As you can probably tell, windsurfers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very graceful and skilled, while others need more practice to feel comfortable. Either type is totally fine!
Everyone starts out as a beginner so it’s important to remember that no one is ever truly professional level except for maybe a few people. But there’s always something new you can learn about your board and yourself!
You don’t have to be super-skilled to enjoy this sport though. Many people start off simply wanting to have fun with wind surfing and then eventually progress to becoming professionals or even Olympians!
Luckily, you don’t have to be too advanced to reap some great benefits from windsurfing. There are many ways to improve your skills if you are just looking to become more efficient at riding waves and surfboards.
This article will go over several of these tips so that you can find the right balance between practicing and relaxing.
Find a mentor
As mentioned before, being able to windsurf well comes down to practice, repetition, and having someone watch you sail so that you can learn from their mistakes or tips.
Finding someone who is willing to help you is the best way to achieve this! There are many ways to go about finding this person, whether it’s through social media, word of mouth, or by looking online for “windsurfing mentors” or “learn how to windsurf free.”
If you’re more comfortable in the water than out then there are plenty of clinics and courses available where you can take lessons. These are usually paid for via membership at a sailing club which has cost cover these fees.
However, as with anything else, there are some great things coming out now that are free too! By and large, most people have access to the internet, and what you need to do is just look around until you find something that seems legitimate and could potentially teach you something.
Join a club
One of the best ways to improve your windsurf skills is to join a group or a board member that meets once a week. These memberships usually have people come with their own equipment and they are typically free!
Windsurfing clubs hold lessons every day, sometimes even around the world, so there’s always something going on. They also organize social events like surf trips which can be very expensive otherwise, so it is a good way to connect with other people who love sailing too.
Some organizations will even help you hone your sail trimming and tacking techniques while teaching you how to use the proper gear! It really is a win-win situation.
Build a board
When you start windsurfing, there’s an easy thing to do that can help you improve your skills quickly- buy a new board!
Aboard are two terms that refer to different parts of your boat. They both describe what kind of fin you have attached to your sail.
The term “fin” is short for foil or dagger. A foil has a sharp edge designed to cut through the air more efficiently, while a dagger has a slightly curved edge intended to pull away and snag onto another surface as the sailor sails by. Both are effective ways to increase maneuverability in windsurfers.
Many people begin windsurfing with a fin that is not only inefficient but also uncomfortable. These poor riders may even hurt themselves when trying too hard to compensate for their lack of skill.
Fortunately, there are many good brands that produce fins that are comfortable and efficient enough for most beginners. You should look into which ones they are before investing in one.
Practice riding waves
When you are learning how to windsurf, your first task is to learn how to ride waves. This takes practice as there’s no way of knowing when or where a wave will come up so you just have to be ready!
Windsurfing involves some very basic moves such as diving down into the water, lifting your feet off the board, paddling with your hands and then rolling back onto your board. All these movements must be done in quick succession and with precision otherwise you may get wet errantly!
When someone is able to perform all of the above successfully they are considered advanced riders. These people know how to use their bodies correctly for sailing and can pick up the sport quickly. They also know what kind of winds are suitable for them and which equipment works best for them.
Practice riding waves by taking an empty beach or river and picking a spot that has strong enough surf to test out your new skills.
Learn to read the wind
Even if you have never sailed before, you can start by learning how to read the wind. The best way to do this is by practicing in your own backyard or beach.
You will need to know what kind of winds there are (e.l., breeze, light gusts, heavy gusts, etc.), how strong they are, how long they last, and whether it is safe to go out sailing.
Practice at home first! When reading the weather report, learn about average conditions for that area and season. For example, if it says there is a risk of high surf then don’t take your boat out unless you are very experienced.
The strongest winds occur during storms so keep an eye on the news for alerts or warnings. If possible stay inland away from the coast until the situation has improved.
Learn to read the water
Even if you can already sail, there is always something more you can learn to improve your windsurf skills. One of these things is how to navigate around the beach or shoreline using only the power of the wind as propulsion.
This is called learning to “read” the wave or surfboard. You will have to experiment with this lesson by yourself at the beach!
Wind surfing along the beach is an excellent way to practice reading the waves. If you are already able to ride larger waves then practicing moving across the sand bed is also helpful for mastering this technique.
There are several ways to do this. Some people prefer riding the edge of the wave where it breaks off the beach, some like paddling in between the set high waves, and others launch far out into the ocean and skim across the surface just enough to get going. Different riders find different levels of success with each one.
Always carry a repair kit
Even if you are an advanced rider, it is always good to have a small toolkit of items at your disposal. This way, you will not need to worry about buying or grabbing one in a moment’s notice.
Most windsurfers keep a basic equipment set that includes sandpaper, file, glue, and/or strap adhesive. Having these basics helps you make sure your board is tight and ship-shape!
However, there are some riders out there who take their sailing very seriously and add additional tools to aid them in improving their skills. These extended gear collections include things like pumps, speedometers, and other test gadgets to help determine how fast you can sail on the water.
Becoming more familiar with the fundamentals of windsurfing will get you somewhere. If you are looking to truly advance your riding, then investing in some extra accessories makes sense.
Know how to perform basic repairs
Even if you never take your board out of its bag, there’s still something you can do to improve your skills. You may not be able to fix everything, but you should at least know what tools are for common windsurf repair tasks.
Most people start by picking up whatever tool their neighbor has lying around the house. But that’s not necessarily the best way to begin!
I’ve seen many beginners try to use a screwdriver to tighten or loosen a rope clamp. While it’s definitely helpful to have these basics down, they aren’t designed to handle surf equipment.
Instead, I recommend grabbing a set of plastic torque wrenches like those pictured here. These will tell you exactly how much force each part of your gear needs before they give in, and which one gives you the most leverage.