Many people want to get into windsurfing for various reasons like health and fitness, for the sheer thrill of the sport, or just looking for new water sports adventures to try this summer. If you identify with the group, then you are probably what you need to do to learn how to windsurf. In this guide about windsurfing for beginners, we’ll outline the basics about the sport so you can better judge for yourself if this is something you want to do (and in most cases, it will be).
What Is Windsurfing?
Classes in windsurfing for beginners generally start with an introduction to what is windsurfing. Simply put, windsurfing is surfing and sailing rolled into one. You stand up on a board and secure your feet on the foot straps provided, hold on to sail, and ride through the waves as the wind powers you along. Steering is done by adjusting the position of the sail and by moving your feet.
Many people sometimes confuse windsurfing with kitesurfing, and although both sports involve using wind power, the similarity pretty much ends there.
With windsurfing, you are catching the wind with the sail attached directly to the board. On the other hand, with kitesurfing, you are holding on to a long rope with a crescent-shaped kite high above you. The kite catches the wind and then pulls you along the water.
Windsurfing Equipment and Gear
There are several things you need to invest in if you plan to get into windsurfing such as the ones below. Keep in mind that you don’t have to start buying them right away because they are generally included in the fees when you enroll in classes on windsurfing for beginners. You should only start investing in gears and equipment once you’re pretty sure you’re into the sport.
Windsurfing boards are generally categorized into longboards, mid-length boards, and shortboards. As a beginner, it is better to start with longboards or mid-length boards since you will mostly be windsurfing under normal conditions. Shortboards are mainly used by experienced windsurfers riding in windy conditions.
A windsurfing rig is composed of a mast, boom, and a mast foot along with the sail. These are detachable and you’ll need to assemble them before heading out to the water. Thus, the whole rig must be assembled properly otherwise the whole thing might collapse while you’re sailing.
Windsurfing sails are available in various sizes and suitable for different wind strength categories. There are also specialized windsurfing sails like the very small ones used by advanced windsurfers sailing in gale force conditions. There are also larger sails used by racers to catch more wind and go as fast as possible.
Wetsuits are necessary for almost all types of water sports, whether those done on the surface of the water like surfing or underneath like scuba diving. Anyhow, you’ll want to wear a windsurfing wetsuit when windsurfing in cold waters to keep yourself warm and fend off hypothermia.
There is nothing wrong with riding your windsurfing board barefoot, but there are certain advantages to wearing windsurfing boots or windsurfing shoes. For one, they help protect your feet from rocks, shells, and other debris scattered along the shoreline or seabed. They also help to keep your feet warm which helps greatly in preventing hypothermia. Make sure that your windsurfing boots or shoes fit perfectly, otherwise it will make inserting your feet into the foot straps rather difficult.
Most windsurfers do not wear a helmet, but this piece of equipment is very important and classes about windsurfing for beginners will require their students to wear one.
Some think that there is no need for a helmet out in the water, but there are numerous things that can happen which can lead to head injuries like banging your head on your windsurfing board or the seabed.
That said, you need to make sure that your windsurfing helmet is made from high-quality materials and has passed rigorous safety testing. They should have a soft absorption liner for comfort and minimizing impact as well.
Aside from helping you grip the boom better, windsurfing gloves are necessary to protect your palms from cuts, bruises, and blisters. And because they are made from neoprene, they also help to keep your hands and fingers warm when windsurfing in cold waters.
While windsurfing, your eyes will be exposed to harsh elements like the sun, wind, and water. All these combined can leave your eyes dry and inflamed. This is why you’ll want to wear sunglasses while windsurfing.
And no, your boating sunglasses or aviator shades won’t do. You need sports sunglasses that offers complete protection for your line of sight, meaning it should wrap around your eyes. They should also offer excellent protection from the sun’s UV rays. Polarized sunglasses are excellent choices because not only do they satisfy the above requirements, but they also help reduce glare caused by the sun shining on the water.
As with any water sports, a life vest is necessary for beginning windsurfers, especially if they are not strong swimmers. Although wetsuits provide a little bit of extra flotation, wearing a life vest is always a wise thing to do. It gives you a boost of confidence, allowing you to feel much more at ease and relaxed while in the water.
Common Windsurfing Injuries and Hazards
Like other extreme sports, there are certain risks and hazards associated with windsurfing. These includes:
- Collision with windsurfing equipment, water, or the seabed. If in a very populated area, you may even find yourself colliding with another windsurfer (although cases like this are almost non-existent).
- Disk injuries especially in the lower back.
- Sprains and fractures especially on the ankle and the foot. Cases like these happen when the windsurfer falls off the board with their feet still secured to the foot straps.
- Dislocated shoulders can happen when the windsurfer falls from the board but fails to let go of the boom.
- Hypothermia (especially when windsurfing in cold waters).
- Drowning can also occur especially for beginning windsurfers who don’t know how to swim. You don’t have to be a strong swimmer to windsurf, you just need to be able to swim back up to your board or the shore when needed.
When learning how to windsurf, you must be aware of these risks and hazards so that you can prepare yourself and be able to better deal with them.
Because of the different risks and hazards involved in windsurfing, it is highly recommended that windsurfers (regardless of skill levels) have an insurance policy to protect themselves and anyone else they may inadvertently run into while in the water. In fact, in some places including some of the best windsurfing spots in the world insurances are compulsory.
There are different types of insurance policies that offer third-party cover, as well as coverage for damage or theft protection for windsurfing equipment. Many of these policies are reasonably priced and worth considering especially if you’re planning to make windsurfing a regular pastime.
Q: Is it hard to learn to windsurf?
Learning how to windsurf can be difficult especially for those who haven’t tried related watersports like surfing, bodyboarding, and others. It is pretty much like any other sports where a certain degree of learning curve is required. In general, beginners take about a few weeks before they can start doing maneuvers successfully.
Q: How do I start windsurfing?
You should start your windsurfing journey by getting a professional instructor to teach you. This will allow you to learn the correct forms and techniques and avoid developing bad habits. Also, classes will allow you access to windsurfing equipment so you don’t have to spend much initially.
Q: How much wind do you need to windsurf?
When it comes to windsurfing for beginners, wind speeds of 5 mph is generally sufficient for their skill level. As their level progresses, they can start tackling faster and stronger winds like 10 mph to 15 mph. Advanced windsurfers should be able to deal with winds that go as fast as 30 mph or higher.
Q: How fast can you windsurf?
The fastest recorded windsurfing speed is 53 knots or about 60 miles per hour. This may sound easy for those driving in highways, but just try going 1 mile per minute across water and waves on a narrow board and you’ll understand how astonishing this speed is.
Q: Is windsurfing easier than kitesurfing?
Accordingly, it is much easier to learn how to windsurf than to learn kitesurfing. With windsurfing, you can start hitting the water in a matter of hours while with kitesurfing it may take up to a just day learning how to handle the kite, doing body drags, and others.
Q: How much does it cost to windsurf?
It typically costs somewhere between $70-$150 dollars to get started with windsurfing. Rates like these should include the training fee as well as equipment rental, with lessons involving land-based instruction and water time. There are more affordable options available, but these usually cut back on the water time.
Globo Surf Overview
Windsurfing is an extremely fun sport, and as can be seen above it is not a very difficult sport to get into. So if you are interested then go join a class in windsurfing for beginners so you can start learning how to windsurf. For sure, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.