Learning to windsurf is an exciting journey, from the anticipation of the first lesson through to the thrill of the first blast. Boards Basics takes you through the learning process, firstly catching up with James Stuart who took his first steps on a board at Lagoon Watersports in Hove, to find out exactly what the initial lessons are all about.
Learning to windsurf is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. With a huge worldwide social and recreational windsurfing scene, I have never been short of finding a like minded and enthusiastic sailor, like myself, to share a car with and spend hours out on the water and on a beach with. It has changed my mind on this stuff that previously annoyed me because it messed up my hair or ruffled the trees at night, but now I find myself at work, spectating weather sites praying for more wind!
Before learning to windsurf myself I only really saw it as standing on a massive floating plastic board whilst holding some strange sail-like thing that somehow uses the weather to move you along the water. Now I see that windsurfing is far more than that, and a lot more attractive too! Before starting my RYA Start Windsurfing course, an internationally recognized qualification, I was feeling apprehensive about whether I would be able to do it and nervous because the closest I have ever been to doing a sport on the water is sitting on a lilo in the middle of a pool. The reason I wanted to learn windsurfing was to try something very different, I now live in Brighton by the sea whilst previously I was in London where the only exercise was a forced, once a week trip to the sweaty smelly room of the local gym because that was what I thought I had to do to keep a standard level of fitness.
When I got the water sports centre at Hove Lagoon there were a lot of different types of people there, learning a variety of sports and at first I couldn’t tell who I was on a course with, or who out of the people in board shorts, no shoes and sunglasses introducing themselves was my instructor. I met my instructor and the others on my course shortly after signing in at reception and was then very calmly given an outlook to what I had got myself into. After being introduced to the course instructor and the other students, it was straight outside to see the equipment that I still hadn’t quite got my head around. Our instructor first showed us the boards and told us how they were ideal for learning on, being big and stable. Then we were introduced to the sails which were all kept fully rigged and ready to go, and I was given a size that suited my height, weight and the conditions. The surprising part about all this kit was that it was so easy and simple to handle and understand. Once all the equipment was out our instructor spent a lot of time at first on the simulator, showing us and getting us to try the few positions that we would need to get up and moving on the water. These positions were all very well broken down and put across in a way that made me really want to give it a go. After getting changed into a wetsuit (a strange devise that I was told was to help keep me warm, but only made me feel like a penguin) we headed out onto the waist deep water of the lagoon to have a first attempt at this new sport. The morning was spent just standing up and going in a straight line and using the wind to move us around the water, there were some pretty spectacular, let’s say dismounts, from myself but in this safe, controlled environment it was all part of the fun. By the end of the first day we as a group were all sailing across the wind, turning around and starting to steer the board. We had all been introduced to the equipment and gained a bit of background knowledge to the sport. The instructor said to us “as long as you are moving and enjoying it you are windsurfing”, so I felt that at the end of the first day I had achieved that and I felt really good about it, and very excited for the following day!
The next day came after a very good sleep as I had been so tired from the day before. Once again I was quickly put at ease about what we were doing and there was no time to waste, so we got the equipment out and I found myself on the simulator going through what we had done the day before. The second day was about moving towards the wind and away from the wind which, at first, I had no idea about what our instructor was saying but after a good demo with an explanation I started to pick up this new skill quickly and easily. All the way though we were told in simple words the next step, whilst always working on a bit that we had done before which made the learning feel logical and progressive.
At the end of the course it felt amazing that I had achieved something that previously I had worried about doing. The myths of windsurfing about it being hard and needing a lot of strength were torn up and burnt! The feedback I got from the instructor, who obviously loved the sport and was very passionate about it, was always positive and helpful. The Start Windsurfing course is an extremely rewarding course which does not require any specific skills or previous experience. With the main part about the course being an introduction to windsurfing with the aim to get you to enjoy the sport, I could say with certainty that it had done that and also got me to a point where I can hold my own on the water with an instructor. After doing this course I will always recommend it to anyone because it is a fun, fast and relaxing sport and achieves a full body work out with some pretty amazing perks, like having your gym on the beach!
Once you are totally hooked on windsurfing the next stages are even more exciting, the next instalment of the windsurfing journey will be with you very soon as we follow the progression of another newly addicted windsurfer.
Find out more about Lagoon Watersports: