Kids kit has never been better, so go on, treat them! Wonderful miniature rigs, scaled down boards and narrow gauge booms, it’s like a Lilliputian playground. We beg you not to put them on the old narrow, wobbly long board that you learnt on. Modern wider more stable designs massively improve their whole learning experience. So here’s some advice on board and rig selection.
If you’re looking for a family board, check out our Beginners Board section and choose a board with a soft deck, they are so much kinder to wetsuits and knees climbing on and off. With regards to volume, if you’re not too heavy and you’ve got kids under 10 who will be using the board a lot, go for a slightly smaller family beginner board 150-160L, rather than 170-185L+ boards. Also make sure you fit a sub 28cn fin to make turning easier.
KIDS BEGINNER BOARDS “Fantastic Features’ – “Easy, stable, turns easily and a lovely soft Deck”
If you’re looking for a specific kids beginner board then getting the right volume is key. As a rough guide go for a board 3-4 times their body weight in kilos converted into Litres (E.g 35Kg child = 105-130L beginner board). Make sure it has a central fin or daggerboard and a small tail fin under 28cm otherwise it will be difficult to turn. Once again go for soft decks with footstrap options. It’s worth buying from a distinguished brand as they keep their value on the second hand market.
KIDS SHORT BOARDS “Lighter with narrower footstrap settings , perfect for kids!”
Many centres have rental arrangements that take the kids through the first stages of the sport. So for whizzy types who pick sports up quickly and can stay upwind without a daggerboard, there’s no reason why they can’t use an adult Freeride board. As a rough guide go for aboard that is 50-80L above their weight in Kilos for kids learning to get into harnessing and straps. Once again, make sure the fin is under 28cm until they’re in their teens. However, if your kids are small build or under 14 years old, the distance between the footstraps can be an issue, so the best option is a specific kids short board. These are lighter scaled down versions of adult boards, with narrow strap spread and fit. They come in various volumes and styles and offer the ultimate platform for youngsters to really rip and get into windsurfing easily!
The most important factor for younger windsurfers is the rig. If adults appreciate the benefits of a stable and light rig, then someone half the size and strength (and probably twice the enthusiasm) will benefit even more. Well there’s good news. There are some amazing little rigs on the market. So seek out light battened sails, skinny masts and narrow booms. Putting them on small adult rigs too soon is a problem because the boom cut out can be too high and the whole rig is too heavy. Small and light is right for kids!
Battened v Soft Sails
Without question, young beginners at windsurfing schools prefer soft sails during their first few days on a board. It helps them feel the wind more easily and they are lighter to uphaul. Once they’ve had a few days on the water, there’s no reason why they can’t move onto kids battened rotational rigs, which offer more stability and directional feel. So don’t buy soft sails, by 3-4 batten rotational kids rigs, they will have more wind range and they won’t grow out of them.
SAIL SIZE GUIDE
The most commonly asked question is, “What’s the right size sail?” Well, just like adults, sailor stature and ability play a part in the choice. For instance one particular 10 year old might be larger than another and therefore capable of using a larger rig. Also as they grow up and progress onto larger sails, they still need smaller rigs for higher wind sessions. So if you have a couple of kids or wanted to cover a wide wind range, having a 1.5-2m rig and a 3.5m rig is decent quiver to see kids through from 6-12 years old. Once the kids are into their teens, provided they’re not too small, they can use adult rigs. In racing events, some kids as young as 12 are using 6.5m rigs!
KIDS RIGS GUIDE
5-6yr olds – 1.0-1.5m kids rig
6-8 year olds – 1.5-2.0m kids rig
8-10 year olds – 1.5-2.5m kids rig
10-12 year olds 2-3.5m kids rig
12-14 year olds 2.5-4.5m kids rig
14-17 year olds 3.5-7m Adult rig
It won’t be long, like a couple of days, before they will be asking what a harness is and can they have one. The answer should be yes. Kids should learn to harness as early as possible to save their arms and learn to blast. You can get extra small kids harnesses, just make sure they try them on wearing a wetsuit to ensure it fits properly, with the obligatory room for growth of course. Harness line length should be elbow to middle of palm.
KIDS SET UP
Mast Base: 130cm from the tail or as far back in the track as possible.
Boom Height: Shoulder to chin height.
Fin: Make sure you use a fin no more than 28cm otherwise they will find the board too hard to turn.
So, if you’re keen to get your kids windsurfing, give them the best start possible. There’s a healthy second hand market for kids kit, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to pass gear on to other families. So get out there with them, when you’re to old to carry your kit, you’ll have your own personal caddie!