids a ton of stress when trying to rig – you know what I mean if you have ever tried to rig a camber induced windsurf sail!


Race Windsurf Sails

Only for the dedicated hardcore racers! Basically, as per the freeride windsurf sails but on steroids! Race sails will have camber inducers and a ton of battens, not to mention coming in sizes in excess of 10m2! If you are into your racing then great, if not then leave well alone.

Wave Windsurf Sails

2014 Goya Guru Wndsurf SailAnyone who has ever ventured out into the waves will have or want to have some wave sails in their quiver. Coming in smaller sizes from 3m up to approximately 5.5m these windsurf sails are designed to handle the punishment of windsurfing in the surf! Usually they come reenforced with a tech material called x-ply which gives added strength and durability for when you are taking a beating in the shore break. The foot (bottom edge) of these windsurf sails is generally cut higher than say a freeride sail, to avoid that part of the sail getting caught by the on coming waves. Depending on your size/weight you can further tweak what type of wave sails you use. There are ones with more ‘low end power’ which are for heavier windsurfers wanting maximum power to get their boards moving as quickly as possible off the start line. Other wave sails are designed to ‘sail neutral’ which means they feel very light in your hands, don’t pull as the wind hits and make your tacks/gybes/tricks all flow super smooth!

What Size Windsurf Sail To Use – How To Choose?

So, you now have the low down on the various styles of windsurf sail available and can use that info to decide what type is most suitable for your style of riding but how do you decide what size windsurf sails to buy?

If you are starting from scratch then its always good to begin with a simple rule – one windsurf sail for light winds and another one for strong winds. This could see you through many years of progress and fun out on the water. For your average weight windsurfer this could be a 4.5m windsurf sail for strong winds and 6m or 6.5m for light winds. Bear in mind this is a very rough guide and it will vary a little depending the persons weight, ability, board(s) used and preference for going out in light winds or full on windy conditions!

Once you really get hooked on windsurfing (as you will) then it soon becomes apparent that just two windsurf sails won’t cut it anymore. The reality is that you really need to fill in those size gaps & add a bit either end of the range as well! A 5 or 6 sail quiver is really nice to have, going up in 0.5m2 increments. In this way you really have every wind strength covered and soon realise that actually you do need to often change up or down 0.5m2 in windsurf sail size to get the most out of the current wind conditions. Starting maybe at 4m then going 4.5m, 5m, 5.5m, 6m, 6.5m would make for a great wave or higher wind biased quiver of windsurf sails. Those more into their freeride as opposed to waves would probably have something more like 5m, 5.5m, 6m, 6.5m, 7m, 7.5m for their quiver.

You can use this interactive spreadsheet guide for a quick reference to help choose what size windsurf sail to use on a given day (an art form in itself that is learned from experience). All you do is enter your weight in KG and it displays a graph of recommended sail sizes for any given wind strength – nice!

Armed with all this knowledge for choosing windsurf sail sizes, the only dilemma you have now is whether to get your quiver in even or odd sizing (4m, 4.5m, 5m, etc OR 4.2m, 4.7m, 5.3m, etc). That’s an age old debate… only experience and time on the water can tell what’s right for you!

Happy Windsurfing.

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