Woohoo! You have a new board! Awesome. With reasonable care, you should expect to get a nice long life out of your new ride. Luckily, boards are pretty easy to care for. Here are some things that you can do, look out for, and avoid, in order to prolong the life of your new board:
1) Be Gentle while handling your board on land!
Windsurfing boards tend to be made out of high tech, super light, materials. Their constructions are optimized for the stresses and forces applied when they're being used in the water- They're totally fine with your 200+ pounds flying along at 25 mph, jumping 5-10 feet into the air, carving turns and bashing waves! This does not, however, translate into equal strength and marvels of engineering while on land. The shell of the board can easily be damaged if you bang it into something, drop it, drop something on it, store it incorrectly, etc etc. Basically, treat it as if it were an eggshell whenever you aren't in the water.
2) Buy a board bag!
Much of the land based board damage can be avoided by buying a bag. It'll help with the little bumps and bruises encountered during transport, as well as keeping the sun off the board if you leave it on your car's roof rack for an extended period of time.
The only thing to be careful of with bags- Don't Leave a Wet Board Inside the Bag!! The build up of humidity can cause damage to the board's paint job. I always take my boards out of their bags as soon as I get home from the beach. This allows both the board and the bag to dry out, and then nothing will get mistakenly cooked.
3) Use the Vent Plug!
Most windsurfing boards have vent plugs installed. These little inserts are simply a hole that goes straight into the middle of the board, with a separate screw and rubber gasket that will seal off the hole when installed. The idea is to allow the board (and all of its separate layers) to breathe and equalize interior and exterior pressures as they change. Things that will change the exterior pressure are simple- large temperature changes (such as storing the board inside a hot car on a summer day), large elevation changes (driving up and over large mountain ranges or flying with your board), and other similar situations. Many people (and manufacturers) recommend opening the vent plug and letting the board breathe anytime that you aren't in the water, but you should at least open the plug if you're expecting to see any of the aforementioned situations.
The main thing to remember, though? Check the gasket and CLOSE the Vent Plug BEFORE you get in the water!! An open vent plug or damaged/missing gasket will allow water to enter the core of the board.
If you think that there is water inside your board, even just a few drops, you need to be scrupulous about opening the vent plug at all times when not in the water!! Water changes volume dramatically when it heats up or cools down, and can lead to substantial board damage if left untreated and plugged up inside the board.
4) Uh oh, you damaged your board!
Let's be honest here, even the best sailors in the world take the nose off of their board or crack a rail every now and then. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Just make sure to get your board out of the water, fixed, and sealed up ASAP. Don't take the board back out into the water until it's been properly sealed up- even a tiny crack can allow enough water into the board to lead to a full delamination, so don't mess around here!
If you don't have a repair person nearby, you can always try doing a repair yourself. There are simple patch kits available for purchase, and near instant repairs of small dents and little punctures are pretty easy and can get you back out on the water really quickly. Solarez and Ding Stick are great options that dry/seal in as little as a few minutes.
http://boardlady.com/ is an incredible resource for "Do It Yourself" repairs. Read It!
Do you have any tips on how to extend the life of your new windsurfing board? Let us know if we missed anything!