Surfing is the sport of riding the waves using a board with a sail. It originated in the islands of Hawaii and Polynesia where it was practiced by people of all sections of society from the common man to the royal family. The board which was used for surfing was made from wood and was fairly large and heavy weighing up to 45 kg. Surfing was combined with sailing to travel on water using a sailboard, which is suitable for carrying one person, and this activity was called windsurfing or board sailing. Many persons enjoy this activity and consider themselves fanatic windsurfing, so more details of windsurfing are provided for reference.
As Hawaii became a widely visited tourist destination for visitors from the United States, surfing which was practiced in Hawaii also became a popular in California and other parts of the world, in the early twentieth century. Though prototypes of a sailboard were available in the late 1950’s, the first patent for a sailboard was given in 1968 to Hoyle Schweitzer and Jim Drake, both from California. The sailboard was called a windsurfer since it combined sailing using the wind with the surfor power of the waves or water. Windsurfers were mass produced in the 1970’s onward.
Like the surf boards, the early sailboards were fairly heavy weighing approximately 27 kg, since they were up to 12 feet long. With advances in materials and other technology the size of the sailboards has reduced considerably and the boards available have a size ranging from 8 feet to 12.5 feet. The weight of the sailboards is also much lower at 18 kg or less with some boards weighing 7 kg. This makes it possible for the person windsurfing to carry the board wherever they wish. The boards may or may not have a centerboard, skeg (bottom fin) depending on their size.
The sailboard consists of a mast base, mast, sail, and double boom. The area of the sail may vary between 38 square feet to 108 square feet, depending on the size of the board. The sail may be used for different purposes like racing, riding waves or slalom. Since a universal joint is used to connect the mast base to the mast, the mast can be moved by the surfer in any direction which he wishes. The boat is steered by changing the position of the sail depending on the wind and other conditions. The double boom of the board may also be adjusted to alter the sail position.
Windsurfing quickly became popular in North America, Europe and is practiced all over the world. It became an Olympic sport in the year 1992 with separate events for men and women, though there were some changes in the equipment used. Competitions include regattas, wave sailing and slalom races. Windsurfing has become popular because it can be practiced on different water conditions like lakes, rivers, estuaries, harbors, coasts, and rivers. Initially only lower speeds were possible using the windsurfing equipment, however in the last few decades, the speed has greatly increased and some surfers have crossed the Atlantic ocean.