The correct windsurf boom position is often a source of long debates.
In the beginner phase it is a general consensus that the boom should be somewhere around shoulder height. Basically, when you stand upright next to it you should be able to put your arm on the inside so that it fits neatly under your arm pit.
When we progress however, things start to get a little more complicated. Some say put it high, others insist that you should bring it down. So what is it? (more…)
Sail tuning is one of the skills that gets overlooked during the learning process of windsurfing. Most people can kind of rig the sail correctly but are either unsure, or just plain don’t know how to tune a windsurf sail. A badly tuned windsurf sail can make the experience of windsurfing unpleasant. There are only a few parameters you really have to look out for, depending on the sail. This guide should help for most windsurfing sail types although it will vary (or be missing aspects) for sails that have cambers for example. (more…)
Sails have evolved depending on their discipline. In the same way that you wouldn’t use a formula 1 car to race a rally, you also need the correct sail and board for what you want to do. Here are the 4 basic types of windsurfing sails with their differences:
Wave sails are made for stronger winds so they tend to be smaller. They are also made to be used in waves which means that the sail panels are reinforced to make sure they don’t break during a wipeout or your knees landing on them, etc. The battens are also stronger so they don’t snap when a wave breaks on them. This implies that they are also going to be heavier than other sail types. They are also cut so that the boom is shorter and there is not much sail surface below the boom to avoid it being caught by the wave.
The centreboard (or skeg) is a tool which causes some confusion after a few hours of heaving learnt how to windsurf. Many people are unsure about when it is necessary, useful or a hinderance. This article aims to explain how and when to use the centreboard to get the most out of it.
I don’t know how many feet I have looked at in the last few weeks. No, I don’t have a foot fetish… sorry to disappoint 🙂
No, it was because I was asked if the foot straps were the right size. So here is my take on how big/wide the straps should be.
Foot Strap Screw Placement
When you put your foot in the straps, the sides should be touching. Not too tight as you want to be able to get in and out easily. Also, you don’t want them too wide. I have seen many who have them too wide and to make up for them being too loose they have to set them up very tight so as to only allow the toes to fit.
Foot Strap Width
You want about half your foot to fit in the strap. The idea is to be able to get in and out easily when you want but also to stay in securely when you need it. The consequences of them being either too wide or too narrow are both very unpleasant.
If the straps are too wide we risk two things. The first is not that problematic: being pulled out in a catapult. The second is pretty dangerous as if the strap is too wide we can end up with the entire foot slipping through the foot strap be it after a sideways landing of a jump or too much pressure on the back foot in choppy water. In that case I would definitely prefer a spin out.
If the straps are so tight that we barely get our tows in we lose a lot of control over the board on one hand, and lack of security against catapults on the other. The first is due to the fact that we can’t lever the board with our foot to keep in flat as we could with a wider foot strap. The second come front it being really difficult to resist the pull of the sail with only our toes as opposed to the whole foot. It is like wanting to do pull-ups with only your fingers instead of with the entire hand.
Ultimately the straps should fit around the foot nice and snug. As a rule of thumb, place your hand in the strap and have it fit loosely. This is a good width to start off with. I would begin with the straps being a little too tight and try going wider and wider after each tack until you find the width that you feel the most comfortable with.
Every couple of weeks, usually towards the end of the day, we get a windsurfer walking up to the center desperate to get a few strong hands together to help him with his mast that just wont come apart.
Storing a full length mast or driving around with one is a nightmare. On top of this we usually don’t find out about the stuck mast until we are going to head home at the end of the day which is usually when there are less people left to help us on the beach.
Why does it get stuck?
Before we put the two pieces together, grains of sand and dirt can get on the surfaces where they join. When we try to get them apart after a session on the water we notice that they are stuck. Even if we put the mast together completely clean, in the water there is sand, mud and dirt which gets in through the slot where they connect.
The best solution is preventing the mast from getting stuck in the first place. We do this by keeping the shaft and the inside of the mast clean, prefferably with soapy water and a clean cloth right before putting it together. Once the two pieces are together, put duct tape (or equivalent) over the point where they join. This will prevent any sand getting in on the water.
NOTE: I have no experience with camber sails but from what I have read this duct tape solution doesn’t work for cam sails. Check out Rogers post towards the end.
To get the mast unstuck
That’s all nice to know but what if you already have the problem? That is probably why you are reading this post in the first place. Well, do not dispair, there are a couple of tricks that you can apply.
Puring soapy water or oil over the opening and letting is settle in a little bit can loosen all the dirt inside. In order to get it as far in the mast as possible, bend the mast in various directions so that the liquid can seep in properly. You will properly have to do this a couple times.
Bending the mast
To bend the mast, find two points that are a little bit elevated and bounce the center of the mast as much as you can. After 15 minutes of this you can give it another try.
Two booms of doom
Another sneaky solution is to attach a boom on each side of the joint and to use the extra lever to turn the pieces in opposite diretions. This techique is criticised as it is said to possible damage the mast. Therefore the next method is suggested.
Tug of war
Get as many strong hands onto each side of the mast as you can find and have everyone turn the mast ends in opposite directions (as in each side turing clockwise or both anti-clockwise). If it doesn’t work in one direction don’t immediately dispair. Try out turning it in the other direction for a couple of senconds and switch back to the other side and alternate a few until it comes apart. Usually 3 or 4 attempts will do the trick if not less.
As a fun anecdote, my dad once won a crate of bubbly on a bet that he could get a mast apart. To be fair he had 28 windsurf teacher apprentices who all got together, fitting as many hands on the mast as physically possible and after two attempts of everyone turning counter-clockwise and them clockwise they finally got it apart to the crunching of sand grains.
There have been heaps of discussions on forums providing ideas and suggestions. In one they talk about the “Sword in the Stone” (of King Arthur) equivalent of masts. Another one that is interesting is to fill the mast top with water from a hose.