Windsurfing is a very popular water sport for those that like to spend their summers out enjoying the sunshine. It is a favorite activity for tens of thousands of people in this country, and many more around the world. There are many pieces of equipment that is needed for this kind of activity, but perhaps the most important are the windsurfing sails. Without them, a sailboard would be nothing more than a common surfboard. They are the primary means by which the rider is propelled across the water, and they are essential to the sport.
Sails have been used to propel humankind across the water for many centuries now. They are exceptionally simple in their operation, yet are a very effective means of creating forward motion. However, because they are such simple devices, many people would assume that a sail is a sail, and that they are all basically the same; which is true to a point. A sail is designed to capture the energy of the wind and use it to create movement; however, it is the way in which it captures this wind and how it directs it that can differ from one sail to another. If you are an inexperienced rider, it is highly recommended that one consult with an expert before settling on any one sail.
Modern windsurfing sails are generally made from one of three materials: Dacron, Mylar, or Monofilm. The type of material use can have a significant impact on how in performs out on the water. Dacron and Mylar sails are generally recommended for beginners, as they tend to be less expensive, but are more than adequate for a breezy day out on the lake. Between these two materials, Mylar is the more commonly recommended, as it tends to hold its shape over a longer period of time. However, Mylar is also usually the more expensive of these two options. Finally, there is Monofilm. This particular material is the newest, and therefore the most high-tech, of the three most common options. Monofilm is very lightweight and yet can retain its original shape much better than Dacron or Mylar. It is the material of choice for most experienced riders, and is also commonly sold with most high-end boards.
Windsurfing sails are also categorized by their “hardness”. For beginners, a soft sail is almost always recommended, meaning a sail that has no fiberglass support system. These sails are basically nothing more than a sheet of plastic and they can be warped out of shape fairly easily. However, they are also much more forgiving and are generally slow, which makes them the ideal sails for those that are just learning how to ride. For more advanced riders, there are sails that are designed to be almost rigid. These sails are ideal for those that want to go really fast, but they require a great deal of experience in order to control them properly. These sails can also be quite expensive, so they are not generally recommended for those that aren’t sure whether they will be able to stick with windsurfing.