Here is an over-view of what you can expect to learn in your first 1 hour lesson with us. If you can't get through it all now, you can also receive these as a series of 6 weekly emails, along with more experience that we would like to share. Hope it is helpful, sure was fun to make.
1 - Up-Hauling the Rig
In that first hour while people are balancing on the board while positioning the sail in the wind, there is alot of new information to learn. This first hour is the toughest for new windsurfers because they have not had time to "make friends with the wind".
During the second hour of practice, the way the sail responds to the wind is starting to become predictable and actually helps them to balance. However, in the first hour new surfers, fall a lot and that means having to climb back on the board and "Up-Haul" or pick up the rig to try again.
To avoid wasting energy and hurting your back, good technique is essential:
1. Make sure you are only picking uo the "Rig" and not the Rig + the Wind force blowing on it. Make sure the the wind is at your back before beginning to pick up the rig.
Start with your feet evenly placed either side of the "mast base" - where the Rig joins the board, you can pull slightly on the up-haul rope, while pushing more on one foot or the other to reposition until the wind is at your back and the rig is 90 degrees to the board. - as in picture 1 above.
2. As you lift the rig up, it gets lighter, but to begin with it is little heavy, so it is easier to keep you arms straight and fall backwards a little to let your body-weiht do the work. Bending your elbows will engage your biceps muscle in your arms, which is very strong, but gets tired quickly. Keeping your arms straight shifts the workload to the larger muscle groups in your back.
3. Bend at the knees keeping your back straight, now you will be using your Leg muscles to do the work, If you lean forward, you will start using your lower back muscles, this is infective and can be bad for your lower back. As you lift the rig up hand over hand, it gets lighter. We use the Cave-Man Up-Haul line on all our rigs which is softer and larger diameter to save your hands.
"everything works better when we are playful" - Amara Watersports
1 - Balancing the Rig and Moving Forward
Windsurfing is a very direct way to experience the motion in the ocean and in the air, balancing those forces through your body is mostly done through your hips. Work it out and you will be rewarded with speed and control with a level of intimacy, (extremely direct feel) found in no other sport.
Like other up-right sports, your core is the key to control and the key to the core is in how you position your hips.
1. Neutral position is when there is no wind pressing against the sail. Pull the Rig to one side or the other to align the board 90 degrees to the wind, with the wind at your back. If pulling to your right, kick you hips out to the left slightly, this will direct the force down through the left foot and help you to turn the board and visa-versa.
2. Your Front Hand is the one that is closest to the mast, and to the front of the board. You want your back hand to be highest on the Up-Haul Line after picking up the Rig. Reach across, (over your back hand), with your front hand and grip the boom, roughly about 1 foot behind the mast.
3. The next step is critical. Push your hips forward before you let go of the rope with your back hand. Now take hold of the boom with your back hand, taking into your hands, the force of wind pressing against the rig. You need to be braced to accept that force without letting it pull you of balance. That is why you push your hips forward in advance.
When you take the Boom in both hands you are holding a flat surface across the wind, capturing a force. Often at this moment our brains feel this new pressure and tell us to stick out our buts to counter the weight. this is the biggest mistake that new surfers make. If you do this you fold in the middle and fall forwards. If you resist this urge by keeping your hips forward and maintaining the “number 7” posture. the force in the sail will travel through your arms, body and legs, down through your feet and against the fin. It will then drive your board forward though the water.
If you do fold in the middle, (hips go back, but goes out) you get pulled forward, and it is very hard to regain a balanced posture, it is better to release the boom with the back hand, dump the power and start again from neutral position.
"the toys and environment are fantastic, but its my own body where I discover aliveness" - Amara Watersports
3 - How to Stop and how to fall safely.
Hear your instructor calling, "Stop!!", well this is how you do it, (later you will learn to come back)
1. To Stop, take the Up-Haul Rope with your rear-most hand. Palm facing front of the board. Let go of the Boom, allowing the Sail to swing “open” and spill all power. This returns you t the Neutral Position. Take the Up-Haul rope with both hands. Stand staight with straight arms, hips forward and knees soft. Using the Up-Hual Rope, lower the sail back down into the water keeping your back straight, stomache tense and bending your knees.
2. Falling Backwards - Hold on with Hand Closest to Mast.
Keeping hold of the boom with the front most hand, (hand closest to mast) allows you to prevent the rig from falling on your head.
3. Assuming you did hold on with the front hand - If you are under the sail move the hand holding the Boom (Closest to mast) across your body towards your opposite shoulder. This will bring your head clear even if you are in harness lines.
4. Falling Forwards - To Avoid damaging the sail by hitting it with your body.
There are times when the rig will pull you off balance and you will fall forward onto it. Keep both hands on the boom but bend your elbows slightly. Leave your teet on the board and let yourself fall forward so that your weight is supported by the boom where it is harmlessly shared over a large surface area. You can un-hook your harness, if your are wearing one, and gently roll off of the sail.away from the mast.
"relax and play, loose in the mind, loose in the body, quality of attention determines all " - Amara Watersports
4 - Controlling Power and sailing Up-Wind, it's all about surface area
Speed is coming from Wind Pressure on the Surface of the Sail - the more of the Sail you present to the wind the more power you will have. There are 2 ways of doing this.
Firstly, by closing the sail, or "sheeting in", you are presenting more surface area to the wind, conversely by opening the sail you are "spilling" the wind and capturing less force. Beginners will do this a lot to avoid getting pulled forward when their stance is not ready to brace the power. This method of de-powering makes it very hard to go "up-wind", to make progress in the direction of the wind. There is a better way to control power.
Secondly, by changing your "point of sail", "sailing closer to the wind" pointing into the wind, you keep the sail closed, but present less sail area to the wind. Conversely if the wind drops off, or you are pointing too high, you can "bear away" or steer away from the wind to present full surface area to the wind again.
In the picture above, the column of boards on the far left, show the force in Red being captured by the sail in Open through to Closed positions, while the board remains at 90 degrees to the wind.
In the picture above, the boards in the top row, show how you can vary the power in the sail, shown in red, without opening or closing it, but by varying your sailing angle relative to the wind. This is the main way we vary power while sailing, it keeps the board more stable on the water and saves your energy and allows you to sail "Up-Wind".
"Sport is like allowing your body to discover physics, without a mind full of numbers " - Amara Watersports
5 - Power Steering Baby - It's all in the hips
This is the most fun lesson in Level 1 and the most important. This is where you start to move with the rig and dance with the wind instead of wrestling with it.
To stay in balance we need to keep our head centered over the base of our support, if we have more weight on one leg, then our head needs to be closer to that side of our body. Fortunately we do not need to think about that if we are leading with our hips. While standing on a platform floating on a moving surface, our hips are already being circled by the motion in the water, the wind dance is an action that we lay down on-top of that rhythm.
SUP is probably the best way to become more intimate with this, but if you have made it this for on your windsurfing journey, your body will already be allowing your hips to move and absorbing the ocean motion with some degree of effectiveness, if not yet gracefulness. If you find body mechanics interesting, particularly when training in dynamic environments then you may enjoy our SUP newsletter also.
1. To Decrease power, turn the board into the wind, reducing sail surface area that the wind can press against. To do this. tilt the hips to the front of the board, this will bend the shoulders in the opposite direction and the rig will be tilted backwards. The wind will push the back of the board away, rotating the nose of the board into the wind. The wind will now be spilling off of the sail and the board will slow down. If you keep the sail tilted backwards the board will stop as the wind passes the sail equally on both sides generating no force.
2. Many times we drift into the wind and slow down, this is because we tend to engage the windward rail of the board, To Increase power we need to turn the board down-wind again and increase the amount of sail surface we are presenting to the wind. To do this, tilt the hips towards the back of the board, which will lean your shoulders to the front, tilting the rig forwards. The wind will now be more forward of the centre of the board causing it to rotate away from the direction of the wind. the board will "bear off" downwind and accelerate. As you bear away you will increase the amount of sail surface area that the wind can press against, your body will need to be braced to harness this increase in force. Since you initiated the movement by tilting your hips to the back of the board, your front leg will now be braced and in the perfect stance to accept that power and direct it down into the board.You back leg will be slghtly bent ready for you to lean back further as the power increases. Be careful not to steer too far down-wind or the wind will press on the other side of the sail and you will loose control of the rig as well as traveling too far down-wind.
For now, practice steering with the hips just a little and wait for the response, then gradually increase how long you hold each position for, before swapping back. First up-wind, then down-wind, feel the power change, and feel where the energy is in the sail and how that aligns with your hips. The centre of power in the rig should be directly opposite and opposing your hips. This will also prepare you for wearing a harness later.
If you know anyone who may find this information interesting, please share it with them.
"Windsurfing is a study of efficiency and the reward is speed and a very direct feeling of harnessed natural energy" - Amara Watersports
When "tacking", we turn towards the wind and move our body around the front of the board.
Tacking is a term that comes from sailing and and it means to turn into and then through the wind so you have changed course 180 degrees. The other way we turn is to "Gybe, where you turn away from the wind. When you gybe you run down with the wind and always loose some of the progress or "height" you may have made in sailing towards the wind. In tacking you hold your up-wind position, which is a good thing for beginners who tend to drift down-wind a bit when learning.
Most of you will start to learn to tack in your first 1 hour lesson. When you can do it and return to where you started, you have achieved the first level of Windsurfing Freedom.
1. As soon as you start to turn, the wind will start to come more from the front of the board, to keep the wind at your back, you will need to be ready to move. So the first thing we do is place our front foot in front of the mast, but don't put any weight on it yet, your just getting ready.
2. Next you tilt the rig back until the sail touches the board, and hold it closed. Your front hand can now hold the mast and you will need to move your weight onto your front foot.
3. The board will turn very quickly if you have the sail learnt over and closed on the board. So you will need to move fast to keep the wind at your back. At first just take small steps and keep your arms long to hold the sail away from you. Leave your back hand on the boom but it can slide forward - pretty much like pic. 3 above. Now the wind should be at your back and you are facing the rear of the board. A more advanced move is to bring your back foot in front of the front foot but with the heal pointing towards the side of the board you will move to when the turn is complete.
4. Beginners tend to get stuck here because there is no wind blowing on the sail and they just stop. The trick is to leave your back hand on the side of the sail you came from, as mentioned in point 3, so you can keep pulling on it and keep some pressure on the sail, this will bring the nose of the board through the wind and you will need to keep taking steps to keep the wind at your back as you change to the other side of the board.
5. To finish the turn, you lean the rig forward, (hips go back, front shoulder drops) allowing the wind complete by pushing the nose downwind on the new "tack" or course.
6. Congratulations you are now sailing in the opposite direction with the wind at your back. During the middle of the turn, there is very little pressure on the sail to balance against, so it is good to keep practicing until you can move quickly around to the new side. The Center-board or Dagger-Board remains down through-out the tack. When learning, take small steps close to the mast base. Keep your arms fairly long, do not pull the rig too close to you.
We hope you enjoyed these Windsurfing Tips, no matter where in the world you are surfing.
Amara and Craig
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