Have a go at windsurfing!

RYA Paul Wyeth learn to windsurf
RYA Amanda in actionRYA Amanda Van Santan
RYA, 29 June 2011
Have you always wanted to give windsurfing a go……..we speak to the Royal Yachting Associations Chief Instructor for Dinghy and Windsurfing, Amanda Van Santen, about how easy it is to get started and learn the basics.

‘The great thing about windsurfing is that whatever you enjoy; blasting around, taking a journey up an estuary or pushing yourself to try different aspects of this ever evolving sport, whether it’s cruising on flat water that takes your fancy or learning to get air of the world’s biggest waves, there is always something to challenge you’

How can I get started and how long does it take to learn?
Learning to windsurf couldn’t be easier, with a network of RYA Training Centres      across the UK and overseas, there are hundreds of lakes and coastal waters to choose from to get started. I learnt to windsurfing at a centre in Cornwall, I remember my first couple of lessons really vividly, it wasn’t love at first sight, but it wasn’t far off it!!
The RYA Courses go up in levels, roughly taking about 2 days each. In between courses it’s a good idea to go and practise before going onto the next one. Start Windsurfing is the first course, teaching you to get up on the board, sail up and down wind as well as how to turn around (that’s a fairly fundamental bit!). A two day beginner’s course is about £150, but it does differ slightly around the country.

What equipment you need?
The great thing about learning with an RYA Training centre is the instructor and facilities available. All RYA Instructors have been specifically trained to ensure they are taking you through the skills required in a step by step, progressive manner, with the latest equipment.
When you are first learning all you will need is swimming stuff and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, the centre will provide you with everything else; a wetsuit, buoyancy aid and all equipment to get you on the water.
Once you have taken a few lessons you can then decide if you’d like to buy your own equipment, or some centres do hire packages. Either way, the instructors will be more than happy to give you advice on what to buy and where.

What are the health benefits, do I need to be really fit?
I get asked this question all the time………. Windsurfing is accessible to everyone, you don’t need to be really fit or an amazing swimmer, but you do need to be water confident, when first learning it can be tiring, but you soon pick the technique and you’ll be whizzing around in no time!!
Windsurfing is definitely a total body work out, goodbye bingo wings, hello gorgeous toned body!!

How did I get started?
I first stepped on a board about 14 years ago, I had sailed before and always loved being on the water, but fancied a challenge with a difference! I found it quite hard to start with, but once I learnt the basics I was up and sailing around in no time. I would definitely recommend taking lessons, so many of my friends try and teach each other and it just takes so much longer to learn, generally due to the equipment they are using and their questionable coaching tips!!

My favourite locations
Isle of Wight, UK: It’s my home, so the spot I get to sail most regularly with my friends, which always makes for a fun, social-able sail. I’m afraid I can’t give you one specific place I sail at as it really depends on the wind direction and the type of sailing you fancy!! My three tops sailing venues on the island are: Gurnard – it’s 5 minutes from my house, always a winner, great wind against tide conditions. I reckon on a good day it would give the Gorge a run for its money; Brook – classic bump and jump and then Niton; a great wave spot hidden away on the back of the island.

Maui, Hawaii: I think Maui has to be one of my favourite windsurfing spots, plus you get to ditch the wetsuit and sail in shorts and a bikini. I’m writing this sat in San Francisco Airport at 4am just returning from another great trip! Maui gives some great conditions for all sailors at a number of locations providing flat water to bump and jump and full on wave riding. Sprecks is one of my favourites, a fantastic place to get some great air!!

Tenerife, Canary Islands: I’ve only managed to get out to Tenerife once, but two spots next to each other, El Medano and Cabazeo provide a great mixture of sailing. The harbour, just up wind from El Medano beach can also provide a great little wave spot. OTC is right on the beach, making kit hire really simple!

Further information
More information about courses and to find the nearest centre to you visit the RYA Website, www.rya.org.uk,
I look forward to seeing you on the water!!

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