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Way be Perfect in Windsurfing

There is a general perception that windsurfing is a difficult sport to learn. The evidence seems to support this view. Among the thousands I looked that hard to learn the sport, less than one in ten still take it as a regular activity. I do not think I’ve seen any other sport with such high dropout rates. Is it really that windsurfing is so difficult to learn? Or is it much of the blame lies in how it is taught?

In the early days of the short history of windsurfing, the teaching approach was to treat it like any other form of sailing. This attitude persists to this day in many training centers. Hence the focus is on learning the different points of navigation, how to direct the board using the veil rather than using the bar and rudder on a yacht. What the two have in common is that both are powered by the wind on the sail. Other than that, the two disciplines are as different as night is from day. For example, you do not keep falling off a sailboat in the way a beginner tomb of windsurfing. Within limits on wind conditions, a sailboat is inherently stable. When the wind pressure on the sail increases, this causes the boat to heel. There is less sail area presented to the wind which results in a reduced tilting moment on the boat. A position is reached when the heeling moment of the wind on the sail is exactly offset by the righting moment of the boat. So there is a dynamic equilibrium.

There is no balance in this windsurfing. In case of strong winds about 8 knots and also according to the sail size used, the rig is in fact drawn wind above the rider. The wind force will try to push the rig to a vertical position. This will increase the sail area presented to the wind, which in turn increase the force of the wind on the sail. At the same time the rider is taken from a vertical position to leeward. The entire configuration is inherently unstable. If the rider does not take action to counter this, it will be pulled over completely in the wind and end up in the water. The image below illustrates the main difference between the two disciplines. The left half of the image shows a sailing boat house sheltered from the wind. The right half shows a windsurfer sail being drawn more into the wind. As explained earlier, making it inherently unstable.

If it is so unstable, how a windsurfer can remain on the board without falling? It does this by creating its own balance. If the force on the sail becomes too strong and he feels drawn downwind, it relaxes sailing. If the force on the sail is too low and it feels to fall towards the back, he pulls the sail to increase the strength of the wind on the sail. If the wind is too low and this action is not enough to prevent it from falling to the back, it changes the position of the center of gravity of the body, either squatting or moving his whole body towards the center of the board . These two actions are performed continuously for the duration that is sailing. It is done unconsciously and becomes second nature for an experienced windsurfer. The adjustments are not always obvious and often imperceptible. The veil is not only supplier of energy to propel the board. More importantly, it helps the windsurfer to maintain balance on the board. If you have never seen experienced windsurfers who try to navigate on short boards in fluctuating and very light winds, you will see them fall frequently as if they were beginners. Windsurfers need wind in their sails to help them balance. It is regrettable that this aspect of windsurfing is rarely explained to beginners because it is probably assumed he will intuitively found by themselves. People who frequently participate in sports and are more agile, discover this very quickly by themselves intuitively, because they have a natural aptitude for such things. Most of the other, they gradually discover the over weeks and months of practice. The learning process can be greatly accelerated if the beginner is taught early on to focus on this aspect of learning the practice of sail control on land.

How to learn to control the rigging

From the moment that a beginner climbs on a board on the water, it assumes that it must balance on the board while at the same time cope with the task to hold up the heavy rigging (sail and mast boom) that seems to try all the time to get the water. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the rigging and the wind on the sail that will help balance. So the first thing he should do is to learn to handle and control the rigging.

To practice rig control, you should choose a piece of land that is flat and preferably with grass growing on it so that the bottom of the board will not be damaged. Remove the fin of the board so that it can be placed flat on the ground. Try getting a sail is fully battened, but preferably not convex. This is much more stable than sailing flexible and therefore easier to control. Attach the rigging to the board and start practicing by holding it against the wind to feel the tension when you pull and release the sail. Both hands must be on the boom. If properly positioned, you should feel an equal pull on each arm. If you have learned to hold the mast with one hand and the boom with the other, then you should remove this habit immediately. Stand on the board in the normal position navigation and know what you have to do to prevent yourself from being pulled forward when the wind strengthens or fall backwards when the wind dies down. Position the new board so that his nose is at different angles to the wind. You’ll see your navigation position to change slightly in each new positions in order to feel comfortable. Do not perform this exercise on a simulator. The simulators I’ve seen are poorly designed and do not simulate the behavior of a board on the water. They wobble uncontrollably and wildly swinging when rigging positions are changed. This can distract you from what you are trying to do.

When you feel that you have gained sufficient confidence in the treatment of the rig, then you can try to do the same thing on the water. It will of course be more difficult because the board starts to rotate in the wind or shelter from the wind and you will have to adjust the position of the rig to counter this. However, practice on land will have given you a lot more confidence in the treatment of rigging. More importantly, you learn to use it to help you keep your balance on the board even if it swings up and down in the waves.

One thing I have often noticed is that most beginners are afraid to fall backwards into the water and at the same time pulling the rig down with them. They think they will be smothered by the veil. Experienced windsurfers always pull the rig down with them when they fall backward into the water. There are several reasons for this. The first is that this will ensure the mast or boom does not fall on any part of the board and damaging. Another reason is that they want to cling to the rigging for as long as possible in the hope of catching a gust of wind that can pull them up on the board, or to be in a favorable position to a water start. It is very important to overcome this fear of falling backwards because you will eventually learn to make the weight of your body to fight against the wind lifting action on the sail.