27th August 2014, 06:15 AM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2014
New to windsurfing and looking for advice
I am new to the sport and this forum and would be very grateful for some advice.
Firstly, can anyone recommend decent locations for beginners to learn windsurfing in the South West. I live in Taunton and recently did a lesson in Portland harbour which was excellent (the training provided by OTC was brilliant) however in the long run if I want to get into this seriously I won’t be able to justify the 1.5 hours each way trip to get there. So question- once I have learnt the basics are there other decent locations nearer where I live that anyone can recommend (I think I would prefer sea rather than lake).
Secondly, as a 37 year old guy with family/kids/work etc. responsibilities I will probably only be able to spend a few hours each week in the water. Realistically is that enough time to eventually get to a decent level (planning, water starts, possibly some small jumps etc.), and if so am I looking at 12 months or 12 years (assuming average learning ability). I already love the sport but if it is impossible to get where I want to eventually be then I would rather know now!
Thanks for any all help.
27th August 2014, 06:49 AM #2
Hi, on the learning side of things your development speed is heavily dependent on how much coaching you get, either through people you sail with or organised courses. The problem with learning this sport is that its quite a slow process teaching yourself. I dont think your age is that much of an issue. However most people I know that plateau in their learning and skills are those that sail in the same place and dont actively seek out conditions and someone to teach them the new move. I started when I was 40 and it was 2nd year before I was planing and harness, yr3 waterstarts, y4 starting to learn carve gybes which I started to get at the end of y4. Everyone is different though......
27th August 2014, 07:44 AM #3
Hi, welcome to the forum. I'm not from the south west but have sailed down there a few times. I would think there are lot's of places to sail from, and you'll probably have lots of options to you, once you get comfortable sailing on the sea.
However, to begin with flat water is what you want (unless you're a very fast learner). Again I've never sailed there but Exmouth I would imagine MAY be a good place to learn (providing the water's quite flat, and the tides aren't too much of a problem?) - http://www.liquidmotiontraining.co.uk/ and it's not too far from you - hopefully some locals can give you some nearby locations that would suit learning the basics. The alternative to coastal venues are inland lakes/reservoirs - these can be quite good, as the water is generally flat and there are no currents/tides to worry about. However the wind won't be as good as at the coast - it'll be generally more gusty and shifty.
The other thing I'd recommend is to go on a week long holiday somewhere like Dahab, Egypt (flat water and pretty windy) if you can and spend a whole week sailing with good kit and instruction, as you'll learn a lot in that time - October to November is a good time to go there.
Can you sail along and turn around and also stay upwind? If you can already do that you may want to buy your own gear - you'd probably want to get a beginner/improver board (from the last 8 years or so) and one or two sails - the ones most recommended for blokes are a 5.5m and a 6.5m (rotational - no camber inducers), that'll rig on a 430cm mast, with a boom around the 180-230cm mark. I'd recommend getting second hand stuff from a shop, as you'll be bound to scuff it and perhaps dent it while learning to use the harness etc.
As for how long it will take - it will probably be a few years realistically until you're blasting along in the harness and footstraps and beginning to carve gybe, however most will say it's worth the time and effort, and is a lot of fun along the way.'15: 17
6.5m Tushingham / Neil Pryde
27th August 2014, 07:58 AM #4'15: 17
6.5m Tushingham / Neil Pryde
27th August 2014, 08:42 AM #5
For a learning environment cheddar lake would be perfect. Lots of people windsurf there.
once you get proficient Minehead and Exmouth both have good windsurfing conditions - though I am not sure how many people windsurf at either location. Try Facebook groups.http://forwards4cowards.blogspot.com/ a blog about looping
UPDATED Feb 2016
27th August 2014, 09:04 AM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2014
Hi thanks all for the quick information. Those links in particular are really useful as some of those locations are only 30 mins from my house - great! In answer to your question, i do have a little experience, i've windsurfed probably 15 times in 15 years and can just about sail, turn and stay upwind (although i am sure my technique is terrible!) However, as its mainly self taught i am keen to start with proper lessons and was looking to do the RYA 1 and 2 courses. My eight year old lad will also be learning with me after loving a taster session a few weeks ago. I am assuming the RYA courses are a good way to learn the basics followed by lots of practice?
Regarding buying my own gear i was planning on hiring until i've properly mastered the basics and then look to buy. What i want to avoid is buying kit and then find it too basic (hopefully) after a few months... Is there any approximate good point to buy (when you start using harness or footstraps or...)?
Tony E - Thanks for the info on your progression. Approx how many hours a month were you doing to achieve that, and is it realistic as a beginner to consider sailing all year round or is it more an April - October thing? I don't mind the cold but i don't want to put the lad off!
One final question, i note lots of people talking about tides and only being able to windsurf some areas around high tide time. Is that mainly because of the distance the tide goes out (and hence the walk back with kit, beach conditions) or am i missing something. Apologies in advance for my nautical ignorance!!
Thanks again for all advice, really helpful.
27th August 2014, 10:04 AM #7
Yeah I agree with your plan. Do some courses until you and your lad have got the basics sorted. The RYA courses are good, and do it all in a logical way. Having a good instructor in a small group will help. Doing the same course as your son will also help, as you can see what he is doing right/wrong which may also help you realise what you're doing right/wrong. And you can encourage and laugh at each other when you fall in.
I would say it's a good idea to get your own gear when you can sail along, turn around, and keep upwind, and be able to get back to where you started without someone having to come and rescue you. You can then go and sail in your spare time and work on what you've learnt on the course knowing that you can get back to the beach no trouble. That's why more enclosed venues - like harbours, estuaries, lakes are good for beginners as it takes the fear factor away, and they tend to be flatter with no waves/less chop. If you do go on the sea, make sure it's an onshore wind to begin with.
Start trying to use the harness as soon as you can, once confident sailing along. And if you can get someone to film you sailing along or doing manoeuvres that really helps as well, as you can identify your dodgy technique on video much better, and much faster.
There are loads of beaches near you that are good sailing spots. Burnham, Weston etc are good but only for an hour or two either side of high tide, as at low tide it's a long way to the water, and the mud is very dangerous to get bogged down in. Quite a few people have drowned doing that along that stretch of coast I believe.
Post on here any questions about technique/equipment etc. We've all been there / still are there, and this forum can help a lot.
You can sail all year around, but it may be too cold for your son in the depths of winter. You will need a more expensive wetsuit, and also boots, hood, mitts etc, but loads sail from Nov through to March. 8° and above is comfortable, below that you only go out for short periods. The sea will be warmer than lakes at that time of year.'15: 17
6.5m Tushingham / Neil Pryde