Localism: The aggressive behaviour that locals of a particular spot have towards outsiders to make sure they don’t have to share the wave, etc.
How many stories have you heard of local surfers threatening, insulting or even attacking other surfers who are visiting the spot? This is a worldwide phenomenon and is not limited to surfing or water sports. In essence it is a form of surf rage but applied to territorial protection.
On my home island of Tenerife alone there are a large number of spots governed by a group of friends who have been surfing at a certain spot for ages and don’t let anyone else enjoy that particular wave or spot by resorting to violence.
Ultimately, localism is nothing but selfish behaviour manifested through violence. As nice as it is to have the spot all to ones self, the ocean belongs to everyone and as long as we all using concienciously and respectfully towards everyone else, there is no reason why we can’t all enjoy it.
Maybe you missed the best wave of the day because a newbie was in the way or a visitor took the wave thinking you would get wiped out because they didn’t know how the wave breaks at that particular spot. Never mind, the ocean will bring plenty more waves, winds and epic sessions on the water. No need to act like it is the end of the world.
We are dealing with a sport that depends on the weather. In other words, there will be times when there will be too much wind or simply not enough wind for our level. There are two alternatives we have when there is too much wind, or too dangerous conditions for us to go windsurfing on the water.
Surf Rage: the aggressive behavior some people have when they are windsurfing, kitesurfing or surfing. This is usually an abnormal circumstance as they are not like this except when on the water. This may be evident through rude gestures, insults and threats as well as acting in a way that is dangerous to others such as surfing too close or attacking them on shore after an encounter on the water.
Basically it is road rage for surfers. In short, it is a childish and selfish behavior which puts others at risk just so that they can have the space (be it the spot or the waves) for themselves.
It is easy to identify where this aggressive attitude comes from. Every surfer knows the pleasure of being on the water practically alone. Not having to watch out for other surfers makes the session much more enjoyable as you can focus on you own moves and fun. Even when there are rules established in terms of priority and people abiding by the rules of right of way, it still means we have to watch out for not running into each other.
Add to this the prejudice some people have about the individual sports such as surfers versus bodyboarders versus SUPers versus windsurfers versus kite surfers and you have a tense situation on the water indeed.
This prejudice comes from a variety of situations which has made another sport annoying for others. For example, just from what I have seen personally, surfers who can’t stand bodyboarders who get the wave for being closer to the peak only because they don’t have fins to watch out for in the shallow water when the wave draws back over the reef; windsurfers getting annoyed at surfers who are lying in the water in the wave where they are not seen and surfers getting annoyed at windsurfers for not seeing them and sailing too close, SUPers being hated for the danger they pose when they wipeout with their monster boards; SUPers and long-boarders taking all the waves due to the extra volume, kite surfers being insulted for dropping their kites in areas that windsurfers need to head through in one go or end up on the rocks, kite surfers hating windsurfers for lying in the water where no one can see them when they are jumping, and windsurfers getting surprised by a kite surfer landing only a few metres next to them or in their sail; and the list goes on and on.
Every once in a while I fall prey to this reaction, but only getting annoyed at a person in particular for being selfish, ignorant, inexperienced or just unlucky. However, that is no reason to berate them or threaten them. We have all been in the way of someone else at some point or another and will do so in the future. Most of these are accidents, bad timing, not seeing, not looking or whatever reason. Getting riled up about it will not help but make the situation on the water more tense.
In short, we are sharing a space on the water which belongs to everyone. Most of the time people [insert annoying action here] because they genuinely didn’t see us or they don’t know the rules. Being an asshole about it won’t help anyone. If you are annoyed, tell the other person calmly when you get back to the beach. Most of the time breaking the rules and rights of way was a genuine mistake resulting in a scare or a missed wave and the instances that it was out of sheer selfishness are rare, except for in spots where the competitiveness has pushed the general attitude into a “me first” state.
Let me know what you think. What situations have you had?
Windsurfing is a potentially dangerous sport. In fact it is considered an extreme sport for a reason. That reason is mainly the fact that it is carried out in an environment we cannot control, namely the sea, lake, etc. Other sports offer security in terms of reduced risk of injury or equipment failure. Risk is the relation between the probability of something negative happening and the severity of the consequences of it happening. Both these factors are pretty high in windsurfing as we are traveling at important speeds, using gear that is subjected to high stresses and are in an environment that is not exactly a good place to be in if injured or with broken equipment. I know I would rather have a broken leg or be unconscious (not that I want any of these…) on firm land than in water.
Despite this fact, safety is often disregarded. I must confess that I am guilty of not sailing with a helmet or a lifejacket, sailing in offshore winds and not inspecting the gear properly before every use. That being said, my home spot tends to have side-onshore winds, an effective rescue service and waters full with other sailors. In any case it is important to know what can go wrong and make sure to take precautions to minimize the probability of it occurring and to reduce the graveness of the consequences if it does happen. (more…)
There are many reasons why one might want an instructor to teach you how to windsurf. There are a coupe of reasons for which I believe you should definitely hire a windsurf instructor, especially in the initial stages of your learning. Windsurfing is an extremely technical sport in which a lot of details can be gotten wrong and internalized, hindering our progress.
As I just mentioned, learning how to windsurf on your own can be detrimental to your progress as there are a large number of things that you can do wrong. Elements such as keeping the front arm straight, avoiding the monkey stance or bending our back to pull the sail out of the water are crucial to get right from the first lesson. They are also elements which are very quickly forgotten which an instructor will detect as they occur and correct.
While learning you will get loads of well intended advice from your friends. However, they might not necessarily know which your next learning step should be. Depending on the spot you are windsurfing in you might be better off learning the beachstart before learning to plane or using the harness. I have heard of kids in Hawaii or Isla Margarita that have skipped the gybe entirely and jumped straight to the front loop (although this is probably just your standard adolescent “getting ahead of ourselves” :)).
Aside from knowing which your next step on the learning ladder should be, an instructor will be able to tell you if you are even ready for the next step. Countless times I have had students wanting to learn to waterstart when the beachstart was not solid, or wanting to learn how to carve-gybe when they weren’t planing properly.
We are talking about an extreme sport in a potentially dangerous environment. Having someone next to you while you are trying out a new maneuver is a very sensible thing to do. Many times my task for the hours lesson would be to “keep company” to students who did not feel safe at a new spot. I would accompany them with kit that was a little bit easier to handle so that if they grew tired by fighting for a waterstart in non-flat water, they could take over my gear and up-haul to sail back to the beach safely without being washed onto the rocks by the current.
Also, arriving at a new spot that is more challenging than, for example flat water, might give you a hard time. You can save yourself lots of frustration by just getting someone to check out how you are coping with the conditions like shore break or gusty winds and give you a few crucial pointers on how to save your energy or improve your control over the kit, etc.
To conclude, a windsurf instructor is a very smart decision when wanting to learn a new maneuver, arriving at a new spot or going back on the water after a longer break to file at your technique. Hiring an expert will shorten your learning curve and solidify shaky elements of your technique.
I have a bit of a problem with the simulator as it tends to get overused in my opinion. I completely agree that a student will have a better chance of succeeding after a few attempts in which the disturbance of the waves are taken out of the equation, but I also insist that this will only give a false (or at least inaccurate) representation of the reaction of the kit. I therefore think it should be used as little as possible and only to get the general feeling of the motion in place and then continue immediately on the water ie. the real world.
I have seem people take ages on the simulator, going through endless theory and future manoeuvres before the student has even had the chance to experience standing on the board in the water.
I have resorted to offering a few tips on the simulator and then offered the student to practice on the simulator without my supervision but this was usually in cases that I was booked up with lessons or in cases where there was took much wind/waves, such that the safety of the student would be put in jeopardy.
Another subject which annoys me is the wasting of time doing sail/board games or other no-wind activities. I am very skeptical of the actual benefits of these activities. Normally they are solutions to offering lessons without actually having wind and therefore having to provide entertainment for a group that has already paid for a course. To me this is a waste of time and the money of the students. Maybe I am just getting on my high horse here saying that the student is signing up for a windsurf course and all they are getting is a simulation of what the would do if there were wind.
I have indeed missed out on a number of lessons because there was not enough wind to teach whatever it was that the student wanted to learn. It’s a shame for the lost commission but it would not sit well with my conscience if I was asked to teach the tack for example and I took money for standing them on a simulator and pulling them around on it for an hour.
But ultimately what people want to do is windsurf and not just pretend to windsurf.
Let me know what you think.