Windsurfing is such a great sport when you know what you are doing. I have spent a lot of time out there and have learned most things the hard way……. So here are a few of my best learned tips to help you along the windsurfing way!
NEVER LEAVE WIND TO FIND WIND! Growing up in California, hours and hours of driving in search of perfect conditions, I learned this rule more than once….
GET A BIG BOARD. Don’t be afraid to get a 140 liter board if you live in a windless area. Having more volume is going to get you back to the beach when things shut down and leave you hanging. What are the drawbacks of having a big board? You might lose some control in the high wind and not be able to turn as tight as you want- but who cares. If it gets windy, get on a smaller board. Learn to sail the board in higher winds. You can also adjust the range of the board by getting a bigger or smaller fin. This makes a big difference for early planing or better control in the top end.
LENGTHEN THE LINES. Whoever came up with the idea of using really short harness lines has me scratching my head. This goes against the mechanics of efficient sailing. I may be on the extreme side using a 30” fixed length line but I have seen some people use 18” lines! It is not easy to get into such short lines and once you do get in them, you have the mast raked over to windward so far that any change in the wind or bump in the water and you are going to get flung over the front or drop in the water. Try your best to keep the rig more upright rather than pulling over to windward. This gives you a better balance point on your board and allows for you to adjust to the gust!
GET DOWN. Most people that have a hard time in rough water and learning to jibe have their legs too straight. The knees are locked and there is no forgiveness for the board to turn. You have to get down as low as possible- straighten your arms forward and bend those knees getting your weight low and forward to carve through the turn. The same goes for sailing in overpowered conditions. Get low and absorb the chop-bend those knees, think of your body as a shock absorber. This is where the longer harness lines can really help you out.
FLYIN HIGH. Jumping is a goal of most all windsurfers. You can take it as high as you want to. One of my favorite tips is to stay centered over the board. Don’t be leaning out to far over the water. Load up the board and rig to get some spring in your step. To start, I like to find a nice piece of chop and bear off at it. I’m always looking to find the ramp about 15 or 20 feet ahead of me. When I hit it, I spring with my whole body. I compress my legs, pull in on my arms and as I take off from the chop, I suck my legs and arms in and upwards toward my center. I weight my toes to get the windward rail up so that the wind can get under my board and lift me up, carry me along and gently set me back on my way. When landing, I am careful not to straighten my legs out. This will cause an immediate spinout. Try to keep the tail of your board under your butt- this will help you continue along without losing your speed.
FOLLOW YOUR HEAD. Look where you want to go. Especially in turns, look where you need to go. The body always follows the head. Focus on what is in front of you and you will get there. I am always watching the water in front of me. I like to find a smooth spot to jibe and try to always be going downhill to keep my speed. I use the chop like mini mountains and utilize the downside of them to go faster in and out of the turns.
TWIST YOUR HIPS. If you are looking upwind your hips should follow your lead. By having your hips facing forward and where you want to go, it tells the board to go upwind with greater authority.
FEAR NOT. We are playing with water here everybody! It isn’t going to hurt to fall in???? Don’t be afraid to try something new. The beauty of windsurfing is that you never get bored- so if you are getting a bit lazy and thinking you got it dialed, think again and try a trick or two! All it takes is a little practice and lots of patience and you can tackle whatever you want! Commit to the move, don’t be afraid. It’s all in the mind, so open it up and take a leap of faith!
Now its your turn- Hit the comment button to share some things you have learned the hard way…. or easy way!