Windsurfing

This section deals with specific questions you
may have about windsurfing.

  • Why is windsurfing not as popular as kitesurfing?
    Kitesurfing is a great sport however it has to be said, windsurfing has been talked down for many years for its complexity, difficulty to learn and the greater amount and size of equipment. However this is grossly unfair of a sport which offers in fact, far greater opportunities and variance than kitesurfing. In fact, it is unreasonable to make a comparison to trade one off against the other as they are uniquely different to each other. Windsurfing could be considered more extreme a sport in terms of the range of wind and water conditions in which the sport can be practised.
  • Windsurfing is not cool anymore?
    Windsurfing has always been cool and many thousands continue to windsurf and learn. You could say, windsurfing is cooler for being just that bit harder to learn than kitesurfing, but the rewards are plenty. For more than 25 years it was ‘the’ sport, until kitesurfing came along created by the same people who were making windsurfing equipment. Windsurfing covers a very much wider range of wind strengths, is less restrictive and truly a hugely diverse sport with an epic history of which Mistral was a part of.
  • When did Mistral begin in windsurfing?
    As early as 1974 but formally not until 1976..
  • Why did Mistral cease windsurfing as their core business?
    A complex issue of the rise of kitesurfing, economic downturns in third party windsurfing business in general and some degree of industry politics. Our windsurfing was licensed out for a short time, but this too become problematic. However, it is what Mistral is known for a made famous upon. Today we are headed back to the roots of windsurfing with new, radical designs and concepts soon to be revealed.
  • Windsurfing is for the older generation?
    Windsurfing is for everyone, indeed it is better suited to a very much wider age range than kitesurfing. It’s less threatening and more versatile and requires very much less space in order to practice it. Today there is a growing interest for the sport amongst ever younger participants.

  • Can it be a family sport?
    Because of its wide age appeal and fewer limits regarding risks associated with kitesurfing, windsurfing remains an ideal family orientated sport.
  • Largely because at the time it was introduced, it was easier to learn than windsurfing and in fact less physical than windsurfing. However, this is not to say that the rewards of learning to windsurfing do not out weigh the benefits – they do. Windsurfing today is very much easier than it was when kitesurfing became popular. Today you could argue windsurfing is in fact easier and faster to learn than kitesurfing especially for children. One of the drivers of kitesurfing has been that it is an equipment sparse sport and easy to travel with the equipment.
  • Is windsurfing dangerous?
    All water sports are inherently dangerous, but only to the degree to which the user fails to act with due diligence and do not let any one tell you kitesurfing is ‘safer’ as this is simply not the case and more marketing hype than reality. 
  • Is windsurfing difficult to learn?
    When windsurfing was first launched in contemporary form in 1968, the equipment was heavy and low tech. Even into the 70s the same remained true and yet the sport was so addictive nothing was an obstacle to entry. Today, the equipment is so much lighter and advanced. Our new Freebird and Albatross boards are ideal entry level boards as our Santa Anna WindSUP® boards, complete with rigs.
  • What makes learning difficult?
    The wrong equipment will slow the learning process and If you learn with the correct kit and the correct environment with some guidance, learning is a breeze, loads of fun and will make it less tiring.
  • Is windsurfing good exercise?
    Yes and indeed, more so than kitesurfing. Like SUP it requires core muscle engagement and balance which ensures you of a good workout. In this regards, windsurfing is superior to kitesurfing when it comes to offering a means to body strengthening and improved balance.
  • What equipment is needed?
    Board, sail, mast, boom and mast foot make up the basic equipment. Together they are called ‘The Rig’. These components must match up together in suitability of size and performance. 
  • How must the rig components fit each other?
    The mast length needs to fit the length of the sail’s mast sleeve and the boom must fit the overall width of the sail from the mast sleeve to the end of the sail’s outer extreme, where there is an ‘eye’ called the ‘clew’ into which the outhaul rope of the boom is passed through. It sounds complicated, but in fact you soon learn with trial and error and guidance.
  • Do I buy the components separately?
    Your first time buy is best made as a ‘complete’ purchase with all components. Otherwise you will have to carefully consider seeking out all the components to make sure they are compatible.
  • Should I seek professional tuition?
    For most the answer to this is ‘yes’ because you will learn faster and importantly learn issues of safety and risk management.
  • What are the characteristics of learner boards?
    School boards are often super wide, for added stability, however once you have the basics understood and mastered, we advise a narrower board for added speed and enjoyment. Both our Freebird and Albatross are neither overly wide or slow, the Albatross better suited to the first timer. Light weight sails, mast and boom all make it easy to manage and learn the basics.
  • What sail size would I need to learn?
    Learning is best achieved using a sail of 5m and under and for children as small as 3m. Less sail means less power, however, you do need some wind to learn. No wind will make it frustrating and difficult to learn and understand how it all works. Our learner rigs are ideal and will fit any board.
  • Does it hurt if you fall from the board?
    Not if you fall away from the board and not on to it!
  • How important is it to learn with the correct equipment?
    Learn with incorrect kit and you will probably walk away disappointed. Your first experience needs to be positive therefore you need to be careful as to what you learn with and on.
  • Conditions to avoid?
    Avoid winds that are blowing ‘offshore’ (out to sea – away from the land). This is the most important factor to consider.  Learn in winds of less than 15 knots (Force 3), avoid choppy waters and strong tidal flows. Avoid areas that are busy with water traffic and especially powered vessels. Mostly, it is advised you sail with someone who is experienced and can give you good advice.
  • What clothing to wear?
    Footwear such as sneakers or neoprene shoes are strongly advised. Wear performance clothing to protect from windchill and when learning, for falls into the water, take the water temperature into account. Wear lycra for UV protection and neoprene for cold water protection. The colder the waters and winds, the more critical it becomes to invest in high performance clothing. Rather than using sun creams ‘cover up’. Creams will make the board and boom ‘greasy’.
  • What is a harness and do I need one?
    A harness permits the rider to hook into line connected to the boom so as body weight can be used to take up the power and pull of the sail. You will not need a harness when learning, but once you improve, you will and take on stronger winds, a harness will increase your water time and control.
  • What volume board do I need?
    The rule applied, is 1 litre for every kilo you weigh, plus 50 – 100 additional litres. Consider use by friends and family. The greater the volume the greater the range of users.
  • Windsurfing equipment is bulky?
    If canoes and kayak presented such a hinderance to growth due to their size, then it would be hard to explain why these sports are more omnipresent and universally popular around the world than windsurfing, surfing and kiteboarding combined! Do not let the equipment needs put you off. The rig components will fit inside an average car and many shorter performance boards will too. Our rigs are not much more than 1m in length for example when demounted and packed away.
  • What are the different niche styles of windsurfing?
    Wind strength and water conditions determine equipment needs to support interests. Light winds are ideal for learning and cruising, higher winds leads into Freeriding with shorter boards with foot straps and higher performance equipment. Freeride is all about hooking in to a set of harness lines and holding on. Freestyle takes it up a notch, where riders perform acrobatics including flips and somersaults all of which have names similar to skateboarding. Slalom is an extreme form of Freeriding, using boards designed to travel fast under high levels of control, whilst wave sailing is as the name implies, sailing within the waves and surf. Racing on ‘Class Boards’ has strong ties with that of dinghy sailing. The diversity is enormous and there is equipment to suit all forms.
  • What windsurfing equipment do Mistral offer?
    Currently we have Freeride boards and sails, our Albatross and Freeride boards with rigs to suit for learning and recreational sailing and in addition our WindSUP® Santa Anna boards.