How to handle lulls and gusts in windsurfing

Windsurfing: learning how to handle lulls and gusts will make you a better sailor | Photo: Carter/PWA

High wind and no-wind conditions are common in windsurfing. Learn how to cope with the extremes.

It happens all the time. Whether you're a recreational windsurfer or an accomplished competitor, sooner or later, the wind will always play a trick on you.

In other words, it's never good to be underpowered and overpowered. It leads to frustration, fatigue, and sometimes injuries and dangerous situations.

On the contrary, a steady and stable wind force wind enables us to sail consistently for a long period of time without interruptions or wild catapults.

Pumping the Sail

So, what should a windsurfer do when confronted by an agonizing wind lull?

As soon as you feel yourself falling backward and the pressure of the sail decreasing, do the following:

  1. Sheet in harder than normal;
  2. Swing your weight toward the boom and the center of the board;
  3. Repeat the process several times while keeping both knees bent - pump it;

Handling Wind Gusts

Handling wind gusts is a bit harder but not impossible.

As you feel the pressure on the sail dramatically increase and your body being pitched across the sail, do the following:

  1. Sheet out as quickly as you can;
  2. Move your hands forward on the boom toward the mast;
  3. When you're ready to resume sailing, slowly lean windward;
  4. Sheet in again;

Learning how to handle the sail in both low and high winds will make you a better windsurfer.

Practice the sheeting techniques in safe environments and be surrounded by people who may help you in case anything goes wrong.