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The Predominant Windsurfing Sail Designs

windsurfing sail

In the windsurfing world there are two predominant sail designs, mainly cambered sails and rotational sails. Cambered sails are a good choice if you’re looking for speed and stability. They aren’t a very good choice if you are looking for ease of use and maneuverability. To put it in other words, cambered sails aren’t that maneuverable and easy to use, but they are stable and speedy. Cambered sails are widely used for races.

Now the reason why cambered sails are stable and speedy but not that easy to use and maneuverable is because they have 1-5 camber inducers, plastic devices at the ends of battens which cup against the mast and help to hold a rigid aerofoil shape in the sail. That rigid aerofoil shape is what makes the sail better for speed and stability. Speaking of rigidity, these sails have battens that help make the sail more rigid.

Rotational sails are pretty much the opposite of cambered sails. What I mean to say by that is that rotational sails are very maneuverable and quite easy to use – which is good. But they aren’t as stable nor are they as speedy as cambered sails - which is not that good. The fact that rotational sails are maneuverable and easy to use makes them a good choice for novice and intermediate riders. And speaking of novice riders, they will also like that rigging up rotational sails is a lot easier than rigging cambered sails.

Rotational sails get their name from the fact that they flip to the other side of the mast when tacking or jibing. Rotational sails have battens which protrude beyond the back aspect of the mast; they have aerofoil shape on the leeward side only when filled with wind. When sheeted out, rotational sails ca be completely flat and depowered.

Different sail designs are used for different windsurfing disciplines.

Freestyle sails for example have high low-end power (which translates to quick acceleration) and are flat when depowered.
Freeride sails offer great all-round performance and focus on being easy to use (because freeriding is all about having a smooth rider when sailing in flat water or small chop).
Wave sails are reinforced so they can handle the chop; when depowered they are flat (which means they let the rider tackle the waves like surfers do).
Last but not least, racing sails are all about speed. They sacrifice things like maneuverability and comfort in exchange for speed – lots of speed.