Windsurfing is a water sport invented in the U.K. by Peter Chilvers in 1958 on Hayling Island, Hampshire. It is performed on a board with a sail. The sport is a combination of surfing and sailing. Windsurfers can travel on either flat or rough water, as long as there is wind. Windsurfing sails come in many different sizes. The larger the sails are, the more human strength is needed to control them, but the more power is given to go faster. The different sizes of board affect the speed. Again, the thinner the board, the faster you will go. The range of thickness depends on the materials used.
Today we look at how to beach-surf your way with the wind and master this creatively challenging sport.
Hauling the sail out of the water is a pain. Especially once the sails start getting bigger to keep up with our increasing skill on the board. We will learn how to control the gear, what should be your board position and how to get on with this fascinating adventure. Let’s begin.
- Control your Gear
Usually the most challenging part of the beach start is not humping on the board itself but rather the positioning of our gear by holding only the boom and mast of the sail. The most feasible way to think about it is that if we apply pressure on the mast foot through the mast, the board will fizz away. If we pull the mast back, the board luffs up. Technically it is a little more complex than that since we have to walk alongside the board so as to stay next to it and between the front and back foots traps in order to have the most control. All this is made more difficult if there is a strong shore break which pushes you around all over the place if you don’t get the board pointing 90° into the wave in time, which itself requires a decent level of control to begin with. In other words, if you can start on flat water, take the opportunity quickly. This will be a wonderful add on.
- Positioning your board
Ignoring the inconvenience of the waves for the moment, let’s focus on the setup of the board to do a beach push well. We want the board to be at a beam reach, maybe even slightly more downwind. We do not want the board too far turned into the wind as we will not be lifted over the board by the sail unless the board is at least at a beam reach. At this point, resist the temptation to close the sail. It makes the board start to move away before we can get our feet on. It would be like accelerating a car without turning the steering wheel to get out of a parking space.
- Getting on
Once we have the board laid out on the correct course we put the back foot on the board, making sure to put it just behind the front foot-straps and on the centreline of the board. If we put the foot too far back it will submerg the back of the board as soon as we put our bodyweight on it. Now we lean our shoulders forwards with our front arm extended to get the sail as far over the board as possible. Keep in mind to maintain the boom horizontal. Up until now we still haven’t put pressure in the sail. Only once our body is truly over the board and we can practically push our body up with the back foot, only then do we close the sail a little to start sailing.
I like to liken the beachstart to stepping up on a large step. Step on to the board in the same way you would if you didn’t have a sail in your life and you weren’t allowed to touch the board.