Beginner windsurfing boards are designed for one thing only, to help you progress as quickly as possible whilst keeping a smile on your face!
The windsurfing industry has dedicated a huge amount of effort to encourage new participants into the sport. This has seen a big development in the design of beginner windsurfing boards in the pursuit to make it as easy as possible.
Back in ye old days beginner windsurf boards were extremely heavy and not very stable, which is not a great recipe for success (something to bear in mind if you buy old second-hand kit). These days beginner boards are so easy to use you will be up and windsurfing within an hour of your first lesson!
Before we begin, we are defining a beginner as someone who has never windsurfed before or only been on the water a handful of times.
Our first piece of advice before you buy a beginner windsurf board is to have a few lessons.
Compared with trying to figure it out for yourself, having some lessons will skyrocket your progression and learning the correct technique early on will be invaluable. During the lessons, you will also get to try a few boards and you’ll have a better idea of what it is all about. Your instructor will also talk you through board design and point you in the right direction for making your first purchase.
If you are looking for a beginner windsurf board, there are some questions you need to ask yourself which will help you make the best decision.
- What size board do I need?
- How am I storing the board?
- Do I want a board that will help me progress to intermediate level?
- What is my budget?
- Do I want a board I can also paddleboard on?
Table of Contents
What to look for in a beginner windsurf board
There are some key elements that create the perfect windsurfing board for beginners, which we go through below. These elements are especially useful if you are buying a second-hand board, and you can use this as a checklist to help ensure you’re getting the right board.
Volume is a way of defining the board’s buoyancy. The more volume the board has the more float it has, which means the board is more likely to be stable and good for beginner windsurfers.
The reason you need to care about board volume is that it directly relates to your weight, and will be a contributing factor to what size volume board you decide to get. Heavy adults will need to find a board with much greater volume than children, just to have the equivalent same buoyancy.
Volume is presented as litres, and 1 litre of volume will float 1 kg of weight. This is the minimum requirement to float, and of course, beginners will need much more than the minimum to be stable. Bearing in mind the rig also weights 10 – 15 kgs.
The perfect volume for an adult beginner windsurfing board will be from 160 – 210 litres.
Alongside volume, board width is a massive contributing factor to how stable the board is. Many windsurfers actually prefer to talk about width first with board design because of how important it is.
If you had a board that was 200 litres, but only 40 cm wide then it would be incredibly unstable. Even advanced windsurfers would struggle to turn on a board so narrow.
So if you are looking for a beginner windsurfing board, find one that is 75 cm – 95 cm wide.
The daggerboard (or centrefin) is a key feature of any beginner windsurf board. The daggerboard is a retractable fin that helps stop the beginner from easily drifting downwind.
This extra fin creates more resistance in the water and also helps with stability, especially when going slowly.
Having a retractable daggerboard will give you confidence practising in light winds and when it starts to blow you can retract it and try to get planing. Planing is when you pick up enough speed that the board skims across the water and you’ll be going 15 – 20 mph. This is when windsurfing gets really exciting!
Footstraps are what you’ll find on the top of the board, near the tail. These are used when planing to give you greater control at high speed in strong wind.
Now, footstraps are not needed when you are a beginner. But soon enough you will want to try windsurfing in stronger winds and being comfortable in the footstraps will give you a lot of confidence. Most beginner windsurf boards come with footstraps or footstrap options, so it’s important to be aware of when buying your first beginner board.
Some beginner windsurf boards have a soft deck (the top) which makes it less painful when climbing back on. The soft deck is a spongy material, compared with the hard deck that feels like sandpaper, and will help save scraping your knees or ruining your wetsuit.
Advanced windsurf boards don’t have a soft deck because they add weight and the windsurfer would do a beach or waterstart, instead of climbing on the board to uphaul.
Second hand or new
The final thing to think about when buying a beginner windsurf board is do you buy second hand or new? If money is no issue then buy new, because you will be able to get exactly what you want and you know the board will be in perfect condition. You will also get help from the windsurf shop you buy it from.
Finding a second hand can be more of a risk, but hopefully, with the above advice, you now know what to look for.
Find a board that is at least 75 cms wide, has a volume over 160 litres, has a daggerboard and does not look like this image below.
I searched eBay for a beginner windsurf board and this monster showed up (sorry to the person trying to sell it!). This board is probably 30 – 35 years old and will make you hate windsurfing forever, so, please avoid anything that looks like that.
Second-hand beginner windsurf boards will be at least half the price of buying new and if you are serious about learning to windsurf, you will probably outgrow any beginner board within a year.
Best windsurf boards for beginners
There are a number of different style beginner windsurfing boards on the market, and all are designed slightly differently depending on your aspirations.
Here we review the best board for each category and explain why you should use it, or maybe why you should buy something else.
Best beginner board – Starboard Start
We’ll start with the best true beginner windsurfing board.
If you have never windsurfed before, the Starboard Start is the easiest board to learn how to windsurf on. Starboard revolutionised beginner windsurfing way back in 1999, by producing the first world’s first ultra-wide beginner windsurfing board. This completely changed the way the industry thought about beginner windsurfing equipment and paved the way for a new style that focused purely on ease of use.
Starboard market the Start as the ‘World’s most stable windsurf board’, and they are probably right! The Start L (large) is 100.5cms wide, which means almost everyone who tries this board will never have to worry about balance. Not having to worry about balancing means the beginner can put focus on understanding how the rig works and how to steer.
The board has a soft EVA deck, which feels spongy and soft enough to be comfortable climbing upon. This soft deck also has a reinforced nose protector and higher density foam on the rails, which will protect the board from dings and make it last longer.
What we love most about the latest Starboard Start editions is the inclusion of a colour code system on the soft deck. There are different colours signifying where the rider should put their feet during each stage of the learning process. This makes it very easy for instructors to describe foot positioning and helps remind beginners where their feet should go.
Whilst the Starboard Start is the best board for true beginners, anyone wanting a board to progress to intermediate level might want something different. Whilst width provides stability in light winds, in stronger winds or chop the Start will feel very sluggish and difficult to control.
Starboard Start (Large)
- Width – 100.5 cm
- Length – 286 cm
- Volume – 246 L
- Weight – 20.7 kgs
- Daggerboard – Yes
- Footstrap options – Yes
+ Perfect board for 1st timers
– Competent beginners will find it sluggish
Best to progress on – Fanatic Gecko Daggerboard
If you have the ambition to progress and go faster in stronger winds, then you’ll need a board to match.
Most windsurf instructors and shop owners would recommend this type of board to be the first one you buy. Ideally, you will have had a few lessons and practice on a true beginner board like the Starboard Start, and you will have gained enough experience and confidence to try something better suited for early intermediates.
There is a fine line here of what progression board to choose. If you are already happy windsurfing without a daggerboard, an ‘intermediate’ board will be the best choice for you.
However, when I was learning, I always liked the reassurance a retractable daggerboard gave me. If I was to drift downwind or get into trouble, I could confidently put the daggerboard down and windsurf back upwind to shore.
Having a retractable daggerboard add’s weight to the board, but it won’t really be noticeable in the early stages of your windsurfing career.
The Fanatic Gecko is a great choice for a board that will take you from beginner to intermediate who is comfortable planing in the footstraps.
There are some similarities between the Gecko and the Start, being the soft deck, daggerboard and footstrap options. The main difference is the width, volume, thickness and overall weight of the board. The Starboard Start will feel more like an oil tanker in strong winds, not very manoeuvrable, heavy and sluggish, whereas the Gecko has a shape that is designed to get planing and will glide across the water with ease.
Fanatic designed the Gecko for early intermediates, which means they have used materials that are built to last and take a beating. When you are at this level trying to get planing, you are likely to catapult, a lot! This means you and the rig will get thrown forward towards the nose of the board. The integrated nose shield on the Fanatic will help protect the board from any dents or cracks, so you can continue pushing your limits and go faster and faster.
Fanatic Gecko Daggerboard
- Width – 85 cm
- Length – 252 cm
- Volume – 156 L
- Weight – 10.65 kgs
- Daggerboard – Yes
- Footstrap options – Yes
+ Ideal for learning how to get going quickly
+ Built to withstand catapulting
– 1st timers will find it wobbly
Best inflatable beginner windsurf board – Red Paddle Co 10”7 Windsurf
If you are considering buying a beginner windsurf board but not quite sure about storage or how to transport it to the beach, then an inflatable board could be a great option.
We often get asked the question, are inflatable windsurf boards any good? Our answer is it depends! Inflatable windsurf boards are perfect for beginners, they are soft, durable, offer enough stability and volume for those who have yet to find their sea legs. Windsurfing schools often use inflatable windsurf boards for beginners because they are so easy to use.
However, you won’t progress beyond beginner level on an inflatable. Even though they are more rigid than they used to be, they are not on the same level as a solid board and do not cope well in stronger winds or choppy water. But if you just want to play around in light winds on a sunny day at the beach, then an inflatable board is ideal.
Red Paddle Co specializes in inflatable paddle boards and are the market leaders in build quality, so they are the best option in the inflatable category. Red Paddle Co have used their inflatable technology to manufacture a windsurf board that is perfect for beginners.
The 10’7″ Windsurf has all the features a beginner windsurf board needs, including a daggerboard. The board is not as wide as the Starboard Start, but has a similar volume so would be great for both adults and kids.
The best thing about the 10’7″ Windsurf is that it fits into a backpack, which makes this board incredibly easy to travel with.
Red Paddle Co 10”7 Windsurf
- Width – 83.8 cm
- Length – 322 cm
- Volume – 260 L
- Weight – 10.6 kgs
- Daggerboard – Yes
- Footstrap options – No
+ Easy to use and fun for the whole family
+ Fits into a rucksack
– Not great for beginners with ambition
Best WindSup – Tabou Supawind
If you just love going on the water and want to try a bit of everything, then buying a WindSup could be a great beginner windsurf board option. A WindSup is a board that is designed to be used for windsurfing and SUP (stand up paddleboarding).
The key features of a good beginner WindSup will be high volume, wide and relatively long. You’ll notice WindSups should be a lot longer than pure windsurf boards. This is because the length will help the board glide nicely for paddleboarding. This also means the board will be great for cruising around with a windsurf sail in light winds.
It’s important to understand when a board is designed for everything, it is often not good at anything. A WindSup will feel very sluggish if you try to take it out in strong winds for a windsurf and you will not be able to progress to an intermediate windsurfing level on this type of board. Neither will you be able to cruise at the same speed or ride a wave as well as someone on a paddleboard.
Nonetheless, a WindSup is brilliant for someone who just wants to have fun and play on the ocean.
We have reviewed the best WindSups in another article, but a great choice would be the Tabou Supawind.
The Tabou has a classic shape that is perfect for both beginners windsurfing in light winds and paddleboarding. It also has all the characteristics that a beginner windsurf board needs including a soft deck. Unlike every other board in this article, the Tabou has a centre fin option instead of a retractable daggerboard. It also does not have any footstrap options, which reinforces our point that this board is for beginners only and not suitable for anyone wanting to advance in stronger winds.
Tabou Supawind 11”2
- Width – 78 cm
- Length – 340.4 cm
- Volume – 210 L
- Daggerboard – No, centerfin only
- Footstrap options – No
+ Great for multi water sport activities
+ Cruising around in light winds
– Very long so hard to transport and store
– Not suitable strong wind windsurfing
Should I buy a beginner windsurfing package?
If you can afford it, buying a new beginner windsurfing package will help fast track your progression and make rigging up so much simpler. A complete beginner windsurf package includes a board with fin, sail, mast, boom, mast extension and UJ. Everything will fit together perfectly and you’ll be on the water having fun in no time at all.
The shop assistant or owner will help you buy a package that is perfect for your ability, weight and where you plan to windsurf. There are some great value windsurf packages around, and you can probably haggle to lower the price a little more.
Your other option is to buy second hand, which can cause quite a headache because there are so many components of a rig. Chances are you don’t really know what you are looking at and could buy something that is not seaworthy or suitable.
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.