The windsurf board has seen a bit of a renaissance over the last five to ten years. Originally introduced to the public around the early 1970’s, it quickly became one of the most popular water activities in the world. However, due to a variety of reasons, its popularity began to wane during the last decade of the century. Innovations in board design have brought windsurfing back to the forefront of summer activities, and it is again seeing a spike in widespread, global appeal.
The original windsurf board was very different from what one commonly sees today. For one, they were considerably larger in size. Some boards could be as long as eight or nine feet, and sometimes even longer. Most of them were also made from wood, which resulted in them being quite heavy. While these boards were well suited for light cruising, they were not as well adapted to higher speeds. However, a series of seemingly small innovations would revolutionize the boards, as well as the sport itself.
Arguably the most important innovation when it comes to the windsurf board is the material polyethylene. Beginning in the early 1970’s, polyethylene foam started to be the construction material of choice for many board builders. The primary advantage that polyethylene has over wood is that this foam material is a mere fraction of the weight of wood. This made them not only easier to transport, but also made them much more maneuverable in the water. Polyethylene foam is also preferred because of its ability to resist becoming water logged. Today, this material is found in nearly every single board that is produced, by nearly every manufacturer.
The second major innovation was the incorporation of a universal joint at the point where the mast meets the board. This joint allowed the rider to position the sail wherever it was most advantageous for picking up the wind. It also allowed the rider to easily pivot from one side of the sail to the other without having to worry about the mast slipping. This resulted in making the boards even more maneuverable and eventually would help riders to perform tricks as well.
Today, a windsurf board can be found in numerous designs. Many people still prefer riding more traditional longboards, as they are the ideal platform for simply cruising around the local lake on the weekends. They’re a bit slow, but they are also quite stable and easy to control. Others prefer the more modern shortboards, which are designed for a combination of speed and quick maneuvering. There are also designs that fall in between these two categories, including freeride and wave boards. The wide variety of options makes it easier for riders of all ability levels to find something that is comfortable for them to ride, which is one of the reasons the sport is regaining its popularity.
If you’re in the market for a new windsurf board, the best place to start might be your local sporting goods store. However, if you live in an area that does not have a windsurfing retailer, there are numerous online websites that can help you find exactly what you need.