How to thread the downhaul line in windsurfing

Downhaul line: learn how to run the rope properly through the pulleys | Photo: Unifiber

Master the art of threading the downhaul on a windsurfing sail without crossed lines and complicated weaving. Learn how to string the rope back and forth in less than a minute.

Rigging can be a slow and complex process in windsurfing, and the downhaul line is a classic jigsaw puzzle.

The more you sail, rig and de-rig, the more you forget how to run that particular rope properly through the pulleys.

The downhaul attaches to and pulls the bottom corner of the sail down to the bottom of the mast.

It is also used to adjust the tension on the front edge (luff) of the sail, which controls the curve or shape of the sail.

Bear in mind that more downhaul is less power and increased stability; less downhaul is more power and less stability.

Threading your Downhaul 101

The easiest way to remember how to thread your downhaul line correctly is to make straight lines back and forth between sail and mast pulleys.

You should always start close to the mast and close to the ground:

  1. Thread the rope down through the sail pulley towards yourself;
  2. Pull it to get more line;
  3. Bring it through to the top of the mast pulley;
  4. Thread the line through the upper part in the farthest pulley away from the mast;

You will now have a nice straight line, back and forth, between both pulleys.

  1. Bring the line around the outside of the bottom pulley, and thread the line through;
  2. String it up through the last middle pulley;
  3. Finish into the cleat;

Extra Tips

If you plan to start threading the downhaul line through the upper hole of the mast pulley, you should invert the positions mentioned above - the top of the mast pulley all the way to the top of the sail pulley.

The most common mistake while threading the downhaul of a windsurfing sail is getting a crossover.

If that happens, there will be friction, and you are not going to have enough downhaul tension.

Check if you didn't cross lines by running a finger through the rope from the sail all the way down to the extension.

You will now be able to make all the adjustments you need to fine-tune your windsurfing sail.

Use your foot, a Chinook rig winch, or a simple hook to tension the downhaul.

  • 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.