I like the idea of learning to windsurf to get me in the water on those blown out summer afternoons. The only trouble is I don't really know anyone ( or even ever see anyone) doing it.
Anyone got any encouragement or discouragement for me ?
And why is it so unpopular for something that looks fun and relatively simple compared to kite surfing and sailing which plenty of people seem to do?
Coming from an ex - windsurfer its an amazing sport and you should do it! I used to be into it massively (used to compete etc..) It was all I wanted to do everyday and I always said that i would love to get into it again.
There was a few issues with the sport and what happened in the 90s
The sport focused on the high end and forgot about the common weekend warrior, most of my mates who were into it had at least 2 boards - a slalom board (for lighter winds) a wave board (for heavier winds or sailing in the surf). This meant you had to have 2 quivers of sails.
Ones set up sailing in flat water which was about getting on the plane quicker so they were lightweight construction big mast pockets with camber inducers long length carbon booms
The issue was that you couldn't use any of that set up if you decided to sail in the surf so then you would set up again a whole new range of sails that had a new mast, boom, sails with short length so you could ride waves. Each of these set ups would cost you about 5k (board, mast, boom, 2-3 sails (so you could sail most conditions) so most of your mates then made a decision that it was too expensive to have both so you then decided which one you wanted to do? are you going sail in the surf or sail in flat water? This was the first issue, then the 90's hit and the "production boards" revolution hit! (similar to what i see happening in surf at the moment) Before this you would go to your local board builder for customs - boards suited to your area, waves at an ok price (yes there was production boards around but they were aimed at entry level). The big brands realised that they could make boards overseas at a cheaper cost so all of a sudden the "high end" production boards came in with all the stars riding them at a cheaper price than your local builder could make them, everyone jumped on them and the local builders went out of business..
Then they jacked the prices up and some of first high end production boards would fall apart within weeks, but being there was no local builders anymore you had to just keep on replacing.. for me this when I had to get out - I couldn't continue to afford to replace (boards $$ increased within a few years by over 1k extra than what you were paying before) and then we had a summer that there was almost no wind I think by memory we had 10 days that were above 15 knot so surfing became more of a passion.
The other thing is time.. you need time to all line up with wind and your time, you need time to set up, sail and then pack up... so a sailing session is probably min 3 hours compared to jumping in to surf for a "quick one" which you do in an hour. As my kids are getting older and I'm getting more time back.. im thinking about getting back into it again..
These days windsurfing is still huge in Europe and they have brought in the freestyle type of boards and sails which are now easier to cross over between flat and waves (plus the freestyle tricks they are doing is amazing!)
One good thing about it not being that popular on the East Coast (west coast is still going strong) is that you can pick up some really good 2nd hand gear for almost nothing! So mate if you have the time and can pick up a 2nd hand bargain go for it!!
I remember seeing them down my way in the late 80s right point looked like the ultimate set up for it.
Just doesn't interest me though, i hate windy days and the cold, id rather be at home on those days give me light wind glassy days plus not easy to get barrelled with a big sail, and all that setting up and packing up, its bad enough getting motivated to wash my wetty and actually close the zipper of my board bag.
You guys can have it, only aspect that seems cool is no paddling and no crowds.
Kite boarding has probably killed it a bit too.
Thanks for the detailed info Sanded. Much appreciated. I have gone as far as trawling Gumtree for second -hand rigs. Next step is to start browsing some windsurfing sites for beginner advice.
I don't do either of those things Indo ( wash wettie or zip up bag). Maybe that should sound some warning bells for me.
Furlong. I windsurfed for years in Perth. I don't know what the recommended beginner setup are these days but I started with a big long board with a centre keel. The centre keel will allow you to head upwind easier as a beginner. the size will allow you to haul the sail out of the water while standing on the board which is critical because you won't have the skill to water start. You won't be on this type of rig long. I probably had only 30 sessions and yes you can get a big board up on the plane.
Start by learning how to balance and using your sail. A small sail will be needed otherwise you'll struggle. Tacking will come first.
Then jibing later. Learn all this on your big board first, get it down pat. You will know when you need to introduce a harness because your forearms will tell you. You'll need low wind and flat water to start with.
Good luck. You will love it.
Hey Furlong, wind surfing is good fun and great for keeping that upper body strength going. I was lucky to have wind surfing for school sport years ago and we had a bit of a crew who was into it. We really only had the basic boards with the preferred choice being the original "Windsurfer" brand.
Our main source of fun was trying to out do each other by doing tricks, and we wind surfed all over the place. Bruce Wylie would often practice his world championship moves, and ended up going to the Olympics to demonstrate freestyle windsurfing. HE was like the John John of wind surfing back then and could do forward and backward somersaults through the boom, railride forwards up into the wind then jump to other side and go back the other way, flare jibes, and all sorts of very cool moves....needless to say the mast foot was fibre glassed in place, because it would tend to pop out on the rail rides.
It really doesn't take long to master the basics, but there's no use learning in strong winds. You will probably find that (once you can get the sail out of the water) you can stand up easily, and if you move the sail forward you turn with the wind and alternatively if you move it backwards you would turn up into the direction of the wind. Easy eh?
I wouldn't bother spending big bucks, or even buying a board new. Like happy says, get something that's big and when you learn that, a shift to a shorter board will allow you to move to the next level.
Having said that I never really got to the short board as surfing and chicks became my chosen recreational activity, but I have very fond memories of those windsurfer days.
If your on the east coast, make sure the summer arvo onshore winds in your area are going to be strong enough for you to windsurf most days, otherwise kite surfing will be a better option. Wind surfing isn’t much fun under say 20 knots whereas kite surfing can be fun (which is why more people do it). Both are good alternatives to surfing when wind is onshore, both fun surfing waves, although it’s different.
Can highly recommend kitesurfing strapless with a surfboard. Very similar feeling to surfing, and certainly easier to lay down big rail turns and hacks. Makes the late summer arvo seabreezes a treat!
I can't actually understand how the sports (kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing) seem so disconnected. They're all extensions of each other.
kitesurfing looks like such a steep learning curve, stok. i reckon that’s what prevents most surfers getting into it
Thanks again everyone for the advice. Yeah kite-surfing seems like a steep learning curve to progress. I have a mate who surfs and is an experienced sailor but his kite surfing progress has been so slow he has kind of given up on it. I'm thinking wind-surfing might let me have fun without having to devote too much time to it.
Most advice seems to be start with a big board and small sail. But how big a board ? ( feet or litres) and how small a sail? ( metres?)
Hey furlong. I'd ring a store and ask their advice about sizes. It's weight dependant of course but I'd hazard a guess my very first board would have been +2L/kg and 9 foot perhaps? It was a very long time ago. It needs to be stable when standing on it so you can haul that sail up easily and also tack, jibe at very low speed.
I reckon I first started with a 4m2 and I was 80kg. Its weight dependant too of course. In reality you need a variety of sails to suit different conditions so you may as well start with a smaller sail to make initial learning easier.
Try and find a cheap learner setup that someone's getting rid of perhaps. It's what I did rather than trying to piece it together myself. If it worked for them then providing your not 150kgs then it'll work for you.
Don't forget that removable centre keel if you can find the right board with it. I know it sounds lame but it's very good for a beginner to control your upwind travel. You can learn without it though.
I think kitesurfing is a natural next step progression. You might end up there if you stick with it.
Windsurfing is sick. You can surf the waves like your on a surfboard, problem is it’s hard to learn. You’ll need to give it lots of attempts before you get over the “this is shit” to wow this is awesome.
Then it’ll take you a few years before you can really start surfing the waves but the speed and power is awesome.
Also you’ll be sailing perfect waves with no one else so crowds become non existent when you get good enough