The beginners guide to windsurfing
If you have ever wanted to start Windsurfing, but thought you had to be strong to be able to do it, then think again. Windsurfing is all about balance and technique. If you follow these simple instructions from Reg, then you will be cruising around on a windsurfer in no time.
With the amount of unused windsurfing gear that lives in sheds and backyards around the globe and never sees the light of day, you probably know someone with an old windsurfer. This is a great place to start. We will first run through a checklist of what you are going to need to get going, so you can work out if there are any bits missing.
- The BOARD - This must be able to float you when you are standing up on it. Try this in a pool or down the river or beach. If the board sinks when you stand up on it, then it is inappropriate for learning on.
- The board should have a FIN at the back, on the underside on the board. This is there to enable the board to steer. Some boards will also have a DAGGER/CENTREBOARD in the middle of the board near the mast track. This is also to help the board steer and also makes the board more stable when you stand on it.
- The SAIL is the piece of cloth that does all the work to move the board. Most sails will have their size marked on them, to begin with you should not be using a sail that is bigger than 4.5 m2, the smaller the better if you are a woman.
- The BOOM is what you hang onto to control the sail. It is kind of oval in shape and will have a front with a saddle in it to attach it to the MAST and a back that holds the sail tight.
- The MAST is the long pole that goes up the sail. This can come in 1 or 2 pieces.
- You will need an UPHAUL to pull the sail out of the water. This is a piece of rope that ties onto the boom and the mast base that allows you to pull up the sail.
- The MAST BASE is the gadget that attaches the mast to the board. It will have a flexible joint in the middle to allow you to move the sail around.
Come in and see us if you don't have all the bits listed above. We will have something to get you on the water.
Rigging the board
Now that you have all the gear you require, you now have to put it together! Follow these steps to rig the sail and connect it to the board
- Roll the sail out on the ground
- Move the sail around so the front of the sail is 90 degrees to the wind. The front of the sail is the longest edge on the sail. It will have a sleeve in it so you can put the mast up it
- Slide the mast up the sleeve in the front of the sail and check that it is secure at the top and will not slide any further.
- About a third of the way up the sail there will be a cut out area. This is where you attach the boom. There are many different mechanisms for the front of booms so as long as the boom does not wobble too much on the mast you have connected it correctly.
- Attach the back of the sail to the boom as well. This does not have to be done up super tight, but a little tension now will make the sail easier to pull down with the mast step.
- Attach the mast step to the bottom of the mast. It should just slide up the inside of the mast and sit there. The rope on the mast step should then be looped through the bottom of the sail and pulled tight and secured. Many newer sails and mast steps have pulleys to aid in this process. If the gear you are using does not, do not be worried, just pull the sail as tight as you can and secure it.
- Now put a bit more tension on the back of the sail with the boom and tie it off securely.
- Now all you have to do it attach the mast step to the mast track on the board. This is best done by moving the board to the rig, not the other way around.
- Attach the uphaul to the boom and mast step if you have not already done so.
For your first outing on a windsurfer to be successful, first check the conditions where you are.
In Western Australia in Summer we get a good seabreeze nearly every afternoon. This breeze is usually above 12 Knots and is most unsuitable to learn in. If the wind is blowing over 12 Knots, then you should be able to see white caps appearing on the surface of the water.
Check out wind speedo's above to make sure the wind is not too strong.
The morning is usually the best time to go as the winds are usually lighter (Under 12 Knots). Ensure that the wind is not offshore if you are at the beach. If the wind is at you back when you are looking at the ocean, then the wind is offshore. If you get into trouble then an offshore breeze is going to push you further out to sea. This is not so much of a problem in a river, lake or dam as the other side is not too far way.
NEVER GO ALONE! As well as having someone to help move your windsurfing gear around, a friend on the shore can help you if you get into trouble or require assistance. If you can find someone who also wants to get into windsurfing then that will allow for two people to learn while only having to rig one board.
All that said, here's how to start.
Connect the RIG (Mast , Boom and Sail) to the board.
Put the rigged board in the water
Stand on the board with your feet either side of the mast foot about shoulder width apart and have the wind to you back. The RIG will be in the water in front of you.
Stand up straight on the board and look up in front of you. Wobble the board with your feet . You should do this for five minutes to help you keep you balance.
Once you can keep your balance on the board, standing up straight, using your ankles (NOT your knees or back), you can pull the sail out of the water using the uphaul.
Concentrate on keeping the rig at 90 degrees to the board when pulling it from the water. When the back of the sail is just above the water pause there and check you are still in the starting position with you feet shoulder width apart around the mast base.
If you move the rig sideways towards the front of the board, then the nose of the board will turn away from the wind. Moving the rig sideways towards the back of the board will turn the nose of the board into the wind.
Once you have mastered the steps above, windsurfing is EASY! Follow these steps and you will be underway in no time.
- Pull the rig out of the water as you were doing previously. Once you get to the end of the uphaul rope, pause again and check your stance.
- With your FRONT hand (The FRONT hand is the hand closest to the front of the board) hold onto the mast just below the boom.
- Turn your FRONT foot (The FRONT foot is the foot closest to the front of the board) so that your toes are pointing towards the front of the board. only do this for the FRONT foot.
- Grab hold of the boom with your BACK hand about 2 feet (60 cm) from the mast.
- Line up your nose with the thumb of your FRONT hand and your big toe on your FRONT foot and you should be underway in ONE direction. Remember not to go too far from shore on your first outing as you have to turn around and come back.
This is a very important skill to master and contrary to popular belief, not hard to get the hang of. Just follow the steps below.
- Let go of the back hand on the boom. Your front hand should still be holding onto the mast just below the boom.
- Bring your feet closer together near the mast base.
- As you practiced before, lean the mast towards the front of the board enbsuring that the rig is in front of you.
- The board will turn around. You should try and keep your body right behind the rig by taking small steps around to the other side of the board as it turns.
- When the sail is at right angles to the board again you will have turned around!
- Change hands on the mast so you have hold of it with your FRONT hand.
- Turn your FRONT foot towards the front of the board.
- Grab hold of the boom with your BACK hand about 2 feet (60 cm) from the mast.
- Line up your nose with the thumb of your FRONT hand and your big toe on your FRONT foot
- You will be heading back to where you came from!
The Gybe Sequence
||Sailing along in the Getting Underway stance.
||The back hand has been released and small steps are being taken to keep right behind the rig.
||Hands have changes on the mast and the Getting Underway stance is adopted to sail back.
Get out there and into this great sport.
If you have any queries or things to add to this page, please send us an contact us and we will get back to you soon.