A couple of weeks ago I was teaching windsurfing in a private lesson. Next to us in the water, a class of 6 started at the same time. 3 hours later my student was sailing up and down by herself. None of the other students could do that. Windsurfing lessons can differ al lot, so I decided to write a blog about how to find the best lesson for you.
How to find the best windsurfing lesson for you? It’s best to find lessons that are given by certified, experienced and well trained instructors. Instructors being familiar with local conditions is a pre. People learn the basics of windsurfing faster in water that allows them to stand on the bottom and climb back on the board easily. Wind speeds between 8 and 15 knots are ideal for learning the basics. Special beginner boards with a daggerboard and lots of volume are recommended. The same goes for easy to handle sails, with a relative small size. For more advanced lessons matching gear and stronger winds are useful.
Many starting windsurfers choose their lessons based on price and or nearness. Factors like local conditions, size of the group, equipment used and quality of lessons can have a huge impact on how fast you learn. They can also impact safety and fun. Here is my inside info acquired while teaching in several parts of the world.
Which factors are important when choosing windsurf lessons?
Over the years I have given and received many windsurfing lessons. While in training to become a certified instructor one thing was more important that all others: SAFETY. I would never compromise on that.
I will give a bulleted list of factors that I would consider before buying a lesson. Of course, with an explanation.
- Local windsurf conditions. Windsurfing is almost always done outside. Thus conditions may change. Sometimes rapidly. I have found stable conditions a huge pro while learning. All attention that is required to adapt to changing windspeed, wind direction or water conditions can’t be given to the process of learning.
Water should not be to shallow since the daggerfin might get stuck. It is also safer to fall into water that is a little deeper. I never teach in water less than 30 inch deep. On the other hand, water that is no higher than chest enables you to walk back, and climb on the board easier than water that goes over your head. You might also feel safer. I prefer water with not to many other water sports enthusiasts to decrease chances on collisions. Staying well away from professional shipping is probably a wise idea.
If you have more advanced lessons you might want more challenging conditions. A wider space is nice if your speed increases. Waves can add to the fun. Where there are waves often currents can get stronger and change rapidly. Make sure your instructor knows how to deal with this in lessons. It’s hard to waste time on a reconnaissance of the spot you are about to windsurf at. Online info often provides tide and current info. Arriving an hour early before your lesson and study the conditions, talk to local windsurfers and watch them windsurf can give you a great advantage.
- Means of communication & language
The difference between teaching sailing and windsurfing? To me is, that when in a boat, everybody can hear each other. On boards that is different. How are instructors communicating? Shouting over the water might be less effective that waterproof headsets. Clear instructions before entering the water and using specific instructions after can also work better that just shouting. What do they offer?
- Many brands produce special learning equipment. That is for a good reason. You will learn safer, faster en with more fun. In my blog about this you can read more and find clear examples of beginner equipment.
- Group size and level mix. Windsurfing classes often take place in groups. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with that. If communication is good, students might even learn from each other. It can also add fun. I have always been a fan of groups consisting of students with approximately the same level. Group sizes of no more than 5 students on one instructor always felt most comfortable for me. Private lessons or duo lessons might be more expensive but can speed up learning. Especially when learning more advanced stuff.
- Theory lessons. Windsurfing is an action sport. Though you might experience the good ride much faster if you understand the theory basics. Spending just two hours on learning things like:
- safety tips
- names of all the parts
- wind directions
- can be very helpful
What forms of lessons are offered?
I have come across many forms of lessons. Varying from private lessons for a couple of hours to mixed lessons for a week. The last one offered kids a combined experience of sailing in a small boat and windsurfing. Al little online research might find you many appropriate options.
Where can I buy lessons?
Most rental stations offer lessons. Online you can find a variety of providers and their contact info. Checking if the conditions on the spot that they teach are matching your level often pays off. I share more info on pricing in my blog “What does windsurfing cost?”
Do I need a lot of strength for windsurfing lessons?
Windsurfing requires a certain level of fitness. On the other hand, you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete. Choosing a sail that is a bit smaller can safe a lot of strength while pulling the sail out of the water. Good technique is as important as strength in my experience. If you want to do some exercises I found helpful to get in surf shape you can check this blog I wrote about that.
Video interaction lessons.
Ever tried something and that watched the video of your attempt? I found this very helpful. Nowadays there are a variety of waterproof cameras. I have had lessons from a former pro who filmed me on the water. Later over a few beers he showed me exactly where I could improve my techniques. In my opinion a great option if you can get it.
Extra info about the new sport Hydrofoil Wing Surfing
Recently I started learning Hydrofoil Wing Surfing. For this sport a wing is used to generate power in stead of a sail. Since you read this article I assume you might be interested in this new, easy to learn watersport. I found that, compared to windsurfing, I needed less wind and less strength to have fun. Want to read my blog about Hydrofoil Wing Surfing?
What is the best windsurfing equipment for lessons? For beginner lessons many manufacturers produce special beginner windsurf boards and sails. Windsurf boards for beginners typically have more volume for better flotation. They also have softer decks and a daggerboard that keeps you from drifting off. Sails for learning windsurfing often are relatively small in size and very easy to handle.
How do I choose the best windsurfing equipment for me? First I make an realistic estimation of where I will sail, and in what conditions, for the years to come. Then I determine what type of sailing I want to be doing. Racing, wave sailing or freestyle moves require completely different kit. Knowing this, and my budget, I research the latest developments in the category that I want to buy from. Of course I make sure to buy stuff that fits the gear I already have.
Windsurfing near me? If you want to learn windsurfing nearness of lessons can be nice. Other factors like quality of instructions, material and conditions can be very determinative for your experience. Read this blog to learn more about how to find the best lesson (near you).