Overview Of Windsurfing: Riding The Wind And Waves

Windsurfing is a unique sport that captures the thrill-seeking spirit and imaginations of people around the globe. It blends the freedom of surfing and the skills of sailing. The rigors of using the wind for propulsion across the waves requires a high level of athleticism and adaptability. One of the sport's most attractive qualities is that people of all ages can participate. With proper training, young people can become adept at windsurfing. It's also a fun opportunity to strengthen bonds with friends and family. In this article, we'll briefly explore windsurfing's history, the gear you'll need to get started and how to learn the skills necessary to enjoy the sport.

An Historical Perspective Of Windsurfing

Even though windsurfing is a relatively new sport, confusion abounds regarding its origins. Most enthusiasts agree that credit for the sport should be given to Hoyle Schweitzer (an avid surfer). With the help of an engineer named Jim Drake, Schweitzer created and was awarded the patent on the sailboard in 1968. However, despite the patent, disputes continue over who deserve true credit for introducing windsurfing to the public.

Windsurfing become popular quickly. Beginning in Southern California, it gathered steam and spread rapidly across the coast. By the early 1980's, the sport had gained a foothold in Europe. And by 1984, windsurfing had been welcomed as an official Olympic sport.

The Bare Necessities

While you can potentially spend thousands of dollars on various pieces of equipment, getting involved in windsurfing only requires a board and a rig. The boards are usually short (less than 8 feet). The rig includes the sail, mast and boom (the piece of equipment that supports the sail). Veteran windsurfers also invest in harnesses, wetsuits, special footwear and protective gear such as helmets and life jackets. While these components aren't necessary for getting started, they can help you enjoy the sport while ensuring your own safety and that of your equipment.

Learning To Windsurf

Because windsurfing requires skill, you should take a few classes. Instructors can teach you the fundamentals of balance, maneuverability and using the wind for propulsion. They can also provide useful advice for buying the right gear. Some gear is better-suited for beginners and will help introduce you to the sport properly. Most importantly, instructors can prepare you for the inherent dangers of windsurfing. Accidents can happen. When they do, you need to know how to respond quickly.

Initially, you'll need to learn how to get on your board and maintain balance. Forget about the breathtaking moves that you see experienced windsurfers performing. Focus on the basics like lifting the sail, steering your board and manipulating your mast. Once you master the fundamentals, you can graduate to more complex maneuvers.

Becoming Proficient And Enjoying The Sport

With practice, you'll find that mastering the basics is easy. Once you do, you can begin learning intermediate and advanced techniques. Some of these techniques allow you to perform special tricks like an aerial move or impressive forward jumps. Others will help you compensate for certain conditions such as intense winds that takes you off-course or threaten to unbalance you from your board.

Windsurfing can be an enjoyable way to get exercise while enjoying the outdoors. While the sport requires a small bit of training (to learn the basics), most of your proficiency will come from experience. Plan to make mistakes and learn from them. Before long, you'll become a capable windsurfer.