Olympic Windsurfing

Windsurfing made its Olympic debut in 1984 (Los Angeles). Races are run on the same "trapezoid" and "Windward-Leeward" courses as all other sailing classes, which incorporate upwind, reaching and downwind legs. A typical day of competition consists of 2-3 races, each lasting around 45 minutes. The Olympic Regatta will consist of 16 races over 9 days (including two rest days). Windsurfing is a very physical sport and was made even more so when unlimited "pumping" was allowed after the 1992 Olympics. Pumping the sail creates artificial wind and can greatly increase the sailors speed. Sailors pump as often as they can throughout the race to have the highest speed possible. Pumping is extremely taxing on the body and requires both power and endurance. Studies have shown that Olympic Windsurfers are as fit as elite rowers and cross country skiers. To be competitive sailors must be in top physical condition. However, windsurfing is still a finesse sport and also requires good starts, board speed and tactics for success. The RS:X class has every piece of equipment made in the same factory. This levels the playing field by minimizing the "gear factor" and helps to ensure that the best sailor, not equipment, will win.

Olympic Windsurfing 1 Olympic Windsurfing 2

Photo credit: Andreas Francolini and bellyvision@mac.com


Wind range for the Olympic board is from 2-35 knots. When the wind gets too light for planing conditions, with the centerboard down, the board is assisted to go upwind. The most commonly used courses are the trapezoidal and windward leeward courses with a 5 minute starting sequence.

RS:X Board - 286cm long, 93cm wide, 15.5kg, 220 litres, Carbon sandwich construction, centreboard is 77cm long, fin is 60cm long for women and 66cm long for men.

RS:X Sail – Mens 9.5m, weight 6.1kg, mast length 520cm, extension 32cm, 7 battens, boom 225-265cm
RS:X Sail – Womens 8.5m, weight 5.5kg, mast length 490cm, extension 30cm, 7 battens, boom 225-265cm


Special mention to www.formulawindsurfing.org, www.rsxclass.com, www.neilpryde.com, www.f2surf.com and www.windsurfing-academy.com for some of the information and pictures on this page.