If you want to try windsurfing...

Step 0. Watch video: Windsurfing Anatomy 101

Step 1. Take a beginner's course (better on a training board)

Self-education works in many areas, but not in windsurfing. I learned it hard way. My painful learning was on a half-dozen all-inclusive resorts over 12 years. I had no instruction, was bound to use bad equipment, and had wasted much time.

By comparison, under good instruction my son was at the same level in 3 days. After investing a couple of hundred dollars in my own training, I quickly advanced as well.

If you only took away one single tip: Take lessons! – the mission of this web site would be well-accomplished. Lessons pay back immediately. You will discover the real joy of windsurfing in days, rather than in years. Check Where to learn page for possible destinations.

Once you start working with instructor, use this opportunity:

  1. For asking as much as possible about equipment. I recommend you research the subject prior to your vacation.
  2. For learning how to rig and tune the sail.

If you are physically fit and dedicated, consider joining a traveling windsurfing clinic, like ABK. There will be several instructors working with small groups of about the same level for 4-5days in a row. It will be tiring, but most productive way to learn.

Step 2. Connect with windsurfing community

Find out where people windsurf around your area. Search in Google, Yahoo, approach windsurfers at your lake, check with kite surfers. Local sport associations (sailing) may be helpful as well.

Meeting fellow windsurfers is the best way to find windsurfing spots, learn about safety issues, popular sail sizes, and other tips. Once you establish first contacts, start asking questions about used equipment.

Step 3. Buy your first sailboard set - a soft-top family board

You can save quite a few dollars buying used masts, booms, and other small items. Check for the kite surfer community in the same area; they likely have a lot of windsurfing hardware in their garages!

I would avoid buying board and sails, which are more than 5 years old. Those may be of older design, offsetting your learning.

Your first windsurf should be a soft-top family board (like Fanatic Viper). Not only you can learn and progress on a family board, but you can always use it for freestyle practice in a light wind -- while windsurfers with smaller boards are stuck on the shore!  If your weight is 75-85kg, the right board would be 80cm wide, and about 180l.

As for sail variety and sizes, it all depends on your budget and wind patterns in your area. Ask fellow windsurfers and you will get a good idea about appropriate sizes. You should begin with a couple of sails (like 5.0 and 6.5) and end up with four or five.

Avoid buying entry-level sails (like Gaastra Freetime); those often come in a package with a family board. Entry-level sails are relatively inexpensive and are good against beginner's abuse. However, in a year or so, you may find them obsolete. By paying a little extra you can get much better sails, which would serve you well for many years to come.

Links to some on-line stores

Step 4. Learn about windsurfing safety

There are tons of materials published on the Internet about windsurfing safety.
You can Google it, or you can simply start here, or here.
Remember, these few minutes of reading one day might save your life!

In a nushell, safety is risk management. It makes you think, What if...? - and have a plan in case:

  1. Your equipment breaks

  2. You get tired, injured, sick or cold

  3. Weather suddenly changes (wind shifts to off-shore)

  4. You are blown into a bad spot or away from the shore

Always plan for contingencies (i.e.my friend will pick me up with his boat, or will call the Coast Guard).

One of the least pleasant experiences is getting trapped under the sail. It will happen with you one day, and it may get dangerous. Train yourself not to panic. When you fall, always hang on the boom; once underwater, use the boom as a guide to get to the mast side – the shortest way to the fresh air! It works even if you're tangled in the harness lines. It's worth learning it  in a shallow water, with your friend close by - just in case.

Never underestimate mother nature and overestimate your own abilities!

Useful links: