Windsurfers: they have priority over kiteboarders | Photo: Red Bull

Windsurfing is a safe sport and is guided by several sailing rules. The fundamental windsurfing guidelines set a group of directives to prevent water accidents.

Motorboats - jet skis, fishing boats, speed boats, and runabouts - must make way for windsurfers, surfers, and wave riders.

In other words, the weakest ones have the right of way, as they can't move or change direction rapidly.

Commuter transportation - ferries, liner ships, pleasure watercraft, maritime police boats - has the right of way over windsurfers, surfers, and wave riders.

Rules also require windsurfers to keep a distance of three masts from swimmers, surfers, and bodyboarders, which means that windsurfers don't have the right of way over their fellow water sports.

Windsurfing is always forbidden on bathing beaches and coastal swimming areas.

Windsurfing: the right of way rules

Three Golden Rules

There are three basic right-of-way rules between windsurfers: leeward over windward, starboard tack over port tack, and responsibility to maintain direction.

A leeward windsurfer has right of way over the windward windsurfer. This means that the upwind sailor can keep his track.

But, if two windsurfers sail toward each other from different directions, the right of way is given to the one whose sail, from his point of view, is on the left side of the board (starboard tack).

This means that you have the right of way when your right hand is closer to the mast.

Windsurfing rules also require the windsurfer with right of way to maintain his direction and speed, while the sailor with no right of way must change direction to avoid collisions.

In wave windsurfing, the rules are simple. The first windsurfer in the wave has the right of way, and the closest windsurfer to the peak also has priority.

Finally, windsurfers have priority over kiteboarders.

But remember that a kiteboarder may not know the rules, so play it safe and communicate your decisions when possible.

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