Getting on the Water
There is no better way to learn to windsurf than by getting lessons at an RYA (Royal Yachting Association, the governing body of windsurfing in the UK) accredited centre. Here you will be taught by a fully qualified instructor, in appropriate conditions with safety cover, to ensure that you can enjoy and achieve as much as possible in your first windsurfing experience.
Many windsurfing centres, sailing clubs and schools offer taster sessions for as little as £25.00 per hour. There are numerous centres and clubs based all over the country and abroad, both inland and on coastal waters. If you prefer the idea of sunny climates and warm waters then it is worthwhile considering an activity based beach holiday in places like the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. Many of them offer windsurfing as an optional sport and run RYA courses for all levels. Your local travel agent should be able to offer good advice about what is available.
The RYA has developed an excellent structured training syllabus that provides complete beginners with a course to learn the basics of windsurfing. There is the National Windsurfing Scheme for adults and the Youth Windsurfing Scheme for youngsters. A windsurf starter course will be your first introduction to the sport, it teaches you the basics, so you are up and sailing around in as little as eight hours.
All the RYA windsurfing courses are run regularly by many RYA recognised training centres and sailing clubs across the country and in various locations abroad. A full list of the training centres can be found on the RYA website. More information about the full RYA windsurfing syllabus can be found here on the RYA website www.rya.org.uk/coursestraining/courses/windsurfing/Pages/default.aspx
What you might need
To learn to windsurf you will need minimal kit as most training centres and clubs will have the windsurf equipment and a wetsuit for you to use, it might be useful to take along something to eat and drink, sunblock, swimsuit, a towel, a warm coat and some wetsuit boots or old trainers if you have them.
Once you have become hooked you will almost certainly want to buy your own kit. There is a whole range of equipment out there, suited to different people for different conditions and disciplines. Take a look at the Beginners Guide to Equipment (below) to find out more about all the types of kit available.
You do not need to buy brand new equipment, especially when you are starting out, there is a massive range of second hand equipment available online and at your local shops and centres. With a bit of looking around you should be able to find a board and sail to suit you for a couple of hundred pounds.
Find a Club
There are many excellent clubs around the country that actively promote womens windsurfing and run various courses, social events and racing calendars. It is worthwhile visiting your local club to have a chat with the membership secretary to check out the facilities and suitability of their sailing programme. Many clubs offer a ‘pay as you play’ type package, where you can hire equipment per day or within a monthly subscription. This is a great idea, particularly when you are starting out as you can try different types of equipment while progressing your windsurfing.
Where to buy
There are a large number of specialist water sports shops and online retailers which stock a good selection of kit, ranging form boards and sails to wetsuits and fashion clothing. Looking in the classified pages of windsurfing magazines or on second hand websites, is a great way to pick up second hand bargains. The notice board at your sailing club may feature good second hand kit at reasonable prices. Buying windsurfing kit can be very affordable if you take the time to look around.