How it works
Windsurfing is all about balance and control so if you can master that, you’re well on your way in the windsurfing stakes. The idea is to navigate the surface of the water on the board using your sail as the tool to do so. When the sail catches the wind, it becomes your job to balance yourself, and the board, on the water - hitting the waves at the right speed and angle.
Most beginners learn the basics on dry land with a board that’s firmly attached to the floor, but that has the ability to move and simulate how it would feel on water. It also gives your instructor the chance to work out what size board and sail you need, which is done by monitoring the conditions of where you’ll be sailing, against your weight and ability. Normally, lessons are offered at watersports or sailing schools where you’ll be able to learn the key elements of sailing, steering and turning within a few hours, then it’s up to you as to how far you pursue it, but as your skill improves, so does the sport and you’ll be performing pirouettes, jumps and freestyling before you know it.
One of the trickiest tasks in windsurfing is learning how to turn the board around, so don’t be surprised if on your first time off shore, you find yourself sailing away into the sunset, however on the whole, it isn’t a dangerous sport, although you shouldn’t try it at night or in strong winds. As a beginner, you will be given a lifejacket to wear, but the usual attire can range from a skimpy swimsuit to a full-on wetsuit, depending on where you are in the world, so make sure you’re confident and equipped before you head out on your own.
Is it for me?
If you’re fearless when it comes to water, speed and swimming, you’ve got the perfect criteria for learning to windsurf. A fun way to experience the outdoors, the sport is a challenging form of exercise that can be enjoyed by anyone - regardless of gender, age or ability.
It’s also got plenty of health benefits and can give you a gym workout in one fail swoop. Because balance is so crucial to windsurfing, not only will your core stability improve as a result of your posture changes, your leg muscles will get their very own workout too. And while they’re keeping you upright, your shoulders, forearms and lower back will be targeted as you learn to control the force of the sail. Who knew a simple board and sail could be such waist-defining devices?
Good to know
A fairly new sport, windsurfing was thought up by two Californian friends in 1968 – Jim Drake, a sailor and Hoyle Schweitzer, a surfer. It quickly gained popularity and became recognised as an Olympic sport in 1984.