Beginner Windsurfing: How to Steer

Will Nicholls
Oct 21 · 3 min read

Some people find the concept of steering quite tricky when starting out windsurfing so I made an article to help you with steering. I’ve exaggerated the movements to clearly show you what I’m doing but it only takes small adjustments to make a difference.

In this session I was on a 4.5 metre sail, and a Mistral Levu WindSUP 12’.

So let’s start with steering towards the wind. To steer into the wind the rig needs to be placed towards the tail of the board. As the rig goes back you should counter the weight by shifting your body weight forward. I personally find shifting my hands closer to the mast helps so I can get the sail even lower and towards the tail.

Not only does the sail go towards the tail it also should be closer to the water and it’s almost a sweeping action down to the water and then towards the tail in a smooth motion.

If you are having trouble turning into the wind you could either be over sheeting the sail in which case let the sail out, drop it down to the water and sweep it towards the tail.

You might also be super light in which case you should sink the tail slightly which will lift the nose making it easy to turn but be careful not to go too far back as the weight of the sail and you at the back of the board could cause you to fall in.

Now let’s move onto steering away from the wind or “bearing away”. This can be quite tricky when you’re first starting out. The key is to spread your hands on the boom to get maximum control and the front hand should be placed slightly further away from the mast You want to shift the rig towards the wind slightly and lean the rig towards the nose of the board at the same time bring the sail towards your body with your back hand. The aim is to get the power of the rig in front of the UJ (the pivot point) so that the board spins away from the wind.

It’s worth noting. when you bear away you will also power up so it’s crucial to sit down onto your back leg to absorb and control the power.

Steering is a skill that will take you through your whole windsurfing life so it’s good to hone down the basics early on. I personally found it useful to exaggerate the movements in lighter winds and test to push the boundaries of steering with what I could or couldn’t handle then dialled. it back to fine tune my steering which was then really useful as I progressed.


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Private water sports Instructor. Mistral Hayling

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