Hookypedia Issue 1
The harness is without question one of the trickiest bits of kit to get just right, especially for Ladies. Even if everything else is perfect, the board, the sail, the conditions an ill fitting harness can make a potentially fantastic windsurf uncomfortable, annoying and even painful.
With many harnesses on offer, new and second hand, waist or seat, unisex/male or female specific it is incredibly difficult to even know where to begin when looking to invest in your first or latest harness.
FLOW has created the ‘Hookypedia’ in order to give us all the run down on who’s wearing what and why this season.
Harnesses are grouped together in alphabetical order by brand. The ‘Hookypedia’ aims to serve a few purposes and answer some questions:
- If you are looking to buy a new or used harness find it on here and check out what other Ladies have said about it.
- Discover the general harness trends, ie do most women actually use female or mens harnesses? Waist or seat?
- Highlight why it is hard for women to find a well fitting harness, if there is a specific problem that is highlighted by many?
- Be a voice of the female windsurfer to the industry to make them more aware of the great and not so great aspects of the current harnesses on the market.
- ASSIST IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BETTER HARNESSES FOR WOMEN!
This is a dress size chart which you can use to convert sizes:
FLOW has used the fabulous Gok Wan and his body shape calculator available here http://www.channel4.com/4beauty/ to determine body shape.
This is just the first installment! Tell me about your harness firstname.lastname@example.org simply answer the same questions as all the ladies so far, and send the answers over with a photo!
We are sure you will see some patterns emerging in the answers, after another Issue or two FLOW will write a full overview, and spread the word of what we have learnt to as many people as possible. Thanks to all the Ladies who have contributed so far, we look forward to reading much more from all the others women out there!
Click the company logo to find out more about their harnesses...
Name: Camilla French
Windsurfing history: Have been wavesailing for about 10 years, and competed in the UK and PWA. I ride RRD/Ezzy kit.
Dress size: UK 10
Body Shape: Hourglass or Athletic depending on how fit I am!
Harness: Dakine Wahine 2005
What is great about this harness for you? It was one of the first women-specific harnesses developed during the early 2000's when most companies didn't make windsurfing products for women at all, and it comes in a size small enough to fit snugly. It isn't too stiff or bulky like some of the mens' harnesses I used previously, and is made of really durable materials.
How do you think it could be improved? It rides up and very quickly ends up squeezing me around the ribs and under my chest, rather than staying around my stomach and supporting my core. I have no idea how this could be improved, perhaps with some kind of corset to fix it in place?!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Girls whose chest measurement is the same as, or more than, their waist measurement
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that... Doesn't ride up quite so much.
Name: Anne-Marie Reichman
Windsurfing history: Professional windsurfer since 1998. Now still super active sailing, no competitions anymore since 2 years. Living Maui, Hawaii ~ Windsurfing Mecca.
Dress size: I am a dress size S mainly. Shoulders get a bit bigger... maybe M at times.
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: DaKine!! 2010 - NRG - size S
What is great about this harness for you? It's the best harness ever used and owned. It has such a great support in my entire back. Before I used the smaller sizes ~the ones made for girls, which had less coverage on the back ~
At times the 'girls harnesses' would give me some back ache as it was too small and pull into my muscles.
Now DaKine will make this harness (officially for 'dudes') into a girls one! but until then.. go try this NRG dude - and dudettes.
How do you think it could be improved? Color it a fun color??.... haha other than that... hands down! best ever. Never back ache with this one.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Guys use this harness, then Tiffany, Junko and I use it. We are all different body types. It seems to be a nice harness that is wide, flexy and comfy around the hips/ back with great support for everyone.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because.... I have never felt such comfort and no back ache at all!
Name: Fi Rigby
Windsurfing history: Instructor for 5 seasons, now free sailing in the UK!
Dress size: UK 10 – 12
Body Shape: Hourglass
Harness: Dakine Nexus ’08
What is great about this harness for you? Love the swinging spreader bar on this model of Dakine harness, plus it’s not too wide on my back.
How do you think it could be improved? It has a tendency to ride up rather than properly sit at my waist!
I like my harness, but it would be great if... I could find one that never rides up while sailing!
Name: Rachel Tucker
Windsurfing history: Its all about the waves! I sail just for the fun of it, whenever I can. I especially love Cornwall, Ireland and anywhere warmer. I've been windsurfing 10 years now and taught windsurfing for Club Vass over 3 seasons. I now teach the occasional women's clinic.
Dress size: UK10
Body Shape: Hour Glass apparently!
Harness: DaKine Nexus 2006. I have a narrow spreader bar on it.
What is great about this harness for you? I love having a sliding spreader bar so I can really turn my body to head upwind. I've got so used to it that sailing with a fixed bar feels very strange. The harness is light and flexible.
How do you think it could be improved? Unfortunately it really isn't a great fit. Even though I've put up with it for 5 years it does slide up. Once the harness slides up off my hips and under my ribs it becomes looser and the spreader bar comes away from my body. I reckon my 28inch lines become 32inch! Whenever I stop sailing I'm always pushing it back down. I've tried loads of harnesses on and none have seemed any better until Andy Biggs in Hayling showed me the Pro Limit Pure Girl Windsurf Waist Harness. It fitted into my waist so much better and barely moved when I hung off it. I've not sailed in it yet but I have high hopes, I'll have to get used to the fixed bar though!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? People who aren't too curvy in the waist.
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that... didn't slide up.
Name: Leah Pickering
Windsurfing history: With regret mainly a holiday windsurfer due to time constraints. Been on quite a few Vass and Dahab holidays so progressed quickly. At the moment I’m working on my waterstarts and refining my sailing position, next to learn: carve gybe!
Dress size: UK 6-8
Body Shape: petite (I’m just over 5ft)
Harness: Dakine Wahine, its really old, probably before 2005 (black mainly but with pale blue detailing)
What is great about this harness for you? Its really comfortable when on and even though its a bit tight when I first put it on by the time I get in the water its fine!
How do you think it could be improved? No matter how tight you pull the harness bar straps, the harness comes away from the actual harness while you're windsurfing... when getting the the footstraps etc it’s the last thing you want to worry about. The bar also rides up and comes over the top of the actual harness at the front - this makes it quite uncomfortable and the bar sometimes sticks into my ribs.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? It would probably fit most other types, it’s good because it seems to hug the waist which makes it more comfortable and keeps the actual harness where it should be... but if you don't have much of a waist this might make it uncomfortable/too tight in place.
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that... the spreader bar stayed put!!
Name: Bethany Mercer
Windsurfing History: Started windsurfing when I was about ten however hated it due to my dad being my instructor! Have windsurfed properly since the age of 18 after doing seasons instructing at Club Vass, spending easter in Dahab and windsurfing at my home spots on the south coast.
Dress size: UK 8
Body Shape: petite
Harness: Dakine, Wahine 2008
What is great about this harness for you? The great thing about this harness for me is the size, its pretty small so fits my back well. Also has a cushioned spongey back piece on the inside which is designed for women. Also it looks very pretty..all tartan!
How do you think it could be improved? It's hard to say as this harness has done me justice for 3 years however there’s always improvements that could be made. If it could be made to fit on the hips this would help with posture when windsurfing.
What other body types would it suit? I think this harness would suit quite slender women as it is quite a small harness overall, or those who are pear shaped but with a little waist.
I like my harness but it would be great if i could find one that... sits on my hips. With all girls its really hard to find a harness which does this rather than fits round the waist. it's just our curvy body shape!?
My harness has seen its days, the stitching is coming loose and what was a brown harness has now faded in the sun and is nearly white!? I am in the process of buying a new one for windsurfing this year. I’m getting new kit so feel it's time for a new harness as well. I want to get the new girls ION harness called 'Jade' as it has a waist protector, a push button spreader, it still has the back protection pad and you can buy it in white and green which I think would look pretty cool!?
Name: Greta Benvenuti ITA38
Windsurfing history: I started windsurf about 13 years ago and I practice all windsurf discipline wave, freestyle and slalom. From last year I’d been concentrate most in slalom competing on the PWA and I’m top 10 on 2010.
Dress size: Italy 42
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: Dakine 2010 Blast (size m)
What is great about this harness for you? I always used the wave harness before tried this harness…I think for the slalom discipline is perfect because it wraps the lower back ( I had a lot problem with my back few years ago so I have to preserve it ) and could allow you to press more with your body weight on the board because when you hang the harness lines you can relax your back and use only your legs power.
How do you think it could be improved? I think it is perfect now, the only thing it could be changed is the material with which the lacing legs is done that often can rip.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? I think everybody can use this hardness…my boyfriend also used it and he is very satisfied.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because....I’m faster than with the other harness!
Name: Katie McAnena
Windsurfing history: Windsurfing since age of 14. Learned in a flat water bay in Galway, Ireland. Started wavesailing in 2006, completely hooked since! Have spent a year on Maui and Western Oz. Now I windsurf on my home turf on the west coast of Ireland, with sweet reef and beach breaks and a very thick wetsuit! I also compete on the Irish and British wave tours, I've won the Irish lady's title for the last 2 years and won my first british wave event this year and have come 2nd and 3rd overall in the BWA over the last 2 years.
Dress size: UK 10
Body Shape: Athletic medium height..... gotta love Gok Wan!
Harness: Dakine Wahine, 2006
What is great about this harness for you? I've had it for 5 years now so it has completely molded to shape my back. It's super comfortable and fits me like a glove! plus it's a bit girly with some pink flowers on it... which I guess is one good way to try make yourself more distinguishable as a girl from all the lads when it's the depths of January and you're all wrapped up in 6mm neoprene and looking pretty much like a dude!
How do you think it could be improved? This is where it gets tricky for me, because I've only ever wavesailed with this harness.... so I have nothing to compare it to or find fault in it.... maybe some day it'll eventually die and I'll have to trade it in, but for now it does the job just fine!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Most women would like this harness I think, it's got great back support without engulfing your whole back like a man's harness would.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because..... it's all I've known on the waves. If it ain’t broke don't fix it! I honestly think if I disliked something about it, after 5 year of using it, I'd probably have found out by now.
Name: Jo Wright
Windsurfing history: Working in Dahab for Neilson, just landed my first vulcan!
Dress size: UK 10
Body Shape: 5'7 with hips!
Harness: Flying objects, Indie - Small
What is great about this harness for you? Very comfortable, doesn’t move around or ride up, looks good!
How do you think it could be improved? Slightly more padding around the sides.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Comes in all sizes, so I guess all except people with really slim waists.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because... it fits me well enough that I don't have to worry about it when its on the water!
I have always found most harness's designed specifically for women to be very small in width and therefore after long periods on the water causes discomfort above hips!
This harness (which is not a women’s specific harness) I find combines a great amount of comfort and a small enough harness bar resulting in a very comfy harness with very little movement on the water!
Name: Karin Jaggi
Windsurfing history: on the water since a lifetime, 28 world titles and far from retiring...
Dress size: UK 8
Body Shape: not sure – guess Athletic...
Harness: 2010 – flying objects - crossfire
What is great about this harness for you? I can wear it in several ways – tight and loose – that only works with harnesses that don’t slide up when you wear them loose around your waist.
How do you think it could be improved? No complaints...
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? There is no way of saying that because for me it does not have to do much with your body type but with your sailing style – where do you apply weight first, when, how upright do you sail, etc. the only way of finding the best one for you is trying it out on the water!
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because....it’s so comfy to wear.
Name: Nayra Alonso
Windsurfing history: Sailing since 1998/99?? Professional since 2003?? I am not very good at remembering dates!!!
Dress: UK 10.
Body Shape: I am a medium height apple-shape according to that chart.
Harness: Flying Objects Contour (but the old model, that was a lot softer maybe 2 years old?) Size M
What is great about this harness for you? It is really soft so it doesn’t dig into my waist. Also it is pretty wide, so again, it doesn’t dig into my waist. I don’t like the Girl-designed harnesses because they make it too thin, and when they are too thin they dig into my waist.
How do you think it could be improved? Mmm... Not changing it? Hehehe.. They have changed the model but they will bring out another model which should be the same. I love this one.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Don’t know to be honest! I guess athletic shape? Not sure for girls with really curvy/thin waist?
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because.... It is soft and doesn’t dig into my waist or hips.
Name: Evi Tsape
Windsurfing history: I started sailing in August 2001; in September 2001 I was already doing my first steps on a 96lt freeride board in Loutsa, the busiest wavespot in Athens/Greece. I learnt to waterstart in a month, then the jibe, started with vulcans, tabletops, forwards, and so on ... I've spent as many hours as possible in the water since the beginning. I've mainly been sailing in Greece, in and around Athens during winter and on several greek islands during summer. I've travelled two times and spent around 20 days in Jericoacoara, Brasil (December 2005 and 2006), and another two times I spent around a month in Cape Town, South Africa (February 2007 and 2008). I'd like to travel to many more wave spots around the world so as to be able to do better on the PWA wave tour. In Greece we don't have world class wavesailing conditions, it's 99% onshore all year long, so it's hard to keep up with the other girls that are training in better spots than me. Competition-wise, I first took part in the PWA in 2006, doing the Lanzarote Super-X. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 I competed in both wave and freestyle events of the PWA World Tour. In 2009 I competed only in waves and finished 5th overall. I could have done a lot better in 2010, since I would go into the wave events seeded 5th, but unfortunately this wasn't meant to happen this year. In March 2010 I had a very serious accident and had to stay out of the water for 6 months, so I missed the whole tour... Now I have recovered and I am ready to attack 2011 full power :)
Dress size: I think UK 12, I am medium size, 180 cm, 59kgs
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: ΙΟΝ Jade 2010
What is great about this harness for you? Besides being really comfortable and supporting for my back, the most important is that it has good fit around my waist. I have tried other harnesses as well in the past and although I don't consider myself to have the average "female body shape", I think that only a few brands out there really put an effort to make a good product that applies to womens' needs.
How do you think it could be improved? I can't think of something that needs improvement.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? I think that in the right size, it would suit anybody who wants to use their harness correctly. I've seen so many girls buy these tiny little harnesses, which hardly have any support for their back, just because they can fix it tight enough to prevent it from going up. I never make my harness too tight, because that's actually how they always go up... People -especially girls who sometimes have a harder time finding a harness that suits them - they get either too small harnesses, which do not support their back correctly or too big ones which do not fit adequately (are too loose) - think that if they make the harness tight enough, then it does not go up... which is not true at all. The harness has to be tight enough to help you counterbalance the rigs' power effectively, but at the same time loose enough so that the rider is able to "keep it down" by "letting it slip down" a bit when she feels it's gone up a bit. You can do that anytime e.g. after gybing or before getting hooked in. And in order to do that you shouldn't wear your harness too tight. I've seen people tighten it up so much it almost chokes them.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because... I can choose to wear it high or "low"; I believe "low " is the best position for not hurting your waist. It is even more important to wear it correctly if you are sailing in high wind/choppy conditions. If the harness sits too high, then the power of the rig pulls your waist upwards, which hurts the muscles and causes backaches. ION Jade is one of those harnesses out there that puts you in this philosophy.
p.s. I am not sponsored by ION international, I do get wetsuits from the greek dealers but I could wear any other harness I wanted. ION Jade is the harness that I have chosen to wear...
Name: Amanda Van Santen
Windsurfing history: I started windsurfing in the late 90’s, since then I have been very fortunate to both sail and coach in some amazing places around the world, including Western Australia, Maui, Canaries, Balearics and my home turf ‘Isle of Wight’.
Dress size: UK10
Body Shape: Tall Slender, i.e. No boobs!!
Harness: Naish…….it’s a couple of years old, but it is soooooo comfortable!
What is great about this harness for you? Definitely comfort, fit and durability.
How do you think it could be improved? Not much – female version, I don’t mind wearing a deep red and camo harness but it is a little manly, it would be nice for someone to make a female version!!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Being tall (6ft) and fairly slender, I really struggle getting a harness that fits properly. I generally have to wear men’s harnesses, therefore they tend to be a little bulkier. My Naish harness isn’t and fits around my waist really well.
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that... Made for a women!!! What is going on…..I’m sure I’m not the only tall female that windsurfs, but so many women’s harnesses have really small backs, providing hardly any support. Come on guys, surely it’s about time we recognised that women need their own wetsuits and harness!!
Name: Julia Slack
Windsurfing history: I started windsurfing in late 2007 and got hooked instantly, I went out and got all the basic kit and windsurfed when ever I could, in what ever the weather on Southampton water. I have since spent every summer traveling around Europe chasing the wind and seeking out new locations. I now live in Devon where there is a number of great locations to sail, Bigbury and Gwithian currently being my favorite spots since getting into wave sailing.
Dress size: UK 10
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: Neil Pryde, 2009, 2D Waist harness
What is great about this harness for you? It looks good, fits well and stays where it should when I am windsurfing and isn’t bulky.
How do you think it could be improved? It doesn’t give much back support as it is quite small, so a larger area on the back would make it even better for blasting for long periods on flat water.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Small women or wave sailors.
I like my harness, but it would be great if...I could find one that was orange and spotty but with more back support!
Name: Nadia Pfister
Windsurfing history: Windsurfing since 1992, started on lake in Switzerland, now only on Maui. Sponsored by CoreBoardsports, Goya/Quatro
Dress size: UK 8-10
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: Neilpryde Wave, probably 2009
What is great about this harness for you? It supports the back but at the same time does not hurt the rips or hip bones. Had to wear it in a few times, very comfortable now.
How do you think it could be improved? The hook system: liked the automatic hook release. Is sometimes a hassle to tighten it and after being in the water tighten more again.
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Harness are very individual and I think you only find out by trying. Make sure when you buy one that you can hook in somewhere to see how it fits when you move. So far, I did not have a harness that was perfect, it is very difficult to get one that fits women. I am trying a DaKine harness soon and am very curious how that will work. So far, I have been very happy with DaKine gear :-)
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that...would fit better, stays tight and hook is released easily.
Name: Tanya Saleh
Windsurfing history: Wave sailor
Dress size:UK 10 -12
Body Shape: Medium Height Athletic
Harness: Neil Pryde Women's Wave 2011 & 2009 (yes, 2 of them)
What is great about this harness for you? The best thing for me is the fit. Some harnesses are really high so I find they dig in on your hips but this one has the perfect shape - fits super snug! The 2011 also has a new bar connecting system which is pretty cool too, so once you set the size you don't have to mess with the straps anymore. Finally I love the designs / colours. The 2009 is polka dots, and the 2011 is metallic and baby blue like space age. Love it! Oh and I didn't even mention the key pocket - critical feature.
How do you think it could be improved? Actually it would be cool to have a fully water proof key pocket so you can put an electric car key in there. Am I asking for too much now?
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? I think it would suit most body types
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because....it is so comfy that I can leave it on all day long and I forget it's there.
When trying on harnesses for size remember that you will have a wetsuit on underneath. Viceversa if you're trying it on in a wetsuit remember that you might want to wear it in a bikini one day so don't buy it too loose / too tight. It's amazing how much of a difference a wetsuit can make in terms of size.
Sponsored by Pryde Group UK
Name: Eilidh Sutherland
Windsurfing history: I have been windsurfing for 4 years and I do Freestyle and Racing.
Dress size: UK 6 or 8.
Body shape: petite.
Harness: Prolimit- pure girl waist Harness.
What is great about this harness for you? it’s comfy and fits properly and looks awesome!
How do you think it could be improved? make the hook a bit slimmer.
What other body types/types of windsurfers would it b good for? slender/ wave riders.
I lurrve my Harness, its perfect for me because... it fits my body type and it has a little pocket at the back for money which is helpful, and i love it! x
Name: Sarah Bibby
Windsurfing history: I started when I was about 15 on Summer holidays every year. I have since competed in SWA and BWA events around the country during 4 years at University and I am now taking a gap year after finishing university to train and compete as much as possible! I have the very helpful sponsorship of Jim at Puravida Boardriders to help me with kit and training. For more info check out my blog http://sarahk349.blogspot.com/
Dress size: UK 10
Body Shape: Athletic
Harness: Prolimit 2010 Pure Girl
What is great about this harness for you? It doesn't ride up due to the neoprene edges gripping your wetsuit. The harness bar also doesn't get looser as you ride as the webbing system grips really well and you can leave it at your size as it has a clip to fasten and release.
How do you think it could be improved? No improvement, I really like it!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? Probably most as it fits above the hips with a 'girly' type harness shape and grips well with the neoprene to fit most figures.
I love my harness! It is perfect for me because....it does the job it is supposed to, is comfy, and it doesn't ride up!
Name: Denise Briggs
Windsurfing history: I’ve been windsurfing for about 7 years. I started out as a sailing instructor then saw the light and ended up becoming a windsurfing instructor! I have been teaching windsurfing for about 6 years now and love getting involved in women’s windsurfing. I now am lucky enough to get to windsurf in lots of awesome locations all around the world and at the moment I am really getting into flat water freestyle and wave sailing.
Dress size: 6-10 UK sizes – depends on the brand
Body Shape: Petite
Harness: 2010 Pro limit Pure Girl Waist harness (very controversially it’s a kite harness!)
What is great about this harness for you?
- The quick release (pin release spreader): I always look for a harness with a quick release system on it, if for any reason you ever need to get out of your harness quick that is the best way to do it.
- It’s small: I am pretty small and a lot of the main manufactures make harnesses that are too big for my size, a lot of the kiting harnesses seem to be a bit smaller.
- It doesn’t dig into my hips: I have found that ladies with all their lovely lady lumps and bumps often end up with harnesses that dig in and rub, epically if you are ever windsurfing in a bikini. Look for the Neoprene soft edges which flex really easily and don’t rub.
- It’s nice and tight and doesn’t slip: look for something called a kidney belt – makes the harness nice and snug around your waist, also keeps your kidneys nice and warm!
How do you think it could be improved? Maybe better graphics – also ‘pure girl’ as a name of a harness could use some work!
What other body types/type of windsurfer do you think this harness would suit? I think the Athletic, tall or slender build would do well from this harness, but in the right size it should suit pretty much everyone.
I like my harness, but it would be great if I could find one that... Doesn’t hook in all the time mid Vulcan! Those wipe outs hurt so much! Also one that doesn’t have a handle on the back because everyone picks me up by it all the time!