How do I know if a mast is right for my sail?

1. Determine your sail’s ideal mast length. Most windsurfing sails cite the ideal mast length for a given sail on the sail’s bag and/or near the bottom of the sail itself. Common mast sizes are 370, 400, 430 and 460 centimeters. If your sail doesn’t offer an ideal mast listing, look for a “Luff” measurement. Typically, you want a mast that’s length is closest to your sail’s luff length, though exceptions exist. If in doubt, contact us or call 888 509 4210.

2. Determine whether your sail needs a skinny (RDM) or fat (SDM) mast. Windsurfing masts are available in two diameters. Most sails demanding masts 460 cm or longer are best matched with Standard Diameter Masts (SDM). Sails demanding masts 430 cm or smaller are best matched with Reduced Diameter Masts (RDM). Find more on the differences between skinny and fat masts here.

3. Determine your budget. Masts vary in price dramatically due to how much carbon they utilize. Your goal is get a mast with the most carbon content available within your given budget. High carbon content masts (70% carbon and higher) make a rig feel lightweight, responsive, and improve its usable wind range. It’s tough to overstate the importance of these benefits, especially for progressing riders. When learning to windsurf, fatigue is your foe. A lightweight, high carbon content mast saves vital energy, allowing more water time per session. The added time adds up over a sailing season, enabling exponential improvement.

4. Match your sail and mast maker. When possible, get a mast from your sail maker’s mast line. A Goya sail with a Goya mast, a Naish sail with a Naish mast — that’s the most sure-fire way to ensure you’ll get the best wind range, handling, planing performance and speed out of your sail.

Other Mast Questions

How can I be sure a mast offers the proper flex characteristics for my sail? The chart far below from Unifiber documents each sail brand’s ideal mast flex characteristics. The black squares indicate whether a sail’s ideal mast is a hard top, constant curve or flex top mast. As you’ll see, most sail lines are best matched with a constant curve mast. This is true of most sail brands Big Winds carries too. The only exception is Goya sails in 3.7 – 5.4 sail sizes. They are better matched with the Goya 370 and 400 cm flex top masts we carry.

What sails work best with NoLimitz and Chinook masts? Both NoLimitz and Chinook offer constant curve masts, and therefore work well with most sail lines. Of the sail lines we stock at Big Winds, NoLimitz and Chinook masts are well suited for all Sailworks, Naish, and North sails, as well as Goya sails larger than 5.4.



Eddy Patricelli was the editor of WindSurfing magazine from 2001-2007. He has been sailing the Gorge for 20 years. See his best video tip for getting your kid hooked on windsurfing here.

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