How to choose an appropiate board for our level it’s something that always generates many doubts. Especially when we are starting, we have to decide between buying one for our current level (which is usually lower than we think) or one for the level that we expect to have soon. In this post I will tell you about my experience and the reasoning I’ve made for my board progression.

The beginning

I walked my first steps in the school Volare (today Laduna) in Tarifa and with initiation boards. I think without any doubt this is the best option for the following reasons:

  • The use of an initiation board is relatively short in time and except for some particular cases it doesn’t make economic sense to buy one.
  • Going to a school at the beginning will accelerate the learning process.
  • Once we start to progress, we can test the different boards they have at the school until we feel comfortable with a certain volume, depending on our weight, ability and progression.

I think until we master the basics like going, coming back, gybing and tacking (both without planing) or the beachstart, we shouldn’t think about buying anything. It is always best to rent. If you’re already thinking about buying, the second-hand market will present you with good options. Here you have our guide to buy second hand, hoping it’ll help you.

The first buy

My first purchase was a Starboard Carve of 131 liters. I must admit that I was too optimistic and I should have chosen a bigger one. Without any doubt, this should have been my second board and not the first one.
The result of this so “aggressive” choosing is that my progression was slower since I spent more time in the water than sailing. Also uphauling was complicated due the the lack of stability. If I had to give a tip to choose the first board, considering that we have already passed the initiation stage, this would be something like:

  • A Freeride board with an approximate volume of double your weight.
  • Choose a model with a wide width. For the stage of learning to hook in the harness and start planing, it will be very useful to gain stability.
  • Choose a board with multiple footstraps positions. This will give the board a longer “life”, at first we will put the footstraps right in the center to learn how to get our feet into them, and then we can put them near the rails as we progress.
  • Choose a board constructed with a hard material and put a nose protector (if you will want to sell it later at a good price).

This is the board to spend hours and hours on it. With it we must master the planing (hooked and feet on the footstraps) and especially the waterstart. This is the key move, until we don’t have this move cleared don’t even think about lowering the board volume. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t useful and it will slow down our progression. Also here we will start to try to speed gybe, which is a great challenge and we shouldn’t be overwhelmed with getting it at this stage.

The success

GeckoSo that’s how I must define my second board, a Fanatic Gecko 112 liters that I still have and I still enjoy sailing with it. It is a freeride board like the Carve, very fun and suitable for a reasonable wind range. This change, once we master the waterstart and get planing, should allow us to sail safely with a wider wind range. Now starts to be relevant the spot where we usually sail. If it’s flat or choppy water, light or strong winds. And in relation to this, the sails that we use, etc.

At this stage I usually sailed at the Milnerton lake in Cape Town or at the beach on those days with no waves. In general, the wind was strong from 20 to 30 knots. The Gecko 112 allowed me to sail with a wide range of sails, from about 4.5m2 to about 7.8m2. I managed to progress a lot with the planing since it has the possibility of configuring the footstraps. From a center rear one to two at the rails.

I believe that this is the key point. This “progression” board to be called in some way, must be versatile and allow us to sail in as many water and wind conditions as possible.

Choosing the style

Jumping Big BayAt the time of the next jump, it was very influential that within 100m of my house I had a spectacular wave spot like Big Bay (Cape Town). Well, to be honest it was very influential my desire to wave sailing in order to choose the house. But that’s a different story :-)

That’s why I chose a wave board, a Fanatic Tri-Wave 95 liters. It really was like starting to learn from scratch. First of all the sailing conditions change, the board behavior changes, the board size changes, uffff … But when you start to control it a little bit, you have a feeling of overcoming that’s impossible to explain.

One of the most noticeable things is the change from single fin to multi fin. The sailing position must change to avoid spinning out all the time. Also the board is much more sensitive to the feet and the changes of rig or body position.

Bear in mind that this boards are designed to ride waves and therefore they are very “responsive”.

Moving to a sinking board is an important change and we must not go beyond our capabilities. As I say in the previous paragraphs, we will have to learn everything again. Every time we reduce volume is very noticeable (even more for the tall and/or corpulent people). It is better to have some more buoyancy and to progress little by little.

The challenge

Quad76Without a doubt my challenge now is the Quad Quatro 76 liters that I bought last summer. I have tried it in Caños de Meca and in Valdevaqueros. Now I expect some hard sailing days in Cape Town to be able to control it.

It seems incredible but in the hard days (3.7 to 4.5) you really notice the volume difference with the TriWave. However, the difficulty to maneuver increases considerably. It is noteworthy that the feeling of safety when sailing increases greatly, reducing the volume the board makes less resistance to the wind when it takes off the water during planing and allows better control.

As we have said in other posts, windsurfing is always challenging, for all levels and for all styles.

It is a perfect mixture of suffering and fun. That makes it the best sport that has been invented so far!!

Let’s see if in this austral season I manage to raise my level of wave sailing to “acceptable”. I would also like to try the slalom more seriously and see how much I can run. Maybe my South African colleagues can make an offer to teach me :-)

As always, I hope you like the post and if so, share & comment please. Good winds and until next time!!

My board progression
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