Breakages are common in windsurfing; from a busted fin, to a snapped mast or a hole in your sail or board, they’re all fixable. Sometimes a quick fix on the beach is all it needs, sometimes a breakage means it’s time to head home, but whatever happens you need to be able to cope with it on the water and fix it when you’re back to shore.
PWA racer Sean O’Brien joins Boards to explain exactly what to do when the worst happens:
Bro, just tie your harness to your back footstrap and drag it behind the board, ay!
No matter your level, no matter your experience and no matter how brand-spankin’ new your equipment is, at some point in your windsurfing journey you’ll experience some gear failure; whether by your own fault or just sheer pot-luck! It can be a frustrating experience, but it can also be a dangerous experience. Safety is never something to muck around with so rather than bury our heads in the sand and hope it doesn’t happen to you let’s explore some easy solutions to common breakages that can get you home to the wife in one piece or back to the pub before last drinks!
One of my first experiences sailing in offshore winds at a cold water location in Europe was when I was 18 years old and competing at my first windsurfing World Championships as a youth in Scotland. Not the warmest of places and after blissfully enjoying the strong offshore winds for a few hours my fin snapped clean off at the base, spilling me in to the icy waters and putting me in to a dangerous situation where I was far from land, with a wind and tide pulling me further out to sea. If you’ve ever experienced a full fin shear, you’ll know that it’s virtually impossible to sail without a fin, especially if you are on powered up big race sails or in my case, sailing a formula board! I managed to stand up the sail, but with nothing to push against I would spin the board in circles and crash over and over again, losing my energy and quickly succumbing to the cold. Sitting on my board for a long while wondering what to do, I was finally spotted by another youth sailor at the event who sailed over to ask what my problem was and upon hearing of my predicament recoiled to me in his finest New Zealand accent, “bro, just tie your harness to your back footstrap and drag it behind the board, ay!”. I never forgot that simple piece of advice!