Jun 14

How to Start Windsurfing


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Disclaimer: I believe I should strongly advise you to get an instructor to teach you how to windsurf. Especially if it’s going to be your first attempt ever at windsurfing. Windsurfing is a very technical sport and you can make a lot of mistakes and go through a lot of frustration if you try to learn on your own or strain a friendship if you accept having a friend teach you. All the material I give away is intended mainly to serve as a refresh so you can correct any bad habits that might have sneaked in throughout the unsupervised sessions and hindering your progress.

 Safety

Windsurfing is a sport that is done in a potentially hostile environment. This means that before we hit the water it is important that we must take the time to ensure that we will be getting back to shore. There are many thorough articles on safety out there and I will write one myself shortly. For now keep in mind these checklist items:

  • Check your windsurf gear to make sure it isn’t faulty and breaks while on the water
  • Avoid windsurfing in offshore winds (if you do, keep close to the shore, if possible where you can still stand)
  • Don’t go windsurfing alone. If there are others on the water they can get help if need be
  • Wear clothing that will keep you warm if you need to swim for at least an hour

Check out the safety recommendations at learntowindsurf.com or check out my post on safety in windsurfing for more info.

 

How to Windsurf

Now to the actual learning how to windsurf:

Before we start, we must first determine the direction of the wind and adjust the board and sail position accordingly. The board and sail will be put into the T-position. This means that the board will be set out 90º to the wind, and the sail 90º to the board pointing downwind.

How To Windsurf - T Position

Now with one foot on either side of the mast-foot we grab the up-haul and making sure we stand up straight start pulling up the sail. Why the back straight? The sail can be anywhere from 2.5 to 6m2 big, maybe even bigger. All that surface is filled with water which makes it very heavy. Trying to lift this through our back instead of the legs can and will hurt your back. Pressing up with your legs is a simple way to avoid pulling a muscle or doing other serious damage to your back. This factor is usually something we forget about quickly, especially as we get tired. Try not to forget! The easiest way to pull out the sail is to stand up straight and to turn our shoulders and move up the up-haul line with our hands until the mast is in our reach with the next shoulder turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 29

How to Windsurf – the Planing 360

The oldest person I have seen learning the planing 360 is an 80 year old Swede. Just in case anyone was wondering whether they are getting too old to learn new manoeuvres…

In essence, the planing 360 is a transition from a planing gybe into a helicopter-tack that is backed out of.

Planing 360

Here is the step by step breakdown:

  • Start off planing at speed.
  • Take the back foot out of the foot-strap (as you get more advanced you can attempt to leave it in the foot-strap throughout the manoeuvre)
  • Put pressure on the downwind rail with the back foot to start bearing away from the wind. Make sure you transfer your weight over the front foot..
  • As you bear away, sheet in the sail, keep the front arm straight and lean the sail to the back of the board.
  • As we turn through the downwind course, the power should start to increase on the other side of the sail. At this point we will probably have to move some of our body weight onto the back hand to be able to hold the power that increases in the sail.
  • Keeping our front arm straight and using the back hand to control the power of the wind in the sail we keep pushing the clew to the back of the board to make it luff up into the wind again.
  • Once it has gone through the beam reach we must continue pushing the clew to the wind instead of to the back of the board, mainly for our stability. If we were to continue pushing the clew to the back we will end up with no wind in the sail and just falling in. As we push the clew towards the wind and away from the back of the board it is important to get our weight on the front foot to avoid the board sinking and shooting out from under us.
  • Once the board has turned back into the wind (i.e.. the mast has come over the board again) it is time to sheet in again to push the board back onto the original direction. At this point it is important to push into the board horizontally as we sheet in to ensure we don’t just end up in a water-start position but upright and can start planing again as quickly as possible.

Planing 360

Jul 22

How to Rig a Windsurf Sail

I often see a lot of people rigging and de-rigging their sails at the Surf Center, and every now and then I see someone who has very little idea of what they are doing. In this post I aim to provide a step-by-step guide for those who are a little lost.

Aside from transportation, the most exhausting part of windsurfing (once we sail more with technique than with force) is the rigging and de-rigging of the sail. It will always take a few minutes and just the walking to and from the water to spend time on this activity will force us to get a feel of the wind speed and the sail size we need for it. Although it can be done in under 2 minutes like in this demonstration by Victor Fernández, it usually takes a little longer and not everyone knows how to do it in the most efficient way. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to rig a sail correctly (note that here I only focused on how the steps of rigging the sail, not on the fine tuning. I will write a few posts in the future on the tuning of the sail):

Mast into sail sleeve

This part is usually the most tiring as the mast is built to bend inside the sail sleeve. The easiest way to do this step is to find a corner or wall that is solid and lean the base of the mast against it as we pull the sails mast sleeve over the mast.






Mast into sleeve Mast top plug



If you have a variable length top, adjust it to the correct length and then fiddle the plug onto the mast.

-IMAGE OF SAIL-MAST PLUG-
-IMAGE OF PUSHING MAST INTO SLEEVE-

Mast extension/base into mast

Put the mast base on the mast or, if necessary, the mast extension. You can find out the extra length needed by checking out what it says on the sail (usually close to the lower edge of the sail).

Sail characteristics

Fumble down-haul

Now the time has come to fumble the down-haul line to connect the mast base to the sail. I wrote a post on how to do this here.

Tense the down-haul slightly

At this point we must tense the down-haul slightly so that the mast bends a little, bringing a little tension into the sail. We don’t want it so tense that it is hard to get the boom on. Usually we can tense it enough with just wrapping the line around our fist. If you need more you can check out this article on tensing the down-haul.

Tense downhaul slightly

Set boom length

To set the boom to the correct length you must check the recommended boom length specified on the sail. Then take the booms standard length and pull out the extension by as much as needed.

Boom length adjust

Clamp the boom onto mast

Get the boom clamp protector on the mast.and then clamp the boom on the mast over it. On some systems the protector can be left inside the boom clamp and just fixed on simultaneously.

Boom on mast

Boom clamp on mast

Fumble out-haul

Once the boom has been clamped onto the mast we fumble the out-haul onto the boom, making sure that the line has as little friction as possible to other points of the line. I will write a post on the options available in the future.
We tense until the sail is touching the boom. If the sail doesn’t reach the boom even on the boom’s shortest setting, you need a shorter boom. I have seen a few people sailing with the sail about 7cm or more away from the boom. This is “possible” but not a good/efficient way for the sail to be trimmed.

Downhaul fiddle

Tense outhaul

Tense down-haul

It is time to get back to the down-haul. We now tense it all the way so that we get the loose leech we need/want. My preferred position is so that the first batten above the boom is at about 1/3 of the width of the mast.

Tense downhaul

Up-haul rope onto mast base

Now all that is left to do is to attach the lower end of the up-haul rope onto the mast base and we are done.

Put on uphaul

Stow away mast top band

Top avoid the band on the mast top flapping about, it is really easy to stow it away by using a loose sail batten and pushing the mast into the mast sleeve.

Fiddle loose top band 1 Fiddle loose top band 2 Fiddle loose top band 3 Fiddle loose top band 4 Fiddle loose top band 5

Tense the sail battens

Make sure all the creases are gone around the sail battens

tense sail batten

So, to recap:

- Mast into sail sleeve
- Mast extension/base into mast
- Fumble down-haul
- Tense slightly
- Boom clamp protector + boom clamped onto mast
- Fumble out-haul + tense
- Tense down-haul
- Up-haul rope onto mast base
- Stow away mast top band
- Tense the sail battens

I hope this has been useful and that you now have a clearer understanding of the order in which to rig your windsurf sail. Some other tips and tricks can be found over at Poole Windsurfing.

Jul 14

How to Tense the Down-haul Best

Pulling on the downhaul to trim the sail can be most annoying part of rigging the sail. The two main factors that make this part of windsurfing unpleasant are the strain on the back and the trouble pulling the downhaul rope easily.

Back strain

For the back we need to consider technique. Ideally the lower back is kept straight and leant back at an angle slightly over 90° with respect to the mast. Also we want to pull increasing the force we apply gradually rather than in a burst.

Now to the techniques with getting a proper grip on the rope.

Coil around the fist

The most simple of all but it provides de natural disadvantage that the rope cuts into the hand. This technique may work well for the outhaul since there we need less power. The downhaul however offers more resistance and so using nothing but our hands will only let us pull as far as our pain threshold.

Rope-bite grip

This is the fastest method to set up. All we need to do is pass the rope through the channel and let the teeth do the gripping. The downsides to this approach is that firstly the rope will start to wear with repeated use. The other disadvantage is that the appliance itself is not very big (only big enough for one hand) and so yo use both our hands we need to put one over the other making it a little uncomfortable.
Rope-bite Grip

Handle

This takes a second longer to set up, simple passing the rope through the holes and trapping the loose end under the middle section. This device is better than the rope-bite grip in the sense that it will not cause wear on the rope. A slight discomfort is caused due to the handle being a little thin but otherwise this method is great.

Downhaul Tenser Handle Bar

Harness

This is the most practical solution as we will always have our harness with us when rigging our sail. A simple bowline knot is used and the noose passed over the hook. The only two minor disadvantages with this is that the bowline knot needs a considerable length of rope and that the test of the harness is a little cumbersome when setting up this method.

Downhaul tense harness

Stick

We have two knots that we can apply to be able to use nothing but a thick stick to tense the downhaul.

1. Prepare the knot for the bar

Downhaul Bar Knot 2-1Downhaul Bar Knot 2-2Downhaul Bar Knot 2-3Downhaul Bar Knot 2-4Downhaul Bar Knot 2-5

 

2. Tie the knot around the bar

Downhaul Bar Knot 1-1Downhaul Bar Knot 1-2Downhaul Bar Knot 1-3Downhaul Bar Knot 1-4 Downhaul Bar Knot 1-5

 

You can also finish off the knot like this to make it easier to undo afterwards

Step-winch Mast Base

This device really makes life easy for us. This is by far the tool that makes tensing the downhaul the easiest. It, however, has two major downsides: firstly, it eats away at the rope constantly, wearing it down. This probably will never come to happen though if you don’t wash the mast base with sweet water after EVERY use because it will at some point get stuck and stop working. Yep, I have yet to meet someone who can say they have been able to use this mast base for very long.
Step-winch mast base

Winch

If you have any back problems, you should definitely get one of these bad boys. Since all you do is plug it into the mast base and turn the winch, all you need is arm strength and don’t need to use your back at all. It might need somewhat more energy input than the step-winch mast base (maybe someday they will come out with a version with gears :) ) but it is completely harmless for the rope.

Downhaul tense WinchDownhaul tense Winch in action

Jul 07

The order of the downhaul lines

Sails used to have just a hole at the bottom next to the mast sleeve through which one would attach a downhaul pulley hook which allowed for the lines to run perpendicularly from the mast base to the sail.

For a few years this system was changed to the pulley set was in line with the sail but 90° to the mast base. This has been changed back to the original orientation by some manufacturers.

Downhaul lines correctly

I’ve had a lot of people asking me how to sort the downhaul lines on their sail as it can get confusing since the mast base and the pulleys of the sail are usually at 90 degrees to each other meaning that the lines will most likely end up at various angles or twisted.

Basically, the only thing we need to keep in mind when arranging the lines is that they do not touch at any point as rubbing of any sort will cause erosion of the lines and end up in a startling snap of the downhaul lines (most likely when we are in the middle of an awesome session, Murphy’s law and all that).

Downhaul lines correctly

The line should not touch at any point to avoid erosion.

Here is a quick description on how to achieve this. Bear in mind that not all sails and mast bases are like this so this guide will not work for everyone.

20140705-200246-72166860.jpg

20140705-200248-72168156.jpg

20140705-200248-72168457.jpg20140705-200248-72168752.jpg

20140705-200249-72169059.jpg20140705-200250-72170389.jpg

Basically we are using the niches of the sail from the outside to the inside and the pulleys of the mast base from the origin to the sawtooth. This is not possible with all mast bases however. Here is an alternative sequence which you can use:

Downhaul Line Setup 1Downhaul Line Setup 2Downhaul Line Setup 3

Downhaul Line Setup 4 Downhaul Line Setup 5 Downhaul Line Setup 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 30

How to Screw on the Foot-Straps

I wrote this post on past blog and thought I might as well post it here again. Sharing this occurred to me when I was checking a large number of boards at the Surf Center to make sure they were all good to be rented out again. Part of this check consisted of making sure that the foot-straps we screwed on tightly. Most people will not do this small change in technique as they usually only have to screw on one, maybe two, sets of foot-straps at a time and therefore will mot feel the consequences of doing it wrong. The way people usually screw on foot-straps is by turning the wrist. The wrist is pretty much the weakest part of the arm and with a long streak of continuous use it will get very sore and drag into the next days. Instead, rotate your arm around your shoulder. The benefit of this is threefold

  1. We will get less tired as we are not using only the forearm but the entire arm.
  2. We can screw the screw from jumping out of the slot as we can apply all our bodyweight onto it.
  3. Our shoulders will not hurt after spending a lot of time screwing the foot-straps. This would not be the case for our forearms.

One more thing: Electrical screwdrivers are not a good idea to use as the screw holes are usually made out of plastic. An electrical screwdriver might rotate too fast and the heat from the fast rotation will cause the screw hole windings to go soft meaning they will be less resistant. This can result in the the foot-strap ripping out of the board on the water. Elecrical screwdriver

Jun 22

Which Up-haul Rope to Use

 

 

 

 

Depending on your level you should be using one type of up-haul or another. In the initial stages, when we rely a lot on the up-haul to maintain our stability on the board when lifting the sail out of the water, we need a rope that is not elastic. If we lift the sail up with and elastic rope, the control over the sail will be greatly reduced as when we pull the sail towards us, some of that energy is lost in the elasticity of the rope.

 

Beginner Up-Haul

Beginner up-haulThese are a rigid rope that is attached to the boom and has an elastic rope that goes from the center of the up-haul rope to the mastfoot. Since there is a loose piece of rope dangling near the mast base they are not practical for high speeds, especially with choppy water as the loose end will be flapping around and hitting the sail all the time.

Beginner up-haul lifting

 

Advanced Up-Haul

Advanced up-haulOnce we can do the water-start we are less reliant on the up-haul. We may only need one in circumstances where the wind drops so much that we cannot do a water-start any more. For these cases we use an elastic rope as it will be close to the mast the whole time that we are sailing and not be a nuisance.
The downside to this is that when we lift the sail we don’t have a direct response of the sail. This means that when we start to lift the sail, the rope stretches first and then starts to lift the sail out of the water. If as we are lifting up the sail, a bit of chop hits us, or a small wave, or we just lose our balance a little bit, we have a harder time to stabilise ourselves with the weight of the sail because as we pull, we first stretch the rope instead of the rope being pulled taught right away and helping us catch our balance again.

Advanced up-haul lifting

 

Summary

Until the water-start use a non-elastic rope as it will provide you with more control over the sail when hauling it up. After learning the water-start you should get an elastic one just in case you need it.

 

 

 

 

Jun 12

How to Windsurf – The Duck-Gybe

How to Windsurf - Duck Gybe

The duck-gybe is one of the easiest extensions to our free-ride repertoire as it shows class without being very difficult. In essence we just take advantage of the relative wind being zero on the running course in order to flip the sail around the clew. Let me go into the step by step:

  1. Grab the boom a little bit further back with the back hand
  2. Bear away like you would for the power-gybe
  3. Once you are nearly on the running course (when your relative wind speed in 0) instead of releasing the back hand to shift the sail, release the front hand and simultaneously bring the clew of the sail forward with the back hand
  4. Move the front hand to the back of the boom, closer to the clew than the back hand so that you can let go of the back hand
  5. The sail should now already be with the mast on the correct side only that we are still holding on to it on the old side of the boom
  6. The back hand (now to be the front hand) gets the boom on the new side
  7. the old front hand comes on to the new side of the sail and grabs the boom further forward than the previous hand
  8. The new front hand grabs the boom close to the mast and we prepare to shift our feet
  9. We Finnish positioning our feet correctly as we start o catch wind again on the new side
  10. Push your hips forward and lean back with your shoulders to continue planing on the new course

The idea is to do all this sequence of steps with no wind in the sail. For this we must be going as fast as the wind so that the relative wind in zero. You can start practicing this manoeuvre by just bearing away onto a running course, shifting the sail around the clew and then continuing to shift it around the mast so that we can continue sailing into the same direction. This will allow you to focus only on the sail control and add the foot position and weight transfer once the sail handling is under control.

Duck-Gybe Sequence

One last tip:

Don’t let the mast touch the water as it will get stuck in the water, make the kit come to a sudden halt and send you  flying forwards, possibly getting hurt in the process. I call this the involuntary superman.

Jun 06

Where should I go for my next windsurfing holiday?

Dominican Republic Windsurf Holiday
The main holiday time of the year is near and the biggest concern for any windsurfer becomes “where should I go for my windsurfing holiday?”. Now I could go for a cheap Bob Dylan pun here but instead I will aim for a practical answer. Or not so practical. Ultimately I would have to say that it all depends.
“On what does it depend?” I hear you ask. Well, here is the list you should take into account when choosing a windsurifng holiday destination.

Accomondation

Some people want a 5 star hotel with all inclusive packages, others just want a room to crash for when they are not on the water. Again others just want a camping place to park their caravan. Make sure that when you select your destination that it also offers the type of accomodation you are looking for at the price you are willing to spend.
Aside from that you should also take into consideration the distance from that accomodation to the actual spot where you are going to be sailing. It is much more comfortable to just stumble out of the hotel or apartment and onto the beach. If you have to take a car or even public transport to get to the spot you might end up somewhat more frustrated if the wind conditions are not as great as the forecast promised.

Surf Center quality

I have written a whole post on what you should look out for when choosing a surf center to rent, learn or store at. Some places have plenty of surf centers to choose from whereas other spots will only havve one. Again other places have nothing to do with accomodation whilst sometimes the hotel itself has the surc center on its premises.
Windsurf Holiday Surf Center

Spot conditions

Naturally we are going to go windsurfing and so the most important factor determining your destination is the conditions for windsurfing. Here I can’t give a one-answer-suits-all advice because everyone is lookng for something else. Some want flat water with little wind to practice their big board gybes, others want strong wind and flat water for speed sailing or freestyle and others want some waves to jump and surf. Make sure you know what the usual conditions of the spot are before deciding on it. Make sure it is compatible with your level.
  • What is the water access like? Is it rocky, sandy, a pier?
  • What are the wind speeds usually like?
  • Is there a beach break that you can or can’t cope with?
  • Is the water so choppy that you have trouble planing safely?
  • What are the water temperatures like? Do you need to buy an extra wetsuit?

Windsurf Holiday CalmWindsurf Holiday Storm

 

Wind Reliability

Most spots have seasonal winds. In El Médano for example we know that the trade winds come throughout July and August. During that summer period we have an average of 25 knots and some decent waves which is great for anyone going from intermediate to advanced (although to have fun you really should know how to waterstart and beachstart with waves and beach-break).

Then again, you might want to come for less wind (and less people) which would allow you to come in the low season such as autumn (fall) and spring. In any case, ake into account what the wind is usually like during the time period that you are on holiday and check out the reliability of it being so to avoid any surprises in terms of too much wind or no wind at all. The Surf Center Playa Sur has a record  of winds going back for over 20 year of how the winds were like in each month.

 

Travel time

Depending on where you are living you will be limited to where you want to travel to. Crossing the Atlantic (or the Pacific for that matter) may be a little exhausting and costly, especially if the family is coming along also. I personally would always recommend El Médano in Tenerife but I acknowledge that for someone living in the States or in Australia it is a bit too far for a week holiday.
Add to this having to haul 30 kg windsurfing equipment with you and it becomes quite an Oddesy.

Travel quality

There are some beautiful places for windsurfing in Morrocco. The downside is that from Marakech to Essauira it takes a 5 hour car ride along bumpy roads. The same goes for getting to Jericoacoara in Brazil. Being there its all nice and wonderful but take into consideration the means of getting there.

Availability of alternatives to windsurfing

We are doing a sport that is dependant on nature. That means that there will not always be wind. There is nothing quite as frustrating as arriving at the spot and there being no wind. My recommendation is that you should make sure that wherever you go, make sure there are alternatives to windsurfing available. This can be SUPing, snorkelling, kitesurfing or non-water sports such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, etc.
Windsurf Holiday Alternatives

Traffic on the Water

I don’t know about you, but I love when there are barely people on the water to watch out for. Others love the social aspect of likeminded people on the beach to share tips and tricks and talk about their battles with each step in their windsurfing journey.
Each spot has it’s high and low seasons. This is dependent on wind reliabiliity for one hting but it is also linked to when people come to visit. Usually this is in all the times of the year when children have school holidays. Naturally some are restricted to these times of year due to their family but if you do not have that limitation in terms of flexibility you might want to go a little bit earlier or later than everybody else to avoid booked up hotels, expensive flights and no more rental boards (or storage) being available.

References

So much for my advice on choosing your next destination for windsurfing. Here are some resources to help you find the ideal place to go:
  • Andrei from NA Windsurfing has a great map set up for surf centers around the world. He also has a list of a couple of places for people travelling from the US and Europe.
  • The iWindsurf.com forums have a pretty extensive list of surf centers all over the world sorted by country.
  • The most thorough guide to spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing is The World Kite and Windsurfing Guide
The first two are free and you can get a good idea of where to go and have a surf center on locationi. They are by no means complete but once you know the spots where there are surf centers you can look up if there are more places to rent or store in the area. The book has to be bought and is only available in paperback but it has over 1.200 spots around the world featured in its pages.
Let me know your experiences and what it is that you look for in a perfect windsurf spot for your hjolidays.

May 29

Best Wind Forecast Websites

The everlasting debate: Which site do you use for the wind forecast? I get asked so often which forecast service is the most applicable for El Médano. This has led me to make a short list of the forecast sites that we use in El Médano and has let me discover some additional wind forecast sites to decide upon the best one. I will be inspecting each in the style that sailingfast.co.uk has presented their list. I should add that I have only looked at the free versions of all these services. Since not all forecast sites are equally accurate for the same locations I have put them in sections describing their reach.

Worldwide Forecasts

WindGuru

Windguru screenshot

Positive

  • Very big network of forecast locations
  • It gives the forecast for a week in advance
  • It shows the average wind and gusts as well as their direction
  • It gives the swell forecast
  • It also shows the cloud covering and precipitation forecast
  • Very clear color coding to differentiate high winds from low winds
  • It provides a 3 star rating for the conditions (favoring high wind speeds)
  • Has an app for IOS and Android

Negative

  • Free service only gives 3 hourly forecasts (it isn’t clear if the paid version gets more detailed)

WindFinder

Windfinder Screenshot

This one is very similar to WindGuru let’s go through the features:

Positive

  • Very big network of forecast locations
  • It gives the forecast for a week in advance
  • It shows the average wind and gusts as well as their direction
  • It gives the swell forecast
  • It also shows the cloud covering and precipitation forecast
  • Has a color and bar height coding to differentiate high winds from low winds
  • Has an app for IOS and Android

Negative

  • Same as with WindGuru

Wunderground

Wunderground Screenshot

Positive

  • NIce and clear color reference for wind speeds
  • Hourly forecast

Negative

  • No color coding for wind speeds
  • No wave forecast
  • Wind forecast is for average wind speed only, no gusts

 

Europe Wide Forecasts

Muchoviento

Muchoviento Screenshot 1

Muchoviento Screenshot 2

Positive

  • Hourly forecast
  • Clear bar chart in printout version showing evolution throughout the day

Negative

  • Wind forecast only
  • No gusts in the report
  • Only has a handful of spots

 

This one has appeared in the last few years and is slowly expanding. The aspect that makes the difference in this forecasting site is that they calculate the wind based on the regional model rather than the global model that the others use. This results in a difference in the results. In El Médano for example, since we have the volcano El Teide close by, if the wind comes from exactly north, we get nothing. However, when it comes from north-east the wind accelerates and comes in about 4 knots faster than what WindGuru or WindFinder predict.

 

UK-wide Forecasts

Big Salty

Big Salty Screenshot

Positive

  • Wind and wave forecast
  • Vast range of spots in the UK
  • 3 point rating of the forecast

Negative

  • Average wind speed only
  • Difficult to read wind direction
  • 3 hourly forecasts only

XC Weather

XC Weather Screenshot

Positive

  • Comprehensive map of UK
  • Mouse-over shows forecast
  • Very easy and intuitive to use
  • Hourly forecast available

Negative

  • Wind forecast only

Met Office

Met Office Screenshot

Positive

  • Very clear presentation of forecast
  • Average wind speeds and gusts
  • Mouse hover reveals written description of forecast

Negative

  • Wind forecast only
  • Coastal forecast only
  • Shows one day per screen

 

US-wide Forecast

NOAA Weather Service

NOAA Screenshot 2

NOAA Screenshot 1

Positive

  • You can get very specific on your location
  • Wind speeds are represented with good color maps
  • You can also get broken down written report

Negative

  • Having to look at the forecast while moving the mouse somewhere else on the screen is cumbersome as you have to keep looking from the mouse cursor to the map and then back to hover over the next time slot(mouse over refreshes the map for the feature you are highlighting)
  • Wind speeds and wind gusts are separate maps making for more hassle
  • Wind direction arrows are hard to read
  • No list of wind speeds, gusts, etc.

 

Note that I have not talked about their accuracy but only about the features they provide. I hope to write an article on the accuracy in the future but that would require a bit more thorough research. Ultimately these are all computer calculated models which will have some margin of error. I recommend that you take the values for two or three sites and compare them to the actual wind for a month and making a good estimate for yourself how the forecast tends to result in real life. As I mentioned before, in El Médano we have become pretty sure that for north-east winds we must add around 4 knots to the forecast and that if the direction is north we will not be getting any wind despite the 30 knots on the north of the island.

Another thing you can do is learn to predict your own weather. To learn how to do that check out this online resource on meteorology.

If you have any resources you think that should be added in this list, please let me know in the comments and I will update it with my views on it.

May 22

Disciplines in Windsurfing

Windsurfing used to be only one type of board fitted out with one type of sail, much like any other sailing category. Over the years however, as different competition styles and windsurfing spots were adopted, the equipment went through huge changes to be optimized for each category. Here are the 7 main categories that have evolved over the years.

Freeride

This is not a competition category, more a type of windsurfing. It is what the vast majority of peope will be used to which is sailing back and forth to have fun and applying different variatins of gybes.

Freestyle

Ideally carried out on flat water although tricks from this discipline are also being used in wave competitions. It consists of pulling of jumping tricks on flat water in which various combinations of sail and board rotations are carried out. Very entertaining to watch, if only to see what amazing things are possible with a board and sail.

shove it

Wave

Alongside freestyle, the most entertaining to watch. The sailors surf the waves with tricks built in and jumps. Riders get points separately for wave rides and jumps.

Winsurfing Waves

Slalom

Call it pushing the speed limits. Thre are two formats of this category. The first is the same as any sailing race (regatta) where there is a circuit in which a large number of sailors are overtaking eachother to reach the finnish line first. The second is each competitor passing through a channel individually, trying to reach the maximum speed which is recorded and then compared with the rest. The fastest wins… obviuosly :)

Formula

The ultra light-wind version of slalom racing. The boards are about a metre eide, the fins are massive and the sails tend to be over 9m2.

RS:X

This category is the Olympic representation of windsurfing. It used to be the Mistral One Design Class but it was changed in 2008. All the participants race with the same baord and sail size to make a level playing field like in any other Olympic sailing category. The equipment is similar to the Formula kit except that it is heavier in general and the only sail size used is 9.5m2 for men and 8.5m2 for the women.

rsx windsurfing

Hydrofoil

This is not a new idea but since the adoption of the hydrofoil in kitesurfing there has been a growing interest in using hydrofoils for windsurfing. The advantage here is that we can pick up decent speeds in very low winds with pretty small sails. It also provides a smooth sailing experience in choppy water. Who knows, maybe it will appear in competition format someday.

Foil opera-tion from Hot Sails Maui on Vimeo.

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