The use of harness lines is an essential part of planning windsurfing, taking the strain off your hands and arms and encouraging you into the correct stance. Their introduction back in the eighties was a result of natural progression, as the pioneers of the sport ventured into stronger and stronger wind strengths, pushing the boundaries of what was perceived achievable. The form of the harness line has been refined steadily over the years, evolving from a basic homemade specimen of rope and garden hose to the wealth and variety we see today.With every set available on the market being a combination of rope sheathed in plastic tubing, webbing and Velcro, it may be confusing to understand the difference between the options offered by the various brands. Especially when the prices range from £15.00 to £60.00. So to make life easier, here are some things to consider:
Fixed or Adjustable?
For most recreational sailors that know the length of lines that suit them, the fixed line is certainly the best option. Adjustable lines can often hang unevenly, making them awkward to hook into. They can also be adjusted to different lengths on each side of the boom, requiring time and effort to get right.
If you are uncertain of which length to get, a good starting option for an average height adult male is 28” lines. For ladies its 26” lines, and for junior / youths its 24 26”.
A longer line will be easier for hooking in and hooking out and means the sail will be more upright, making better use of its area and power. A shorter line will force you to commit to the harness more quickly and is a good option if you feel yourself hooking out regularly (although a better option may well be to stick with the longer line and raise your boom slightly).
Adjustable lines are the preferred option if you’re using the same boom over a number of different disciplines or if you’re looking to get into a form of racing, be it course racing, speed or slalom. They can alter their lengths within a set range and allow the rider to even adjust their stance on difference points of sail around a course. They should really only be considered by the racing fraternity, or by those who know the boom is likely to be used by a number of people with differing line length
Here are some other key features to consider:
- Are you a Swinger? Whether fixed or adjustable, some lines see their plastic tubing extend well in the webbing, making the lines sit at a fixed position in relation to the boom arm. Others see the tubing finish early, leaving just webbing next to the boom arm and the line free to swing like a pendulum as you pull the boom towards you. The choice between fixed or swinging is one of personal preference, with both designs being equally popular.
- Transparent Tubes. With the plastic tubing being transparent in some harness lines, it is easy to see when the rope is fraying or about to fail, saving yourself from a surprise on the water.
- Easy on Lines. The webbing loop used to fix the lines to the boom are often closed, requiring you to take the tail-piece of the boom off to fit the lines on the boom. On some lines, there is a metal ring incorporated into the webbing, enabling the lines easily to be placed on the boom using a sequence of Velcro wraps rather than having to take the boom apart.
Lines in stock:
- Chinook In Flight Adjustable Harness Lines
- Gaastra Fixed Harness Lines
- Da Kine Fixed Harness Lines
- Neil Pryde Vario Harness Lines
- Unifiber Adjustable Harness Lines