The windsurfing sail harnesses the wind and propels the board over the water's surface. Many participants typically own multiple sails and related equipment, such as masts and booms, to enjoy differing wind strengths and conditions.
Windsurfing sails are calculated in terms of surface area and range from1.5 - 4.5m for children and beginners and extend upwards from 4.5m to sizes such as 5.4 upwards to 7.8m. They are sized and cut (designed) specifically for different disciplines and wind strengths. Importantly, windsurfing sails are cut and tuned to specific mast designs.
Several parameters should be considered when choosing the right sail size for windsurfing. There is no 'one size fits all' criteria.
When learning, adults will benefit from a sail of 5m and under but not so small that the wind cannot offer up resistance and pull. Children generally learn with sails of 3m and under with lightweight aluminium masts. After the learning phase, depending on which discipline you pursue, you may use a sail as small as 3m in super-high winds and as large as 8m in light winds. As a generality, sails between 5 and 6m are the most versatile across the disciplines.
Windsurfing Sail Size Factors
Wind Conditions: The primary consideration is the wind strength at the location where you'll be windsurfing. Lighter winds require larger sails to generate enough power to propel the board, while stronger winds necessitate smaller sails to maintain control and prevent overpowering.
Rider's Weight and Skill Level: The rider's weight determines the appropriate sail size. Heavier riders typically require larger sails to generate sufficient power, while lighter riders may opt for smaller sails. Skill level also matters; beginners often start with larger sails for stability and easier control, while advanced riders may prefer smaller, more manoeuvrable sails.
Type of Windsurfing: The specific type of windsurfing activity you'll be engaging in also influences the choice of sail size. For example, freeride windsurfing typically requires sails that balance power, manoeuvrability, and stability across various conditions. In contrast, wave sailing may involve smaller, more manoeuvrable sails designed for riding waves and performing tricks. Racing may require specialised sails optimised for speed and performance in competitive settings.
Board Size and Design: The windsurfing board's size and design also impact the sail size choice. Larger boards typically pair well with larger sails for enhanced stability and performance, while smaller boards may benefit from smaller sails for manoeuvrability and control.
Personal Preferences and Comfort: Personal preferences and comfort level ultimately affect sail selection. Some riders may prefer slightly larger or smaller sails based on their riding style, preferences for speed, manoeuvrability, and overall comfort on the water.
By considering these factors in conjunction with the general rule of thumb regarding wind conditions, rider weight, skill level, type of windsurfing, and board characteristics, you can make an informed decision when selecting the right sail size for your windsurfing adventures.
What is a Windsurfing Rig?
A windsurfing rig is comprised of the following components:
• Boom onto which the rider holds on to. • Mast into which the sail is slotted. • Mast extension slotted into the mast end and adjusted to mast height. • Mast foot - slotted into the base of the mast extension, the mast foot then connects to the board. • Sail - cloth which harnesses the wind.
Children require specific rig and sail specifications to learn and progress. Mistral has a range of rigs to suit learning and children's needs.
Children's windsurfing rigs can be as small as 1.5m but average around 3m relative to the age at which they begin. The premium rig choice would include an aluminium mast to keep the weight minimal. For higher performance, use a carbon composite mast construction such as with our Revival 3m Rig.
The freeride sails are considerably larger than wave or freestyle sails. This allows you to gain speed more easily and get the most out of your session. The battens in the sail make the sail more rigid. This makes your sail feel more stable and gives you much control.
How to Rig a Windsurfing Sail
The windsurfing sail is known as Bermudan cut and has to be fitted to a mast and boom to come together collectively as the rig.
The windsurfing sail is fitted to the mast via the sail's mast sleeve. The (wishbone) windsurfing boom is connected to the mast using a windsurfing boom clamp tensioner. The windsurfing boom is set at a height relative to the rider's.
The windsurfing sail is tensioned outward via an outhaul line secured to the windsurfing boom's end. The luff (leading edge) of the windsurfing sail is tensioned downward using a downhaul and connected to the mast foot, which is slotted into the base of the mast.
The mast foot connects to the board fitted into a mast track secure by an 8mm rectangular bolt and plate. The windsurfing mast foot provides 360-degree flexibility via a moulded urethane diablo (universal joint).