- 16 July 2011 | Windsurfing
Windsurfing is easy. The best way to learn how to sail properly is in a windsurfing school. If you're far away, try it by yourself, but never alone and in stormy waters.
Here are a few steps to start windsurfing in a couple of hours. First of all, prepare your gear: windsurf board, rig, mast, sail and boom should be carefully assembled, rigged, tuned and mounted. There's a quick guide here and a windsurf board size chart, here.
Beginners should start windsurfing with a +190 litres board. Find a flat water lake of calm sea. Start off by finding your equilibrium in the windsurf board. Keep it steady for 10 minutes. Now, it's time to set sail.
In order to progress through the flat waters, you must quickly learn the points of sail or, in other words, the board's course in relation to the wind direction.
The main points of sail are:
Close Hauled: sailing as close to the wind as possible (an angle of around 45 degrees). You "zig zag" to make progress upwind. The turn between this "zig zags" is called "tacking".
Beam Reach: sailing across the wind. Point at where you want to sail fast. The sail works providing huge amounts of lift, driving you faster.
Broad Reach: almost like going downwind, except for the fact that the sail is still working as an aerofoil. In stronger winds, it is the fastest point of sail.
Running: sailing with the wind from behind.
If you're "In Irons", you won't probably move forward. So try to push or pull the sail and get the first feel of windsurfing. Now that you're sailing your first nautical miles, you'll need to learn to turn around on the water.
There are two ways of changing your course: tacking (the rig passes over the back of the board) and jibing (the rig passes over the front of the board).
Tacking is a basic 180º turn. It's vital to learn how to do it in order to get back to your original starting point. To do this, sail the board into the wind, place the front hand on the mast and start to lean the sail back towards the tail. Step around the mast into the opposite side of the board.
The board will pass through the eye of the wind and you will resume your sailing speed. Try to turn 180º several times to better your skills and never get far away from safe land. Enjoy windsurfing. In the intermediate level, you'll learn to jibe and to sail with a harness.