View Full Version : youngest age/weight/strength to sail?

3rd May 2007, 01:33 AM
Hi Roger,

what is the youngest in age and weight before the kids can learn to windsurf? I tend to think that if they can uphaul the sail they can learn to use it? i see maui sails has a 0.8 meter sized sail and sailworks has as small as 1.2 in their ripper. what sized child would be able to use a 0.8 sized sail? thanks for the info. i looked back at older posts but couldn;t find and answer on this :)



3rd May 2007, 02:34 AM
The first time i climbed on a board i was about 4. I don't remember ho heavy i was but i was a sturdy feller then and still am now. But if the conditions are nice lightwind with about 3 knots or so, you can easily teach someone to surf with a small rig of 1.5 m². I say it's best to learn with a bit of pull on the sail rather then with no pull at all which is boring even for little kids.

3rd May 2007, 04:23 AM
I know more up-to-date responses will be more useful, but I'll post for nostalgia reasons.

My father made me wait until I was 65 pounds. Our smallest sail was 40 square feet, which translates to 3.7m2 or so. The boom was teak too. The mast was pretty heavy back then too.

Before he allowed me on the board by myself, I would go out with him. I would stand there and touch the boom (thinking I was sailing), but in actuality I was just getting the stoke up.

3rd May 2007, 09:21 PM
Hi Paulc,
I agree pretty much with both Crazychemical and O2bnme here.
The first criteria is getting a rig that a tiny child can uphaul.
Once they can uphaul, then you need to find a board that has the CLR (center of lateral resistance) placed very close to the back of the mast slot (or have another mast box put in the board to facilitate this).
At first, having the child ride on the board is by far the best.
Then, if the child gets tired or frustrated, they can sit on the front of the board and the coach can sail them both back to the beach.
Once the coach is sure that the child has the ability to navigate out away from the beach, turn around by either tacking or a simple flare/flag jibe, and return to the point they left from, then I think using a tether system between 2 boards works best.
Make sure the coach has about the same size rig as the kid.
Also conditions are very important here, as with all beginners.
I tell most of my first time students to carefully assess the conditions, and their abilities as their skills grow.
Too much wind, current, or chop and the student can (and will) get themselves into trouble. This can scare them away from windsurfing permanently.
So, winds in the 5-12 knot range, with a very light weight rig, a safe venue, and a patient coach (who does not push them, bt allows them to challenge themselves that a rate they are comfortable with) are the keys to a kid's sailing success.
Why do we see tiny 3-4 year olds sailing around in Bonaire and performing some primitive freestyle moves....?
Lac Bay is the perfect venue for learning. Light winds in the morning, clean clear shallow water, lot's of "examples" in the older kids.
As far as using 0.8 m2 rigs, that can work, but the rig must be light enough for the kid to uphaul easliy.
The biggest factor here is finding a board with the correct CLR balance to work with a 0.8 m2 rig. Most entry level boards do not!
If the kid cannot sail upwind with the rig vertical (due to the mast track being too far ahead of the CLR) then they will always get downwinded, have to do the "walk of shame" and windsurfing will be very frustrating.
If you find (or modify) a board so the CLR and the CE of the tiny rig balance with the rig vertical, then everything works and the kid will be out there sailing around in almost no time.
Getting "mom" to be comfortable with watching her tiny one sail away, on their own, is a whole different issue.
If you select the right conditions, so MOM understands that there's almost no risk, and that the coach is there for immediate "backup" if it's needed, you tiny kid will be sailing around in a half a day from their first time on a board.
As O2bnme suggests, taking your child out, on a larger rig, and allowing them to sail it (with a little help from the coach) really gets them into windsurfing, in a totally safe way, and increases their "stoke" so they really want to learn to do it on their own.
Hope this helps,

4th May 2007, 03:12 AM
Thank you o2bnme, crazyChem and Roger. This answers my concerns. We have lots of fun just paddling the boards around like surfboards. Can;t wait to see their little faces when they learn to use the sails :).


Ellen Faller
13th May 2007, 01:58 AM
Hi Paulc,
If you are ever at Ninigret Pond in RI, please look for me in a large white Sprinter van. I have some Rippers in small sizes if you would like to take your child)ren) out with one for some fun sailing. And a big older Start which will let both of you have some time "sailing".

24th May 2007, 01:04 PM
Do you know if the Bic Nova 165 or 180 have a proper CLR for a 2-3m sail? I was thinking of the Nova so I could have some fun also when the kids are not sailing. I know it's a SB forum and al but it's hard to find experienced teacher for kids.

24th May 2007, 09:26 PM
Hi drzone,
I've used the Bic Nova (actually had one in the truck the first year they came out) and have instructed at a number of events where the local shop provided several Novas for kids WS camps.
I think BIC has done a slightly better job of placing the center fin slot relative to the mast slot than Starboard has on the Start/Rio/Starsurfer/Kiddy boards.
You can get other fins that will fit into the Nova centerfin slot (just look for very short ones (front to back in the slot) and you should be able to get a fairly good CE (of the rig) to CLR (of the board) balance.
Put the fin as far forward as it will go, and the rig as far back in the mast slot as it will go and you should be pretty well balanced.
A small weed fin with a lot of front overhang can be modified to bring the CLR even further forward. The size of the rear fin can also affect the overall CLR, so a tiny rear fin can help with this as well.
Bring your kids down to Plattsburgh, NY on July 7th and 8th and Ellen and I would be happy to provide them some "good for kids" instruction.
Hope this helps,

25th May 2007, 10:20 AM
Thanks Roger. Exactly what I was looking for.
I'll keep Plattsburgh in mind, a little far with young kids but good opportunity.