Water sports are one of the most thrilling categories of sporting activities. Kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving, there are a whole lot of options.
Of these options, Windsurfing perhaps ranks the highest in terms of excitement and adventure.
Windsurfing combines sailing and surfing, blends them into one, and gives you the time of your life.
In other words, a successful windsurfer has to master control of the wind while simultaneously balancing on the water.
This article seeks to explore Windsurfing, the best approaches to becoming an expert windsurfer, the various gear you would need, and overall best practices.
What’s the Difference Between Surfing and Windsurfing?
The main difference between surfing and Windsurfing lies in how the board is propelled.
Surfing typically requires waves to push the board and, in turn, the rider forward.
On the other hand, Windsurfing only works with sufficient wind that pushes against a sail at the board’s center.
This is what actively propels a windsurfer.
Since wind is a more widespread occurrence, Windsurfing allows for more chances of practice as well, and of course, more practice is always a good thing.
In addition to this, here are some other notable differences that you should know:
- Board Shape & Size
Surfboards are usually more miniature than boards for Windsurfing; they are also narrower and lighter.
- Need for Wind
Surfing doesn’t altogether disregard the need for wind. However, an only light wind is required.
In Windsurfing, a wind speed of about 8 knots is a minimum requirement for beginners.
Intermediate and advanced windsurfers generally surf at between 15-25 knots.
And some seasoned experts can windsurf at 50 knots and over, but this is a bit excessive.
- Body Positioning
This refers to the angling of the body at various times during surfing or Windsurfing.
Surfing a wave is the only time that regular surfers find themselves in the position of windsurfers.
That is, they have to stand. At other times, they sit and paddle with their hands while the body is in a relaxed position.
Windsurfing, on the other hand, requires standing all through.
- Need for Waves
Surfing cannot take place without waves to ride on. Ok the flip side, Windsurfing works with or without waves.
Flatwater is excellent, and waves to ride also work. The main requirement is the wind.
- Sailing Ease
One of the perks of Windsurfing is the fact that you do not need to paddle.
Once your sail has caught the wind, it’s smooth sailing from there.
Surfing requires paddling with your hands, and this can be pretty technical to learn.
How Hard Is It to Windsurf?
This is one of the most asked questions when it comes to Windsurfing.
Just like any other sport that is pretty tasking physically, you need to be in great shape.
In addition to this, there is a learning process to pick up basic knowledge.
Most important of all, working the harness and handling other equipment factors into the technicalities of Windsurfing.
This doesn’t imply that it is difficult; however, all you need is to get familiar, and in no time, it would become second nature.
Also, you don’t expect to be sailing on waves in the first few weeks.
Like any other sport, it takes a lot of practice and a great deal of consistency to become a maestro.
And depending on how deeply you want to go into the sport, you might not need to spend too much time practicing.
For instance, if you want to sail and come back to shore, this doesn’t require any specialized practice.
However, if you intend to start planing using the harness, it would take quite a bit of practice.
Learning time varies from person to person, but the range is a couple of months to a couple of years depending on adaptability, natural skill, consistency, and interest.
Windsurfing Equipment Basics
A significant aspect of Windsurfing is equipment, and they need to be picked out expertly and with care.
In addition to getting equipment, it is vital to know how to maintain equipment.
Essential equipment required include the following:
- Windsurf Board (180 to 200 liters is a good call)
- Sail (4.5 – 6 meters in length is ideal)
- Mast Base (connector for the mast to board)
- Boom (frame shaped like a wishbone used for steering purposes)
- Buoyancy aid
- Wetsuit (thickness of 2.5 – 3mm is ideal)
Some of these gear might seem pretty technical in the early days, but acceptable practice, and you would find yourself working them like a pro.
You should never make the mistake of going right off and purchasing expensive equipment.
For instance, a specifically designed sail for extra speed would require some technical expertise, and you don’t have the knowledge just yet.
So, a more practical option would be to start with durable but low-priced items, and then you can upgrade along the way.
Furthermore, in terms of equipment importance, the sail takes the top spot here.
Some people think that the windsurfer is responsible for holding the sail up, but in fact, it’s the other way round.
The sail holds the windsurfer up, and this is why the harness is essential.
It is vital to learn how to work the harness as early as possible.
Going Beyond a Basic Windsurfer
Building advanced windsurfing skills requires going way beyond just basic moves.
It will help if you become conversant with rigging your gear, assuming the proper body stance, solo beach starting, planing on the water, and several other advanced skills.
Sometimes, you might experience wind intensity that would require you to pull extra weight apart from your body weight.
This is why your manner of leaning back against the wind not only determines your recovery but would also allow you to examine your orientation and speed.
All of these cannot be learned in a day or even a couple of weeks; you would need constant practice.
Which is Best for the Beginners?
Using the yardstick of ease of learning, Windsurfing ultimately takes the top spot here.
Surfing requires a significant level of strength and stamina to paddle through waves and catch them too.
It can get pretty intimidating altogether.
On the other hand, Windsurfing is pretty easy to get the hang of and doesn’t physically exert you a whole lot.
Becoming a great windsurfer doesn’t happen overnight.
Also, I’d advise you to start small, a beach with moderate winds and of course, good equipment.
Consistency is key to excelling in the sport, and getting a tutor to put you through would accelerate your progress.
If you would rather surf instead, consistency and a readiness to learn are required too.
But for one that you can get the hang of quickly, Windsurfing is probably your better bet.