Windsurfing is a wind-propelled watersport combining sailing and surfing and is interchangeable with the nomenclatures of sailboarding and boardsailing.

Although the sport originated in California in the late 1960s, significant growth occurred in Europe during the 1980s, becoming an Olympic sport in 1984. From windsurfing, kiteboarding, windfoiling and wingfoiling have evolved. Windsurfing is a recreational, family-friendly sport popularly practised on flat waters, both inland lakes and coastal waters; extreme elements of the sport include wave riding and speed sailing.

Windsurfing Origins

The windsurfing concept originated in 1958 with Englishman Peter Chilvers from Hayling Island, England.

It was further experimented with by American Newman Darby during the mid-1960s, plans for which appeared in Popular Science Magazine in 1965. The pioneering work of American aeronautics engineer Jim Drake, who began working on the windsurfing concept and design as early as 1962, would result in the modern-day windsurfer. In 1966, he mentioned the idea to an acquaintance, Hoyle Schweitzer, and subsequent investment and experimentation resulted in the founding of Windsurfing International. In 1968, the first rudimentary viable Windsurfer® board and rig was released. 

Windsurfing's Evolution and the Hawaiian Connection

The Hawaiian Islands is where windsurfing evolved into a high-wind surf sport.

Relentless trade winds, surf, and warm waters inspired sailing and surfing to be blended by pioneers. New designs of board, sail and rig together with technique to harness high winds and surf for the ultimate free ride. As early as 1973, experiments were taking place. Windsurfing Hawaii's founding became the centrepiece for the evolution of wave sailing products, notably their windsurfing harness [1975], foot straps [1977], high wind sails [1976], adjustable booms [1979] and adjustable mast base [1980].

The Genesis of Mistral Windsurfing

Mistral remains one of the most recognised windsurfing brands of its time.

When Windsurfing International's European licenced manufacturer of the original Windsurfer®, Ten Cate, located in Almelo Holland, struggled with issues of the board's rudimentary rig, overall quality, features and performance, other brands emerged, notably in France and Switzerland.

The German distributor for Windsurfer®, Peter Brockhaus, devised a plan to create an improved windsurfing board and rig, resulting in the founding of Mistral in 1976. Mistral released its first windsurfing board, the Superwind, in 1977 at the Düsseldorf Boat Show, including Mistral Sportswear, including apparel and windsurfing technical wear, courtesy of Christian Müller-Kittnau and, in doing so, the world's first lifestyle brand was created. Mistral's holistic approach to windsurfing hardware apparel and windsurfing accessories helped elevate windsurfing's image and sex appeal. Mistral would become the most prestigious windsurfing brand of its time.

Contemporary Windsurfing Equipment

The basic elements of the modern-day windsurfer consist of the:

Windsurfing board and windsurfing rig. The windsurfing rig is the most complex part of the system
The rig includes the windsurfing sail, mast, windsurfing boom, mast foot (universal joint) and mast extension.

The Evolution of Windsurfing Disciplines

Windsurfing has diversified to have subcategories such as:

• Freestyle
• Freestyle wave
• Slalom race
• Speed sailing

Freeride Windsurfing - The Most Popular Discipline

Freeride windsurfing refers to a style of windsurfing that emphasises the enjoyment of the sport in a non-competitive, recreational manner. Unlike competitive windsurfing disciplines such as racing or wave sailing, freeride windsurfing is focused on the pure pleasure and freedom of riding the wind and waves.

Here are some key aspects of freeride windsurfing:

Non-competitive: Freeride windsurfing is not driven by competition. Instead, it's about personal enjoyment, exploration, and pushing one's limits without the pressure of competing against others.

Accessible to All Levels: While freeride windsurfing is not limited to beginners, it is accessible to windsurfers of all skill levels. Whether a novice or an experienced rider, freeride allows you to enjoy the sport at your own pace and comfort level.

Pure Enjoyment: Freeride windsurfing focuses on experiencing the pure joy of gliding over the water, feeling the wind in your sails, and being in harmony with nature. It's about appreciating the sensation of speed and control without the constraints of competition.

Freedom and Exploration: Freeride windsurfing allows riders to explore different water conditions, locations, and techniques without the restrictions of competition rules. It's an opportunity to venture into the open water, explore new spots, and enjoy the freedom of windsurfing at its essence.

Smooth and Controlled Riding: Riders aim for smooth, controlled manoeuvres and transitions in freeride windsurfing. It balances speed, agility, and stability, allowing for an exhilarating yet comfortable riding experience.

Overall, freeride windsurfing represents the essence of windsurfing as a recreational activity, offering participants the freedom to enjoy the sport on their terms and in their style, without the pressure of competition. It's about embracing the thrill of the ride and savouring the simple pleasure of being on the water.