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YOUR WINDSURF EQUIPMENT

Once upon a time there was a long, long board and a big, big sail. Both were big and heavy... but that’s ancient history!

Thanks to progress in the nautical field and the use of technologies from other fields (such as aviation) and their materials (especially carbon and Kevlar), we can now enjoy windsurfing boards and sails that are light, comfortable and easy to handle. And all optimised for a specific use.

What do you need to windsurf?

The most important thing is wind, of course. And motivation!

Now all else you need is a board and a sail, right?

A closer look reveals that there’s much more to windsurfing equipment. Every part, big or small, has a purpose and depends on skill and expectation.

Do you know how many parts a windsurfing equipment consists of? Take a look at the list and you'll see that there are more than you think.

1. THE BOARD

Although long and narrow boards are still being made and used in disciplines such as Race, the current trend is to reduce the length and increase the width. This makes the board feel more comfortable to ride and maintains maximum buoyancy, allowing you to surf with less volume even in gusty winds. Nowadays there’s a wide range of boards to choose from, depending on what you want to do.

At Spin Out Tarifa you’ll find the following boards:

A) TRAINING BOARDS: The beginner boards are characterised by their volume (from 150 to 250 litres) and by a foldable daggerboard. The daggerboard helps to avoid the drift effect. There are longboards and wideboards. Longboards are much faster than wideboards, while the latter are much more stable, especially in waves or for people who have difficulty keeping their balance. At the same time, wideboards allow for more mistakes and also forgive a less than optimal foot position. At Spin Out Tarifa, we now have the perfect solution that combines stability and speed: the new Gaastra START HD 245 l boards.

B) FREERIDE BOARDS: These boards are used in light winds and flat water. Used with large sails, they’re designed for fast planing and speed fun. They have between 100 and 150 litres of volume and the modern boards are quite wide. This makes them also suitable for beginners, e.g. to get planing or to try smaller volumes. This is because the width allows to uphaul the sail if necessary. At Spin Out we offer Tabou's Rockets from 105 to 145 litres. All are made of carbon and are so fast that they "almost" plan by themselves!

C) FREEWAVE BOARDS: These versatile hybrid boards are the perfect compromise between speed and manoeuvrability. They can be used in a wide range of conditions, both in waves and strong winds with small sails and in flat water and light winds with large sails. On freewave boards, the footstraps can be attached to the edges (4 footstraps) or in the centre (3 footstraps). Depending on the intended use or daytime conditions. With a volume of 75 to 115 litres, they are ideal for surfing with less volume in strong winds. The Tabou 3S are among the best on the market and are available at Spin Out in all sizes in Carbon, Classic or Plus (3 fins) edition.

D) WAVE BOARDS: These small boards with a narrower tail and pronounced rocker are ideal for choppy water and jumping off the wave. Most of them have a volume of less than 100 litres. There are also very small boards (from as little as 60 litres) for light surfers and strong wind conditions. The most modern boards have more than one fin (between 2 and 4) – more on this later. If you like these boards, you can find the Tabou Da Bomb and Pocket here at Spin Out!

E) FREESTYLE BOARDS: These boards are designed for the most radical manoeuvres. The footstraps are positioned centrally, they have a lot of volume in the tail and square fins that make it easy to pop out and land in the water. They’re also a good choice for light riders, especially in light or gusty winds, as you can get planing quickly with the right technique. If freestyle is your thing, ask us about the Tabou Twister. You'll love this board!

F) FOIL BOARDS: These are the latest addition to the board family and are similar in construction to the Formula boards. They’re very wide boards with a square tail and nose and footstraps on the edges. The tail is reinforced to withstand the pressure of the foil at high speeds. That's why at Spin Out we use specially designed boards. With the Tabou Air Ride you’ll be flying over the water!


There are also other boards on the market:

G) SLALOM/RACE/FORMULA BOARDS: These boards are designed for the sake of speed and are mainly used in competitions.

H) FOIL-READY BOARDS: These boards are designed for dual use, with or without foil. However, they’ve the disadvantage of being heavier at the back due to the reinforced tail. This makes them slower with a traditional fin and a little more unstable with a foil. The aim of these boards is to save space and money, as the surfer can use one board for two disciplines. A certain compromise has to be made.

Also to be considered is the type of construction of the board. The board can be made of carbon (lighter and better, but more expensive and fragile) or wood sandwich (slightly cheaper and more resistant, but also heavier).

2. THE FIN(S)

When buying a board, most people stick to the fin(s) that come with it. Supposedly this is also the best combination as it’s been tested by the best riders. However, the surfing characteristics of a board vary greatly from fin to fin. Slalom riders are well aware of this and not only do they choose carefully which fin to use on competition day, but they also test many fins before deciding. This is because every fin has small production differences.

Single, Twinser, Threefin, Thruster, Quad.... There are many fin combinations on the market today. Some boards even have 5 fin boxes, so you can ride different fin combinations depending on your taste and spot conditions. So, what are the pros and cons? Let’s have a look.

A) SINGLE FIN: The classic and still the most popular, especially with "old school" surfers. It’s characterised by higher speed, stability and easier upwind surfing. It’s the best choice for light-wind boards (freeride and freewave) as it allows you to use bigger sails without causing spinouts (sliding sideways) when planing.

B) TWINSER (2 fins): This isn’t the most used option. It can take some getting used to at first, as the lack of a centre fin makes the board seem more nervous. However, once you get used to it, 2 fins work very well in choppy water as well as in waves. This option is faster than a thruster or quad and still maintains good grip and excellent rotation.

C) THREEFIN/THRUSTER: Isn't it the same? Not really. Both have 3 fins, but if the middle fin is longer, it's called a threefin (a mix between a single fin and a thruster). Threefins are mainly used on freewave boards. Thrusters are the most similar to surfboards. They have 3 short fins shaped like the ones on a surfboard, and the board often has a fishtail as well. Both are designed for wave conditions. The former is easier to surf upwind, the latter is better for spinning and surfing big waves. Because the fins are short, they’re only suitable for small to medium-sized sails (up to 5.5 m2).

D) QUADSTER (4 fins): Quad boards are small and considered very technical – they’re designed for the most radical wave surfers. They offer good grip on the water but have the "bad reputation" of being very slow and difficult to turn in manoeuvres.

E) 5 BOXES: Having a board with 5 fin boxes doesn’t mean that you use all 5 fins at the same time. Depending on the conditions, you can use 3 or 4 fins. These boards are more difficult to handle because each additional fin box increases the weight of the tail, making it harder to get it planing and spin.

F) FREESTYLE FINS: These fins are shorter and squarer than the single fin. They’re specially designed for freestyle boards.

G) FOIL: This fin consists of a mast, which can be shorter or longer, and a fuselage with a front wing and a stabiliser wing. The foil allows you to surf without touching the surface of the water. It’s important to choose the right wing-size depending on your level, weight and conditions. The angle of the fuselage can also be varied using the adapter to achieve maximum flight stability.


3. THE FOOTSTRAPS

The boards come from the factory with a set of footstraps, but it’s important to find the right position for the board to work properly and for you to be comfortable. Positioning the footstraps in the centre of the board gives you more control, while positioning them on the edges gives you more speed. The footstraps should be adjusted so that you can get in and out easily without them being too loose. When they’re worn out, they should be replaced with new ones to prevent chafing and loss of stiffness.


4. THE MAST BASE

This is a small but very important part, as a mast base in poor condition can break or untwist and separate the sail from the board. There are different models (spike/cone) that must fit the mast foot. The tendon, lines or the whole mast base must be replaced as soon as the first signs of damage appear.


5. THE SAIL

There are as many types of sails as there are styles of windsurfing. To know which sail is the right one, you need to know the spot, level, age, weight and of course your preferences. The most used sails are the following:


a. TRAINING SAILS: These sails for beginners are mainly made of Dacron, a strong and responsive material that allows you to see how the sail fills with wind and thus better understand how it works. There are also training sails made of monofilm or PVC, which are usually intended for children and lighter people, as they’re more fragile. They’re usually between 1.0 and 4.0 m2 and have few battens, so they work well in very light winds. The window should also be large enough to allow a good view. The Gaastra Freetime sail is perfect for this.

b. FREERIDE SAILS: These multi-purpose sails are usually large or medium in size and designed for flat water and light winds. They’ve a pronounced belly and require a wide boom to catch as much wind as possible. The number of battens varies with size. Freeride sails are easy to rig and are also a good option for intermediates and those learning to plan. At Spin Out we’ve Gaastra Hybrid and Matrix sails from 6.0 to 7.7 m2.

c. WAVE SAILS: These sails are characterised by their agility and the triangular cut in the foot. This allows the sail to be placed more vertically on wave boards. They’re light and strong sails, usually reinforced at strategic points to withstand the surf. The number of battens varies between 3 and 5, with fewer battens giving the sail more power and more battens giving the sail more control. These sails are suitable for medium to strong wind and wave conditions. The Gaastra Manic is one of the best sails on the market: very light and with 4 battens it offers the perfect balance between power and control.

d. FREESTYLE SAILS: These are sails with a lot of power to experiment with radical manoeuvres, such as the Gaastra Pure sails.

e. SLALOM/FREERACE SAILS: These sails are designed for speed competitions. The former have a camber (very technical sails and complicated to rig) and the latter are intended as beginner sails for slalom (without camber).

Whichever sail you choose, make sure it’s in good condition and properly rigged before you go out on the water. Otherwise, it won’t perform as expected.


6. THE MAST

Ideally, you should use the mast specifically designed for your sail. However, there are now models that are compatible with other brands. Either will work. Note that the mast curve is adapted to the sail model (specified by the manufacturer in the characteristics). Depending on the curve created when the sail is trimmed, there are hard-top, constant curve, flex top and diagonal flex masts. The carbon content must also be taken into account. The best masts are made of 100% carbon. They’re light and very flexible (we use them at Spin Out!). However, they’re also the most expensive masts and can quickly cost as much or more than a sail. Masts with a carbon content of 75/80% are a good compromise between quality and price for private use. They’re slightly heavier but more durable.

Most modern sails require a specific mast diameter to achieve the correct profile. There are SDM (standard diameter) and RDM (reduced diameter) masts. SDM masts are more suitable for large sails as they’re stiffer. RDM masts are used for small and medium sails. They’re lighter and give more flexibility to the rig.


7. THE BOOM

Booms come in different shapes and diameters (standard, slim or ultra slim) to suit surfers' needs (you can feel the difference). They’re made from aluminium or carbon. Aluminium booms are cheaper but stiffer and heavier than carbon booms. Carbon booms are the "Ferraris" of booms. But they’re also quite expensive, sometimes even more expensive than a mast!


8. THE MAST EXTENSION

Mast extensions come in different shapes (cone, spike...), sizes (up to 45 cm) and models (side button/back button/with or without cup...), made from aluminium or carbon. The important thing is that they’re in a good condition and fit your sail.


9. THE HARNESS LINES

There are adjustable and fixed harness lines. Classically, harness lines are attached to the boom at two points, but there’s also a new generation with only one attachment point. Harness lines should be adjusted to suit your body size, taste and surfing style to get the maximum performance out of the sail. The current trend is to let the harness lines as long as possible for maximum freedom of movement. The harness lines need to be readjusted after each rigging as each sail has a different centre of gravity and the aim is to control the sail with body weight only.


10. THE „OTHER LINES “

Don’t be stingy with your lines, because if they break on the water, it usually means that you need to be rescued. They’re available in many materials, of which Dynema or Formuline are the most recommended (but also the most expensive) because of their high resistance and durability. The lifespan of the lines can be extended if they’re dismantled or at least loosened when not in use. This makes the initial investment even more worthwhile.


THE BIG QUESTION: NEW OR USED?

That depends on you: the first investment in windsurfing can be considerable, and the equipment alone won’t make you a better windsurfer. The equipment shouldn’t be too old, because then you give up the lightness and comfort of modern materials. But don’t throw money down the drain either, especially if you aren’t sure yet what you need and what you like. Remember that you’ll probably need more than one sail and perhaps more than one mast and board to complete the set. At Spin Out the equipment is renewed every year, so you’ll find everything you need second hand: Quality at a great price! You can also try the equipment before you buy to see if it's what you're looking for. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?


Got any questions? Write to us at info@tarifaspinout.com and we’ll be happy to advise you and help you choose your windsurfing equipment.




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