WINDSURFING IS EASY p. 62
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Kai lenny blasting. d. Wong/Naish photo
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Learning to Launch
Windsurfing is Easy Shawna Cropas freerides on Maui. JP-Australia/Indra photo
Soon you'll be blasting. JP-Australia/Indra photo
he biggest misconception the sport of windsurfing has been fighting for the past 10 years is that it’s difficult. I’m sorry, but this just isn’t true. A qualified instructor in decent learning conditions with proper modern gear will have a beginner student sailing back-and-forth and turning around comfortably in just one lesson. And in a week-long clinic, I’ve seen many students go all the way from never having sailed before to learning to plane in the harness and working on the footstraps on a shortboard. The problem is that many people’s first experience windsurfing is with a friend (who doesn’t know a thing about teaching) in too-windy conditions (that the experienced windsurfing friend is looking for) and/or on improper gear. If you want windsurfing to be easy, then go to either the “Shop & Schools” or “Clubs & Groups” directories on the top menu bar at windsport.com and contact the nearest place that will make learning a breeze. —Pete DeKay, Windsport editor
5 Great Things About Windsurfing • All ages: It’s never too late to learn to windsurf. Schools around North America are teaching everyone from 5 to 80, as long as the student wants to learn. • Something for everyone: Windsurfing is a diverse sport with many sides. Whether you want to drag race, learn tricks, cruise the lake and/or ride waves, you’ll find it here. • Never gets boring: There is always something new to learn or achieve in windsurfing. If you find yourself getting bored, then the problem is with you not with windsurfing. • Works in any wind: With modern entry-level windsurfing gear or a sailable SUP, a sailor of any level of experience can have fun and learn a ton of important skills. • Pure family fun: Windsurfing is the perfect family sport that will keep everyone entertained and having fun at the beach for years to come. 62
Family fun. Naish photo
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Gear Terminology Over time, you’ll get to know and understand all the words associated with windsurfing gear. Here are some simple definitions of the key equipment terms to get you off on the right foot. 1.
Board: You want to make sure you have a stable platform to stand on. The greater the width and volume (measured in liters) the easier it will be in terms of balance.
Fin: Located on the bottom of the board at the back end, it helps the board track forward through the water and generates lift as you pick up speed.
Daggerboard: A large, retractable finshaped object that passes through the center of most beginner boards that improves a board’s stability and ability to sail upwind.
Sail: The power source in windsurfing. The bigger the sail (measured in meterssquared) the more power you’ll have to deal with.
Mast: The long pole inside a sleeve at the sail’s leading edge, which gives the sail its foil shape through proper rigging.
Mast extension: A short tube shape part that fits into the bottom of the mast that is necessary for rigging and tuning the sail.
Mast base: The connection point between the board and sail.
Boom: Allows you to hold onto the sail. It’s an important part of a sail’s rigging, as the rope at the back of the boom provides what is called “outhaul tension.”
Uphaul rope: The bungeed rope that is used to pull the sail out of the water (a.k.a. “uphauling”). It connects between the front of the boom and the bottom of the sail.
10. Harness: Worn either around the waist or your seat to connect or “hook-in” to the sail and take pressure off your arms and back. 11.
Harness lines: Plastic sheathed ropes that attach to the boom and allow you to use a windsurfing harness.
12. Footstraps: You won’t need these until you start planing (going so fast the board is only touching the water at the very tail)—and then you’ll really be hooked.
6 2 1
Yoli de Brendt cruises in the harness. Brendt/Fanatic photo
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Gear to Get You Going WordS bY DereK riJFF
A windsurfer is not a Jet Ski. There’s no little button to push that magically takes you on your way. It’s not difficult, but there are a few particulars in learning that are not intuitive. For this reason it is always recommended that you start out with a lesson from a certified instructor—not your boyfriend or girlfriend, unless you’re looking to move on to a new relationship. Once you’ve taken a lesson and had immediate success, what happens next? For those lucky enough to have a place nearby that rents proper beginner gear, or if you can plan your first windsurfing vacation, the answer is simple: go use that gear so you can try different stuff and progress to where you know exactly what you’re looking for. If renting is not an option, you may be forced to spend right away, so here are some options we recommend. entry-level rigs: There are some great beginner rig packages available today that are easy to put together (rig) and handle on the water. After you’ve graduated from your first windsurfing lesson, you should be able to buy a rig that will work perfectly for dialing in all your lightwind and sail-handling techniques. Later, you will need to add a bigger rig for learning to plane, but be sure to wait, as that sail will be too large for where you are now.
entry-level boards: These are purpose-built boards that will get you progressing quickly and easily. They are best suited for learning all the proper lightwind techniques and into the initial stages of planing performance. You never actually out-grow one of these boards, as you can always use it to work on sail-handing tricks that are difficult to learn on smaller boards, or lend it to other newbies (after their first lesson) to help grow our sport. Sailable SUPs: These boards have more “glide” than a lot of the entry-level boards and are not too far off in terms of ease-of-use. The “glide” makes them fun for cruising the lake, and their crossover ability to be either paddled or sailed means you’ll always have something to do. however, most of these boards will be harder to stay on upwind as they lack a daggerboard, so be sure to practise sailing upwind and tacking.
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Get ready for your first lesson WordS ANd PhoToS bY BreNDoN QUiNN
Windsurfing is not difficult to learn, providing you take a lesson with a real instructor—not just a friend or family member who is a really good windsurfer. To make that lesson even easier, here we’ll tell you a few things you’ll learn first. When windsurfing for the first time, one of the most important things to do is orient yourself to the wind and where you’ll be windsurfing to and from. Even if you’re not a beginner this can make the difference between windsurfing home and catching a taxi back. UPHAUliNg AND SAiliNg once you’re in the water with your gear, make sure your back is to the wind and the sail is downwind of the board. The board should be pointing across the wind in the direction you want to go.
Climb onto the board and find the uphaul rope.
Begin upauling and keep knees bent.
getting on the board (photo 1): Climb onto the board on your knees so you have a leg on each side of the mast base. Use a hand to grab hold of the uphaul rope. Uphauling the sail (photos 2 & 3): With the uphaul rope in hand, the next step is to get on your feet. Position your feet shoulderdistance apart around the mast base pointing perpendicular to the board. The arch of both feet should be directly over the center of the board (the centerline). Gradually stand up keeping your back as straight as possible with knees bent, and work your hands up the uphaul rope to pull the sail out of the water. You’ll find it’s like you are dumping the water off the sail as it comes out of the water. once the water is off the sail you should be standing tall with a straight back and straight arms.
Gradually uphaul the sail with a straight back.
The neutral position.
Neutral position (photo 4): reposition both your hands from the uphaul rope to the mast below the boom. You are now in the neutral position. This is a great resting position, allowing you to easily orient yourself to the wind. The sail should have no power and be pointing straight downwind and perpendicular to the board (the board will be pointing across the wind). Later in the lesson, if your instructor tells you to get into the neutral position, re-adopt this pose by moving both hands to the mast below the boom and straddle the mast base with your feet. Start sailing (photo 5): Let go of the mast with the hand/arm that is closest to the back of the board. The sail will remain depowered (called luffing), with the board pointing across the
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wind while being held by only the front hand. When you are ready, take a small step back on the board with the rear foot and turn the front foot so the toes are pointing at the nose of the board. You feet should be no wider than shoulder’s-width apart. Finally, lightly take hold of the boom with your back hand to get some power in the sail and start moving forward.
Face forward while you sail.
Sailing (photo 6): Lightly pull in on the boom (called sheeting-in) with the back hand, just enough to feel some resistance, and the board will move forward. Always look forward to where you want to sail. The proper sailing stance consists of a straight body and straight front arm—looking like a “number 7”—with your front foot pointing forward so = your body twists forward to face the direction you are going. If the board feels tippy from side to side your feet may not be close enough to the center, which is critical for stability.
If there is too much power, then let go of the back hand.
Start to tack by leaning the sail back to turn upwind.
Even though the sail and wind are pulling against you, there is no need to fight nature; relax, stand tall and use a delicate touch to slowly get power in the sail. If the sail starts to pull too much, don’t fight it. Simply let go of the boom with the back hand to release the power (photo 7). Keep standing tall and wave to the camera! When you are ready to go again, look forward to where you want to sail and put the back hand on the boom. once you are comfortable sailing around you can move the front hand from the mast to boom, as well, so now you have both hands on the boom. TUrNiNg AroUND before you hit the water, it’s important to understand how to turn around so you can get back to where you started. First, you need to learn a complete 180-degree turn in the upwind direction—a tack.
Shuffle your feet around the mast base, keeping your back to the wind.
Finish the tack in neutral position.
The Mast Tack (photos 8-10): Start by moving back into the neutral position: both hands on the mast (below the boom) and feet straddling the mast base. Slowly lean the sail toward the back of the board and you will notice the nose of the board begin to turn towards the wind. As the board turns, gradually shuffle your feet around the mast base on the nose side of the board. Your back should always be to the wind as the board turns underneath you. Keep pushing the sail against the slight power and moving your feet until the board has completed the 180-degree turn and is facing in the opposite direction from which you started. You are now in the neutral position facing back towards your original launching point and ready to sail home.
Brendon Quinn teaches clinics around the U.S. and Caribbean with ABK Boardsports (abkboardsports.com), and you can follow his adventures online at thewindsurfinggypsy.com.
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Let’s Go Paddling: An Intro to SUP Technique 1
WordS bY STeve gATeS | PhoToS bY ToM WilSoN AND roUNTree roUSe
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is taking off all over for several reasons: it’s easy for just about everybody, it’s unintimidating, you don’t need waves, you don’t need wind, and it’s great for fitness. It’s the perfect complement to windsurfing, which is why so many avid windsurfers (myself included) are adding it to their list of watersports. Even though it’s easy to get on a board and go, proper technique allows you to paddle longer, faster and have way more fun. Here are some tips for getting started.
<< Getting Started Carrying the board.
getting to the water (photo 1): SUP boards are surprisingly easy to carry with a well-placed handle and relatively lightweight. Keep the board on the downwind side of you, and help stabilize it with the hand that’s holding your paddle. getting underway (photos 2 & 3): Wade out into knee-deep water and ease your way onto the board on your knees. Place your paddle across the board well in front of the carrying handle. Stand up, placing your feet on each side of the carrying handle, which is generally the balance point of most boards. bend your knees slightly and hold your paddle so the angle of the blade is pointing forward.
Proper Forward Stroke Technique >> here are the keys to an efficient and powerful stroke: a nice long reach, a deep and powerful catch, a smooth and short power phase using your entire body, a quick release, and a fluid recovery with minimal motion.(see photos next page).
Balance on your knees with paddle across the board.
The reach (photo 4): A good long reach is the foundation of an efficient and powerful forward stroke. The lower arm is straight and the lower shoulder and hip are rotated forward, knees and back are slightly bent, and the upper arm is also slightly bent, with the upper hand over your forehead. This position allows you to achieve a nice long reach, setting up a great stroke. The Catch (photo 5): The catch is the act of plunging the blade into the water and is the beginning of the power phase. At the catch, try to plunge the entire blade into the water, creating maximum power right from the start. The upper body “collapses onto the blade,” with the upper arm straightening to push the handle forward, adding power to the blade. The lower arm stays straight. Engage your core as you exhale, protecting your lower back. The Power Phase (photo 6): The power phase should be short and smooth, with relatively little effort from any single muscle group. The key is to get your whole body working in sync with a compact, efficient motion. here, the hips and shoulder that were rotated forward are now rotating back, adding power and allowing the lower arm to stay straight. The lower arm is drawing the blade backwards, letting the board glide by it. (The blade travels only a few inches in each stroke, but the board moves 10-feet or more.) The upper arm continues to drive the paddle handle forward, also adding power. The release (photo 7): When the blade reaches your feet, lift it out of the water with your lower hand. The Power phase is over.
Stand with feet straddling the carrying handle.
The recovery (photo 8): This phase is key to an efficient stroke. As the blade is pulled from the water, twist the paddle, turning the lower wrist outward and allowing the blade to move forward through the air with little resistance. The body has become more upright, as the hips and shoulders once again begin to rotate towards the blade and follow it as it moves forward. both arms stay straight, and the upper arm stays high and swings slightly outward to allow the blade to be drawn forward again.
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9 Turning the Board Now you have a nice forward stroke, but at some point youâ€™ll need to turn around. here are some basic turns. Bow Sweep (photo 9): With your legs bent low, point the blade at the bow (front) of the board and draw it backwards, scribing a nice wide arc with the blade from tip to tail.
Bow Sweep turn.
Pivot turn in a surf stance.
Pivot turn (photos 10-12): From a surf stance (with one foot behind the other) and both feet well back towards the tail of the board, use the sweep stroke to turn the board towards your backside. With your weight back, the front of the board is lifted out of the water and is free to turn quickly. As you complete the turn, move back to your forward stroke position.
Keep weight back to pivot.
Turn board with a Sweep stroke.
8 Steve Gates is the managing partner of Big Winds in Hood River, and ended the year on top of the 50- plus class. He has trained with many top paddlers, and works with a junior SUP team in the Gorge. bigwinds.com
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Learn to Windsurf on Vacation WordS bY PeTe DeKAY The easiest way to really get hooked on windsurfing is to try it in the warmest and most beautiful setting possible. Falling off your board into crystal blue Caribbean water can be almost as fun as all the skills you’ll learn after a week’s worth of lessons and practise at an idyllic Vela Windsurf Resort.
Beautiful Aruba. Vela photo learning in Cabarete. Vela photo
launching for a Maui lesson.Vela photo
Quick and easy – Aruba It’s so easy to find a flight to Aruba at almost any time of year (and often at a deal), making this an ideal spot for either a last-minute or fully planned windsurfing vacation. Vela Aruba is open year-round and offers a shallow, flatwater area that is perfect for learning. The instructors at Vela Aruba are second to none in the world and will have you up and windsurfing before the first hour is over. Dream vacation - St. Martin and Belize Would you like to learn to windsurf on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches (St. Martin’s orient bay) or on a private island with only 20 other guests (belize)? both of these Vela resorts offer a dream windsurfing vacation like no other and have beautiful conditions perfect for learning how to windsurf. In St. Martin, the lessons take place in both
a lagoon and a marine park, which will have you sailing with sea turtles, rays and sometimes dolphins. In belize, you will learn inside the atoll’s protected lagoon that is away from any waves or current. Windsurfing Mecca – Maui In Maui, you’ll meet fellow stoked windsurfers everywhere you go, as this is the world’s epicenter for windsurfing. Maui may be known for epic waves, but it also offers ideal conditions to learn in year-round. With Vela Maui, you can sign up for individual lessons or week-long clinics that will get you progressing beyond your wildest dreams. The Athletic – Baja and the Dominican republic If you are looking for an easy destination to get to that will give you a taste of real world windsurfer, then look no further than Los barriles, baja (fly to Los Cabos) or Cabarete, dominican republic. Vela baja is open from November through February and offers the best learning conditions in the morning before the wind ramps up. Vela Cabarete is a flatwater paradise in the summer, but its instructors will have you dialing in the sometimes choppier conditions throughout the rest of the year. The Adventurous – Margarita and Brazil It may take more effort to get to Venezuela’s Isla Margarita or the towns of Jericoacoara and Icaraizinho in brazil, but for the aspiring windsurfer who likes to experience the world, it will be worth it. While at Vela Margarita, you’ll be living in what feels like a windsurfing village and enjoying the warm, shallow water as you learn. If you are making the trip to brazil, why not try a combo vacation and experience both the relaxed family atmosphere of Icaraizinho and the more upbeat Jericoacoara that will be full of windsurfers from around the world? Go to velawindsurf.com for more info and book your “Learn to Windsurf” vacation today with vela resorts at email@example.com and 1-800-223-5443.
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Freeride: fun sailing back and forth. NeilPryde/J. houyvet photo
Where Windsurfing Will Take You
Windsurfing is a diverse watersport that is limitless in terms of what you can accomplish. Even as early as during your first year windsurfing, you can start trying all the different things offered. Here are a few of the sub-disciplines you’ll find to try: freeride, racing, freestyle and wave. Try one or try them all; never stop living the windsurfing dream. Freeride: Whether you like to dabble in every type of sailing or are content cruising back and forth at whatever pace your heart desires, you are a freerider. racing: There are many different levels and classes of racing in windsurfing. You can take it seriously or get out with the crowd and compete for fun. racing is a great way to get together with other windsurfers for a fun time. Freestyle: Many of the windsurfing youth today gravitate towards the mind-blowing “spinny-flippy” tricks, but freestyle for all ages is about picking maneuvers that match your skill level and falling in a lot whilst learning how to do them.
Wave: robby Naish hits a lip. Naish/d. Wong photo
racing: the Kona fleet at Calema Midwinters. dornellas photo
Wave: If you live near a large body of water like an ocean or a really big lake, you’ll find there are wavy days when it gets scary sailing fast back and forth. Wavesailing is about learning to catch, ride and turn on the waves, and brings a whole new exciting element to the sport. Freestyle: Bryan Metcalf-Perez throws down. NeilPryde/J. houyvet photo
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