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?
Well, I hate to say it: it depends…
It depends on a three things.
The best windsurf boom height
The first parameter for positioning the boom is our body height. Regardless of the other two factors, the boom should be at a position that still feels natural to us. As a starting point, shoulder height is good although the range will be anywhere between your mouth and your chest.. Usually the boom will have to go somewhat higher as our level improves.
Depending on how strong the wind is and how active or conservative we are going to sail we can decide to move the boom either higher or lower.
In strong winds we will be able to handle the sail easier if the boom is low. For one thing it helps push the nose of the board down, much like when we move the mast foot forward in the mast track and secondly it increases the outhaul tension thereby making the sail profile more flat.
In lighter winds we are better off sliding the boom up as this will generate more lift as well as loosen the outhaul which results in earlier and easier planing.
So to recap: high wind – low boom, low wind – high boom
The wider the board, the further away our shoulders are going to be from the mast foot as we lean back. This means that to have the boom at the same position relative to our body on a more narrow board, we have to move the boom up.
Bonus factor: Sail trim (outhaul)
As mentioned briefly before, moving the boom up and down changes the trim of the sail. This is useful to know if you are in a rough sea and need to change the trim of the sail quickly.
Undoing the outhaul, changing the boom length and tensing the outhaul again is tricky business, especially with big sails. Changing the height of the boom on the other hand is no problem at all and can be done in a few seconds.
Wrong question: What harness and harness lines are you using?
Whether you use a seat harness or waist harness should be irrelevant to where the boom is positioned. You should always go for what is more comfortable to you. The length of the harness lines should be what is adapted to bridge the gap between your harness hook and the height of boom that most suits you.
This isn’t to say that the length of the harness lines should not be adjusted to the wind or the control you feel. What I mean is that the lines should be adapted to the correct height of the boom, not the other way around.
When you have found the height that suits you, measure the distance from the mast foot to the boom in hand spans so that you can save time the next time you rig your sail.