Summers here, waves and good wind become less regular, but you can still make the most of those summer swells with a WindSup. Getting out in waves is a great way to improve your regular wave sailing, it really helps to understand the break, the waves and your interaction with them. Plus if you can already windsurf you’ll already have the skills to get out and catch those light wind waves. I’ve had a WindSup since 2010 and I wouldn’t be without one, it gets me so many more wave sailing days than any other bit of kit I’ve ever owned. My latest Loco Sup has the best wave riding shape I’ve tried, it’s designed with performance in mind, it not only looks awesome in the wood finish I always have a grin on my face after sailing it.
So here are my top 10 tips for getting started using your WindSup for wave riding.
1: Give Way. If your out in waves on a WindSup you will be able to catch waves earlier and further out that anyone else. Make sure you don’t hog the break, leave plenty of space and waves for everyone else, it’s really easy to move around the break sailing a WindSup so aim for the quiet sections, people don’t want to see a 9 or 10ft board flying down the line toward them as they are starting to paddle for a wave, and you don’t want to run anyone down. Respect the break and respect all other water users.
2: 5.3 is big enough. It’s not planing windsurfing so don’t act like it is. Let’s face it if you could plane on a 5.3 you’d be on your small wave kit anyway. 5.3 is a great size as it’s light in the hands and easy to pump. If your a lighter rider you can drop down to a 5.0 without any issue. Personally I love my Hot Sails Maui SuperFreaks on the WindSup, I like the large rigging range and the softness of the sail allows it to go neutral when you don’t need the power and it can still give the drive when you do.
3: No footstraps. Move your feet. Don’t fit footstraps on your WindSup, to get the best out of wave riding you need to be moving your feet around, trimming the board and making sure you can get your weight adjusted to engage the rails in the turns and get your weight forward and back when taking the drop or coming off the top turn.
4: Big wide stance for getting out over whitewater. Your WindSup will easily go out over bigger waves than you think. The board will have a lot of width and float so will be quite corky on the white water. You can use a wide stance to rock the board over the swell pushing with your back foot to lift the nose as you hit the white water then pushing with your front and unweighting the back as the wave passes under you.
5: Pump. There doesn’t need to be a lot of wind but on a floaty WindSup you can pump the sail to move you around break, but it’s also useful to remember pumping the sail will give you something to lean against which helps when you need that extra bit of balance.
6: 5 knots x-off is plenty. When the wind is x-off the waves will be cleaner which make it much easier to drift and pump your way out back. You’ll also get an acceleration of the wind on the wave face itself which will give you more power in the sail as you get on the wave, and turn dtl.
7: It’s long boarding not short boarding, treat it as such. Your WindSup isn’t going to do 25 knots on the face, but it is going to ride waves, particularly if you’ve got a good wave shape in your board, you’ll be able to not only turn but also cruise down the line picking the sections you want to hit. Remember you’ve picked the wave up earlier than you would surfing or paddle boarding so you have plenty of time to enjoy the ride.
8: Lightwind freestyle, heli tacks and the like are great at improving your rig handling and board control. You can do this anytime on your WindSup but I find that clew first wave riding is great particularly when the wind is a little onshore as it will give you a bit more pull in the sail. Jumping round the mast and wave riding front to sail on the leeward side is great fun too. Practice your flat water light wind freestyle and then bring it to your wave riding to mix it up a bit.
9: Swimming with kit, When you eventually get cleaned out in the impact zone and you will, you’ll find there isn’t enough wind to waterstart and there may not be time to uphaul so you may need to swim into shallower water with your kit. The best way to do this is to grab the boom and the tail of the boom and swim surf yourself back into shallower, calmer water. I find that a small knotted line trailing off the tail leash plug makes an excellent grab point.
10: Give Way, see point 1
Loco Sup, K4 Fins, Hot Sails Maui.