Updated January 30th, 2023
WindSUP boards are a board that can be used for both windsurfing and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding). Many people started stand up paddle boarding by getting a paddle and an old windsurfing long board. It’s still a good inexpensive way to get into SUP if you can find a suitable board. There is even a modern version of the original Windsurfer out there now.
What is a WindSUP board?
The modern WindSUP board started with the Kona ONE in 2006. It was the first windsurfing long board to be introduced to the market in many years and really brought back light air windsurfing. I have sailed one for many years and love it. It’s my favorite windsurfing board I’ve ever owned. It is great fun to SUP on it too.
Since then there have been a lot more options introduced including inflatable WindSUP boards. WindSUP boards make windsurfing fun in light winds, heavy winds, and no wind when you can SUP.
Are WindSUP boards fun?
Absolutely they are fun. Before the new WindSUP long boards were introduced most windsurfing boards had gone to short fat shapes that could plane easily but could not glide worth anything. They had gotten planing down to about 10mph wind speeds using really large 10meter rigs. In anything below planing conditions they barely moved and the sails were really awkward and big and unpleasant to use.
Enter the new age of the WindSUP longboard. These brought the fun back to 10mph and less wind days. You can sail in light air. You can use it as a SUP board when there is less wind. You can go surf small waves with it with or without a sail. You can take it and explore any pond or other small body of water. They are so much fun.
What makes a good WindSUP board?
The qualities that make a board good for paddle boarding also make a board good for windsurfing. Length, volume and width. A nice long wide stable standup paddle board that glides through the water nicely will also make an excellent windsurfing platform.
Most WindSUP boards tend to be 12 feet or longer and 200 liters or more in volume. This is similar to what most traditional “long boards” were for windsurfing.
A boats maximum speed without planing or skimming across the water is proportional to it’s length. The longer a board is, the faster it can go without planing. Getting on plane is more or less a horsepower war to get over the bow wave and requires a lot of power to stay there once you get on plane. That is why powerboats need big engines to be able to get planing compared to non planing boats.
Because you can go faster without planing on a long board it makes the transition to planing smoother. Modern boats like the Kona One have a very smooth transition from glide to planing and are really enjoyable to ride.
How floaty a board is, is measured in volume of the board. A board over 200 liters will float almost any adult with a lot of stability making it easy to stand on. There are windsurf boards out there that go as low as 80 liters of volume. These will not float with a person standing on them and only work planing on the water. These are not for WindSUP usage. They are not for beginner or light air windsurfing usage either. A board really needs to have at least 150 liters of volume to be able to float with a 180 – 220 lb adult standing on it. More volume makes it even easier.
Fins and Daggerboards
What is under the water is one area where an SUP board and Windsurf board differ quite a bit. A windsurfing long board needs a centerboard or daggerboard in the middle of the board to work with the sail. An SUP board only needs a fin at the rear of the board to help with tracking. Any board designed to be a WindSUP board needs to have a removeable or retractable centerboard, daggerboard or skeg on the bottom.
To mount a sail on the board a mast track or some other fixture is needed on the board. Most use a metal track embedded in the board that a mast fitting slides into and gets bolted on. Any WindSUP board needs to have a mast mount.
How easy is SUP? Stand Up Paddle Boarding
With a good stable long board which most WindSUP boards are, it is pretty easy for most adults to stand on the board. Almost anyone can learn to stand up paddle board in an hour on a calm water day. Below is a video showing how to paddle board.
How easy is windsurfing?
Windsurfing is much easier with modern long and wide high volume WindSUP boards than it was on older long boards. Somewhere a long the way too much emphasis was put on performance and even beginner oriented windsurfing equipment was very hard to use and learn on. A Kona One or other similar modern WindSUP long board with a small sail rig (6 meters or smaller) will be very easy to stand up on, uphaul the sail and get moving.
It is a bit easier to learn to windsurf if you learn to sail on a sailboat first. This is easy to do with a couple hours of lessons or a few hours out on a friends boat. Sailing is not hard.
If you don’t have access to sailing lessons or a boat where you are. Don’t worry too much. You can still learn to windsurf even on your own and still have fun doing it.
How do I learn to windsurf?
Most people learn by going out to the lake or pond and giving it a go. You’ll probably spend your first couple hours just as much in the water as on the board. Watch a few videos first so you have some idea what to do. Find someone who can help you or take lessons if you can. If you start with a big floaty board and a small sail rig it really makes it a lot easier. Below is a video with a good introductory lesson into windsurfing.
How windy does it need to be to use a windSUP board for windsurfing?
It really does not need to be that windy. A WindSUP board with a centerboard/daggerboard will sail in very light winds. If there is 5mph winds there is enough to go out and have fun. For your first few times you probably want to stick to 5 to 10mph wind days. Not enough wind to cause white caps on the water.
Can a WindSUP board sail upwind?
Yes. A WindSUP board will sail upwind very well. Longboards that are meant to sail in sub planing conditions will go upwind very fast with their centerboard/daggerboard down in the water. They will sail upwind as well as any small sailboat. Below is a video showing how to sail a windsurfer upwind and downwind.
Do I need a board leash for a WindSUP board?
If you are using the board as an SUP and stand up paddle boarding you should use a board leash. The board can drift away from you very quickly.
If you are windsurfing with a sail rig attached to the board you cannot wear a leash. Anyone recommending you on their site to use a board leash while windsurfing has never actually windsurfed. When you tack a windsurfer you walk forward and around the mast. It would be very easy to keep wrapping the least around the mast until you can’t move your feet which is not good.
When you fall off the board while windsurfing you can very easily get tangled into the sail and rigging. If you are wearing a harness (anyone past the beginner stage will use a harness to hold the sail) it can get twisted and take a little effort to unhook from the sail. A board leash will add one more thing that can get tangled up underwater which is not wanted. If you did a few tacks and gybes and the leash is wrapped around the mast holding your foot to the mast base you will have a really difficult and dangerous time in the water getting things sorted out.
Once the sail rig goes into the water it keeps the board from drifting away from you very quickly. You will have no trouble swimming to get it.
Do I need to wear a PFD for SUP and Windsurfing?
That one is up to you and what you are comfortable with. I personally almost always wear one. According to the US Coast Guard SUPs are classified as “Vessels” meaning that there should be a USCG-approved life jacket also known as Personal Floatation Device (PFD, Type III) for each person, a sound signaling device (whistle), visual distress signal and navigation light (flashlight). For more information click here.
For windsurfing on an SUP. There are PFD’s deigned to work with windsurf harnesses so they don’t get in the way of the harness hook. I have used one for many years and don’t find it gets in the way of anything.
Is an inflatable or rigid WindSUP board better?
Inflatable SUP boards have really become popular recently due to being easy to store and transport and performing well. Modern drop-stitch construction can really produce a pretty stiff board. The inflatable WindSUP boards by Starboard and Fanatic really do perform well when windsurfing as well as when being used for SUP. Below is a video that demonstrates the performance you can get out of an inflatable WindSUP board.
If you have the ability to store and transport a rigid WindSUP board than by all means go rigid. The added stiffness will make the board perform better while windsurfing. If you don’t have any place to keep one than an inflatable makes an excellent choice for you.
How much does a WindSUP cost?
You may be able to go out there and pickup an old longboard windsurfer for very cheap off of Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Only a couple hundred dollars if not free. It will probably come with an old sail rig that will be useable.
If you want to buy new, a board will likely cost $1000 to $2000 and a sail rig may cost an additional $500 to $1500.
Where can I get WindSUP Euipment?
This can be a bit of a challenge these days. The sport of Kitesurfing has almost completely killed off windsurfing in the US. There are very few local shops left that carry any kind of windsurfing gear. The bigger store such as REI that carry SUP boards do not carry any WindSUP boards. A couple of my favorite online places to order windsurfing gear are:
Green Water Sports – The best store for Stand Up Paddleboarding supplies. They also carry WindSUP rigs and board.
Isthmus Sailboards – They have a wide selection of new boards and packages.
Sandy Point Progressive Sports – They sell used demo Kona One boards. This is where I bought mine.
Windance Board Shop – They are a great place to buy used sails and masts. I have bought from them several times.
A few WindSUP gear recommendations
There is a small selection of WindSUP equipment available on Amazon. Some board makers such as Starboard and Bic have started selling through their marketplace. Kona One’s can be purchased there as well.
See our guide to beginner windsurfing equipment to learn more about what is needed for windsurfing in addition to the board.
Best Inflatable WindSUP Board
Starboard SUP Windsurfing 11’2″ x 31″ x 6″ Inflatable Paddle Board
- For 2019, Starboard injected 25 years of board building innovation into their inflatable board program. Their main focus was to build their boards stiffer, lighter, more stable, safer and way more durable.
- Heated and bonded for life. Glue is never forever. Mechanical bond = Strength and Durability. Starboard’s new welding technique turns two into one – using heat to bond two separate pieces of PVC into a single solid unit. Heat-welded PVC creates a mechanical bond that’s stronger, lasts longer – and is better for the environment.
- What’s new for 2020? New DSC, Deluxe Single Chamber, fusion woven drop stitch New mast base system – for a flat deck in paddle board mode New Re-Cover bag New Tiki pump
The original Starboard Go was a game changer for windsurfing. It was a beginner board that was really wide and short and had a couple extra stabilizing fins added to it instead of a daggerboard. This made it easy to sail in subplaning conditions. It got beginners windsurfing on a shortboard which then transitioned to planning conditions by removing the extra fins.
The Starboard Inflatable iGo WindSUP is another game changer by creating something that is inflatable and still performs very well under sail. The Starboard Inflatable iGo WindSUP has a removable center fin for use when windsurfing. It is removed when paddling. The board is available in several lengths so you can get one that is suitable to your size and weight and the conditions you want to sail or paddle it in.
- Starboard inflatable board
- Removeable fins
- 4 foot straps
- hand pump
- carry bag
- Length: 11ft 2 in
- Width: 32 inch
- Volume: 340 liters
- Rider Weight: up to 265 lbs
What we liked
- Portability of an inflatable
- Good performance sailing or paddling
- Removable fins for sailing or paddling setup
- Easy to sail and paddle
Best Inflatable WindSUP Board Package With Rig
Zray Inflatable Paddle Board Stand Up WindSUP
- For Touring And Windsurfing – Now you can go from a regular paddleboard to a windsurfing paddleboard and enjoy outstanding sailing performance in light to moderate wind conditions!
- Easy To Store And Carry – The Board measures 10″x30″x6″ when inflated. The mast and sail measure 118” high and 51” at the bottom, and can be easily folded. It can be rolled up and put into the included backpack bag for easy storage and transport
- Maneuverable And Stable – The 10’ board is stable with a wide 30″ width. It’s combined with a large fin to provide both stability and maneuverability while paddle boarding or windsurfing
The ZRay inflatable WindSUP board is a complete package that includes a board, pump, carrying bag and windsurfing rig. The board is a fairly conventional inflatable SUP board with PVC drop stitch construction. It has a mast mount and a removeable center fin to use when sailing.
The ZRay windsurfing rig features a simple snap together rig. It uses a single pole for the boom with hand straps attached to it rather than the typical wishbone boom that most windsurfing rigs used. It works very well for light air cruising around. There is no provision for attaching harness lines for sailing in higher winds. This is a light wind only sailing rig or heavy wind until your arms feel like falling off.
- Zray inflatable board
- Removeable fins
- Aluminum floating paddle
- Hand pump
- Carry backpack
- Windsurf rig
- Length: 10ft 6 in
- Width: 32 inch
- Volume: 269 liters
- Rider Weight: up to 320 lbs
What we liked
- Complete package including paddle and sail
- Good performance inflatable board
- Easy to setup sail rig
- Good performance paddling and light wind sailing
WindSUP windsurfing rigs
Best Windsurf Sail Rig For Use On A WindSUP Board
Starboard SUP Windsurfing Sail Compact Package
- The Starboard SUP Windsurfing Sail Compact Package is light, powerful and designed specifically for paddle boards, but is also an excellent choice for entry level windsurfers because of its versatility and durability. It comes with everything neatly packed in its compact bag, allowing for easy transportation and storage.
- Available in 3 Rig sizes. 4.5m, 5.5m, and 6.5m
The Staboard SUP Compact Rig is a great entry level package that includes all the pieces to make a windsurfing sail rig. It is available in several sizes from 4.5 meters to 6.5 meters. It includes an entry level dacron sail which will be fine for low to medium wind days. It breaks down into an easy to transport and store package that goes great with an inflatable board
- Dacron sail
- Mast extension
- Mast foot
- Carrying bag
What we liked
- Complete entry level starter windsurf rig
- 4.5 to 6.5 meter sizes available
- Breaks down into an easy to carry and store package with included carrying bag
You might also like:
- Windsurfing Vs Kitesurfing – What Will I Enjoy The Most?
- How To Pick The Best Windsurfing Equipment For Beginners
Staff Writer | Water Sports
Steve spent his time growing up in South Carolina doing as much as possible on the water. He is an avid stand up paddleboarder and kayaker and loves hitting the lakes and rivers near home. He is a competitive sailor and has competed in sailing at the collegiate level as well as 7 Mackinac Island races.