Words & pics: Tez Plavenieks
Hands up if you learned how to windsurf on a conventional windsurfing rig? Potentially quite a while ago when rigs were still pretty heavy. Possibly the hardest thing is uphauling and getting the sail into position to actually start sailing. It’s arguably the most prohibitive part of learning to windsurf – although a whole host of other factors come into play making it a tricky sport to begin. We’ve all been here, we know the story…
Fast forward to now and technology and designs have radically changed. The most significant thing to happen to boardsports (away from hydrofoils) is the addition of inflatable technology. Stand up paddle boarding was first to embrace this but air filled products now permeate every aspect.
Enter the McConks Go Sail XS 1.5m inflatable windsurf sail.
You may have seen other inflatable sails as they came to fruition a while back. This is the first time we’ve tested such a small version – or rather our rider has! And on that point, the windsurfer in question here is three years old. During the years I was learning it was often said the ideal time to learn how to windsurf was around eight. Again, mainly due to the weight of the rig and being strong enough to actually lift it. Eight years old was deemed the appropriate time in life. With a blow up sail this goes out the window, as you can see.
So first off the McConks Go Sail XS inflatable windsurf sail is super easy to set up. It’s just one unit with no additional bits. Attach the pump via the heavy duty Boston valve and in a few short pumps it’s done – ready to ride.
The weight of the McConks Go Sail XS is featherweight. Our three year old windsurfer can quite happily carry it himself. I will add that it’s super durable with hard wearing material covering the air filled mast and boom. The rip stop canopy section will also stand up to a fair old bit of abuse, although you still need to careful not actually rip it on things like fins.
Once attached to the board the Go Sail XS floats on top of the water. As it doesn’t submerge there’s no heaving and puffing to release it from the water. You can attach a webbing style uphaul but I found that the comfortably soft handles on the mast are fine for bringing the sail up. And because of the handles, whereby the rider has to go hand overhand, they’re instinctively learning the correct uphaul technique for when they eventually transfer to a full windsurfing rig. And it’s the same once hold the boom. The handles stop boom walking and make the rider hold the sail in the correct position thereby achieving the correct sheeting angle.
Something that may surprise is the McConks Go Sail inflatable windsurf sail, whilst having a small are open to the breeze, still catches enough of the gust to move the rider and board forwards at an engaging rate. Of course, we’re only doing this in light airs but with enough vroom to get a proper windsurfing experience the smiles were all there.
McConks’ Go Sail XS inflatable windsurf sail is the perfect method of propulsion for getting your wee ones into the sport. Super light, easy handling with intuitive means of controlling the sail it teaches best technique and transferrable skills for later down the line when switching to more conventional windsurfing kit. A robust product that makes the whole learning to windsurf goal easily achievable for the youngest of riders. Pair with a wide floaty board for efficient and rapid progression.