1. IT TAKES YEARS. Don’t feel inadequate even if you don’t learn windsurfing the first season. Windsurfing surely must be one of the most complex sports to learn. You have to deal with a bunch of parameters that change intrinsically according to wind, speed and technique. In other words – the rules change completely with a small gust of wind. I am afraid theres only one way to solve this – Time On Water! Day by day, you’ll gradually work the reflexes into your body, enabling you to control greater challenges. This will feel frustrating, but please keep in mind, this is the very reason windsurfers never quit on their sport – theres always something new to learn, no matter how accomplished you are! 2. YOU WILL NOT DIE. That feeling…..the water is too deep, the wind is too strong, the waves are too big – and theres a SHIP passing right behind you! I struggled with a very realistic fear of all of the above the first years. I still face it when I challenge myself beyond my capacity. (which is pretty much every session! :D) .
Sometime I envy the guys – they are evidently waaay to stupid to understand the peril they are in when they are windsurfing. So no matter how close they are to dying, they just smile, and shrug their shoulders like nothing happened. I try to learn to be calmer when I get scared, but its not easy!
3. THEY ARENT LOOKING. One of my biggest challenges in my first years was the fear of someone looking at me, thinking I sucked. Due to my strong focus on this, (instead of my sailing), my technique suffered whenever other people were around. I have learned over the past 4 years, that other windsurfers are so focused on their own performance, that they couldn’t care less about yours. They really aren’t looking! Do exactly the same – stay focused on your own technique, and I promise you your performance will improve immediately! The picture below is from my first slalom race only some weeks ago. The first day my adrenaline levels were high, and I messed up thoroughly. During the second day, I relaxed more and more, and my performance gradually improved. All due to the fact that I changed my focus from them to me. As it should be! 4. ITS NOT YOU – ITS THEM! Boyfriends, instructors, whoever – its their fault. Its totally ok to feel a little angry with them for giving incomprehensible advice. They don’t feel fear, and they can’t make themselves understood. Seriously, I think hiring an external instructor every now and then is a good idea – probably he will tell you exactly the same as your boyfriend has been telling you for years, but its like you understand it now. In the picture below I might have been slightly resentful towards the photographer. I can’t recall what happened, but I sure he deserved every decibel of my wrath! 😀
5. WHATS WITH THE CAMPING? For some reason windsurfers love to sleep in their cars – no matter how many hotels there are nearby. This seems to be a matter of principle, like some kind of tradition. Whatever it is, I don’t like it. Girls need hot water, and big bathrooms, is that so hard to understand? To a certain extent I have adapted to this way of life, I have learned that you can survive a weekend of camping with limited trauma if you prepare well. 6. BUILD YOUR BODY. Windsurfing is a technical sport, but you will be better off whilst learning if you work your upper body to get a little more oomph. The feeling of being slapped around the first years, was clearly a matter of limited strength in my upper body. I started working out after the first season, and every year the rules have changed drastically due to my ability to control the gear when the going gets tough. The best part is that I don’t get scared in the same way as I did before. To the left in the picture below, is me after my first season. To the right is me today. I weigh 5 kg more today than back then. Your need for strength will correspond with the weight and size of the gear your handling.
7. DONT QUIT! You will get your reward! This is the very first time I planed whilst windsurfing. I will never forget that feeling. Once you get there, you will be lost to this sport for the rest of your life. Keep in mind that the very reason that so many devote their lives to windsurfing is that it is so challenging to master. You will feel like you have accomplished greatness when you have learnt it at a satisfactory level. You will be really proud of yourself! So keep charging, keep swearing and stay focused on what you are doing yourself!