How to sail downwind in windsurfing

Downwind: the most unstable point of sailing | Photo: Carter/PWA

Learning how to sail downwind is a basic windsurfing technique. Discover how to find the balance quickly and easily.

If you're a windsurfing beginner and you've just managed to sail upwind, you will need to master the art of sailing with the wind.

Initially, the problem is just that you feel too much power in the sail.

As a result, it's never easy to keep the right balance between you, the board, and the sail.

The first useful tip is that you should keep your body low and use it to counterbalance the increased pull of the rig.

There are two basic ways of sailing downwind: on a broad reach or a run.

The broad reach is the easiest and most stable point of sail when learning to sail with the wind coming from behind.

You can zigzag from broad reach to broad reach by jibing.

If you need to control excess power in the rig when heading downwind, move your feet further back down the board and get your body position even lower.

Downwind Windsurfing 101

Ready to steer the board into a run, i.e., with the wind directly behind your back?

  1. Get one foot on each side of the board, with heels touching the centerline;
  2. Bend your legs;
  3. Lean the mast over one side;
  4. Keep your hands at shoulder width;
  5. Leave your arms slightly bent;
  6. Look forward through the window of the sail;

If you feel that you need more control of the rig, retract the centerboard.

Don't forget to relax and keep your body loose and flexible so that you can adapt to the overall movement of the board.


The time is now:

  1. Start sailing on a beam reach;
  2. Turn the sail away from the wind;
  3. Bring your front foot half a step behind the back foot;
  4. Quickly move your back foot opposite to the other foot;
  5. Bring the rig back and across the board;
  6. You're sailing on a run;

Remember that you will feel very little wind because you will be moving at a speed that is almost equal to the true wind.

Running is the most unstable point of sailing, so feeling wobbly is quite natural in the beginning.

  • Dutch environmental activist and windsurfer Merijn Tinga, also known as the "Plastic Soup Surfer," has made an audacious journey from Oslo to London, braving the North Sea's currents and winds, to call attention to the pervasive problem of plastic pollution.