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Windsurfing FAQ

Windsurfing FAQ

Why windsurfing?

To put it simply, because it is loads of fun! You are sure to enjoy yourself regardless if you are into racing, radical wave sailing or just gently sailing on a lake, sea or ocean. Nothing beats the feeling of going 20plus miles per hour – it is like sailing away from all the stress (no phones, no faxes, no worries).

One of the best things about windsurfing is the fact that anyone can do it. It does not matter how old you are or how skilled you are. Once you get into it you will notice two things: it is extremely easy to learn to windsurf and it is a very sociable sport. It is like joining a club.

From a medical point of view, windsurfing is good for you both physically and mentally. It is a very active sport that will help you maintain a good physical condition. I assure you, you will not have problems going to sleep after spending a whole day windsurfing. When you are out there windsurfing, you will leave all your troubles behind you – all that matters is having fun and surfing.

Is it hard to learn?

Some things come natural to us while other things must be taught to us so that we can do them properly. Windsurfing falls into the latter category. You can’t just pick up a board and sail off. You have to learn how to windsurf. Luckily enough the whole process is rather simple and you should not have problems with it. The modern equipment and structured formalized lessons make the whole process significantly easier.

What does the learning process entail?

According to the experts the learning curve when picking up the basics of windsurfing is relatively steady. This means that as time moves on you will steadily progress in your knowledge of windsurfing.

There is a list or “required skills” that you must master in order to go out and windsurf (safely I may add). The skills that you must pick up are as follows:

- The longboard stage.
- The shortboard stage.
- Waterstart lessons are required after the shortboard stage.
- Advanced sailing skills are required for the waterstart.

How much will the lessons cost?

On average, good quality beginner lessons will set you back $25 per hour.

The prices may vary from place to place – it is important that you keep that in mind and if money is an issue, then feel free to inquire about the price. Keep in mind that the quality of the lessons is very much related to the cost of the lessons.

It is advisable that you find a good, reputable school and start from there. It is not advisable to have a friend walk you through the basics (unless your friend is a windsurfing instructor or a pro rider). It is definitely not advisable to go out there without having taken any lessons. The “monkey see, monkey do” technique will not work, not to mention that you could injure yourself and the ones around you.

Must I be physically strong in order to windsurf?

A minimal degree of physical prowess is required in windsurfing, just as in any other sport for that matter. But do not worry about it, you do not have to be strong like Samson (a Herculean figure, who uses tremendous strength to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary men) in order to have fun windsurfing.

Here is something that most wannabe windsurfers do not know: technique is way more important than strength; women and children make better pupils than men. I guess that says it all. You do not have to be a muscle powerhouse in order to go out and have a great time windsurfing.

If you are worried about the equipment, then you must know that latest generation boards are not as heavy as they used to be. There was a time when you indeed had to possess Herculean strength in order to haul the board around. Nowadays a board can weigh as little as 12kg and the sails come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. The whole gear weighs so little and it is so easy to haul around that even someone with a hip replacement or a triple bypass can do it.

What if I am “big boned”?

Your weight will influence the size of the board you will have to use. It is crucial that you pick the proper size board and it all depends on how much you weigh. Generally speaking, the bigger you are, the bigger volume board you must use. The extra volume will offer more flotation and more stability.

In the world of windsurfing a person over 75kg is considered a “heavyweight sailor”. Here is how you must calculate the volume of your board:

Weight of rig, board and clothing (in kg, average of 30kg) + your body weight (in kg) x 2 = Volume of board in liters

By using this simple formula we have deduced that a 75kg rider must use a board with a volume of around 180 liters.

What should I wear when windsurfing?

Oh, the fashion conscientious part of you spoke out. Since windsurfing is a water sport, you will get wet. Consequently you should wear something that you don’t mind getting wet and doing a little swimming in. Most of the times people wear a bathing suit and a T-shirt.

At all times you must have a life jacket and proper footwear on. If the meteorological conditions are poor and the air/water temperature is low, then you must wear a wetsuit.

It is a good idea to wear sunscreen as well. You will be spending rather large amounts of time on the open water and the sun’s rays can damage your skin pretty bad. Putting on sunscreen will prevent you from getting a nasty burn.

When windsurfing in Britain you should always wear a wetsuit. In the summer you can wear a relatively thin neoprene suit, but in colder weather it is essential that you wear a thicker winter suit.

How do I make up my mind about which equipment to use?

A pro already knows what gear to use – mainly because he has used the lot and his experience lets him pick out the best equipment (or best suited, depending on the meteorological conditions). If you are just now picking up the basics of windsurfing, then you are very well advised to use the widest boards available, with centerboards and larger cubic displacement.

Boards with no centerboards are not meant for beginner windsurfers. They are meant for advanced windsurfers. The size of the sail must be chosen according to your size, your windsurfing experience, and the wind conditions. As a rule of thumb the volume of the board (in liters) should be at least 1.3 times your weight (in pounds).

In regards to the sail, it is advisable for beginners to pick a “soft” sail with a full-length batten supporting the top and bottom, and shorter leech battens in between. They are lighter and more maneuverable than fully battened rotational sails making them easier to handle if it's not too windy.

If you can’t make up your mind, you could always ask around. Someone that is more skilled will surely aid you.

What if my equipment breaks?

Simple – have it mended. If that is not possible, replace the damaged equipment.

Do I need to get insurance?

Yes, you do! If you own a board then you must own insurance as well. You should at least own 3rd party insurance just in case you hurt yourself or any other water users.