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Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in Technique | 1 comment

How To Windsurf Guide – Part 3

How To Windsurf Guide - Part 2 In this final installment of our how to windsurf guide, we want to give you a clear breakdown of the 5 skills that you will be learning on your beginners windsurfing lessons. These steps are essential learning blocks and should be included as part of any good windsurfing schools syllabus for simulator work & on water training during a beginners windsurfing course.

Assuming you have your overall plan of action clear in your mind from reading our How To Windsurf Guide – Part 2 lets get down to the essentials that any beginner windsurfer needs to know…



1. Naming the various parts of a windsurf board & sail – It’s no good if your instructor is telling you to put one hand on the mast & the other on the boom if you don’t know what these things are! A quick tour of the windsurf board & sail should be the first thing you cover on your beginners windsurf course.

Looking at the board, you have have to know the front form the back (otherwise you may end up windsurfing backwards!). The front is more rounded & the back more squared off. The three parts that fit to a board are called the daggerboard, fin & universal joint (UJ for short). The daggerboard stops sideways drift (the curse of all those learning how to windsurf!) and gives much needed stability! The fin keeps you moving in a straight line & the UJ is the missing link between board & sail, basically the magic piece of kit that allows windsurfing to happen.

The sail or more correctly the ‘rig’ is a combination of the sail itself, a boom (which you hold onto) and a mast (which is the pole that runs up the front sleeve of the sail). With these three bits of kit, some ropes & a little knowledge of how to rig a windsurf sail correctly, you can be setup & ready to go in under 5 minutes from having rocked up at the beach!

2. The Start Position – The very first thing you have to master in windsurfing is how to get yourself up on the board and in a balance position from which you can get moving. Easier said than done! Key points here are to understand the board has a centreline on which you must keep all your weight, using your stronger leg muscles rather than your back to pull the sail slowly from the water & creating an counter balance between the sail & your body.

It takes some practice & a few splashes but after a short period of time & the right conditions this start position should become second nature.

3. Static 180 Turn – You may think the next step in learning how to windsurf is to set sail into the sunset but what happens if you don’t know how to turn around & come back home? This is why the second skill to learn is actually how to turn yourself & the board around a full static 180 turn.

A simple explanation is that from your start position you lean the back end of the sail (called the clew end) down to try and touch the back of the board. This action will make the board start to rotate under your feet, at which point you must take small, controlled steps around the front of the board, making sure to stay very close to the centreline as explained earlier. Once the board has completed a full 180 degree turn and you are facing back to where you just came from (i.e. ‘home’) you adopt your start position once again, to stop the turning process & stabilise the board.

It takes some practice, mainly to master the balance involved with tip toeing around the front of the board but it is an essential skill that must be learnt early on in your windsurfing career.

4. The Sailing Position – Right, time to actually get windsurfing! You have been spinning round in circles practicing your static 180 degree turns & feel confident that that can get back home, so its time to master the all important step of getting from the start position and into a sailing position.

There is nothing for it here but to remember a set sequence of movements that will best get you from standing still to moving along on your board. First, check you are aiming across the wind, cross your front hand onto the boom, release your backhand from the mast, move your feet into an ‘L’ shape (back foot behind the daggerboard & front foot by the mast), draw the sail up to the ‘balance point’ & take power into the sail by pulling on the boom with back hand.

The above description is a good starting point but please note it is no substitute for taking tuition from a reputable windsurf school where you can practice the movements under supervision on a dry land simulator, gaining valuable muscle memory. You will also receive continued feedback & tips whilst out practicing on the water, particularly important as all thoughts seem to go out the window once you are actually out there trying to windsurf!

5. Steering – Often overlooked but very important, is the ability to steer around your fellow beginner windsurfers & avoid other stationary objects such as expensive yachts! The key to steering is to think in terms of ‘upwind’ and ‘downwind’, not left and right. Because you change sides every time you turn 180 on a windsurf board, so does your effective left & right!

To steer towards the wind you lean the clew end of your sail smoothly to the tail end of the board & to steer away from the wind you tilt the mast forwards/across the nose of the board. After each steering action you must return the sail to a neutral, upright position to straighten up your path.

When practiced under professional supervision, using modern equipment and in the right conditions you will have loads of fun & your progress through the basics of learning how to windsurf will be swift. After taking beginners windsurfing lessons you really should continue your good work by hiring windsurf equipment to consolidate your learning. The absolute best way to learn & progress is to intersperse lessons with your own practice time. You can be shown ‘how’ to do something over and over but you won’t ever really fully understand the movement without practicing it yourself.

So, that’s an overview of learning how to windsurf, from naming the various parts of the board and rig to actually getting to grips with the basic principles all beginner windsurfers need to know. In future posts on our Top Windsurfing Tips & News blog we will cover how to progress from beginner to improver windsurfing skills, detailing how to make your learning curve as smooth and enjoyable as possible!

Enjoy your windsurfing.

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