Q. Do you need to be strong to windsurf?
A. Strength is a relative attribute, although one should be reasonably fit. The lighter your equipment or the more skilled you are, the less you need brute strength to uphaul and control the sail. As it could take a while to develop advanced skills and to invest in modern, lightweight equipment, it’s a good idea to do some form of resistance training and/or yoga. Don’t forget to include some exercises for your back and abs! But, the best exercise for windsurfing is to actually get out there as often as possible and do it!!
Q. Is windsurfing equipment expensive?
A. Well, compared to what? For a new board, expect to pay between $800 and $1400. For a new sail, expect to pay between $299 and $600. A new mast will set you back between $200 and $550. A new boom will cost between $150 to $500. A mast extension will cost $40 to $55. And then there are a ton of accessories to purchase. So, yes, most people would consider windsurfing equipment expensive. Used or demo equipment is a good alternative, as long as it is modern, of good quality, and light weight. Reputable shops and local windsurf groups are a good source of used equipment. Take an experienced friend along or deal only with a reputable shop.
Q. What kind of initial equipment should I get if I’m not sure I’m going to like it?
A. You should rent, not buy! Make sure you try a variety of types and sizes of boards as well as different sizes of sails. Even though it may seem more expensive than buying cheap used equipment, you’ll be more likely to end up with something you really like and that is suitable for your skill level. Sailworld in Buzzard’s Bay rent windsurfing equipment.
Q. What kind of equipment should I get if I’m pretty sure I’m hooked?
- A. Once you have an idea of what kind of board and sail sizes work for you, you’ll need at the very least:
- A board – make sure it’s the right size for your level of ability
- At least 2 sails if possible. See why under What size sail…
- A mast extension
- A mast base
- A mast – keep a lookout for skinny mast or a lightweight carbon one and make sure it fits your sail sizes. You may need 2
- A boom. Look for reduced diameter grips and carbon; which is easier for most women to handle
- A rig winch (unless you are super strong or want an excuse to meet new men every time you rig) – make sure it’s compatible with your base
- A tug cleat will come in handy too
- At least one wetsuit to start. Good fit is a must, so be sure to try it on before you buy! When you are uphauling it is nice to have a long wetsuit to protect your legs as you climb on the board frequently
- Make sure all of your equipment is compatible!
Q. What else might I need?
- Foot protection. Booties that are specially designed for windsurfing or surfing are best so they will fit in the footstraps (yes, you’ll get in them one day!!)
- Extra rigging line – incase you break some while downhauling your sail!
- Windsurfing Gloves – they really help while you are still uphauling
- A harness and harness lines. But wait until you are ready for it so you will have a better idea what kind of harness to buy
- Foot straps for the board (these will often come with your board). You’ll need them once you start using a harness
- A buddy to go windsurfing with! Sailing alone is not safe nor as much fun
- A helmet for heavier wind/wave sailing
- A pfd (personal flotation device) is not a bad idea, either
Q. How do I know if it’s a good day to sail? And if so, where should I go?
A. Subscribe to iWindsurf.com. You can also check out: http://swiss.csail.mit.edu/users/rweiss/MA_windsurfing_info.html
Q. What should I be aware of in those places, e.g. what conditions are good/bad/safe/unsafe there?
A. Always sail in on-shore or side-shore winds. That is, the wind should be blowing towards, or along the beach. Always find out from the locals what to be aware of at the particular beach you are sailing. For instance, are there any obstacles (e.g. rocks) to be aware of on the water? Currents? Tide schedule? Etc.
Q. How do I learn to rig a sail reasonably well ?
A. Attend one of the Wahine’s or AMC’s windsurfing or rigging clinics or ask a more experienced windsurfer to teach and help you. If you buy your equipment from a shop, they may offer some guidance. The first few times you will need help and supervision. Once you gain some confidence and experience with your own equipment, it gets easier. Practice makes perfect and you should learn to rig and tune your own equipment, not let your significant other do it for you. If you don’t know how to tune your equipment by yourself, it will feel awkward on the water.
Q. What size sail should I be using in what conditions?
A. First of all, look at what other people are using that day and ask around. Most windsurfers will happily discuss sail sizes and wind conditions with you. A small sail is good for heavier wind days and a larger one for lighter wind days – somewhere in the region of a 4.2 and 5.7 are useful sizes to start with. A 4.8 is a good size for those ‘in between’ days. Experience will tell you how much sail you can handle in various wind conditions. When learning to waterstart though, be sure the sail is going to be large enough to pull you out of the water easily.
Q. What techniques should I be learning, and in roughly what order?
- How to carry the sail when rigged
- Uphauling and balancing on the board
- Steering the board
- Good position on the board, keeping it flat
- Tacking & Jibing the long board
- Beach starting
- Upwind sailing
- Getting in and out of the harness
- Using the footstraps
- Getting on a plane
- Water starting
- Going as fast as possible, i.e. scary fast…
- Jibing a shortboard
Q. Is windsurfing dangerous?
A. Compared to what? There is always some risk involved in any high performance sport but you can use the following suggestions to make it safer. And remember, at least you’re falling into water.
- Always sail with at least one buddy. It’s safer and much more fun. Even better, sail with a group like the Cape Cod Wahines or the AMC
- Make sure you are well rested and feeling good
- Drink some water before heading out
- Keep your equipment well maintained. Especially check your downhaul line
- Carry extra downhaul line!
- Make sure your wetsuit will keep you warm
- Make a mental note of some landmarks before heading out. Take notice if you are drifting too far downwind
- Exercise regularly and stretch before getting on the board. You would be amazed at some of the strange positions you may find yourself in. Extra flexibility can come in handy!
- Wear a helmet and a pfd – especially on heavier wind days
- Check the wind and weather conditions beforehand and don’t sail in offshore winds
- Familiarize yourself with the local area. If it’s your first time on a beach, ask someone about hidden rocks, pipes, shipping lanes, etc. Nearly every beach has something to watch out for. Again, most windsurfers are more than happy to share their knowledge – especially with a woman! Don’t be shy about asking
- Don’t be the last one to leave the water or the parking lot