Windsurfing 101: Intro to Windsurfing

As expert windsurfers, we really have to think back to remember a time when we weren’t familiar with every in and out of our favorite sport. But we get that not everyone is an expert. Many people are still learning about windsurfing, so we’ve created this handy guide to teach you the basics.

What is Windsurfing?

Some people may think that traditional surfing and windsurfing are similar. They both happen on the water with a board, but that is where the similarities end. Think of windsurfing as riding your own mini sailboat! With regular surfing, you are using the speed of the wave to move you, but with windsurfing, you are using the wind in the sail — which gives you a lot more freedom.

People also often confuse kiteboarding, or kitesurfing, and windsurfing. With windsurfing, the sail is attached to the board, whereas with kitesurfing the sail is a kite high above you.

There are several different styles of windsurfing for all kinds of fun:

  • Racing: You cross a start line and see who is fastest around the buoys. Slalom racing is fast and exciting racing that takes place across the wind, or slightly downwind. Course racing is more tactical around the buoys racing and involves more different points of sail (direction of the board in relation to the wind direction).
  • Freestyle: Tricks! Can be spinning tricks on the surface of the water or aerial maneuvers.
  • Wavesailing: More like surfing, but you are using the power of the wind to get out to the waves instead of paddling like you would on a surfboard.
  • Freeriding: What most windsurfers do. Blast around on your local bay or lake, maybe drag racing your friends.

Can anyone windsurf?

Windsurfing is a great sport for people of all ages. The only requirements are that you be comfortable in the water, able to get from a sitting or kneeling position to standing and that you want to learn to windsurf.

Practice and patience are all that is really required. Windsurfing is a balance and technique sport much more than a strength sport. Being strong doesn’t hurt — but isn’t required!

What are the best windsurfing conditions?

That all depends on what kind of windsurfing you are doing and what kind of equipment you have. You need some wind to make windsurfing happen, at least 5 mph or so. Beginners will want wind speeds of 5-10 mph, but more advanced windsurfers get excited when they see a weather forecast that includes “small craft warning”.

We will dive into the basic equipment in a future blog, so keep an eye out for that!

Make windsurfing your new favorite sport

Windsurfing looks thrilling and intense. Don’t let the tricks scare you; let them motivate you! While beginners won’t be able to do a forward loop on their first ride, a good foundation will push you in the right direction to be able to do tricks or glide around the bay with ease. Windsurfing can have a reasonably high initial cost, so a good tip is to begin with lessons with included equipment. This way you can get a taste for what windsurfing offers — minus a big financial commitment. Whether in a group or one-on-one session, we will provide you with a strong foundation to have you windsurfing on your own by the end of your first lesson.

>>Sign-up today to begin your windsurfing adventure!

Sailing Terms

Starboard: When you are on the right side of the board while facing forward (your right hand is your front hand)

Port: When you are on the left side of the board while facing forward (your left hand is your front hand)

Planing: When the board has a minimal amount of board surface (sometimes only the fin) in the water while moving fast

No-go-zone: Directly into the wind. The area around where the wind is coming from, you can not travel that direction because the wind cannot be caught by the sail

Upwind: The direction the wind is blowing from. Sailing against the wind or closest to the wind without entering the no-go zone is called sailing upwind

Downwind: The direction the wind is blowing toward. Sailing away from the wind is called sailing downwind

Tack: Turning around by steering upwind

Gybe: Turning around by steering downwind

Reach: Sailing across the wind

Uphaul: Standing on the board and using the uphaul line (see gear terms) to pull the sail out of the water in order to start windsurfing

Waterstart: Starting in the water while swimming by letting the sail pull you up onto the board (instead of uphauling)

Beachstart: Begins standing on the beach in knee deep water. Using the sail to step onto the board (instead of upahualing)

Gear Terms

Boom: The horizontal bar that you hold onto while windsurfing

Mast: The long pole that holds the sail up vertically

Mast extension: A rod that goes into the mast to extend it for different sized sails

Clew: The back end of the sail, where the boom attaches

Luff: The leading edge (or mast side) of the sail

Leech: The trailing edge from the clew to the head of a sail

Mastfoot: the piece that connects the board and mast together

Fin: the piece that allows the board to maintain grip while moving through the water

Finbox: different fins will need different finboxes depending on the make and model

Harness: a device that goes around your waist and has a hook to the harness lines on the boom in order to use your body weight to hold the sail up instead of just your arm strength

Harness lines: the lines attached to the boom that are used to hook in with a harness

Uphaul Line: a string that goes from the boom head to the mast base that is used to pull up the sail while standing on the board

Mast track: the track in the middle of the board that the mast base slides into. This is long and can be adjusted on certain boards

Rig: all of the gear needed to rig up and go sailing other than the board. The mast, boom, sail, and mast extension

Foil: The hydrofoil replaces the fin on boards and allows for the board to pop out of the water and glide on the foil

Centerboard: The foil in the middle of the board to help keep traction while sailing upwind

Types of Boards

Longboard: Longboards are longer boards that have enough buoyancy to stand on while not moving

Shortboard: Shortboards are used in higher wind. They are not as buoyant as longboards and require you to be moving to ride them

Waveboard: Wave Boards are short and pointy boards that are used while surfing and jumping waves

Slalom board: A board made to go fast in flat to medium conditions; some may call them shortboards

Freestyle: Freestyle boards are short boards that are used in flat water to perform tricks.

Freeride board: Shortboards that are not for any specific discipline (such as wave, slalom, or freestyle)

Foil board: Foil Boards are made specifically for foils Click here for a comprehensive guide to windsurfing boards.

If you need any assistance feel free to contact us via email, call, or text

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com

Maintenance Tips for your Windsurfing Equipment

It’s no secret that properly maintaining your windsurfing gear and equipment will increase its longevity while saving money on repairs. Don’t spend extra just because you didn’t take the time and care to maintain your gear.

What can people do to maintain or repair their equipment?

Most windsurfing gear is built tough to withstand the wear and tear of the wind, weather, and salty sea water. The epoxy constructed boards make it easy to repair minor dings. Sanding the damaged area and then Using a two-part epoxy (resin and hardener) and fiberglass cloth to fill the ding.  

Keeping your board out of direct sunlight when you aren’t using it will help to preserve the board and foot straps, which can be replaced if needed. The sun causes color fading and the UV rays accelerate the breakdown of the fabric on the foot straps. Foot straps generally last longer if the board is stored out of the sun.

Modern windsurfing sails are constructed from a mono-film material. It’s recommended to keep them out of the sun when they aren’t being used. Common sail wear and tear includes punctures and smalls tears that can be fixed with sail tape. If you don’t have sail-tape, try patching the puncture with clear packaging tape or stickers affixed to both sides of the damaged area. If the tear is more serious, a sail loft can replace an entire panel. Keep in mind, that repair costs may vary depending on the age of the sail, sometimes more than the sail is worth.  

Other helpful windsurfing maintenance tips include:

  • Keeping sand off of your sail, out of the mast, and away from any moving parts, like the pulleys in the back of the boom or on the mast base, is always a good idea.
  • Rigging your sail in the grass so the mono-film doesn’t get scratched will help keep the sail looking better over time. Remember, you don’t want to crease your sail, just roll it up and don’t set anything heavy on top of it!

What if you live in a humid climate?

If you’re living in the tropics, you’re better off putting your gear away wet with salt water versus wet with fresh water.  Why you ask? Sails, in particular, can get mildewy if they’re damp with fresh water, but salt water helps to kill mold and mildew! No need to rinse your gear with fresh water at the end of your session as you can be getting rid of the beneficial salt.  

Can it be fixed?

We all want to try to increase the lifespan of what we buy. But sometimes things can’t be fixed. Find out when your gear can be repaired versus when it must be replaced.

  • Boards are generally repairable if the damage is small. If the board is broken in half or buckled all the way across, replace it.  
  • Sails can be patched or panels replaced. The battens in the sail can be replaced if they break. If the sail is older, the cost of the repair may be greater than the value of the sail—then it is time to replace it.
  • Masts are generally not repairable. But if your mast is split or splintered just at the base, you may be able to cut an inch or so off the length without causing problems.
  • Booms can have the grip replaced, most commonly the front end of the boom (where it attaches to the mast) can be replaced. But if the body of the boom is broken or bent it’s time to buy a new one.

Overall, windsurfing gear is surprisingly durable and resistant to normal wear and tear. Ironically, the wind is your equipment’s greatest enemy, that’s why it is important to keep the mast positioned in the direction the wind is coming from, especially when you’re on the beach. This will prevent your sail from getting flipped around and punctured. Also, be mindful when putting your board on the roof of your car—if you walk away without having tied it down, it could easily blow off into the parking lot.

If you have any questions about the condition of your equipment, feel free to contact us.

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com

What The Foil #3: Front Wings

This week is all about getting high.  Let’s talk about front wings and how they provide lift to get you flying.  Front wings come in all different sizes, shapes and profiles which change the foils performance or application. Changing your front wing is one of the easiest ways to completely change the way your foil flies.

A flock of front wings. Front wings come in many different profiles, sizes and shapes.
  • Size – the general rule of thumb here is the bigger the front wing – the more lift that will be generated.  Big wings will generate a lot of lift, are more stable,  get you flying sooner in lighter winds, and tend to top-out at slower speeds. We love bigger wings for foil beginners, heavier riders, SUP-surf foiling, and lightwind wing or windsurf-foiling. Smaller wings on the other hand require more speed to get flying, but they reward you with faster speeds and greater maneuverability. Smaller wings are great for windier conditions, lightweight riders, jumping, bigger waves, and are typically better suited towards advanced riders.
Here are the three sizes of front wings from Slingshot’s Infinity Hoverglide series. The 65cm wing is great for more experienced riders and higher winds while the bigger 99 is an awesome choice for beginners and lighter winds.
  • Shapes – Front wings are usually classified as being a high, low or mid aspect wing. 
    • High aspect wings typically have longer wingspans, narrower cord lengths, flatter profiles and a more slender look overall.  High aspect wings can be very efficient as they provide a lot of lift without a lot of drag. This lets them accelerate quickly to impressive top speeds, and can cause them to be more responsive to rider inputs than other wing types. These require riders to be a little more on it but are great for pumping, gliding and increased speed. This makes them great for more experienced riders and downwinding.
    • Low aspect wings are shorter, thicker and stubbier.  They tend to look more shovel shaped. These provide a lot of lift paired with more drag so they tend to be a little slower.  Low aspect wings are like elevators in that they provide slow, stable, steady and predictable lift.  They remain stable at low speeds. Those qualities make low aspect wings great for beginners. They also do well while surfing as they limit speed and keep you from outrunning the wave.
    • Mid aspect wings are meant to be the best of both worlds.  Seems like these wings slightly tend to trend to being a little more high or low aspect so you need to decide what characteristics are more important to you and go from there.  
Low aspect front wings have more a shovel shape to them while high aspect wings resemble glider wings.
  • Wing Tip Profile –  Wing tips either point up to sky (dihedral) or point down to the ground (anhedral).  These aid in your turning capabilities as well as add a slight amount of lift.  Dihedral shaped wings look similar to seagull wings.  This shape tends to slow down a little through the turns but makes turning pretty easy as you don’t have to put too much work into turning.  Anhedral shaped wings zip right through turns but require a little more intention from you to make that turn happen. 

No matter the size, shape or profile, you can’t have a front wing without a rear wing. Rear wings are a crucial element to your foil setup and for the next W.T.F we’ll talk about rear wings and why they are so important.

If you need any assistance feel free to contact us via email, call, or text

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com

What The Foil #2: Parts of a Hydrofoil

This week we’re covering the basic parts of a hydrofoil. Each piece has a very specific function, and subtle changes of these components can greatly affect the foils performance or application. Foils consist of a mast, fuselage, front wing and rear wing. Most of these components are available in aluminum or carbon, and come in different sizes or lengths. We’ll get into how changing these components can affect how your foil performs in a later post, but for now, here’s the basics.

Components of a hydrofoil
Here are the basic components of a hydrofoil. These components remain the same for windsurf, wing, SUP and surf foiling.


▪️The mast is the vertical strut that attaches your board to the fuselage, and allows you to control the foil from the board by your foot pressure. Changing the length will give you more or less leverage (control) over the foil.

 Starboard E-Type and S-Type mast
Here are two foil masts from Starboard. The one on the left is the Starboard Monolithic mast and the decreasing width towards the bottom of the mast really helps with speed and efficiency while foiling. The mast on your right is a standard aluminum mast.

▪️The fuselage is what the mast and wings attach to. The length of the fuselage dictates how far away your front and rear wings are from each other, and the overall geometry of the foil. That distance has a big part in determining how stable or maneuverable the foil is.

Starboard foil fuselage
Fuselages come in different lengths which will affect your stability and maneuverability.

▪️The front wing is what makes you fly! Front wings come in many different shapes and sizes but no matter the outline, their purpose is to create lift. The bigger the wing, the more lift you get. The smaller the wing, the faster and more maneuverable it becomes.

Hydrofoil front wing from Slingshot Foils.
Front Wings come in many different sizes and shapes. This is the Slingshot Hoverglide Apollo 60cm wing which is great for kite foiling and high-wind windsurf foiling.

▪️The Rear Wing is there to make sure you don’t have a bumpy flight. Rear wings help stabilize your flight and keep you from feeling like you are bucking around once you’re up on foil. The bigger the back wing, the more stability you have. Smaller back wings are more maneuverable, but harder to control.

This is the tail wing for a hydrofoil.
Rear wings, tail wings and stabilizer wings are just different names for the same thing. You can adjust sizes and even the degree of angle that the wing attaches to your foil with some manufacturers.

Please contact us if you have any questions about wings or anything else.

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com

What The Foil #1: What is Hydrofoiling?

Foiling is MAGIC. We’ll, it’s actually physics, but we prefer magic. Think of a foil as an underwater airplane and you are the pilot. The hydrofoil attaches to the bottom of a surf board. Your goal is to get the foil accelerating fast enough through the water to achieve take-off speed. Once you hit this speed (usually around 5-8 mph) the hydrofoil will start to lift you and the board up above the surface of the water, and if you’re a good pilot, you stay flying above the water!

Windsurf foiling in Florida.
Windsurf foiling allows you to feel weightless as you glide above the water.

It sounds simple, but there are a lot of complicated things that go into foiling and we can’t wait to get into the meat of it with this WTF series. Whether you are surf foiling, sup foiling, wind foiling or wing foiling, we are your foil headquarters. We really feel that foiling is the future of some water sports (did you know windsurf foiling is in the 2024 Olympics?) and it’s exciting to see where it’s going. Next week, we’re going to go over what parts make up a foil and what they do. Until then, happy flying!

Wing foiling in the Gulf of Mexico
Winging is a newer sport that capitalizes on the fun of foiling.

If you are interested in learning how to windsurf or wing foil, we can teach you. Give us a call or check out more information about lessons HERE.

If you need any assistance feel free to contact us via email, call, or text

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com

Windsurfing on a Foil

Is foiling the future of windsurfing?

We’ve been playing around with foiling windsurfers for a few months now and are having a blast!  Although the idea of putting a hydrofoil on a windsurfer has been around for decades, the equipment has really only become viable in the last year or so.  We’ve been using the LP foil for several months, and have recently tested the Bic foil as well.  For light wind windsurfing, using a foil opens up a whole new world.  As long as you have the necessary water depth (about 4′), you only need about 6-7 knots of wind and a 7.5-8.0m freeride sail to be foiling!

Both of the foils that we have used are relatively easy to get up on the foil.  Everyone who has tried has gotten the board to foil on their first outing and stay upwind.  It does takes some practice to gain control of the board and to be able to stay up on the foil for a distance.  The crashes are less violent than we anticipated, because the sail is not super powered up you don’t get tossed around like you do in higher winds on a regular short board day.

If you need any assistance feel free to contact us via email, call, or text

727.656.6569 | ✉ info@nbwindsurfing.com