The truth about the weight vest

Cutting chops at Devils Bay
The human tennis ball... I use some extra floating.
When you have tried everything else to get speed, you eventually end up with yourself. How could you change yourself as a rider? The weight vest might be the answer. Weights have been in use since the late eighties at the PWA-slalomevents. When I shared house in Maui with Svein Rasmussen (he sailed for F2/Thommen/Guy/Wild Winds) he was using weights. Svein was (and still is) about 15 cm shorter than Anders Bringdal, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Phil McGain but he was competitive in the slalom-discipline.
Today most guys in slalom are tall and heavy, and I must say that both of them help also in speed. I would say that a ”perfect speed body” is around 100 kg and around 190 cm. (220 Lbs and 6´3´´). We can’t do anything about our length but we could work with the weight. A normal vest is carrying about 6-10 kg. Most top sailors, even if they are tall and heavy are using about that amount. But I heard of some fast speeders that have used up to 18 kilos... For myself, I found weights good when sailing in high wind (+40 knots). The heavier I am, the easier it is to cut the chops with the narrow speedboards. Also it prevents tailwalks. It gives confidence and might you able to take another 10 knots wind. For a few runs I used it in Luderitz. But using a vest a full day is not to recommend, the back and the arms will tell you when it is enough!

Slide in the weights into the pockets
What vest are the best? Well I use a Pro Limit that I think Martin van Meurs have developed. It looks like a copy of the Liberty but is not so solid and well manufactured. Still it is OK and for sure better quality than the one I have seen from F2. Anyone that can recomend a premium vest? 
What weights should you use? Well, I use lead plates that I have bought in a metal-shop and then have sealed with duct-tape (lead is a poision). But the best weights are the ones that you get by exercise, windsurfing and protein!

PS I have to raise a warning finger before everyone is buying a vest. Anders Bringdal got a serious whiplash when he hit a sandbank some years ago; he got the weight package in his back head. He was really bad for almost a year. And sailing with more than 2-3 kg´s is extremely tiring ;-)


  1. I use a natural weight vest... :)

  2. You also have to look out for back problems! And the weight should be for the most part at the back and as high as possible.

  3. Personal I prefer to have the weights in the front pockets, too much on the back will make the muscles moan..!

  4. Like this one, sounds a lot like my experience. In 2010 I rarely used any weight. Also had to drop most of my weights because I got stuck on sea without wind on a 60 liter board. Now I only got 1x 2kg pack left :(

    Anyway, sailing always with weight is risky and definitly not always faster. Weightvest is ideal to carry fins!!

    Speedsurfing BLOG

  5. An article about your blog :-) Cheers!

  6. I just bought the pro limit one, more for rib cage protection in a crash and a better fit than a flotation device. But will try with some weight once or twice when we get the 40knt winds and the speed run forces me out over the 'death-chop' in the middle of Portland Harbour

  7. Use the vest in winter without weight, it keeps you warm.

  8. The jacket is definitly a plus for medium weight like me (80kg)to go the extra speed. At Sandy Point I was at 37knts speed, every extra 1.5kg added 1knts to my speed.. end up cracking the 40 with the extra 4.5kg! It does help through the chop to stabilize the board, also act as a good protection when you crash. The downside is that it is more exhausting when sailing few hours, you can feel it in your back!! I use a Ka jacket, very good build, 2 rows of 3 weights can be added in the back.