Light wind windsurfing: the final frontier?

Words: WSUK

Pics: James Jagger, Windsurfing UK

Over the years windsurfing has evolved from what once was a light air pastime to something much more dynamic. Although that word ‘dynamic’ could equally apply to non-planing sailing these days so actually that first sentence is a moot point. (If you don’t believe us check out anyone into light wind freestyle – Caesar Finies and his brand of Flowstyle windsurfing for instance as well as those still practising longboard versions). It’s all about perceptions…

Combo moves, old-style.One slow duck-tack at the end…

Posted by Pierre Coupal on Saturday, 29 September 2018

And for those looking towards a (perceived – that word again!) more modern light wind windsurfing dynamic then how about Balz Muller’s progressive foilstyle discpline? Very ‘now’ and world’s apart from what Caesar is doing but equally vying for your low wind attention.

Even before Cesare riders were heading out to whirl and twirl in light wind, so it’s nothing new. It seems, however, that of late the lighter wind spectrum of windsurfing is garnering increasing amounts of interest. Perhaps it’s because everyone who windsurfs knows what full power sailing’s all about. Whether wave sailing, freestyling, slalom racing or freeriding we’re pretty much aware of planing and how that goes. The light wind spectrum, however, with new gear aimed at this area is opening up low wind riding again – and there’re new aspects to discover.

Unfortunately as we all know planing conditions only occur when there’s enough wind. And wind doesn’t happen all the time – at least those magic amounts of knots needed to get boards up and skimming. Of course there are more consistent areas of the world where you’re more likely to score full power conditions. But even in these idyllic spots Mother Nature doesn’t always play ball. Yet people still want to get afloat – that yearning desire is most definitely there…

Time and the lack thereof, for the layman windsurfer, with his/her numerous minute/hour zapping responsibilities, mean opportunities for blasting are harder to come by. But that windsurfing thirst still remains. People still end up with some recreational time on their hands, even with kids, jobs and other commitments getting in the way. Windsurfing equipment that allows brine time regardless – especially kit that’s engaging in some way – is going to be zero’d in on therefore.

Windfoiling has pricked interests in the last few years with sub-15 knot wind readings now no longer the domain of those with huge (expensive) rigs and boards. It’s possible to fly (rather than plane) on much smaller sails in less wind than ever before. Yet as much as windfoiling is an attractive prospect the stress and hassle of learning something new, whereby riders are required to put the time in (at least initially), is still prohibitive.

What many windsurfers want is to simply turn up at the beach and get wet whatever the weather, with the least amount of stress possible. More an more we’re seeing a renewed interest in pottering about, coastal cruising and low wind sailing. Should the wind pick up then great; bust out your standard gear. But that doesn’t need to be the main focus. After all windsurfing’s versatility is its beauty – windsurfers just need to remember this and be opened minded enough.

WindSUP tried to fill this space when stand up paddle boarding’s inception came about. Unfortunately a lot of SUPs are optimised for paddling rather than sailing. As such that all important efficiency, which knocks on directly to engagement, is lacking. Light wind windsurfing equipment can be engaging if it’s the right type after all.

Back in May we published a Q&A with Cobra International’s Bruce Wylie and the updated Windsurf LT. For those in the know Bruce is one of the original windurfers from back in the day with plenty of competitive success. The fact that Bruce and Cobra saw an opportunity to put out an updated non-planing version of a classic windsurfing board speaks volumes. Added to which fact the story is one of Windsurfing UK’s most popular website articles of 2018. Riders are obviously interested in light wind kit, coupled with perhaps a nostalgic element, that may see more sub-10 knot riders taking to the water or deserters returning to the fold. We certainly hope so and can’t see why not.

With Windsurfing UK’s autumn print mag about to drop it’s been fun getting our grubbies on an updated Windsurfer LT, courtesy of Edoardo Thermes, and putting it through its paces. You can read the test report in next issue. In the meantime check out some of the pics from WSUK’s recent photo shoot.

Oh, and did we mention it’s actually a great paddle board? Light wind windsurfing never looked so appealing!

Thanks to Bruce Wylie at Cobra International and Edoardo Thermes at https://www.windsurferclass.com/listino/ for helping with this article and the imminent test report.

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