Beginners Windsurfing

Point of Sailing on Windsurfing

Introduction: real wind and apparent wind

When a gait is defined, all that is done is to identify an angle between the direction of movement of the board and that of the wind. This operation is easy for an outside observer while things get complicated on board windsurfing. While we are sailing we are subject to the real wind that we will call real wind but we are also hit by an air current contrary to the direction of motion as when we ride a bicycle. What appears to us therefore is the sum of these two air currents and this effect leads us to perceive a slightly deviated wind direction with respect to reality. Therefore supposing to travel perpendicular to the direction of the wind, what we will feel above the surf will not be a wind coming right at 90 ° but with a bow component. Question to make the purists horrified: is this a problem? Not that it is not, even the hull and the sail “see” just the apparent wind so their management on our part in order to optimize its operation in every situation it is right that it refers to the wind that we feel on the cheeks rather than the direction marked by the compass (I know we don’t have it, it was to make people understand!).

Starboard tack, port tack

When in wind the wind licks the left side of the windsurf first, then we are on the left. Vice versa for starboard tack (a rule that simplifies the idea at the beginning is the following: if the hand closest to the tree is the right then we are starboard tack and vice versa). In case of disputes with other windsurfers, remember that those who find themselves on starboard have precedence. Still on the subject of precedence, windsurfing takes precedence over sailing boats which, in turn, hold it on motor boats (also known as “irons”).

Bear away and Luff up

Not having the rudder the only tool at our disposal to change the course is the sail. Anyone who knows the sailboat in depth knows that this is possible; luckily a windsurf is much more sensitive than a boat and thanks to little pronounced movements of the sail it is also possible to perform quick maneuvers in tight spaces. The principle is simple: to navigate in a straight line, the center of drift and the center of pressure of the sail must be aligned vertically (second figure). In all other situations, the curved table ie rests or loins, in particular:

  • resting (first figure): it is caused by a forward unbalance of the sail. It will produce a course change that will bring the bow of the board to the opposite side to the wind. For example, if we are traverse and we are going to go down (see large figure with all the gaits);
  • navigation in a straight line (second figure): keeping the sail in an intermediate position in which, more or less, it is in equilibrium, proceeding in a straight line. It is important to point out that navigation in a straight line does not depend on gaits: to remain at a distance one must not continue to lean (otherwise one arrives at the stern) nor, to stay upwind, one must continue to luff (otherwise one can stop bow to the wind, see image with the various gaits). To maintain course in crossways, upwind and slack it is sufficient to remain in the position of the second figure;
  • luffed (third figure): it is caused by an unbalanced backward of the sail. It will produce a course change that will bring the bow of the board against the wind. For example, if we are traverse and orziamo we will go upwind (see large figure with all gaits)

All gaits: Point of Sailing on Windsurfing

Since we have to be good sailors who know how to feel the wind based on the reactions of the boat, we will present the various gaits with few geometric references but many details related to the behavior in terms of speed and sensations.

  • Traverso. It is the reference gait. Navigate the beam when the board proceeds at 90 ° to the wind direction. It is one of the fastest strides, the thrust of the sail has a moderate component towards the bow. In planing with the right level of comfort the comfort is high, the thrust on the fin and the tendency to overturn the board slightly accentuated, one navigates along the channels between one wave and another.
    Lasco. If from the traverse we carry out even a few degrees, we enter by definition into the slack. The thrust towards the bow of the sail becomes important and with strong wind we must be ready to counter it: the catapults take place at the bottom! The speed increases, we are in fact in the fastest pace. Did you think that the stern was the fastest pace ?? Not so, if you want to find out why go to the WS physics page. In planing and with the right watering this is the most natural gait: the ankles are relaxed, the board maintains the course in an optimal way, the effort to close the sail is minimal, you sail gradually climbing on the softer side of the waves: the back. In the case of overpowering and a very large sea, things change: the board does not want to stay in the water and tends to “fly” on the fin. Furthermore, especially with wave equipment, the danger of spin-out occurs.
    Great slack. Continuing to set the speed starts to go down: we are entering the big gap. In order for the sail to be well lapped by the wind and offer a good thrust, we must slightly leave it with the sail hand. The thrust towards the bow of the sail still grows a little depending on how much we manage to keep the sail “full” of wind by adjusting the incidence with the hand of the sail. In planing and with the right watering must be careful not to rest too much, on pain of losing the glide itself. In extreme overpowering it is not possible to sail at full speed: you are thrown away.
  • Stern. When, by dint of resting, we find ourselves sailing in the direction of the wind, we are astern. The boom should be set at 90 ° to the table to present the maximum surface to the wind. It is a very slow gait, in the hands there is little thrust because every “wing” function of the sail ceases. The perfect stern position is highly unstable on narrow boards.
  • Bolina. If from the transverse we perform even a few degrees wedge, we enter by definition into the bowline, broad first and then narrow (see image). In the bowline you go up the wind or, combining a series of boline on the right and the port on the left, you can proceed towards a meta windward compared to our position. To understand how this is possible, we refer to the pages of physics.


How much can the bowline be tightened? It depends on several factors. Supposing not to glide a big difference the drift makes it: with it in the water many degrees are gained and, above all, the lack is reduced to the minimum managing also to develop greater speed. In general it is enough to know that everything is delegated to the sensibility of the surfer. Above all, without drifting the leeway, or the lateral heeling of the hull, begins to become evident well before the table stops. With drift and a racing hull, on the other hand, there seems to be no other limit than total arrest. One of the most difficult aspects even for the expert racers is this: to what point should I tighten upwind to cover less road since at the same time the speed decreases?