When and how to pump the sail in windsurfing

Pumping: a great way to increase speed in windsurfing | Photo: Carter/PWA

Pumping a windsurfing sail helps to propel the board. Learn how to increase your speed when you really need it.

Pumping is a light-to-no-wind racing technique that allows you to accelerate and/or and get planing.

However, if you don't do it correctly, it might slow you down.

There are several moments when you feel the need to pull the windsurfing sail towards yourself.

And you don't need a full course to start doing it. However, timing, strength, and practice are key ingredients to efficient pumping.

When to Pump the Sail

The pumping technique is extremely useful in five different moments:

  1. When there is no wind: whether you're trying to get back to shore, or make the board move, make sure you create your own "virtual wind" power;
  2. In light winds: if there's enough wind to get you moving, get the board on a broad reach, let out slightly with your back hand, and then pull the sail rapidly;
  3. To start planing: a useful technique in slalom windsurfing is to repeat the classic pumping technique several times until you gain the desired speed;
  4. To keep planing: in gusty wind conditions, you can pump your sail in between wind lulls to keep your speed high;
  5. In the waves: if you pump the sail when you're riding small open ocean waves, you get extra speed. Just make sure you pull the sail only when you're on top of the wave and never at the bottom of it;

How To Pump the Sail

Now, let's learn how to pump your sail to get your board moving in marginal wind conditions.

  1. Keep your legs and arms bent;
  2. Go slightly downwind;
  3. Start pulling the sail with the back hand and take pressure off the front foot;
  4. Push the mast forward at the end of each pump and apply pressure on your front foot;
  5. Keep the legs and hips locked;
  6. Drive the board flat and forward;
  7. Repeat the pumps with increased arm power;
  8. When you start planing, hook in, and adopt a Straight 7 stance;

Have you learned how to pump? Discover how a windsurfing sail works.

  • 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.