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MY Windsurf Board Categories

Got the idea to start this post since I confused people on iwindsurf using the term "FreeFormula" for my JP SLW. I based this on the early SB FreeFormula boards, but it seems there NEVER was such a class or category of boards except on Wikipedia under windsurfing and on my blog.

Humans like to categorize and put things in little boxes - just look at how biology handles phylum, class, family, genus, species. The issue is , it is NOT always easy to make everything fit into the little boxes. Like language, there are always exceptions ...

gregnw44 from iwindsurf suggests... to keep it simple

The  best broad category... keeping it simple... is the 3 board classification -

Longboards - over 10' and with a centerboard.
Shortboards - 10' and under without a centerboard.
Hybrids -  10' and under with a centerboard.

Once upon a time there were ONLY longboards. That was how Robbie Naish got started and yes, it came from the USA and especially Hawaii. Eventually someone stuck a sail on shorter surf board and the idea of shortboards was born...

So, how many categories of board do I have now ?? {yes, this is MY classification}
And so, here is the discussion/breakdown  ... please feel free to comment 

1) Longboard - obviously LONG, typically more than 300 cm/10 feet with a centreboard. They are also narrow (usually less than 70 cm) with shape on the bottom to allow for gliding in light winds. Also due to length, these are boards over 200 liters in volume. People still sail Division I boards like the BIC Dufour Wing ; the original Windsurfer and Division II / DIV II boards like the Lechners. There are few producers of longboards today and they are quite pricey. The current longboards are considered race ready - like the StarBoard Phantom 377 and Exocet 380. In light winds - they WIN...

Lots of straps

People are saying boards like the Kona One (which has its own race class) is considered a longboard. I did consider it a hybrid, but am ready to leave it here (after much consideration :-))


2) Formula - typically 100 cm wide and is an ISAF race class. Typically raced with sails larger than 10 m². They are shorter than one might expect for a board capable of going in lighter winds and often carry fins up to 70 cm long. The faster boards of these days all seem to have tail cutouts ...
Starboard seems to be the one to beat in this category. Considered to be the first to plane and often called upwind/downwind race. People who have em seem to race em. After a certain wind speed they beat the longboards. The outboard straps are not obvious for everyone.


3) Hybrids/One Design - by definition a hybrid is some kind of mix of two elements. People are saying hybrids are under 10 feet and have a centreboard like a Mistral Prodigy or a NP RS:X. This is the Olympic board and some are suggesting other boards for the Olympics ...

I included One Design here because they are also special animals typically used for racing. I do NOT include the original Windsurfer called Windsurfer One Design/WOD here. Here is the BIC OD.


BEFORE I begin discussing SHORTBOARDS, please realize I have also separated  a bunch of boards that I call specialized boards - they are NOT longboards, hybrids, formula nor your typical shortboard. I have put them at the end of this discussion...in their own category ...

4) SHORTBOARDS - as gregnw44 states these are shorter boards with NO centreboard. It is VERY large category ... One speaks of freeride, freerace, slalom, wave, freewave, freemove, freestyle etc ....

4a) FreeRide - these are the everyday boards for the average joe windsurfers in average conditions. This usually means fairly flat water with a decent volume like 100 to 160 liters and people going back n forth "mowing the lawn" = BAFFers. User friendly boards using no-cam user friendly sails ...
They were typically longer and narrower than the FreeMove boards that came later. Please remember that the only board so far with a centreboard is still the longboard class/category ... and the following board is no longer manufactured 


4b) FreeRace - aimed a little more at speed than the FreeRide and as such are often used with cambered FreeRace sails. Not quite as race dedicated as a slalom, but often based on them !! More "technical" than say a FreeRide and not quite so on the edge like a slalom board.


4c) Slalom - these boards are built for "blistering speed" and as such are often short and wide. Can you say FAST - which means "technically demanding" , light and stiff, but probably damaged easily. Big slalom boards also perform well in light winds. Again, after a certain wind speed they will beat longboards and apparently beat Formula on a reach. Let the race begin !! GPS time and defintely have cut-outs...


4d) Wave - the previous boards were about gliding and going fast. Wave boards are about maneuverability in sometimes tough conditions. The boards are wider now than they used to be, but sails and fins are still small. Boards have more rocker or "banana shape" in the bottom. Nowadays these boards have quad fins and different fin attachments. Guess bump and jump fits in this category too.


4e) FreeWave - this is a class or category i know least about. I assume this is the FSW or Free-Style Wave class/category and as such is a cross-over or hybrid as well ?? In any case, it seems to be a popular class of board at the moment that is supposed to do everything well. That means flat water, freestyle and some wave. Under 120 liters with somewhat more width and flatter rocker than a wave board.


4f) FreeMove - this category seems to have started in 2010 with the Starboard AtomIQ. Others rapidly followed suit and Fanatic actually abandoned the infamous Shark freeride in 2015 !! Marketing says these boards plane up like a board 10 to 15 more liters AND sail like a board 10 to 15 liters less !! They are wider, thinner and smaller tailed than the traditional freeride boards. Locally I mostly see the Gecko from Fanatic ...


4g) FreeStyle - this used to and is still performed on "older" longboards. These tricks are not quite the same as what is performed on the newer freestyle boards. I call it performed because I find it is all about the show. Few windsurf categories are capable of going close to shore and putting on a good show - NOT the case with this group ... They are in the air with flips, turns, aerials and have names for their maneuvers - Vulcan, Spock, Flaka, etc


and thus, I have broken the shortboard category down into seven(7) sub-categories or classes of shortboard, as I like to call them :-) For the average joe windsurfer living in the average wind area, it may occur that NONE of the shortboards are ideal for those circumstances. However, it is always fun to be prepared for those special days when the stars and the winds align themselves :-) And this brings me to a special category of windsurf/sail boards that I like to call ...

5) SPECIALIZED boards - is where I put those boards that do not fit well into anything described above - they are used in certain circumstances like speed boards !!

There are pecialized  boards like the Exocet RSD2 which is considered a raceboard where the nose looks like a DIV II and the tail is flat for planing...


5a) Speed - these are specialty boards that try to break World Records. There is even a special channel where these attempts are performed - Luderitz , SW Africa. It is extremely windy and waves are blocked. Last I read AA/Antoine Albeau attained 53 knots in 2015 (which is about 60 mph and 100 kph which was his goal to beat!!) Definitely GPS time ...


5b) Tandem - as the name implies, for more than one person and rarely more than two. One would think this would be great for training ... However, it is NOT the same as sailing alone on a board and it is NOT always light wind performance - check the pic !!


And check the longest windsurf board in the world - figures Coca Cola would get in on the action !!


5c) Beginner - perhaps this should have been the first category so as to NOT discourage the newbies?
Obviously the size of the board and sail must match the size of the sailor. If it is a child, they now have beginner boards and sails !!!
for the adults ... Wide , long , lots of volume and with a centreboard seems to be the solution.
Personally feel the centreboard is just to get you home and may not always be required. My BIC Techno Formula worked for all newbies under 200 pounds. This board was wide and long, but was only about 170 liters. For the heavyweights it seems over 200 liters is required based on what i have seen. However, i suggest renting or lessons since this may not be required LONG TIME
That is whay i prefer longboards or used big freerides - not too $$$ and may be kept a longtime
NOT as easy to get started though ....
If you persevere with a larger freeride , you can sell it
My AHD FF 160liters/79cm board sold in 5 hours and the BIC Techno Formula in 2 days.
The Fanatic Viper is a well known "beginner" board and yet is still "performant"...
FunBoards ??


5c) WindSUP - obviously a SUP/Stand Up Paddle board with windsurf capabilities which for me is a hybrid in the sense it is used as a SUP and a windsurf board... and some like in the image are inflatable ...


5d) Hydrofoil - does this really require a different board ? AHD made or makes a board with the foil


5e) SuperLightWind/FreeWide - this may or may NOT be a category or subclass, but it seems there should be one for the boards that are > 80 cm and < 100 cm wide plus early planing. I still like the name "FreeFormula" - as a FreeRide that is so wide that it is almost a Formula. They are known for VERY early planing with BIG sails and long fins. NOT so up n down wind like a Formula.


5f) Inflatables - Starboard AirPlane came out in 2016.




And we wonder why someone new to the sport is confused - we, as windsurfers are confused. Where does a newbie start ?? Boards are large, expensive and windsurfing seems to require many boards (and sails) depending on what you want to do. That is why the KONAs are so important. Not only are they making a windsurf race class that anyone can attend, but is also a board that can be used in a large range of conditions...Windsurfing is like real estate; it is all about location, location, location. If you are a weekend warrior you need something that will work no matter what - or almost. If you like in a windy ocean place, lucky you... If you refuse to go out unless it is honking, you must already know what you need. Location is the major factor and your skills/technique play a large role as well. For most of us, one board can do 80% of what we want. So, a two or three board quiver will cover us well...

Since there are NO comments, I can assume my discussion is SPOT ON 
or just too bloody long 
NOT too boring I hope ....



2 comments :

  1. Hi, A nice collection of information. As with all collections of information you may want to look at condensing it into the boards that are really significant and those which are less significant. My 2 cents on a race class is that the 300 CM course board class would have potential of catching on as could a WindSUP class with a box rule. The Bic 293 Worlds were here in Torbole this past week and that class is impressive. It is centered at kids. I see a 300 cm class being potentially the same for big people. To me the acid test for course boars should be if they are fun to sail by average people. Windsurfers were, The RRD WindSUP is. Unlimited coarse boards are great but are bulky to carry. RSX and Prodigy really did not perform in either strong or light wind and are not that much fun to sail if you are not racing. The Starboard 299 looks like it could be a cool board that one would sail for fun on a Sunday afternoon. I think one should also consider a class without cams to keep the sport more fun and less tech.

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    1. too bad you are posting anonymous cuz you deserve credit for such a comment = THANKS for sharing !!!

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