Can You Surf On a Windsurf Board?


Everyone knows that you can surf waves with a surfboard. However, may people are unaware whether or not surfing waves on a windsurf board is even a real possibility.

It is definitely possible to surf waves on a windsurf board as long as proper technique and body positioning are practiced. However, you should be aware that it is much more challenging to surf waves on a windsurf board compared to a standard surf board.

In the latter portions of the article, we will discuss why people commonly develop the misconception that windsurf boards cannot surf waves and address the question of whether or not you should surf with a windsurf board. We will dive into the exact reasoning why windsurf boards possess the capability of tackling waves in the next section.

Reasons Why You Can Surf On a Windsurf Board

There are a few concrete elements that grant windsurf boards wave riding capabilities. The concrete elements that stand out the most in my mind are outlined below.

Surfboards and Windsurf Boards Have Similar Fundamental Designs

For one, surfboards and windsurf boards have a similar foundational construction.

At the most basic level, surfboards and windsurf boards share the property of being longer than they are wide. The boards are deliberately rounded at the nose and have a slight taper near the tail end.

This fundamental structural blueprint is essential for maintaining speed, control, and maneuverability out on the water. The specific board dimensions may vary, but the general premise remains the same.

In addition, they both feature streamlined rail edges along with a fin on the underbelly of the board. The streamlined rail edges aid in steering the board one direction or another. The presence of the fin helps promote directional stability and command throughout the entire steering process.

Although the surf board and windsurf board are tailored toward contrasting water endeavors, these parallels in board framework are undeniable. It is for this reason that windsurf boards are able to accommodate riders that yearn to surf some waves, even though the windsurf board is not specially designed for the realm of surfing.

All About Proper Technique and Body Positioning

Another reason that makes surfing on a windsurf board possible is how important of a contributing factor technique and body positioning play in surfing.

A person can have all of the most expensive, high quality surfing gear in the world, but this will do little to no good if they refuse to perform proper technique and body positioning.

There is a wise, old adage that is very applicable to this phenomenon. It goes something like this:

It is the wizard, not the wand.

In other words, it is the skill of the rider that determines how capable someone is able to surf the waves. Contrary to popular opinion, equipment is of little importance relative to individual skill, no matter how specialized that equipment may be.

The top windsurfers in the world can accomplish miraculous feats on the water. Their vast experience and practical skill set allows them to do the unimaginable while commandeering a windsurf board. Given enough time and practice, these high caliber windsurfers are able to overcome the odds and surf waves because their technique and positioning is so on point.

It does not matter that windsurf boards were predominantly built to harness the power of the wind and not the power of the waves. As aforementioned, the disposition of the windsurf board is similar enough to the surfboard to make the prospect of surfing possible. If there is a will, there is a way.

Examples of People Surfing On a Windsurf Board

If you still doubt the performance of windsurf boards in the domain of surfing, check out the video below! This is real, tangible evidence of an experienced rider surfing a couple of waves with a windsurf board.

As you can see, surfing is not reserved for surf boards alone. Windsurf boards are also fully capable of surfing if a rider has the skill set to do so.

You may have noticed that the video is titled “Golden Wavesailing Hour” as opposed to windsurfing. This is because there is an entire discipline of windsurfing dedicated purely to surfing on windsurf boards called wave sailing. Thus, surfing on a windsurf board is not entirely uncommon given that there is a whole subcategory of the sport committed to this sole purpose.

Furthermore, there is another windsurfing discipline that is the more extreme version of wave sailing called big wave. Windsurfers that specialize in this area surf on the most colossal waves in windsurfing hot spots around the world.

When I say these waves are monstrous, I am not over exaggerating. Some of these swells can range anywhere from 9 to 24 meters (30 feet to 80 feet). The most notorious location that serves as the mecca for big wave windsurfing competitions is Jaws, a Hawaiian locale that houses waves that look something out of a nightmare.

If you want concrete evidence of windsurfers surfing these towering waves, click on the video below to see for yourself!

Why People Question the Possibility of Surfing on a Windsurf Board

A tremendous number of people in the water sports community believe that surfing is simply not meant for windsurf boards. As you now know, this is a mistaken assumption.

This begs the question… How did these erroneous notions come about?

Mistaken Belief #1: The Wind and Waves Always Conflict with Each Other

People think that the harnessing the power of wind and the power of the waves simultaneously is an impossible task. They believe that these two forces conflict with another, which eliminates the prospect of sufficient maneuverability.

Although there is a grain of truth to this claim, this is not always the case.

As far as the conflict between wind and waves goes, it is possible for the wind to conflict with where a windsurfer wants to direct themselves. That much is true. However, what you may not know is that windsurfers are capable of overcoming the antagonistic power of the wind if they play their cards right.

When surfing waves with a windsurf board, each type of wind direction has particular advantages and disadvantages. For example, according to Windwise, “cross-off winds are harder to launch out through, but better for riding ‘front side’ along the wave” and “cross-onshore winds is safest, more suited to jumping, but harder to ride ‘front side’ on” (source).

Windsurfers that steadily gain experience surfing eventually learn how wind direction influences their surfing capability. As they accrue more and more knowledge of the relationship between wind and surfing, they are able to handle a broader array of wind conditions on their windsurf board.

In summary, the wind can definitely add another layer of difficulty to surfing. However, it does not effectively stamp out the prospect of surfing on a windsurf board.

Mistaken Belief #2: Windsurf Boards are Only Meant for Catching the Wind

The second reason that a great deal of people refuse to believe that windsurf boards cannot be used for surfing is that these people believe that windsurf boards are exclusively designed for catching the wind.

From an outside perspective, this seems to be a reasonable assumption to make. With the lengthy mast and expansive sail, it is hard to believe that any other activity could be done with a windsurf board other than moving speedily across the water.

However, there is more to a windsurf board than meets the eye. Although the windsurf board is specially built to collect wind and propel the board across the water, this is just one purpose to a multi-purpose board.

People forget that there is a massive selection of windsurf boards available that cater to a variety of windsurfing disciplines.

For example, there are windsurf boards that are meticulously crafted for linear speed that are especially favorable for windsurf slalom racing. There are other windsurf boards that are built for flat water jumps and aerial maneuvers. These come in handy for individuals that take part in freestyle windsurfing competitions.

Just like windsurf racing and free styling, there are also windsurf boards that are specially constructed for the art of surfing. Generally, these types of windsurf boards are smaller and lighter than your average windsurf board to allow for maximum maneuverability on the waves. They mimic the structural framework of surfboards in this regard.

So in short, windsurf boards are not mere collecting ducts for the wind. They are multi-purpose boards that are suited for a diverse assortment of water activities.

Should You Surf On a Windsurf Board?

Now that we have established that you can surf on a windsurf board, you are probably questioning whether or not this is something you should do. I am of the opinion that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Ultimately, the answer to this question hinges on the facts. Do the facts support surfboards as the superior choice for surfing, or windsurf boards?

Surfboards are Typically Smaller and More Maneuverable

The main advantage that surfboards hold over windsurf boards is its depth of construction. When manufacturers form the framework for a surfboard, they do so with surfing specifically in mind. This means that surfboards feature shorter and narrower board dimensions that are better equipped to handle the distinct challenges that surfing presents.

The main concern that individuals have when surfing is maneuverability. If a rider cannot control their board on the waves, it is likely that they will be swallowed up by the wave as opposed to weathering the storm. This lack of board control also puts themselves and those around them at a higher risk of injury.

The slimmer build of surfboards helps riders to execute sharper turns and take command of where exactly they want the surfboard to go. When it comes to steering, windsurf boards pale in comparison because they are larger and more clumsy on the water.

So although surfing with a windsurf board can be done, it is not the most optimal choice for superior board control.

The Presence of the Rig Complicates Surfing

For those of you who do not know, the rig is the assemblage of the mast, sail, and boom that is fitted onto the board via a universal joint (UJ).

The assemblage of the rig is how windsurfers manually control the sail to gather wind power and propel the board along the water. The presence of the rig adds yet another complex element to an already complex activity.

For many, it is hard enough to master the activity of surfing alone. The rig forces the worlds of sailing and surfing to collide together. So now not only do individuals have to pay attention to surfing, they have to divert their attention to the sailing aspect as well.

This can be overwhelming for the majority of beginners trying to break into the surfing world. Even some seasoned windsurfers have trouble integrating the art of surfing into their skill repertoire.

This goes to show that windsurf boards may not be the most suitable option if you are looking for a nice, effortless surfing session. The standard surfboard does the best job of keep the activity of surfing as simple and easy as possible.

The Main Takeaway

Surfboards are the better option when it comes to pure surfing alone. But if you want to spice up your surfing and do not shy away from challenges, attempting to surf a windsurf board might be the choice for you!

Sources: 1 2

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

Recent Posts