Paddle boarding has been the sport of the summer. On a warm sunny day you will now see hundreds of people trying this watersport on lakes and beaches up and down the country.
If you’re standing on the shoreline and thinking you want a bit of this action, you’ll start to rack your brains of how you can get out there.
You don’t have a paddle board but you can get your hands on an old windsurf board. So let’s get right to it, can a windsurf board be used as a paddle board? If the windsurf board is wide enough for balance and has enough buoyancy for you to float on comfortably, then you will be able to have a good time paddle boarding on it.
This is not coming from a high performance point of view and we certainly aren’t talking about riding waves or racing. If you were going out in extreme conditions, then using a windsurf board as a paddle board will not work and we always recommend you get the correct equipment. Not only could it potentially be unsafe, but you just won’t have any fun.
However if the water is flat and you just want to have a go at standing up on a board, there are no issues using a windsurf board as a paddle board.
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Using the right size windsurf board to paddle on
The next question you will probably ask is how wide is wide enough and what type of buoyancy do I need to use the windsurf board as a paddle board?
For water-based board sports, width will always relate to stability so the wider the windsurf board the more stable you will find it to try paddle boarding.
Windsurf board widths range from 35 cm to 100cm. Anything under 55 cm would be deemed narrow even for an advanced windsurfer, so forget trying to paddle board on any windsurf board below this width.
Your ideal width to be able to paddle board on a windsurfer will be 75 cm or over.
If the board has a lot of volume but is extremely narrow then no matter how good your balance is, you will always find it wobbly. If this is your first go at paddle boarding, don’t make it hard for yourself by having a board that is very hard to stand on.
The dimensions, including width and volume are normally written somewhere on the windsurf board, you just have to find it. A couple places where the dimensions could be written are underneath the board, on the rail (side) somewhere, or or on the top near the back of the board.
Along with width, the volume of the windsurf board will make a big impact on how much fun you find paddle boarding on it.
When talking about volume what we really mean is how much float does the board have? There are some windsurfing boards that sink unless they have the wind and sail propelling it forward. You’ll want to avoid these ones.
To understand the minimum volume needed to float your weight, the simple rule is 1 Litre of volume will float 1 kg of weight.
If you weigh 80kg it’ll mean you need at least an 80L to not sink. However, when paddle boarding the goal shouldnt be to ‘not to sink’, it should be to have a fun time learning a new sport.
So to have fun you will need at least double your body weight in litres, more if possible. This means if you’re 80 kg you should find, at a minimum, a windsurf board that has at least 160 L to paddle on.
All this information will be unnecessary if the person planning to paddle board on the windsurf board is under 12 years old or extremely light. If this is the case then chances are they weigh so little that volume and width will hardly have any effect.
What type of windsurf board would be good to use as a paddleboard?
Now you know you need a windsurf board that’s very wide and has a good amount of volume.
There are a couple of windsurf board types that fit this description and some that definitely will not work as a paddle board.
Wave, Speed, Slalom and Freestyle windsurf boards can all be put to one side because there is no way you will be able to paddleboard on them. These styles of windsurf boards are all too narrow and lack the volume to float you.
Beginner windsurf board
The best style windsurf board you can use as a paddle board would be a beginner board. Beginner windsurf boards have a huge amount of float and are extremely wide so there will be no problem with stability.
Beginner windsurf boards also lack some of the features that might get in the way of your paddle board session. Most beginner boards do not have foot straps, which you could easily kick or stand on, making your paddleboard attempt potentially frustrating. Footstraps are used in windsurfing when the wind is high and the sailor wants to attach himself to the board for more control.
Many beginner windsurf boards also have a soft deck (top of the board), instead of the sandpaper-like grip that is common on most advanced windsurf boards. The soft spongy top is designed to make it more forgiving and conformable to beginner windsurfers to climb back on the board. This will also make your paddleboard session a lot more enjoyable, because you won’t scrape the skin off your knees climbing back onto the board.
The other easiest option is to use a longboard or raceboard windsurfer to paddleboard on.
Although beginner boards will certainly be easier, longboards are probably most similar in shape to a paddle board. They are up to 320cms in length and relatively narrow, which means they will glide very nicely across the water. Although, as now you know, because they are narrower than beginner boards, they will be more unstable.
The disadvantages of using this style of windsurf board is there tends to be a lot of footstraps, daggerboards and potentially adjustable mast tracks getting in the way. All this stuff on the board means an increased chance of you stubbing your toes or tripping over. So before you get going, grab a screwdriver and try to remove as many trip hazards as possible.
Also, this style of windsurf board is likely to have the non-slip sandpaper type surface that is likely to rub some skin off as you climb on the board. So it could be a good idea to wear a wetsuit or longboard shorts.
Conversely, if it’s an old board it could have no grip at all, which could make your whole paddleboard experience rather frustrating. If this is the case wear wetsuit boots to provide the grip.
Our recommendations for using a windsurf board as a paddleboard
- The board is at least 75cm wide.
- Windsurf board has at least 160ltr volume.
- Make sure the windsurf board has a fin.
- Check that there isn’t any damage to the windsurf board that might cause issues on the water.
- Check whether the windsurf board has enough grip so you won’t slip off. If the board feels slippy, wear wetsuit boots.
- Only use a windsurf board as a paddleboard on flat water and in light winds.
How to Convert a Windsurf Board into a Stand-up Paddleboard
If you are just desperate to get up and paddle and not too worried about comfort whilst paddling, then just grab the board and go for it. Remember to add the fin to the windsurf board and you’re good to go.
However, if you’re looking for a longer term solution but don’t want to buy a paddleboard, then you could convert the windsurf board into a makeshift paddle board.
Following our advice from above, the windsurf board you convert needs to have enough volume so you can float on it easily, and wide enough so that the board is stable.
Before you go about making any changes, get the board wet and stand up on it, to make sure you are comfortable on that size board.
After you know the board is big enough, you then want to go about making sure it is watertight and safe to use as a paddleboard. Have a thorough check over the board for any holes and damage. If there are, buy some Epoxy Resin design for surfboard repairs and have those holes sealed up.
Sorting these issues now will mean your paddleboard conversion is likely to last a lot longer, as prolonged water exposure to the foam core will result in an unusable board.
Next step is to remove everything from the top of the board that you’ll likely stub your toes on. This includes any footstraps and UJ’s (Universal Joint). You can take the footsteps off with a screwdriver and the UJ, that can be found in the centre of the board, should come off up by turning it anticlockwise.
The final part of the conversion is to add some grip to the board. Chances are this is an old windsurfing board that has seen a lot of use, so any non-slip has likely been worn down.
If the board feels slippy, then your best bet is to add some non-slip pads or wax that is made for surfboards. The non-slip pads, also known as traction pads, will offer good resistance and make you feel more secure and confident when paddling.
Whether you choose traction pads or surfboard wax depends on how you want the board to look and how much money you want to spend. Surf wax will cost a few pounds but doesn’t look great, whereas traction pads can cost £15 – £25.
Whichever you decide, follow the instructions of how to apply to the board. You’ll want to apply the non-slip around the centre of the windsurf board, where the UJ slot is.
You are now ready to use the old windsurf board as a paddleboard. Which works out a lot cheaper than buying a new one!
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.