How do I start windsurfing?
Windsurfing can be a very challenging sport, or a lazy day out - you can choose.
It can be a leisurely sail across a flat water wearing only board shorts and watching the sun setting.
It can be an adrenaline charged wild day out in big swell during a powerful winter storm.
Getting started is easy or hard. You can teach yourself, and waste months, or go the easy route and get lessons. By using learner gear you can be up and having fun in the first hour.
Remember, the gear you learn on won't be what you'll end up using. (Unless of course, you've still got your trainer wheels on your bike?)
By going to a school you get to use all the beginner gear, get skilled and then move straight into a board and sail that you want to keep.
It's about size!
When learning to windsurf, there are a few different skills you need to learn, and by using the right kit you'll have them licked in no time.
Windsurfing is primarily about board control and sail control. If you were to begin on normal kit, you'd find balancing on a board only 50cm wide pretty challenging - throw on a 4 metre high mast and you're in the water quick smart!
When you get lessons, they'll reverse the board and sail size for you. They'll stick you on a board as big as a barge. You can almost walk around it! From such a stable platform, you are free to learn sail control without thinking about balancing the board.
Instead of a big sail, they give you a small one. One that's easy to control From a big board and a small sail you rapidly accelerate your learning and are zooming around on the water in a matter of minutes. You're soon turning around and coming back to where you started.
Next step is a bigger sail. Now you're starting to get speed up and you're having to control a bigger sail. Then you'll put on a harness to take the pressure of your arms.
Planing (pron: "play-ning")
Over a period of sessions, the sail will get bigger and the board will get smaller and you'll soon enter a new dimension of speed called "Planing". To some, this is where the windsurfing addiction really kicks in.
Planing is that moment when the board "releases" from the water. It goes from "displacing" water (like a slow boat) to skimming over the top of water.
Onwards and upwards
From this point on, there's almost no limit to where you can take your windsurfing. You'll get your own gear - a board and a couple of different size sails.
Down the beach you'll quickly meet like minded crew who are keen to have a great day out. You may begin to travel to new and different locations up and down the coast - travel now has a new purpose! Our coast is so huge and different. You'll soon find you're looking for wave breaks or flat water, or spots that work in particular wind directions. You start to notice the weather a whole lot more and can soon guage the wind speed by look at trees.
It's a great sport and is accessible from all ages - from 5 year olds and up. Guys over 70 are still having a great time windsurfing!
Get serious and contact your local retailer about giving some lessons a go!
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