Do you remember the first time you slotted feet into footstraps, felt your board lift and accelerate and before long were skimming across the water’s surface, grinning from ear to ear? It’s the very reason we’re all addicted to windsurfing and why we still keep coming back for more.
Those first forays into the sport are always tricky. As most will know windsurfing’s not an easy hobby per se, and during initial phases there’s a lot of grunting and puffing as newbies get to grips with basics. Up hauling, balancing the rig, controlling the pull of the sail, keeping eyes on the horizon and being aware of what’s happening around you, turning (either basic tacking or gybing) and so on. But then you nail it, have a few runs where you’re in control; your kit picks up speed and you’re sailing swiftly.
Before long those fairly quick runs get faster and your skills have improved. With some trepidation you start choosing windier conditions and taking out rigs that give you more power. New sensations take hold and before long you’ve experienced planing for the first time, and want more! Next step is using your harness more efficiently and eventually slotting feet into straps where further acceleration surges you forwards at a considerable rate of knots. The feeling of flying is tangible and addictive, yet again you crave more!
The above description will resonate with anyone into windsurfing, no matter how long ago your first planing experience occurred. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a top level wave sailing pro, contorted freestyle genius, national slalom champion or simply weekend blaster we’re all connected by the desire to power up and go fast. What you do during each run is your own choice but blasting backwards and forwards is still what takes up the majority of our windsurfing time.
Aerial manoeuvres and full throttle carves happen in a mere instant whereas straight line speed is what we all can be seen doing each session. Water states, wind strengths and styles may vary but ultimately flying along at Mach 10 is the one defining part of the sport that links us all.
For anyone reading this who’s just starting out we’d advise sticking with it. You may gaze on at more accomplished sailors, awe struck with determination and wishful in your aspirations, wanting to be just like them yet finding it hard to visualise getting there. Planing may seem like a while off but actually with a qualified instructor showing you the ropes and access to consistent conditions you’ll be on it in no time.
With much chat about radical moves and pushing performance to the next level it’s sometimes easy to forget why we all started windsurfing. Corny we know but the wind in your hair and sail; a board and water under your feet; the sun on your face and that feeling of stoke coursing through every part of your being; windsurfing is a fantastic sport that connects us to our surroundings while providing positive endorphin’s to keep us happy and content. From the hardcore local to anxious beginner we’re all just freeriders really and therefore one connected family.
Pics: James Jagger