In the origination of windsurfing there were only two types of windsurfing boards; shortboards or longboards. Longboards were over four feet long and were designed to sail in lighter winds or even for racing. Shortboards were less than four feet long and were designed for harsher conditions because they had better control. As the sport grew and throughout time equipment, including boards, changed and the dual classification system no longer works. Boards are now more enhanced with numerous designs each meant for a different style of windsurfing.
The 1990’s brought much popularity to windsurfing and also a change to the board. The modern windsurfing boards are derived from styles established in the mid 90’s. These boards are mostly derived from the short board design and move over the surface of the water rather then cut through the water. This allows the rider to be pushed faster and allow them more control when on the board. Most windsurfers prefer to sail in average conditions there are now boards that are designed for windsurfing in even the harshest conditions. While shorter boards allow the surfer to sail in average weather conditions larger boards are designed for harsher weather. Windsurfing boards can now be classified in an array of categories.
Freeride boards are meant for comfortable and recreational sailing. They are great for beginners and allow them to strait-line sail in flat waters. These boards are mid-length which provides users good control of the board as well as an equal level of freedom with the wind. Freeride windsurfing boards are most often the type rented to tourists because they are great for free sailing, without a course outline.
Wave boards are lighter, smaller and more maneuverable. They are great for experienced windsurfers and can be used to break waves, much like surfing. These boards allow riders to perform high jumps and narrow turns. Wave boards are relatively easy to use if the windsurfer knows what they are doing. They can be used in most weather conditions effectively with the right rider.
Freestyle boards are very similar to wave boards in the sense of weight and maneuverability. However, these boards are more wild with ability to perform enhanced tricks like jumps, flips and slides. Freestyle windsurfing boards were developed in the early part of the 2000’s to allow professional windsurfers to perform tricks easier then allowed by the wave board. This style of board has limited control and relies mostly upon the riders knowledge of how to work the board in the favor of the wind.
Slalom boards are essentially the same make as the first established short board. They are designed for top speed use and are great for outlined courses. They are meant to be used by only experienced windsurfers as they are difficult to control. Slalom boards are designed for racing and one strait-sailing. These boards are typically not very stable and the rider must concentrate on keeping the board upright and stable.
In addition to the four main categories of windsurfing boards there are an array of different combined boards. There are unique styles of boards that are available that attempt to combine the best features of two or more different types of boards into one boards. These mixes are preferred mainly by professional or avid windsurfers. Combining characteristics of different boards often makes them harder to handle unless you understand how to work the original version.
Original windsurfing boards were made from polyethylene filled with pvc foam, which made them quite heavy. Later a version of epoxy bards were designed to make the board lighter and easier to control. Most modern boards have a foam core that is reinforced with a shell that can be made from carbon fiber, Kevlar or fiberglass. This allows board manufactures to change the weight of a board in accordance to its use. Racing and wave boards are usually the lightest weighing between 10-15 pounds. These boards are usually brittle making them shock resistant and easier to control. Other boards weigh between 16-35 pounds and are more resistant then lighter boards.