Windsurfing is a sport that involves water and wind. It is a combination of surfing and sailing. A board is used with an attached sail that is powered by the wind. A windsurfer must tilt the rig to guide the board to where he wants it to go. This sport that is a combination of sailing and surfing is difficult since the windsurfer must guide the boat’s sail the way a sailboat would be guided. At the same time, the windsurfer must balance on the board. Advanced windsurfers are also able to do tricks and maneuvers while they are on the board. Among these are inverted loops, spinning, jumps, and freestyle moves that could not be accomplished with a sailboat alone. Windsurfers usually ride the same rides as regular surfers do when the wind is strong enough for their sport. It is considered an extreme sport.
The most popular way to get started in this sport is to attend a school that teaches beginners. There are windsurfing schools where beginning students can learn the sport. Beginners need to learn the basics of sailing before they move on to using the board. Most countries have windsurfing schools that offer lessons, as well as coaching while the learner practices in the water. There are also training DVDs available that can help a student learn more advanced maneuvers. This sport can be participated in until old age because the impact when falling puts minimal stress on the body.
Windsurfing became an Olympic sport in 1984, but its popularity fell in the mid-1990s because it requires licensing and specialized equipment that requires sailing knowledge. It has become more popular, but it is still mostly a non-competitive sport. There are approximately 1.2 windsurfers in the U.S. and millions more around the world. In the U.S. in 1997, retail sales for windsurfing equipment was $35 million per year. Winter windsurfing at an indoor pool is popular in Europe where competitions are held in a huge indoor pool. There are very powerful fans that move the boards along in the pool.
The idea of a handheld sail and rig fastened on a universal joint were first invented in 1948 by Newman Darby. His sailboard was the first that was steered by the windsurfer shifting his weight to tilt the sail and move. After many more designs by others, the board and sail used today was standardized with a universal joint. There were several patent disputes between U.S. inventors and an inventor in Australia who designed the board and sail before the U.S. inventors.
There are various types of boards used for windsurfing. Before the 1990s, boards were either longboards or shortboards. Today’s modern designs are made from the shortboard design. They are made to skip over the water’s surface. As wind increases, shorter boards with less width and smaller sails are generally used. Most windsurfers who enjoy their sport recreationally prefer to have wind conditions that are consistent, rather than the specifically more-windy or less-windy conditions that professionals prefer.
Older boards were made from polyethylene filled with PC foam. Today’s boards have an expanded polystyrene foam core that has a shell covering made from fiberglass, epoxy, plywood, and other materials. Boards for beginners are usually heavier and are made with fiberglass. Sails are usually made from clear polyester film, Dacron or woven polyester, and mylar.
There are excellent places to windsurf around the globe. One of these is in Langebaan, South Africa, located around 60 miles north of Cape Town. Very good windsurfing can be found at this site that is in the West Coast National Park. Wellington, New Zealand is another popular spot during the spring and summer months, from September to January. This windy city has the perfect wind speed with year-round speed averages at 20 miles per hour with gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour. There are many other excellent spots for windsurfing around the world.