Top Tips on how to from RYA Chief Windsurfing Instructor Amanda Van Santen.
Taking that initial step to learn a new sport can, for some people, be the biggest hurdle, for others it’s the learning curve that follows. If most advanced windsurfers think back to their biggest hurdle, I bet for the large majority of us it’s either the infamous ‘Carve Gybe’ or getting in the footstraps. I have vivid memories of getting to this stage as if it was just last week, but I know I wasn’t alone. I recall a friend, offering some encouragement……..don’t worry, learning to forward loop is harder than learning the Carve Gybe!…. I’m not entirely sure that made me feel any better, but when I finally cracked it I was glad I persisted.
So what can you do if you are trying to progress your windsurfing skills and don’t want to spend too much time with that testing friend of ours ‘Mr Plateau’?
The RYA Windsurfing Scheme has courses and clinics that provide a variety of tuition covering skills from Start to Advanced windsurfing. These are flexible in design and range from two day courses to an hour long clinic, taught by specifically trained and qualified instructors. The great thing about taking further coaching at an RYA Training Centre is all equipment is provided and the instructors have been specially trained. If you are the type of person that also likes to research and consolidate your learning, or watching DVD’s, why not check out the RYA Web shop for some great ideas to help you.
I caught up with Bray Lake Windsurfing Club members Candice, Lyn and Mark, to find out what top tips they had for people progressing their windsurfing skills…….. here’s what they had to say.
AVS: Tell me a little bit about how you guys first got into windsurfing…….did you take an RYA course or did a friend teach you?
BLCM (AKA: Bray Lake Club Members!!):
I’d always advise people to take a course at an RYA Training centre; it definitely takes the pain out of learning to windsurf and helps you to progress quicker!
The supporting material they produce really helps too, with the RYA Intermediate and Advanced Handbook and various DVD’s available, providing a really good reference and reinforcement to progressing skills and techniques along the way.
AVS: Now you have all been windsurfing for a few years, how regularly do you try and get on the water?
BLCM: As often as we can, but not often enough! Aiming for about 3-4 times a month at a minimum if conditions allow
AVS: Having just come back from a club trip to Dahab, I’m feeling I don’t need to ask this question, but what’s your favorite location?
BLCM: Candice’s like her creature comforts nearby, so can be regularly found at Bray’s club, but all three of us are still raving about the recent club trip to the warmer waters of Dahab Bay – Sunny and a force 3, what more could we ask for to progress our skills.
AVS: What you feel have been the biggest benefit(s) to your progression?
BLCM: It has to be regular sailing at the club. The club has pay and play, which makes getting on the water really easy and the kit we get to use is up to date. The Instructors at Bray are brilliant and always on hand and happy to help with top tips whenever you need them!
The club environment is really beneficial to [progressing skills and I would recommend it to anyone; you’ve always got enthusiastic people around with regular feedback and pointers.
Taking an improvers course was a real benefit as was the club trip to Dahab – Just being able to spend every day on the water makes such a difference.
Other benefits the group thought had help their progression, were having your own kit as it gives you the freedom to get out whenever you want and enables you try new venues, go on a windsurfing holiday and taking an RYA course or clinics.
AVS: You mention taking an RYA course; do you feel this has been helpful in your progression?
BLCM: The basics are consistent so it makes progression simple, the structure of the schemes levels and clinics are really good, with a framework that ensures that all RYA instructors are talking the same language – sounds strange, but it makes a really big difference when you understand what they are asking you to do and it is consistent with all instructors.
AVS: Progressing at any sport can be difficult and needs determination, what do you feel have been your biggest hurdles and how have you overcome them?
BLCM: C – Myself! I’m no adrenalin junkie – I take things in my own stride and will get to each goal in time when I’m good and ready. But time on the water and support from the others at the club definitely help!
M – Lack of money to buy new kit was a big hurdle for me, but I finally managed to raid my piggy bank and took the plunge by buying some second hand kit, this now means I get more time on the on the water in windy condition, combine with the club trip away, have helped me to jump over my hurdle of getting into the footstraps!
AVS: What would be your 5 Top Tips for others looking to progress their skills?
- Don’t be too hard on yourself, this stuff takes time!
- Pack up early on a bad day and look forward to another good one
- Go on holiday somewhere warm and windy, and man up, don’t stop sailing when it gets cold and sail as often as you can!
- Take some further coaching or tuition, such as an RYA course, clinic or 1:1 session
- Join a club, practice and just spend time on the water whatever the condition!
AVS: Any final, comments…….?
I’ve met many great people over the years and so many with passion and enthusiasm to help me along, I think we would all like to credit the staff, guest instructors and other members at Bray Lake Watersports for keeping us on track and Neilson Dahab for the great holiday!!
To find out more about Bray Lake Windsurfing Club, check out their website on: http://www.braylake.com/club-news.html, or find them on Facebook, Twitter, and via RYA Project Windsurf: http://www.projectwindsurfuk.org.uk/. The club offers turn up, pay and play for members as well as non-members (there is an increased fee to a non-member), so if you find yourself near Maidenhead, why don’t you pop in!
Check out the RYA Website for other clubs or a training centre near you, as well as the courses on offer: www.rya.org.uk, and while you’re waiting for your course to start, why not swat up on the latest windsurfing handbooks to consolidate your learning, depending on your ability, either the RYA Intermediate or Advanced Handbook may be just the reading material you need: RYA Webshop