I have given lessons to people from all walks of life. Beginners, people who haven’t windsurfed for 30 years, office slaves, musicians, guys with disabilities and girls with headscarves. The most exciting group to me however has always been athletes.
You can usually tell if someone does sport on a regular basis or if they used to compete in a physical activity. From pole vaulters to ice skate racers, footballers, basketballers, swimmers, skateboarders, surfers and skiers. All of these show a certain ease of learning in one form or another. The control these people have over their body is noticeable in nearly every case.
Sailboating for Windsurfers
There is one group however that sets itself far apart from the rest: sailors. Every single one of my students that has spent even as little as a weekend on a sailboat proved to get the feeling for windsurfing in an incredibly short amount of time. read more…
There are heaps of reasons why I would say that windsurfing is the best sport ever. All you have to do is ask any windsurfer “Why windsurfing?” and they will give you 20 minutes worth of explanations of what makes windsurfing great.
I have compiled my own list of the advantages of windsurfing which I think should convince you to take it up or at least try it out.
Advantages of Windsurfing
Windsurfing is Easy
There are tons of sports that are hard to learn. Riding bikes, snowboarding, rock climbing and the list goes on. Windsurfing has a great advantage in that you can make the learning environment ideal. To take your first steps in learning how to windsurf you usually go to a spot where there is flat water and light constant winds (El Médano is not the “ideal” place to get initiated to windsurfing).
Another thing that is great in windsurfing is that you get pretty much immediate results. Because you start off on a big board and a small sail you can be sailing back and forth with help in the first hour and on your own (and safely) in less than 5.
And when it comes to the equipment, big wide boards and light sails have been lowering the barrier to entry in terms of strength necessary. read more…
Sail tuning is one of the skills that gets overlooked during the learning process of windsurfing. Most people can kind of rig the sail correctly but are either unsure, or just plain don’t know how to tune a windsurf sail. A badly tuned windsurf sail can make the experience of windsurfing unpleasant. There are only a few parameters you really have to look out for, depending on the sail. This guide should help for most windsurfing sail types although it will vary (or be missing aspects) for sails that have cambers for example.
When I rig my sails there are basically three things I look out for.
How to Tune a Windsurf Sail Correctly
Before I start, a quick disclaimer. Each sail type and brand will have different properties and their performance will vary greatly from one sail to another. This guide should be used to start you off but ultimately it is up to each sailor to test out variations to this starting point to see what works best for them. You can also check out the manufacturers websites to see what they recommend for their sails.
With the sail on the ground I push down on the sail with both hands. The sail foil should be just touching the boom on the other side. If it touches too easily I tense the outhaul more, if it doesn’t reach the boom I release some outhaul.
This also depends on the wind. If the wind is light you can release the outhaul a little to make the sail curve more round. If the wind is stronger or you feel overpowered you can tense the outhaul more to make the curve flatter so the sail doesn’t pull as much.
Too much outhaul
If we pull too much on the outhaul, the sail will be very flat, which means that it will lose the profile. This means that all the advantages of having a wing shape are lost and all you are left with is a wall for a sail.
Sails have evolved depending on their discipline. In the same way that you wouldn’t use a formula 1 car to race a rally, you also need the correct sail and board for what you want to do. Here are the 4 basic types of windsurfing sails with their differences:
Wave sails are made for stronger winds so they tend to be smaller. They are also made to be used in waves which means that the sail panels are reinforced to make sure they don’t break during a wipeout or your knees landing on them, etc. The battens are also stronger so they don’t snap when a wave breaks on them. This implies that they are also going to be heavier than other sail types. They are also cut so that the boom is shorter and there is not much sail surface below the boom to avoid it being caught by the wave.
I know what it is like to finally get back on a windsurf board, excited to taste the salt water again, feeling the wind on your face, the sensation of gliding over the water, only to realise after an hour or two that you have to stop. You have no more energy. Your forearms are aching, your legs are tired and you somehow don’t manage to get your breath back.
When I was at university in Newcastle (UK) I would always come back to Tenerife over the holidays to help out at my parent’s Surf Center. While in the UK I would focus on studying and living the stereotypical student lifestyle (lectures, parties, hangovers) which meant that not much time was spent at the gym. I would come back to Tenerife to help out at the Surf Centre and realised that I was knackered after a day teaching.
From my second year onwards I took up judo which improved my cardiovascular performance as well as increasing my overall fitness. The difference to my next return to Tenerife was impressive. I could get back into the rhythm of lessons and free-surfing with no impediment from my body at all.
Now I see lots of people who rent at the Surf Center that are bummed out when their body won’t allow them to continue windsurfing for more than an hour or two due to either their hands getting blisters (usually after a few days on the water) or because they are out of shape. read more…
The centreboard (or skeg) is a tool which causes some confusion after a few hours of heaving learnt how to windsurf. Many people are unsure about when it is necessary, useful or a hinderance. This article aims to explain how and when to use the centreboard to get the most out of it.
One consistent theme I see recurring nearly on a daily basis is spending too much time on the water. I am naturally guilty of this as much as anybody else. I have spent many more hours on the water than I should have.
What do you mean? you may ask.
It is actually quite simple. We are doing a sport that requires quite a lot of coordination. Most of the movements become intuitive and reflexive over time. There are a few things which are constantly changing however: wind, waves, other windsurfers, etc. then come all the manoeuvres such as gybing, jumping, wave riding and all the other wonderful things that make this sports so great.
These all require our concentration which in itself already depletes our capacity to continue concentrating. However, as our energy gets used up, our concentration reduces also. You might remember a situation in which you were so exhausted physically that you could no longer think straight but could only focus on breathing and not falling over like after a long sprint or after fighting to get out of a strong beach break.
As our concentration decreases we start making more mistakes which inevitably causes us to fall in more often, wasting more of our precious energy… and so the vicious cycle continues. read more…
I am short sighted. Not borderline blind mind you, but I do have trouble seeing without my glasses. I am not allowed to drive without them, let´s put it that way. On top of that i have what is called nystagmus. It´s kind of hard to explain (check out the link) but in essence it causes my eyes to move around the place when I am tired, hungry or otherwise low on energy (hangovers were a real pain).
Every now and then I get a student who is also short sighted. Unsurprisingly I get asked how good of an idea it is to go windsurfing with glasses. Usually my answer is divided in one of the following categories.
Pumping in windsurfing is a technique that is not really talked about much. Many people do it intuitively, others can’t seem to get the hang of it, and the rest have no idea how to explain it properly. I was only made aware of this recently and noticed that even in the vastness of the internet there is not much information on pumping. So here goes:
I like to break pumping down into four types as the techniques varies on the wind available to us and the purpose of pumping.
Pumping in near zero wind
In my post on how to get back if the wind drops, I describe how to move the sail in a way that pushes the mass of air to the stern, thereby pushing the board forwards. Then moving the sail forwards with the sail surface in line of movement to reduce the surface causing drag
Pumping in low winds
One of the most fun parts of my beginner lessons is getting back to the beach at the end. No, not because I am desperate to end the lessons but because it gives my students the chance to ride a wave with a windsurf board. There is very little else that will get a beginner hooked to windsurfing than the sensation of gliding down a wave (except for when I pull them so that they start planing, which is basically the same sensation). There is however a very important element to riding a wave with big boards which will make or break the ride and that is making sure that the board does not dive underwater with either the nose or the leeward rail.