My top tips to help you start off on the right foot are the following:
1. Find a windsurfing school where they give lessons
You need lessons from a professional in order to learn windsurfing. Don’t start with your boyfriend, girlfriend, uncle, grandfather or friend. They are not qualified to teach you how to windsurf.
2. Do a taster session
Before you sign-up for a 10-hour course or invest in boardshorts and a rashguard, try windsurfing to see how it feels for you. Also, before you sign up for a course, make sure the instructor and the place “clicks” to your own needs and wants.
3. Make sure the equipment you are training on is modern and well-maintained
This should look like a wide board and a light sail that will have you sailing back and forth on your first lesson. If the equipment doesn’t look like that, you might need to start looking some place else.
4. See if you think your instructor knows what they’re doing
Your instructor should explain the windsurfing concepts, break down the techniques for you, demonstrate them on a simulator on the beach before you hit the water and coach you properly. You need someone who is able to give you constant feedback on your body position and correct what you’re doing wrong. You also need structure in your sessions, which means that every session needs to have a specific goal or technique that needs to be learnt. Bad sailing habits form since the first hours on the water and you don’t want to be doing that, as it will hinder your progress in the long term.
5. Make sure your instructor prompts you to practice on the water by yourself
It’s important to practice on your own in-between your coaching sessions, because it helps you become independent. Every technique is mastered only if you practice it for a specific number of times on the water, so your body can perform the required movements automatically. The more you train a specific technique on your own, the faster you can master it, come up with questions for your instructor and progress further.
6. Get information from the internet
There are loads of videos, techniques and articles available on youtube and blogs. I always start my windsurfing lessons on the shore, explaining orientation, analysing the equipment parts and explaining the techniques on a land simulator. When you start windsurfing, there’s a whole lot of new information to assimilate and process. The more you read about it and put new information together by viewing material online after your lessons, the faster they can become part of “the things you know”.
7. If you are progressing fast, don’t rush and buy equipment
I have seen many people rushing out to buy equipment in the middle of their first season. They either buy a board that is “quite big”, which they need to change after 2 months time, or one that is “rather small”, which hinders their progress, as they struggle to learn the maneuvers on it. Don’t even consider investing in a board if you can’t tack and jibe on a 160lt without centerboard.
8. Hang out at the beach after your training session and get in touch with other windsurfers
It helps a lot if you spend time with other people who are learning to windsurf. Why? Because you can share your experiences, motivate each other as you are progressing, encourage each other after a day when you didn’t think you did that well (and thought you were the only one struggling with the conditions) and feed off each others’ enthusiasm. Windsurfing is a lifestyle and you want to be making sure you are living it to its fullest!
Good luck and let me know if you need any help!