An inevitable part of learning to windsurf is learning to get comfortable with falling off your board and getting back on it.
When you start windsurfing, you will quickly realize that it can be physically demanding despite how fit you feel. Until your body gets accustomed to pulling your body from the water onto the board or lifting the sail, you may feel exhausted at first.
As a general rule, beginners will simply need to practice pulling themselves onto their board from either the side or back of the board. For more experienced windsurfers, a waterstart is the move needed to get back on your board with minimum effort.
In this article, I will explain how to get back on a windsurfing board in deep water. I will also share my tips and tricks for making this process easier and more efficient from what I have learned through my own windsurfing experiences.
How Do I Get Back On My Windsurfing Board In Deep Water?
When I first started windsurfing, one of the most difficult things I found was the strength needed to return to my windsurfing board after falling off in deep water.
As a beginner windsurfer, there is so much to learn. Even if you are physically strong and fit, learning the new skill of hauling the sail into position, remembering how to position the sail and then holding on is physically and mentally exhausting.
What I found most exhausting about my first windsurfing lesson was the strength and energy I needed to pull myself back onto the board. After my fifth fall, I recall lying on my back in the water, relaxing, trying to find the strength to get back on. It was not only tiring but also a little bit demoralizing.
Here are my tips for getting back on your windsurfing board in deep water before even getting back on it.
How To Get Back On Your Windsurfing Board
- The first thing to do when falling off your windsurfing board is to stay calm and assess your situation. Ensure you are not in any immediate danger and know where your board is in relation to yourself.
- Next, directly face your board with your feet under you. If you are far from your board, swim towards it, facing the board and propelling yourself with your feet and legs.
- Once you’re within reach, grasp the uphaul line or the mast and use it to pull yourself closer to the board.
- Position yourself at the centre of the board to maintain balance. The centre of the board usually has the most buoyancy.
- Using the uphaul line, pull yourself up onto the board. Do this by putting your weight on your hands, kicking your feet and moving your body onto the board.
- Once you’ve reached the board, lie flat on your stomach and gradually move to a kneeling position.
- Once positioned comfortably, you can pull up your sail using the uphaul line to continue windsurfing.
The uphaul line in windsurfing is a rope connected to the mast’s base and the head of the sail. This vital equipment is primarily used to lift the sail out of the water after a fall. It’s essential for beginners who are still learning to maintain balance on their boards. The uphaul line lets you lift the sail gradually and with control, reducing the chances of tipping over.
As you progress in your windsurfing journey, you might rely less on the uphaul line, especially when performing water starts. However, it will remain an essential piece of your windsurfing kit for safety and control.
Remember, the key to getting back on your board in deep water is to stay calm, think clearly, and use your energy efficiently. Do not panic if you fall off; take a moment to gather yourself and follow the steps listed above.
Top Tip: Practice With A Paddle Board
One effective way to become comfortable with getting back onto your windsurfing board in deep water is to practice similar movements on a paddle board. The skill set required in stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is closely aligned with that of windsurfing. In both sports, maintaining balance and core strength is essential.
Practising getting back onto a paddle board in deep water helps you familiarize yourself with the mechanics of moving your body onto the board from the water. In addition, it allows you to build confidence, strength, and balance, which will be beneficial when you need to do the same on your windsurfing board.
So, if getting on your windsurfing rig is not always possible, consider spending some time on a paddle board as part of your training regime to strengthen your deep-water windsurfing skills.
Why Is It So Hard To Get Back On A WindSurfing Board In Deep Water?
Losing your windsurfing board in deep water can be a daunting experience, especially for beginners. The board might drift away due to strong winds or currents, making it challenging to retrieve. However, it’s important to remember to stay calm and not panic.
Getting back on a windsurfing board in deep water is challenging for several reasons. Firstly, the depth of the water means you can’t leverage the ground to push yourself up; all the strength must come from your arms and core.
Secondly, the waves and wind can make the board unstable, requiring both balance and strength to pull yourself up without tipping over. Additionally, the sail, if not controlled properly, can act as a sail against the wind, making it even more difficult to climb back on board.
Finally, the exhaustion factor plays a significant role – windsurfing is a physically demanding sport, and each fall drains your energy reserves, making it progressively more challenging to pull yourself back onto the board. Even the most experienced windsurfers can find this process tiring after several falls.
What Happens If I Lose My Windsurfing Board In Deep Water?
When learning to windsurf, it is inevitable that you will fall off. Not only that, your falls will not be graceful, and you may find that as you fall off, you push your board away.
In my early windsurfing days, I had an experience where I fell off my board. However, the sail did not land in the water but landed on the board itself.
Typically, when the sail lands in the water, it acts like a mini anchor, with the weight of the water holding the sail down, reducing the speed at which the board moves so you can swim to it.
When the sail landed on the board, the board was no longer anchored and quickly moved away from me as the wind was still able to use the power of the sail, even as it lay flat on the board.
I found this experience very stressful as I was not able to swim fast enough to catch the board, leaving me floating without a board in the water.
Thankfully, I had the common sense to windsurf as part of an organized group with a support boat, so I simply signalled for help, and they came and retrieved my board. It highlighted a valuable lesson to me as I realised that it is totally possible to lose your board in the water.
This highlights the need to only windsurf in a group and with a support crew when learning to windsurf. In addition, the need to wear a suitable life vest is crucial in learning to windsurf, especially in the event that you find yourself boardless.
What Is Water Starting In Windsurfing?
Water starting in windsurfing is a technique used to get back on the board without the need for an uphaul line. When executed perfectly, this process is less exhausting and quicker than using the uphaul to lift the sail out of the water.
The water start technique involves positioning the sail so that the wind can lift both you and the sail onto the board. To execute a water start, you need to have control of the sail with one hand while your feet are ready to slide onto the board.
The key is to let the wind do most of the work. It’s a vital skill for windsurfers who venture into deeper waters, and it’s often considered a milestone in a windsurfer’s progression.
How Do You Water Start In Windsurfing?
To perform a water start in windsurfing, follow these steps:
- Position the Board and Sail: After falling into the water, the first step is to position the board and sail correctly. The board should be perpendicular to the wind, while the sail should be on the downwind side of the board, forming a T-shape.
- Position Yourself: You need to be on the upwind side of the board, floating in the water.
- Grab the Boom: Reach out for the boom of your sail, which should be floating in the water.
- Pull the Sail: Gently pull the sail up from the water until it catches the wind. Be careful not to drain your energy by pulling too hard. The wind should do most of the work.
- Get Your Feet on the Board: As the sail starts to lift, position your feet onto the board. Your back foot should be close to the mast foot, while your front foot should be towards the nose of the board.
- Stand Up: As the sail catches the wind, it will start to pull you out of the water. Use this force to help you stand up on the board.
Here is a fantastic video which shows this process in detail:
Remember, the key to a successful water start is timing and balance. It might take several attempts to get it right, but it’s a crucial skill for deep-water windsurfing. Practice is vital, and over time, you’ll find this process becoming more natural and efficient.
Can You Water Start In Deep Water?
You can water start in deep water. In fact, mastering water starts in deep water is essential for windsurfers who plan to venture far from the shore.
In deep water, there’s no bottom to push off from, so your only option is to use a water start technique unless you want to burn valuable energy hauling yourself onto your board. The water start method is all about manipulating the wind and sail to lift you and the board out of the water.
While it may seem difficult at first, with plenty of practice, water starts to become an intuitive part of a windsurfer’s skills.
Remember to keep practising and maintain awareness of wind direction and sail position, and you’ll soon be performing water starts with confidence and ease in deep water.
What Is A Beach Start In Windsurfing?
A beach start in windsurfing is a technique used to get onto your board and start sailing from a standing position in shallow water. This skill not only looks impressive but also saves energy and enables quick launching into the water. To execute a beach start, follow these steps:
- Position the Board and Sail: Stand in shallow water with the board between you and the wind. Position the sail in the water so that the mast is perpendicular to the board.
- Foot Placement: Place your back foot on the board near the mast base while the front foot remains in the water.
- Lift the Sail: Using the uphaul, lift the sail out of the water. Ensure that the sail is filled with wind but not generating forward power yet.
- Transfer Weight: Start to transfer your weight from your front foot in the water to the back foot on the board.
- Pull the Sail: Pull in the backhand to generate power from the sail, causing the board to start moving forward.
- Get Onboard: As the board gains momentum, bring your front foot on board swiftly.
Remember, timing and balance are key to a successful beach start. It may take several attempts to perfect, but once mastered, a beach start is a quick and stylish way to get sailing.
Tips for Staying Safe When Windsurfing In Deep Water
When it comes to windsurfing in deep water, safety should be your utmost priority. The following lists essential tips that will ensure you stay safe while enjoying the thrill of windsurfing in deeper waters. These pointers are not just for novice windsurfers but also serve as crucial reminders for seasoned enthusiasts.
- Use a buoyancy aid or lifejacket: Regardless of your swimming ability, it’s always wise to use a buoyancy aid or lifejacket when windsurfing, especially when in deep water. It can help you stay afloat if you fall off your board and save energy, allowing you to focus on getting back on the board.
- Practice water starting: As discussed earlier, the ability to water start is crucial when windsurfing in deep water. Practice this technique in different conditions to build confidence and efficiency.
- Never windsurf alone: Always have a buddy or be part of an organized group when windsurfing in deep water. This ensures there is someone to help you if you get into difficulties.
- Check weather conditions: Always check weather forecasts before heading out. Sudden changes in wind direction or strength can make it difficult to return to shore.
- Use suitable equipment: The right equipment, including a board and sail suitable for your weight and skill level, can make a significant difference in your ability to control your gear, especially in deep water.
- Stay in control: It’s important to remain in control. If you feel you’re being overpowered, it’s better to return to the shore and adjust your equipment or wait for conditions to change.
- Wear a wetsuit: Hypothermia can be a serious risk if you’re in the water for a long period. Wearing a wetsuit can help maintain body temperature.
- Know the area: Familiarize yourself with the windsurfing area – its currents, tides, and potential hazards. This knowledge can be invaluable if you fall off your board or lose it in deep water.
Remember, safety should never be compromised. Always be prepared and cautious when windsurfing in deep water.
Embarking on the journey of windsurfing can be both thrilling and challenging. Mastering techniques such as the water start and beach start not only enhances your skill set but also prepares you to handle unpredictable scenarios.
However, irrespective of your expertise level, never overlook the element of safety. Equip yourself with the right gear, stay updated about weather conditions, and always ensure you have company. Being able to get to your board and get back on it is crucial to your safety in the water.
Remember, the allure of windsurfing lies not only in riding the waves but also in doing so responsibly and safely. Keep practising and stay aware, and you’ll not only become adept at handling your board in deep water but also relish the endless expanse of the sea that welcomes you.