Windsurf Rigging Instructions
By James Douglass
For VIMS Sail and Paddle Club
Table of Contents
• Slide 3: Gear selection
• Slide 4: Going by the numbers
• Slide 5: Getting the tension right
• Slides 6-19: Details on how to thread a
General Notes on Gear Selection
• We have a variety of equipment for different
situations. The right gear makes it easier.
– The big “Mistral Prodigy” boards are best for learning
– Start with small sails; 3.4 - 5.0 m2 for beginners
– Use the black and orange 430 cm mast - it’s the
smallest and lightest. The black and blue 460 cm mast
is second best. The pink and gray masts are heavy.
– The smallest booms match the smallest sails.
– Use bigger sails as you get more experienced, unless
it’s rough or windy and you need to use a small one.
– Make sure you have a mast-base-extension combo that
works with your board and sail.
Going by the Numbers
• It’s important to match the length of the mast to
– When the sail is fully rigged, the bottom of it should
come all the way down to the pulleys on the extension,
and there should be the minimum amount of mast
sticking out the top.
– The “luff” length, usually printed on the sail or sailbag,
should equal the length of the mast plus the setting on
the extension. If some of the mast extends out the top
of the sail, you subtract that from the mast length.
– The boom length may be printed on the sail, but there
aren’t numbers on the boom, so you usually have to just
fiddle around to set the boom to the right length.
Getting the Tension Right
• Once you have the right
stuff and the right setting
on the extension, assemble
the rig and give it the right
amount of downhaul and
• Modern sails require more
downhaul, old sails more
outhaul, to rig correctly.
• You know you have about
the right amount of tension
when the battens are no
longer overlapping the
mast in the sleeve.
How to Thread a Downhaul Line
• This next section shows you how to thread a
• It’s important because the downhaul often requires
A LOT of tension, but there are pulleys on the
mast-base extension that make it easier to tighten
if you know how to thread the line.
• Note: Once you have the line threaded correctly, a
downhaul tool or “hand cleat” is helpful for giving
the necessary tension without getting rope burn.
You should also brace your foot on the bottom of
the extension and use the strength of your legs to
help pull the downhaul tight.
There are 3 possible configurations at the base of the sail.
Left: Just a simple hole (grommet)
Middle: A hook with pulleys that line up with pulleys on base.
Right: An integrated triple-roller that is at a right angle with
pulleys on base
*Note, the mast-base shown here has just two pulleys. If it has
three, just use two.
simple grommet in sail
*Thread twice through
*Only use one of the
pulleys in the base
*Finish in cleat on base
First loop through
grommet and pulley
Second loop through
grommet, then onto
cleat. Tighten and
2-pulley base. Simple
grommet on sail but
with pulley hook.
*Easy to line up pulleys
First put pulley hook in
Then thread from back
to front of far pulley on
Thread from front to
back of far pulley on
*Then back to front of
middle pulley on hook.
*Then front to back of
near pulley on base.
*Then back to front of
near pulley on hook.
*Finally, into cleat.
2-pulley base, and 3-
rollers on sail at a right
angle to rollers on base.
*Have to thread special
way to avoid crossed
First go from back side
of rollers on sail into
back side of closest
pulley on extension
Next go over top side of
farthest roller on sail
Then go from outside
to inside of far pulley
Then up around
backside of middle
roller on sail, and finish