Windsurfing is a sport activity which is performed on the water surface using the sailing and surfing elements. Windsurfing is popularly taken up as a recreational activity and non-competitive basis. A windsurf can reach high speeds and allows access to interesting remote areas. A surfer can enjoy the waves with windsurfing.
Windsurfing is also known by the name of boardsailing. Windsurfing have different levels as well as types, all depending upon the wind speed, board, sail sizes and wave structure.
Ever since windsurfing evolved, it has gained world-wide popularity. Nowadays, professional competitions are held all over the world. It is also a popular sport event in Olympic as well.
Windsurfing has no age limits. A person with any age limit can enjoy this water sport including kids.
Basic Windsurfing Gear
Windsurfing is comprised of four basic equipments. These are:
It is one of the most important pieces of equipment. It makes up the base of the sail. On the board, the windsurfer stands. A beginner board is lighter as compared to professional board and are mostly flat boards.
Modern windsurfing boards can be classified into these categories:
• Freeride: Boards meant for comfortable recreational cruising (mostly straight-line sailing and occasional turning) at planing speed (aka blasting), mainly in flat waters or in light to moderate swell.
• Formula Windsurfing Class: Shorter boards up to one meter in width, for use in Formula Windsurfing races. See below for a more detailed description.
• Wave boards: Smaller, lighter, more maneuverable boards for use in breaking waves. Characteristically, sailors on wave boards perform high jumps while sailing against waves, and they ride the face of a wave performing narrow linked turns (bottom turns, cutbacks, and top-turns) in a similar way to surfing.
• Freestyle boards: Related to wave boards in terms of maneuverability, these are wider, higher volume boards geared specifically at performing acrobatic tricks (jumps, rotations, slides, flips and loops) on flat water.
• Slalom boards: Shortboards aimed at top speed, rather than maneuverability or ease of use.
• Beginner boards: (sometimes called funboards) these often have a daggerboard, are almost as wide as Formula boards, and have plenty of volume, hence stability.
• Racing longboards: Mistral One Design, or the Olympic RS:X class race boards.
Sail is a piece of fabric and is available in variety of sizes and shapes. It provides power by wind harnessing. For a beginner, it is advisable to use soft sail which doesn’t generate power as well as are easier to steer. Once a beginner has gained experience and becomes an expert, he can always go for hard sail which generates a lot of power and speed.
It is a pole (or set of conjoined poles) which are used for holding the sail. Mast should be strong so that it can cope up with the strong wind and water force. Typically, if a mast has more carbon fibre in it, the better quality it will have.
It is used for adjusting the direction of sail. Boom is attached to mast as well as around the sail.
How to Purchase windsurfing Gear
If you go out into the market to shop for windsurf equipment, you will find a variety of them, having different makes or specifications. Hence, it has become quite difficult to choose the right gear for windsurfing. When going out to buy windsurfing gears, here are few tips which might be helpful to you.
Seek professional advice: if you are beginner then probably you don’t have the idea of purchasing the right equipment and which suits your requirements. Hence, it is advisable that you should take help from a professional or a windsurfer instructor. He will guide you on how to make the right choice. Remember getting the right piece of equipment is very much important if you want to proceed to the next level. Making wrong choice for equipment can set you back.
Don’t go for looks: Don’t simply buy because the piece was the best looking amongst all the choices available. Always, make sure to identify your requirements and then choose the right sail, boom or mast accordingly.
Protective gear: For a beginner getting protective gears is very much important. Never neglect the importance of helmet, life jackets and wetsuits. Remember to purchase good quality ones since these will protect you against injuries while you are learning. Also, the wetsuits are available in variety i.e. wetsuits for warm water or wetsuits for cold water. So make sure you choose according to your requirement.
Durable and strong: Always go for durable and strong equipment. Make sure to buy a quality product which should be able to handle the power of the wind.
Read reviews: You can go online or search in magazines to read reviews of particular equipment. This will give you an idea about the equipment itself and whether you should purchase it or not. You will be able to get a complete detailed idea with both negative and positive points of the equipment. This will make it easier for you to decide.
Check out Variety: A lot of variety is available in the market especially for the board so make sure you shop around and see the variety available. This will not only help you in making the right decision but will also let you make a comparison of various price offers on same piece of equipment. You can then easily decide for the best deal, which will provide you with quality equipment within your budget limit.
Keeping these few tips in mind will certainly make purchasing gear much easier.
How to windsurf
The board should be positioned such that the wind is blowing across it.
• The sail should be positioned such that the board and mast are parallel across the wind. Mast should be extending beyond the back of the board, with the sail’s clew pointing downward.
• Pull the mast in parallel with the water, into the wind to clear the sail.
• Now, you should place the back foot on the board and let the mast forward by swinging into the wind. Increase the power by keeping close to the water.
• With the help of a downwind steering steer a broadreach.
• As the wind will catch up the sail, using your back hand sheet in and allow the wind to pull you up onto back foot. Make sure you don’t pull using your arms otherwise it will sail down and result in reduction in lift. Instead, you should allow the wind to pull you up and you should fully extend your arms.
• For providing additional boost you should roll up on the board before kicking your front foot.
• Carefully step over the centreline using your front foot.
• Hook on boom and into the harness line. Now step back into the footstraps and move across the water as if you are a skipping stone.
In order to learn windsurfing, it is advisable that you should hire an instructor who will help you learn the right way. He will provide you with guidance as well lessons which will help you a lot. Also, an instructor will not only give you lessons but he will also guide you in making the right purchase for the equipment. He will tell you which piece of equipment is suitable as a beginner, as an intermediate and as a professional. The instructor will focus upon you and you only. You can also learn in a group learning which many find more fun and enjoyable since everyone learning is at the same level, having similar interest as well as provides competitive environment at the same time. You can join basic windsurfing courses to learn this way.
You should make sure to listen to his instructions carefully and ensure that you are patient. Also, at any point if you feel confused make sure you point it out or clarify any doubts that you have.
Initially, beginners find it quite difficult to stay on the board and fall into the water no matter what position they are in. They have no idea where are they going wrong. The reason behind taking a fall whenever they stand is the incorrect balance. There are 4 windsurfing balance and losing any one of them will cause you to fall into water. In order to stay on board and not fall, one needs to know these 4 balances. They are:
The board should be kept flat all the times in order to maintain the balance. You will fall if the board heels. For keeping the board flat, keep the foot on centre-line or at least near it.
To maintain balance and avoid falling into water, you will need to make sure you have a balanced rig. Rig should be self-supported. The mast should be almost over the board’s centre line while mast’s tip will be on the base. In order to make sure you have achieved mast balance, you should let loose for a second your hands. If the rig doesn’t fall on to any side of the mast or the clew then it means you have a balanced rig.
For balance, you must make sure that minimum pulling is done. Keep your shoulders back with butt in. The knees should be bent always. Do flexing in and out with wind using your knees and not do it with your bottom. Weight should be supported by the back foot while drive the force using the front foot. This will make sure your balance is kept on back foot in case wind slacks.
If you are a beginner then you will find it the hardest to learn. Power balance is to balance yourself against the wind. You should dissipate the power through the foot of the mast to the board, powering up slowly, while pushing the board. This will allow you to reduce the power which will allow for more powering up. During this whole time you should rake the rig for balance over the wind. If the rig is balanced properly, you can leave it alone for a second or more. As the wind starts becoming stronger, enough power is provided which will allow the surfer to hang onto the rig and helps the rig balance against wind.
• In case of an emergency, here are few useful tips:
o Never leave your board and try to remain calm. This will ensure that you float as well as allow for visibility.
o Send a help signal which can be done by crossing your arms over your head and waving.
o Once rescuers arrive, cooperate with them
• Learn to balance by experimenting with falling a few times.
• Make sure you wear helmets and lifejackets
• Learn how to swim if you don’t know already
• Prefer one-to-one lessons if you can afford
• When sailing, initially sail with an experienced person and listen carefully to what he says. You will not only feel comfortable but safe as well.
• A beginner should prefer to start on a board which is as much wide as possible, having most volume. It is recommended that the board should be at least 80 cm wide and have a volume of 160L.
• Be patient. Learning windsurfing is a time consuming job so make sure you remain patient and spend hours in learning the basics.
• Learn by surfing in flat water and light winds. You might feel tempted to go out in strong, gusty winds but remain patient as time will soon come once you are experienced.
Should a beginner take lessons?
Yes, it is recommended to take formal lessons if you can afford. Learning in a group may be a good option as it will not only make learning fun but challenging as well.
Which should be preferred by a beginner?
A beginner should start with a wider board, having maximum volume.
What sail should be preferred by a beginner?
The sail should be typically between 2 and 7 squared meter.
What should I do in case of a spin out?
If a spin out occurs, try removing all the weight from your back foot.
Over past few years wind surfing has started gaining popularity. It is a fun as well as adventurous sport. One can feel the joy and excitement of moving over the water and through the wind at high speed.
Windsurfing is a physical activity. Hence, safety should be taken into account when going out into water. A windsurfer, especially if a beginner, should be equipped with proper equipment for windsurfing as well as safety gears such as helmet, life jacket etc. Make sure you have learned the basics with help of an experienced person before you windsurf on your own.
All you need to know is to stand if you are to windsurf. With a lot of practice you can easily master this technique and make your life adventurous.