How to stop in windsurfing

Windsurfing: learn how to apply the brakes on your equipment | Photo: Carter/PWA

It might sound strange, but sometimes we must apply the brakes to our windsurfer. Whether you're sailing too fast or you simply want to avoid a collision, it's always important to know how to stop.

Windsurfing can be an extremely fast sport. A windsurfer can drive his board and sail at really high speeds.

The fastest athletes in the world push their equipment to around 54 knots (100 kilometers per hour).

Unexpected events can have dangerous impacts on our safety, and if we dramatically reduce speed, we can avoid serious injuries and damage to our and others' equipment.

Why Stopping?

There are many reasons why windsurfers are forced to hit the brakes:

  1. You're going too fast;
  2. An obstacle - rock, buoy, swimmer, watercraft - suddenly appears in front of you;
  3. A windsurfer or kiteboarder is on a collision path with you;
  4. You are not feeling good and need to take a break;
  5. You found a major malfunction in the rig;

How to Stop a Windsurfer

Like with a car, you can't bring a windsurfer from 25 knots to zero in a blink of an eye.

But you might be able to stop it in a couple of seconds:

  1. Jump off the board: if you're caught by surprise, or if you're still in the early stages of your windsurfing career, just hit the ejection button and jump off into the water to the opposite side of the sail;
  2. Drop the sail: when you let go of the sail, the equipment will lose speed until it stops completely. The downside is that if the sail catches too much water, you might get catapulted;
  3. Head up into the wind: sometimes, you want to reduce speed but need to keep standing up on the board. In those cases, shift your body weight on the back foot and lean the sail far back;
  4. Push the sail against the wind: advanced windsurfers can stop their windsurfer by leaning the mast into the wind and pushing the sail with the backhand into the breeze;

  • 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.