How to sail upwind in windsurfing

Upwind: learn how to move forward across the water on a windsurfer | Photo: Carter/PWA

Upwind windsurfing is a basic technique that allows sailboarders to navigate toward where the wind is coming from. So, how do you go upwind? How do you zig-zag upwind?

Moving forward is one of the first things you learn when you get into windsurfing. Sailing upwind allows you to move forward across the water.

As you speed up, you will get acquainted with the sail and the board and start planing.

In windsurfing, like sailing, you don't simply move from point A to point B - you need to plan your trajectory with the wind.

One thing is for sure: it's impossible to sail directly upwind, into the wind ("In Irons").

That is why beginner windsurfers must learn how to fill the sail with the wind's pressure.

Upwind sailing also requires you to adopt a good stance so that your body can counterbalance the force of the wind.

Now, all you need to do is jump on the windsurfing board and start your first windward experience.

When the speed gradually increases, don't forget to adjust your stance to the choppy water and wind gusts.

Remember to avoid having the nose of the board facing directly into the no-go zone, i.e., into the wind.

Ideally, you should be sailing close-hauled, that is, at a 45-degree angle towards the wind.

Upwind Windsurfing 101

Start training your upwind windsurfing skill now:

  1. Find yourself a comfortable body of water (lake, ocean, river, etc.);
  2. Unfold the centerboard;
  3. Uphaul your sail;
  4. Get your hands close together and your arms straight;
  5. Lean the sail back;
  6. Turn your head and eyes upwind - look into the eye of the wind, towards where you want to go;
  7. Apply pressure on your back foot by putting more weight on the board's tail;

If you fall into the water while trying to sail upwind, don't worry. You're doing good - just keep up the windward training.

  • 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.