Tips and Tricks

Slippery Decks

Even brand new boards can have slippery decks. If you've never sailed on a sticky deck, you will be amazed at how much better you sail on one. Re-Dek, available at most shops is about the best and easiest non-slip around. On a warm sunny day it will dry as fast as you can get it on and it lasts almost a whole season for even the most active windsurfers. Be careful when using a freshly Re-Deked board with a new pair of booties because you will stick like flypaper!

Stuck Mast

Almost everyone has had a two-piece mast stick before, especially when sailing around sand. There are a lot of different techniques out there. For the best grip for team twist-n-pull, attach a boom above and another below the joint for extra leverage. The best medicine is prevention. I always run a strip of tape over the joint before I rig. This keeps the mast from separating while rigging (and unrigging) and keeps particles out of the joint. Works like a charm!

Stuck Base

Similar to above, your base can sometimes get stuck in the mast, especially if you do not have a reduced diameter base like a Chinook or Windsurfing Hawaii. Try attaching the downhaul line to a solid object like a tree and pulling by the mast. Since the downhaul line is attached fairly close to the centerline, it directs the pull where it needs to be. If your downhaul line breaks, it probably needed replacing anyway.


If you can downhaul your sail with your bare hands, you are probably not downhauling enough. Invest in an aluminum cleat handle ($13) or a crank ($46) one of the many other devices to grip the line. Stay away from the plastic ones which can fail and expose your hand to sharp edges under heavy load. Can you say stitches?

Downhaul Line

Always keep extra downhaul line handy. I usually buy enough for several 4ft lengths. It's great to have around if you have to give OR receive a tow.


Inspect it and replace it often! And a piece of line between the tack of your sail and the base of your board will keep your gear together if the joint or the base fails. An extra U-joint will get you right back on the water should you break one. I always carry three in my gear box.

Loose Fin

A loose fin will cause premature spinout. The American Standard and European fins can easily be tightened by using shims made from 2-liter plastic bottles or aluminum cans. Recycle!

Cold Weather Gear

The air temps where I sail the most drop to 25 to 35 F with water temps around 35. I stay warm in a 4/3 suit. When it gets really cold I wear my 2.5mm farmer john shortie underneath. I wear a hood that covers my ears and the back of my neck for the top end. For the bottom end I wear a pair of rubber socks and my booties on top. My favorite hand covering is powder-free surgical gloves under leather lined neoprene gloves with the palms cut out. This keeps the wind off my knuckles yet allows me to easily grip the boom. Frequent breaks also help.


It's a long sail home without a fin. So what do you do if you lose one? If your fin screw breaks on your American Standard oe European fin you can simply remove the fin and put it in backwards, unless of course your pin falls out like mine did. In that case, remove your harness and wrap it around the tail of your board with the bulk of it underneath for resistance. Don't forget to run the harness straps through your foot straps. It won't sail great but it's a whole lot faster than swimming. Or if you're coordinated enough you can sail the board backwards. It works.

Broken Harness Buckle?

Alex Pang's (pang[at] idea as posted on rec.windsurfing

Here's a trick that can save your arms from sailing back without a harness, and possibly to keep sailing even with a busted harness buckle

Remove buckle, slide belt through belt loop (hope yours has one), then attach the broken buckle back to the belt to stop the belt from sliding back through the belt loop. (I didn't remember this when mine broke at the Gorge).

Broken boom?

This is also from Alex pang. The goal is to find enough pieces/parts so that you can rig a whole side.

a. If the outgoing arm broke, simply sail back in on the good side.

b. If the incoming arm broke, detach boom, flip it over, and sail back.

c. If an arm and a tail broke, you can still make a whole side to sail back in. Assuming the broken tail and arm are on opposite sides, pull out the broken tail and put the good tail into the side of the good arm. you now have a whole side, though the broken tail piece may be sticking out weird. Flip boom, as needed, to sail in.

d. If you break both arms, or both tails, hope you're not too far out for the swim in. I suppose if you know some old school freestyle, and have a floaty board, you could sit on your board, hold the mast with one hand, and the foot of the sail with the other hand, and sail in. Might tear up your sail though.

Safety gear

Check out your local dive shop for some really neat safety and convenience items. I'm surprised that these items are not marketed to the windsurfing community. There are all sorts of whistles. Ever try to hail someone in heavy seas only 25 yards away? Knives for cutting downhaul and outhaul line, nets, etc. Emergency strobes for evening/night time sailing. Some of you may have seen mine already. Inflatable visual aids for making your position visible in rough seas.

There are also all sorts of attachment devices for keys, downhaul tools, etc. I have been using one attached to my harness belt for my key. There are also waterproof cases for cell phones and radios.

Take a peek sometime. There are a lot of really neat items in there that may work for you.

Boom Regripping Instructions

Although I've only done 2 sets, both came out really nice. The ad said "have fun regripping at home". Yeah, sure. Well, maybe you won't end up hating yourself for it.

1) Remove the tubes from the front end. The new grip will actually go up into the front end a little so scribe around the tubes where the old grip ends. This mark will be referred to later.

2) With a razor blade, scraper, exacto knife, or other sharp instrument, and with a lot of patience, start at one end and scrape off the old grip. This is the slow step. Scrape down to the old glue as this is hard to scrape. The rubber does not come off cleanly but it does come off. Remove all of the old grip material, leaving some of the old glue. This can be sanded off with 60 grit paper. Some of the old glue can probably be left on but I remove all of it so I get a smoother surface. You can also use an organic solvent like gasoline, trichloroethylene, or acetone. I wiped the tubes with it to clean it up but these chemicals can be a little harsh on your skin and the environment. Some people will actually soak the tubes in the above solvents if they have some container large enough that's not made out of plastic. And not all gloves will protect you either. Some will dissolve.

3) Cut the new grip material to length to fit the area to be covered. The grips in the first kit I bought were a little short while the ones in the second were about the right length. It helps to unroll the material and let it lay out for a while to keep it from curling back up.

4) Starting at one end, cover the new grip with the contact cement supplied with the grip. I've also used industrial type cement. Apply it up to where the line was scribed in #1. Lay it on pretty heavy. Don't worry about small lumps. We'll take care of them later. The cement dries in about 1 millisecond but don't brush back over it or it may pull off. Try to cover the first time being careful not to leave dry spots. Once dry, the cement will only stick to itself. This is referred to as a cohesion as opposed to adhesion. No, there won't be a test.

5) Repeat #4 for the boom tubes.

6) With the grip material lying flat, lay the tube with the scribed line up to the edge of the grip material with the rear end of the tube raised. Try to lay the tube down onto the grip keeping it in the center of the rubber. This will keep the final seam on the inside of the boom.

7) Going back to the front end, wrap the grip around the boom on one side first. Press down with the palm rather than the finger tips to keep out as much air as possible. Press firmly at the edge to get a really good bond. This edge will be important later. Continue down the length of the boom.

8) Using a new razor blade, cut a 45 degree bevel down the length of the grip where it is bonded to the boom all the way to the end. Along this bevel apply contact cement.

9) Again, using palm action, roll the grip around the tube, overlapping the bevel, along the length of the tube. Go back and press firmly over bevel to make a good seal.

10) Use a razor blade to trim excess material, leaving as little extra as possible.

11) Sand this raised strip with 60 grit paper util smooth. Excess glue will also sand off. You should be left with only a barely visible thin line. If you feel the seam you probably haven't sanded enough.

12) Press down on any lumps of cement under the grip with your fingers. It should smooth out easily.

13) Reassemble booms to front end. Grip should slip under edge of front end. Attach harness lines and rear end. Just add water, wind, and waves.

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