Rx for Boredom: Windsurfing

Article excerpt

You've seen it in television commercials and you may have seen it in the Olympics, but did you know that windsurfing, through a variety of events, offers healthy fun and competition for men and women of all ages? Windsurfers have developed activities for any combination of wind and water, including snow and ice. If your locale has water and wind, then you can add windsurfing to your program. In fact, there is a wheeled device resembling a skate board for use on paved parking areas and the like.

Windsurfing (also called boardsailing and sailboarding) programs can be offered in two categories: instruction or competition, but it is even money that once an instructional program has trained a few sailors, they will want to race. Legend says that the first windsurfer races took place as soon as the inventors had two boards.

While many people have seen videos of windsurfers doing jumps in the surf and literally surfing under sail power, the most common form of windsurfing by far occurs on relatively fiat water like bays and lakes. Riding the surf and jumping are advanced skills that are not necessary to enjoy the sport. Windsurfing can be any of several activities. For the beginner there is basic flat-water sailing in which the sailor learns how to balance on the board, steer, maneuver and sail safely. Once he or she has mastered basic fiat-water sailing, the sailor may wish to learn advanced tacks and jibes or to aspire to the competitive events.

You can teach windsurfing at a site in or near your community or at a remote location. If your community lacks a good sailing site, a windsurfing rental shop and/or qualified instructors, the fastest way to get a program started is to develop a learn-to-windsurf tour package to a location, suitable for beginners, that has a windsurfing school. Such sites can be located in the last few pages of Windsurfing Magazine and other magazines or by calling the U.S. Windsurfing Association. A package tour may seem expensive, but it may be the only way to introduce this activity if the natural resources or instructors are not available. Even if the natural resources are available, tours may be the best way to develop community interest in this activity. Within a few years some of your sailors will be sufficiently skilled to be sent to an instructor's school. Then you will have local instructors.

If there is a good local sailing site, then contracting for instruction for a few years is an option. The instructor or company could be local or some distance away. While a local instructor would be cheaper, it is possible to have an instructor travel to your community to give a one- or two-day clinic. A standard six-hour course is required before students can receive 'a certificate that is required to rent equipment.

If interest is high and an instructor is available, it may be worthwhile to purchase equipment and provide the activity locally. One advantage to this is that the equipment would be available for the beginners' practice sessions. A rental fee, either as part of the instruction package or assessed per hour, could help defray the costs for repair and replacement. Commercial rental fees begin at $15 per hour.

Windsurfing requires some equipment. While equipment for advanced sailors can cost $3,000, beginning equipment is much less expensive. Basic windsurfers for adults are long (11-12.5 feet) and wide (26-27 inches) without foot straps, body harnesses, sail cambers or other advanced accessories. A basic outfit from a mail-order supplier (board and rig [sail, mast, boom]) costs: Child under 10: $300; ten to 15 years $375; small women and men: $400; adult 8600. Sail size should be between 3 m2 and 5.5 m2: smaller people = smaller sails.

Additional necessities include: uphaul (rope to raise the saiD, 815; mast pad (protects the board when the sail is dropped), 815; Personal Flotation Device (PFD) life vest, 815-840. No matter what you read or what you hear, beginning students should always wear a PFD while on or in the water. …