Windsurfing Competition Types

Once a windsurfer has mastered the basic, intermediate and even advanced skills, there are a number of challenging venues to test their abilities. North Carolina holds everything from annual windsurfing tournaments to simple big annual free rides, attracting countless windsurfers who want to congregate and enjoy a great day on the water. For the competitive types, the sport has a lot to offer, and advanced windsurfers can find a number of competitions throughout the world that cater to both their skill level and the style of windsurfing they have mastered.

Freestyle and wave style competitions are decided by the sailor with the best technique and diversity by a panel of judges. Similar to surfing competitions, the sailor with the best and most impressive rides with a few tricks thrown in generally takes the crown.

Olympic Boardsailing, Formula windsurfing, Slalom and SuperX appeal to the speed windsurfers, as they are simply races where a number of sailors compete on a "course," or a certain designated region of water. Speed Racing is a similar challenge, and is a race where sailors compete on a straight 500-meter course, one after the other, instead of all at the same time in a group.

In Olympic Windsurfing, "One Design" boards are used. All sailors use the same boards, daggerboards, fins and sails. The equipment is chosen to allow racing in a wide range of sailing conditions. This is particularly important for the Olympic Games, as events have to take place regardless of whether there is enough wind for planing. The equipment changes as new designs progress, but the Neil Pryde RS:X is the current Olympic class which was used for the first time in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Formula windsurfing, which first found popularity in San Francisco, California, has developed over the last 15 years as a means of generating high performance competition in light and moderate winds. Formula is now a class of windsurfing boards controlled by the International Sailing Federation that have the principal characteristic of a maximum 1-meter width. They have a single fin, with a maximum length of 70 cm and carry sails up to 12.5 square meters. The Class rules allow sailors to choose boards of different designs produced by multiple manufacturers, as long as they are certified as Formula boards and registered with ISAF, and use fins and sails of different sizes.

With the different sail, fin and board choices, the equipment is able to be tailored to suit sailors of all body shapes, and formula windsurfing presents one of the fastest course-racing sailing craft on the water.

Slalom is also a high speed race, but in a course shaped like a Z. The general rules are that the course should on a beam reach with floating marks that have to be jibed around, however these competitions can only be held in certain conditions, as Slalom boards are small and narrow, and require high winds.

One of the newest competitions to enter the windsurfing world is the Super X competition. This discipline is a cross between freestyle and slalom, where the competing sailors race on a short downwind slalom course, have to use duck jibes on all turns, and are required to perform several tricks along the way, such as jump over an obstacle, spock or even front loop.

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