Windsurfing is a surface water sport in which a person uses a windsurf board, which is also called a sailboard. The standard board ranges from two to five meters in length and uses a sail to gain power from the wind. This sail is attached to the board by means of a freestanding flexible joint, called a U-joint. The surfer steers the board by tilting and rotating both the mast and the board.
As a sport, windsurfing did not become popular until about the 1960’s with the invention of the sailboard. Very little has changed in the basic design of the sailboards used today to the first ones that were developed. They were once classified the same as surfboards as long boards, longer than 3 meters and short boards, shorter than 3 meters. The modern sailboard is designed so that it just skips over the surface of the water, called planing. This allows the surfer to move faster and to be able to maneuver the board better.
It is not hard to master the art of windsurfing with only a few lessons. You just have to learn the basics of going back and forth on the water. You will be able to windsurf on your own if you have a good sense of balance, but it does take a lot of practice and determination to become a good windsurfer. You do have to learn how the wind, the board and your body interact in different types of wind conditions. Even if you don’t have a good sense of balance, you won’t have a lot of difficulty because the boards are wide and stable. It does take time to get your “sea legs” just as it does when you are on a boat. There are sailboards available for children weighing as little as 40 pounds. Some children start taking windsurfing lessons at age 6, but for the most part the average age for lessons is 9.
You don’t need a lot of wind to engage in windsurfing. As long as you can feel a bit of wind on your face you will be able to sail along on the top of the water. Basic windsurfing only requires a wind speed of about 5 miles an hour. Fast windsurfing requires about 10-15 miles an hour of wind, but beginners would have great difficulty at this wind speed. Wear a life jacket to keep you afloat if you fall into the water.