Call it cruising; call it messin’ about on the brine; call it non-planing; call it simply floating about in the sunshine. Whatever you call it there’s no substitute for simply being on the water. Sometimes though the breeze makes foul a planned stand up paddle boarding session, which we appreciate can be frustrating. That’s when busting the windSUP gear out can save the day.
Pro/guru coaches have been banging on about the joys and benefits of windsurfing in light airs for years. All that low wind work helps build muscle memory and improve your overall sail handling technique. You can whirl and twirl – perhaps reaching the equivalent dizzying heights of flowstyle master Caesar Finies (see video below – check out the move at 2:45) – until the cows come home but nothing beats simply settling into the motion of edging forwards, in mellow form, and cruising along to the beat of your own drum. Getting lost in your thoughts, simply happy to be on the water and indulging in your hobby is addictive – whatever you may think. Do it often and we guarantee you’ll be loving it! In fact, it can be the equivalent of paddling your SUP on autopilot. Meditative is the word!
OK, we’ll admit light wind windsurf cruising isn’t as adrenaline infused as it’s full power planing counterpart, but it has a unique draw of all of its own. As such it shouldn’t even be compared. And with the advent of windfoiling there’s a way to maximise low wind strengths in a performance manner if you want it. Yet the cruising style of windsurfing (or windSUP) still has its own unique appeal and is no less enjoyable. Unfortunately during the last few decades you’ve been conditioned to think the opposite.
You see it all the time at windsurfing holiday resorts – home and away. Those of whom wouldn’t be seen dead flicking a tiny sail about in barely a kitten’s sneeze (mainly because they probably don’t own the relevant kit) will happily grab a small rig, high volume windsurf or windSUP board and head out for a float with serious puff missing in action. No stress, no hassle, no expectation to ‘perform’ just sheer indulgence of the moment and blissful contentment – often for hours at a time (or at least until the wind fills in proper). Post-float and the comments are always the same: ‘that felt great and has done wonders for my overall sailing!’
In the past there have been countless exercises undertaken by some to convince those who will pooh pooh the practice that it’s a worthy cause. Some suggesting that planing windsurfing ensured the sport became too elitist too quick. And in many cases that’d be correct – especially in the years that immediately followed. But these days time is a limiting factor for many with family, work and general life commitments taking precedence over windsurfing time. When a decent full power forecast does pop up there’s still high probability of it not quite coming to fruition – skunkings are, after all, part and parcel of windsurfing yet no less frustrating. As such all manner of water born toys can now be found inside sailor vans and atop vehicles these days – stand up paddle boards being the obvious new kid on the block. Mostly this is to be 100% of scoring a session of some kind. With these new modes of watery transport comes the option of attaching rigs which is why many riders are heading out in sub-planing conditions once again – more than in the last few years we’d argue. SUPs with rig attachments are also great for teaching kids and other family members keen to give things a whirl.
Elsewhere there’s a little renaissance surrounding sales of old school longboard hulls occurring. Picking up a battered ‘log’ for pennies has never been easier. Hit up eBay or other windsurf market places and you’ll no doubt find some proper duffers knocking about. It’s worth considering, however, these designs were manufactured with non-planing in mind, added to which fact they’re tough as old boots. Bust them out on 10 knot (or less) days and hey presto you have yourself a (still) super-efficient machine that’ll make easy work of those marginal winds. You don’t actually need to spend a fortune to ensure you’re equipped with the right tools for light wind windsurf cruising. And need way say that light wind windSUPing is perfect with kids. They’ll have fun, and all whilst learning the base skills of windsurfing. Should they want to progress down the line then those foundational building blocks have already been put in place.
But it’s not just inflatable windSUPs and battered longboards that are ideal for sojourns up and down the coast or ins and outs from the beach. In some cases that high volume slalom or freeride board will work, with possibly a fin tweak to make sure you’re not dredging up sand! Maybe not quite as efficient but it’s kit that’ll still get you riding in not too much puff and should therefore always be on the packing checklist when heading to the beach during summer. (Although we’ll readily push the windSUP specific argument – well, this is part of the McConks range so you can’t blame us!).
Go Sail inflatable windsurf sail
Have you tried windsurfing with a traditional high performance, heavy rig and totally failed? Did that put you off for life?
That’s the story of so many people. Trying to learn with high performance or old heavy kit must have put millions of people off windsurfing for life.
But not any more. This inflatable sail is light weight – even the largest…
As you can tell we’re big fans of windsurf windSUP cruising. It’s something we’ve done a lot of at McConks. Of course we’d love to be out fully lit in wave sailing scenarios every day but that isn’t always possible. Our mantra is very much about getting afloat and having fun. So next time you’re thinking of putting off going to the beach/lake because the forecast looks dud think again. Stick your big windSUP, grab one of the McConks Go Sail inflatable windsurf sails and head on down for some back and forth light wind sunshine cruising. Trust us: you’ll be thankful you did…