Windsurfing is a fantastic sport for anyone looking to pick up a new past time or try something different on the next vacation. Since beginners start on a big board with a small sail it’s usually easy to pick up safely, on your own, within the first hour or two of practicing. The size of the equipment also makes it easier for people entering the sport as the big boards and light sails lower the strength necessary.
Windsurfing is great exercise and the intensity of the activity varies along with the levels. Opposed to a hobby like sailing, you can pick up windsurfing equipment relatively cheaply and once you’ve gotten basic gear there is always time to gradually upgrade.
Furthermore, to the surprise of most people, the sport is actually very inclusive. The only true restrictions are people who can’t swim and children that weigh less than 66 pounds.
If windsurfing sounds like something that you’d like to try, or if you’ve already begun, here are a few pointers to newcomers and reminders for those just getting started.
Start With a Big Board
This is a particularly good piece of advice for anyone trying to learn in a windless area. The volume of the board will make getting back to the beach much easier. A bigger board will help you to learn control and planning. If it’s windy at your location you can always switch the size of the fin and start with a slightly smaller board.
In rough water, it’s difficult for beginners to do well, and often times it’s because they are keeping their legs too straight. By having your knees locked the board isn’t able to turn. Get down low, as low as possible, put your arms out forward and straightened. With your knees bent, keep your weight low and forward so you can carve each turn. This is where longer harness lines can be of help.
Longer lines will make a major difference! It’s hard to windsurf with shorter lines, especially if you’re learning. Keep the rig upright as much as possible instead of pulling to windward. It’ll give you a better balance point and allow you to adjust to the wind with much more ease.
Stay Centered for Jumps
Catching air is probably the goal of all windsurfers. Staying centered on the board is probably the best piece of advice for any beginner. Don’t lean too far over the water, and when you find a nice piece of chop use it to bear off of. When you hit it use your entire body as a spring, compressing your legs and pulling your arms in. When you land, make sure that you do not straighten your legs out. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the tail of your board is under you rear end and you won’t lose any speed.
Follow Your Head with Your Body
This is especially important in turns, always be looking where you need to go. The body follows the head so where you focus is where you will go. Remember to always watch the water in front of you. If you’re looking upwind then your hips should be facing that way as well. This helps to control the board.
Always take your safety seriously. Remember it’s all about having fun and like everything else, it takes practice.