Understanding board volume when buying a windsurf board
Choosing a new or used windsurf board is an exciting time. It can be easy to get carried away and let your heart rule your head. Before looking at buying a new or used windsurf board make sure you have decided what you are looking for.
The factors to consider are your experience, the type of conditions you will be windsurfing in and your weight, yes your weight is a really important factor.
The single most important factor when choosing a windsurf board is the size of the board. The primary measure for the size of a windsurf board is the volume, this is what provides the buoyancy. A higher volume creates a more stable board. The less volume in the board the less stable the board is. Don’t rush to be on the smallest board. Volume is your friend. Buying too small a board is the most common mistake in equipment selection many windsurfers make.
How much volume do I need?
1 litre of volume in a windsurfing board supports 1 kilo of weight. To figure out how much volume you need in your windsurf board you also need to add up your weight, the boards weight and a small addition for wetsuit and harness.
An 85 kilo windsurfer in wetsuit, on a windsurf board weighing 15 kilos will need 100 litres of volume just to stay afloat. To that you need to add a “reserve buoyancy” which is what creates the stability in the board. A beginner will want pretty much double the figure. So in this case they will want a board with 200 litres of volume.
Volume and buoyancy of a windsurf board
In many cases I would recommend NOT buying a beginner board but instead join a windsurfing club or hire a board. This way you will be sure you love windsurfing and with modern windsurfing equipment and some windsurfing lessons you will progress really quickly on to an intermediate board.
Reserve volume is not just important for beginners, it is critical for all abilities of windsurfer. As you progress to higher performance boards, which tend to be smaller, this is the time when it is very easy to make a mistake and buy a board that is too small. Windsurfers progress quicker and have more fun on a board that helps them rather than hinder them. 95% of the time having a bit too much volume is way better than not having enough.
There is no hard and fast rule to how much reserve buoyancy you need, but anything less than 20 litres is reserved for advanced windurfers. If you cannot water start, having less than 50 litres reserve buoyancy aid could start to hinder your progress. The best advice is try some boards out and see how you get on. Your local windsurf club or school should be able to rent you a suitable board, or try a friends.
You can always sail a board with too much volume, you cannot always sail one with too little so be sensible about your ability.