One of the most common “tuning” questions we get is about optimal harness line length for windfoiling.
While there is no clear wrong or right answer to this question, we would like to share some recommendations from experienced foilers to give you some suggestions.
We asked 5 very experienced foilers to share their thoughts and give us their opinion. Sebastian Kördel and Antoine Albeau are both PWA pro riders and have a race-oriented style. The same goes with Bruno Kancel, an advanced race foiler from Guadeloupe.
On the other side of foiling, we get some pointers from Tez Plavenieks of Windsurfing UK Mag and Wyatt Miller of Slingshot which both have a more freeride/freestyle style.
The Key Takeaways
Short on time? Here are my key takeaways from our experts –
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- Adjustable windsurfing harness lines are great for windfoiling as you can quickly adjust the length according to the sailing conditions.
- Put the harness lines in a position where the sail feels neutral in your hands.
- Racers will often prefer slightly shorter lines for sailing upwind or in light wind, while freeriders usually prefer longer lines for moves and waves.
- Have longer lines for strong winds or other challenging conditions. It’s more comfortable and safer!
- Slide the harness lines slightly closer to the mast than in normal windsurfing. This will help you to better balance the rig by keeping some pressure on the backhand.
Antoine Albeau Harness Line Tips
“The length of harness lines is really depending on your equipment and the foil in particular, as well as your skill level. If you have a foil with a short fuselage (70-80 cm) or if you are a beginner, you will probably like relatively short harness lines as it’s normal to have an upright position on the board, harness lines are also slightly closer to the mast, and an opened sail.
However, the new generation of race/freerace foils have a longer fuselage (up to 115 / 120 cm) which enables to body to lean more backwards and sheet the sail in. You will then need longer harness lines, and keep the same harness line position on the boom as you used to have in slalom windsurfing.
My recommendations for windfoil beginners are as follows:
When I give windfoil courses to beginners in my windsurf school (Ecole de voile de la Couarde in France), I usually use a windfoil SUP board without straps or only with the front strap, and I use windfoils with large front wings to keep a low speed and bring confidence.
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With this set-up I use harness lines of normal length and a waist harness. It works just fine.”
I use about 30″ for slalom foiling, upwind a bit shorter maybe 28″. I have variable ones so I’m not so sure, haha.
Concerning position this really depends on the equipment and style and size of the windsurfer, but a quick tip is to put the harness lines into a position where the sail feels neutral in your hands (actually like any other windsurf sail).”
While foiling you don’t want to close the sail too much especially when going upwind, to keep your momentum. That’s why I prefer to keep a bit of back hand pressure so my setup is a bit at the front with a narrow space between the lines (like 4 fingers wide) to adjust the sail angle quickly.
For the length, it’s usually really short upwind and downwind (22-24 inches) as I often ride in light winds. I use them longer downwind in challenging conditions.
If I’m going for a long distance trip I move them a bit to the back to have more comfort and less effort on the back hand. For my race gear I use the Vario regatta lines from the Italian brand 070 Sails.
“In terms of harness lines, I think it very much does depend on your kit, but also your style of foiling which also leads back to kit choice. I’m most definitely in the performance freeride camp.
I like jumping, forwards and backies on foil with a few foilstyle moves like foiling sail 360s, downwind 3s, and duck gybes. More recently I’ve been loving windsurf foiling in waves – in fact, I’m struggling to see past it.
The reason for all the above info is this dictates how I set my gear up. I prefer bigger wings that have a carving element, although not the super slow ones as I like faster turns, and I want to be using as small a rig as possible.
My boom is slightly higher than when normally windsurfing, but not much. Harness line length is the same as sailing normally. I prefer longer lines as I hate feeling too close to the rig. I like to be mobile and able to unhook and hook in without thinking about it.
The only thing I really change with my lines is nudging them forward along the boom towards the mast about an inch (2,5 cm). This allows me to balance the rig better.”
“I preach that longer lines are always better than shorter lines. Even the smallest lady pro-windsurfers use at least 28’’ (inches) lines. While pretty much everyone from Slalom to Waves to Freestyle is using 30″ or longer.
Longer lines make you a more efficient sailor, keep the sail more upright, allow you to pump and feather the sail better, and allow you to potentially recover from a manoeuver where you accidentally hook in.
In wave sailing it is super important to have the range of movement to look around the mast at the wave down the line.
Down here at my resort (Pro windsurf La Ventana) we tell people that 24″ lines are the lowest limit of acceptability and encourage people to go longer than they are used to. If you try longer lines, you will hate it for about 4 days and then it will feel natural and you won’t be able to sail with shorter lines again. “
I hope these tips will help you in your choices, but remember that we are all different and there is no right or wrong when it comes to windsurfing. The important thing is that you feel comfortable with your windfoiling equipment and keep having fun!