Many people think windsurf competition is all about winning and serious time on the water, and whilst this might be the case for the best of the best, for the rest of us it’s all about having fun. Despite this many people still avoid competition, Chris Lewis takes a look at why this is and why you should consider your first contest…
Becalmed, high pressure system, lost air vent screws and board osmosis… All fear inspiring words for most windsurfing enthusiasts, but how can it be that the word racing can often be the biggest enigma and turn off to many participants of our beloved sport?
We all love blasting back and forth across a windswept lake, estuary or shore break, hooked in, hanging on and looking for that perfect spot of flat windy water upon which to replicate that amazing gybe you once saw on “Moving Target” or more recently “You Tube”! And in doing so, we all qualify for racing whether we realise it or not, whether it be the excitement and speed of slalom or the more tactical and thrilling discipline of course racing. For many successful and long establish sailing disciplines, racing has often provided the backbone and structure to their many years of prosperity and success, establishing thriving classes and clubs across the globe and swelling the number of watersport participants to a global population of millions.
But what can racing bring to a sport and group of inherently nomadic windsurfers? Well the answer lies away from actual racing itself but more what it offers as a whole; the opportunity to get away and travel to an organised, secure, safe and structured event. To share time, conversation and great times with like minded individuals bringing all generations and family demographics together. Outright winning is relevant to just a few talented competitors, for 98% of the people attending winning is defined by competing against those around you, siblings or even yourself. It can be even be defined by enjoyment of a great weekend away sailing on new waters and in new conditions – winning is, and always will be, a relative concept unique to us all.
I have enjoyed racing at a number of levels in my life from inland regional racing to international championships enjoying outright fleet successes and numerous individually defined results and personal bests. The lifestyle it has afforded has provided life long friendships forged over many years of enjoyable competition and mutual goals. On the water racing offers the fastest way to progression, accelerating your learning curve ten-fold through being able to learn from the best and the worst examples all around you! Improvement comes from the natural urge to want to excel and far from a moral zapping experience the confidence and pride inspired from competing on the national tours and at the national events will enhance and embolden your windsurfing ability and confidence. With designated fleets based on experience and equipment restrictions sailors are never far from a prize or at the very least a competitive and exciting challenge! Ashore is where events really stand out, with different tours and events offering a social kaleidoscope to suit all ages and tastes, kicking back under golden sunsets whilst feasting at cliff top or shore side barbeques to the live band big event parties- events have it all covered and offer the ultimate windsurf social! The inclusive atmosphere accommodates all abilities and budgets, while some fellow fleet members may roll into windsurfing Dodge City with a twin axle motor home and a flotilla of equipment, just as many crawl in with a car, trailer, tent and their old faithful quiver of well tested and well dialled gems- both sailors sharing a mutual passion for the sport and the journeys it provides literally and metaphorically.
So racing – is it an enigma, a turn off for the many? Or is it an opportunity to substantially increase your windsurfing world and horizons – regardless of your ability or equipment quiver – to enjoy a social and enjoyable lifestyle or even just the opportunity to keep the other half happy with a weekend away while you get a free pass out on the water? Who cares who wins? – you decide!