Formula Windsurfing Can Change Your Life

Chris Bond, a recent convert to Formula windsurfing shares and explains why the often hidden side of our sport can be a lot more fun than you may think. 

Everyone has heard of Slalom Racing, Wave sailing and Freestyle; we’ve seen the photos, watched the video footage and know the stars. But who knows much about the Formula windsurfing scene? The aim of this article is to explain what Formula windsurfing is all about (including the race scene), to banish some of the myths and explain the benefits to promote this little spoken about part of our sport.

Formula Windsurfing Chris Bond
Chris Bond in action

For those of you who have absolutely no idea about what I’m talking about, Formula windsurfing involves HUGE kit. Boards are around 230cm in length and roughly 1m wide with 70cm fins. Rigs go up 12.5m and often only as small as 9m – at this moment in time you may already be put off but read on and find out why it’s not a barmy option.

At this stage I’m going to introduce myself – They call me Bond…….Chris Bond and I’ve been windsurfing for 26 years. Up until six years ago I had spent much of my time as an instructor abroad. I only used small kit and was convinced that you’d never catch me on a sail bigger than a 6m, let alone on a board that resembles a barn door! However, on my return to this country I seemed to spend a lot of my time sat on the beach praying for more wind.

Formula Windsurfing Racing
Formula Windsurfing Racing in Leba


So the options were: remain sat on the beach and get fat, take up kite surfing or get bigger windsurfing kit. I took the latter, have not looked back since and finished 3rd in the UK series last year.

Formula Windsurfing Chris Bond
Chris Bond

So what’s the big deal?

First of all let’s banish the myths about Formula and also racing Formula, which I’ll come to later on:

  1. It’s slow and boring and involves lots of pumping – WRONG. Boards can get close to 30knots and racing only takes place in planing winds, so no real need to pump.
  2. It’s ridiculously expensive – WRONG. Whilst brand new equipment is pretty pricey (isn’t it all??) there is a large second hand market that can get you on the water without breaking the bank. You will only need one board and some people only have the one sail.
  3. You have to have an amazing high ability in order to do it, especially compete – WRONG AGAIN. To sail Formula is pretty straight forward and falling off a 1m wide board is pretty tough. Racing just takes a little practice and there is an entry level course laid out at all events for newcomers.

OK, so that’s banished the myths so let me now set out my stall to convince you that sailing Formula is overwhelmed with huge benefits…

Formula get’s you on the water more – some people can get Formula kit planing in as little as 5knots of wind!! Most though are planing from 8-9knots upwards, so just think of all those summer days you can be out there blasting up and down as opposed to being bored on the beach.

  1. Formula gets you fitter – more time on the water coupled with using big rigs will soon have you looking like Laird Hamilton…..well almost.
  2. Formula improves all aspects of your windsurfing – let’s face it, once it’s blowing 20 knots most would opt to return to small kit. When you do this you will not believe how small your sails will feel and you’ll be throwing them around like never before.
  3. Formula gives you opportunity to enjoy the race scene – racing has many many benefits:
  4. Your skill level will improve – sailing alongside others, especially those of higher ability, will inevitably raise your level especially if you have a competitive edge to your personality. Also, advice is on hand whether it’s to do with rigging or technique.
  5. The social scene is amazing – once racing is over out come the BBQ’s, music and the odd beer. The days racing is scrutinised along with crashes near misses etc.
  6. Racing takes you to all sorts of new sailing locations around the country and even around the world should you wish.

So, what kit do you need? For boards it’s straight forward as they don’t tend to differ that much from manufacturer to manufacturer – I would not recommend getting anything over five years old though. To start off with just get the one sail depending on your weight – 10m is often a good size but if you’re used to sailing big slalom rigs go straight for an 11m. If you weigh less than 75kg maybe try a 9m. If you come to a UKWA event kit can be lent to help you choose your ideal combination.

Formula Windsurfing Racing in Squamish, BC
Formula Windsurfing Racing in Squamish, BC

The UK race scene comprises of two series; the Inlands and the Cup Series. Racing takes place around a box course involving both upwind and downwind sailing. Formula boards plane really quickly upwind and can go super deep downwind. Kit wise most people who have been Formula sailing for a while will have one board and usually three sails. However, I did my first two seasons with just one sail – an 11m.

Information on the UK race scene can be found at and for international go to

I hope I’ve sold the whole concept of Formula sailing to you whether it’s just to blast about on summer days or whether it’s to come along enjoy the race scene. I’ve never looked back since I picked up my first Formula board and the racing scene has only added to this enjoyment. Should you want any more info regarding any aspect of Formula sailing then please feel free to contact me:

Find me on FACEBOOK or email me:

Chris Bond is sponsored by Point 7 sails, Robin Hood Watersports and Denby Campervans.

Check out more on Formula on Boards.

Formula Windsurfing Chris Bond
Chris Bond
  1. iraceboard

    I raceboard…

    formula kit breaks when you look at it.

    Classic raceboard is fun from 3 to 30 kts wind.. 9.5 m down to 6 meter if you really want….

  2. FRA 418

    A bit a different story for me, but similar as I was often just behind Chris and then a bit further back as he improved significantly. So I am French, did one year in School in Colorado as a child, so when I could I went to England to speak English again. After all I was closer to England than to Paris. Despite a very difficult time the first months to learn or understand anything again in English I had a lot of fun in the uk universities (at that time it was much cheaper to study) and managed to find things there, often with just enough money but with plenty to learn. I stayed about 11 years . Also I used to sail dinghies in Brest since 1988. I started with Optimist which I sailed for 4 years reaching regional level, then a dinghy called l Equipe 2 years (2 people) and did well being 7 in the national ranking and winning some races. Then 2 years of 420 but with changing crew it was difficult. Then took on laser radial and ended up 15th in France, then standard for a couple of years, a sailor from my sailing team went to the olympics later. But myself I was in England now I took the laser belonging to my sailing club to England on a housemate spanish car, and managed to do a couple of RYA qualifiers one in stokes bay with a littlejohn car from Plymouth and in Plymouth the next qualifier I won a race beating somehow paul goodison but was further back overall. The laser being good for tactics but not so much for engineering I bought a finn from 1976 in Bournemouth, 600 pounds, i went by coach to see, it it was complicated without car, then it was delivered to Plymouth. Once I tow this very heavy dinghy from the Plymouth sailing club to the ferry terminal by hand at night in the rain to do a French national… One weird thing it was. There is a hill on the way! Won a race with it when all the fleet took the wrong boil which was quite fun which made it more worthwhile. Finally got a car and sailed it a bit on the RYA qualifier before it got dismasted in a strong gust at Grafham water.
    Then I bought a better finn from 1990 in Germany. Continued sailing and despite poor speed I qualified with the British team for the european championship 2004 were I was far far back. I remembered having dinner with Dave Howlet and Ben, a great experience. As the work needed more mind focus I could see I could never perform in the dinghy with the money I was earning and time I had. I needed fresh air rather than being last or being last with fresh air. I remembered about one of my 420 dinghy crew Loic FRA 55 which took up these strange sports with grey silver sails. I did not windsurf much before but decided to give it ago, when i saw him blasting when boats around where not moving. I bought some kit In Bristol for around 1000 pounds… The first sails where a bit horrific I must say… bad setting on the sail, inability to hook or go in the foot strap made it a bit terrible and wonder what I got myself into. I continued and made friends with Grafham windsurfers which helped me tune the equipment. Slowly it was getting better but quite scarry! I was not able to reach the upwind mark above 15 knots at Grafham course and was completely exhausted. I went to Marazion for a first event. By the time I finished the course it was already the next starting procedure… Anyway I continued when I could, then met this French guy Xavier who helped me a lot with the setting of the sail as he was one of the first in uk and would sometimes go trainning with him in Queen mary, or Hayling or Yaverland. I learned lots and improved much and could play a little bit more with the fleet. Then I tried international events and went with GBR40 to Poland and felt like a beginner again, being timed out or DNF where common. But improved and learned I did.
    I am not hard core sailor but Formula windsurfing for me is fresh air and a journey. The results are not that important because of the great time doing the journey and playing with the engineering bits of sails and masts.

    I am writing you this from Sopot poland where I try the eu cup 2. I took a wizz air flight 140 euros return with board. But I only took one sail…

    the 12 m, but here is supposed to be light wind.

    Fresh air and travel is good for balance.

    FRA 418

    Ps something that might save you a lot of time and money if you play with all kit.
    There is one thing to not do as beginner is to over downhaul the sail by putting massive tension you are much more likely to break the mast and the sails, especially if is old kit, even when it was new it was sometimes breaking. It is better to start with a soft mast to reduce stresses and reduce gear failure significantly, even if it is not the recommended mast. Soft mast are good for beginning.


    Bill you are wrong!

    “Dinghy sailing” really!

    Quote “you have no grass root support because of the price of new kit” sorry but read the article re. the myth buster section,,,,as for grass roots, do you really understand enough about the ukwa race scene and current events to think that you are qualified to comment on this issue, and if so,,,,,,WHY THE HELL HAVE YOU NOT FOCUSED YOUR EFFORTS SOONER ON SOMETHING MORE POSITIVE !!! instead of regurgitating the same old negative counter productive, Oh Slaloms better than Formula, Formulas better than RSX, RSX is better than Wave, Waves is better than Freestyle C**p, lets all go kitesurfing Nonsence (and by the way i spent 3 years kitesurfing and its great,,,,,,but windsurfing in my opinion is better).

    i have been windsurfing for 28 yrs and started Racing Formula about the same time as Chris and its not cost me a fortune, And my Back is Fine, if the kit is rigged right then the technology of the kit looks after all of the over powered issues for you, i think it may have been a while since you’ve used Formula Kit.

    When you said that sail size does not add much to the board speed or early planing – i think what you have failed to omit is add a metre wide Formula Board and a 70cm fin plus a big sail to the equation you will find that yes you are wrong once more, because in 8 to 10 knots of wind i’m up and planing with ease and traveling at 20+ knots an hour whilst as the “Bondage” pointed out actually “Windsurfing”, instead of standing on the beach “Windwatching” ( maybe this should be the next Olympic discipline, some of us seem to be very good at it).

    Quote”because of the price of new kit, and due to the alternatives you can spend your money on in these recessionary times. Formula just doesn’t add up. Take up kite racing?”

    Have you seen how much it costs to buy a course racing kitesurf board and a big kite,,,,,,i think you need to do your home work first before you start quoting figures, your now in danger of sinking your own Battleship. and if you are saying that there are better thinks to spend you money on, sure go ahead,
    I windsurf every type of board and there all Fantastic, you can pick up cheap kit no matter what discipline it maybe and you can also spend a fortune on kit no matter what the discipline it maybe, this is your choice depending on you own individual Circumstances.

    On a more positive Note Mr Bond well done, great article really positive, great to see somebody offering a great alternative pathway to all those unfortunate RSX riders and Tenchno Kids now that RSX is out of the Olympics, maybe the GRASS ROUTES of the UK can now be offered the opportunaty to chose an one of Five Great windsurfing Discipline like Slalom, Wave, Raceboard, Freestyle, and Formula to further there Fun with the UKWA competition Scene.



  4. Bill Short

    Sorry guys but there’s an elephant in the room here.
    Dinghy sailing is far more fun in light winds and Formula really shot itself in the foot when massive sails were allowed.
    Only those winning races and sponsored still think Formula is fun.
    You have no grass roots support because of the price of new kit, because of the fun – or lack thereof – you can have on 11m sails, and due to the alternatives you can spend your money on in these recessionary times. Formula just doesn’t add up. Take up kite racing?
    And just because we are having a lightwind start to the windsurf season does not mean Formula is the answer.
    Whereas a short and wide board with a limit of say an 8.5 rig just may be.

    Every extra square metre in rig size doesn’t add much to board speed or early planing – but it gets sailors to the chiropractor a lot sooner.

    Sorry if this sounds negative, but best balance the gushing comments so far.

    1. sceptic

      agree totally with you Bill; formula appear to spend most of the time on the beach; too windy not enough wind; 8.5m techno 293 with bigger fin is the way forward.

    2. Rich

      I have been a dinghy sailor for many years, and for many years I have thought of getting my fat behind in to board racing. Now, finally I am going to push myself in to board sailing after only having played in light airs before, and my intention will be to get on the race scene as quick as possible. My enthusiasm however has been dampened somewhat by this thread. It basically backs up my previous confusion on where the hell to start and what to sail. Is there a definitive answer on what discipline is best? From what I have seen so far the race scene is full of light weight young guns, neither of which could be used to describe myself.

  5. Jim

    Total right! I agree. Best way to practice windsurfing where the wind is pretty light and so cool to go everywhere we want, like a boat but a lot faster :-)

  6. Amy Carter - Editor

    Forgot to say thank you to Chris too!

  7. Amy Carter - Editor

    Anyone who has raced formula will know how much fun it can be, 10m may sound massive, I remember a year or two that I didn’t use below 8.5m (bearing in mind I was 16 and obviously a girl, it’s a bit crazy!). 5m is my biggest now, but definitely tempted back into racing! Might need to start with a slalom event or two with an 8m first, before I go all out with an 11m!

  8. ben proffitt

    Agreed good article… reminds me of when i used to race! One day when i get time i think i’m going to start to get back into a bit of racing. Although 10m sounds massive!!

  9. Dennis

    Nice article!

  10. Brian Roake

    Excellent feature Chris, with the current ‘impending demise’ of Olympic RSX windsurfing, Formula racing provides a real alternative and a lot less pumping!
    I can add for anyone thinking of taking up the Formula challenge do it.
    As just over a year ago I took up windsurfing again after a break of 21 years out of the racing scene. I’m just a youngster at 60, but can confirm that the support from fellow windsurfers, the helpful advice and tremendous social side at each event makes being part of Formula not to be missed!
    Come along and see for your self just how exciting Formula racing is!

BWA Ireland.Image courtesy Tim Smith/BWA

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