The ultimate windsurfing guide to get started

Nautical Channel
16 Feb 2022
NEWS | Windsurf

Reading time: 5 mins

Are you new to windsurfing and want to get the most out of this nautical sport? We have covered the basics for starters in windsurf. Learn how to have a basic stance and work your way to planing for adrenaline-pumping windsurfing! 

Start off by watching this video from World Sailing:

Understanding the kit

Knowing the kit is very useful to understand what we will be referring to. The windsurf kit is divided in two parts: the windsurf board and the rig. The board is the surfboard you will be standing on, and it has one or more fins and daggerboards underwater. 

When starting the daggerboard, this should be down at all times. To do this, pull the big nob towards the rear, or stern, and to lower and towards the front, or bow, to raise when you are packing away. 

Also, depending on the model, you will notice some foot straps and a deck plate to hold the rig on. The rig has a sail, a mast and a boom. The boom is the bit you will be holding on to, but the mast can also be used for support. A cord should run from the boom to the bottom of the mast: this is the uphaul, and it helps pull the sail up. 

Starting with a basic windsurf stance

This is fundamental, if your basic stance is not right, you will find windsurfing to be harder than it needs to be and you will fall out a lot. Position your feet behind the mast foot, approximately a shoulder width apart. Then, check that your hands are a shoulder apart from the boom with your front arm extended and you back straight. 

Your back foot should be placed across the board and your front foot should point to the front of the windsurf nose. This position will make an L shape. Then, if you notice the nose or tail are sinking, adjust your position backwards or forwards. 

Getting on with steering

Learning how to turn in windsurf is key in order to get where you want to go. You will find that turning upwind is easier than turning downwind. 

To start steering, tilt the rig towards the back of the board and keep the clew over the water. Hold it here in order to steer the board. Once heading towards the desired course, bring the rig back up to sailing position and continue your new course. 

Downwind sailing is the opposite to upwind, and as so instead of tilting the rig back, bring it forward and across the board, opening out the sail slightly. Once you are on course, bring the rig back to its sailing position. 

Beginners tip: keep your head up to check where you are going. At first you might be overwhelmed trying to get your hands and feet in their right position, but make sure to check your course and look straight at it!


Tacking and gybing: what are the differences? 

While tacking means turning upwind so that the nose of the board turns into the wind, gybing is the opposite. During gybing, you turn the nose of your board away from the wind. Normally, it is easier to turn downwind, thus you learn how to tack before gybing. 

Beginners tip: when learning how to tack and gybe, make sure you keep your knees bent and your body low to keep balance on the board.