As winter is coming to an end, and some of you might have stopped windsurfing during the coldest months, waiting for the friendlier temperatures, here is something you might like to read!
In the last years, the wetsuits and neoprene components have improved to make our sport possible with more comfort even with temperatures close to zero degrees Celsius. Practically only when the water freezes it could stop some from windsurfing, even if we know of people walking over ice to get into the non-frozen part of the water!
If you have a winter break from windsurfing, the first session of the year can be a disaster. It can even turn out to be dangerous from many aspects.
Often the first time we get to the beach after so long, we don’t remember anymore how to rig our gear. You might even forget your masts in the garage, so imagine if you remember where you were putting your mast foot on the board! Even more difficult if you bought new gear and you end up having to rig it for the first time.
Being on the beach every day, we see accidents, people getting picked up by the rescue on their first time on the water after one year. There different reasons why.
The gear needs to be checked. Often on our first session, we are sailing still in cold temperatures, even if we think that it’s spring. Water and air can be still chilly. Checking the gear, is not only to be sure that nothing is missing once you arrive at the spot, but it’s also to make sure that there is no damage or points of wear.
Rig: Even if your equipment is not new, rig all the sails some days before knowing that you will have your first windsurfing session. Do not wait to be on the spot to do it. Once you rig it, mark all the specs from the extensions, boom length. Check that all the ropes of the boom, extensions, harness lines are in good conditions as well as all the screws around the gear. Check that all sail battens are there and in good shape. The tendon of the base, does not need to look dry and cracked. If something is not looking -perfect, do not wait the second session to change it. Do it immediately! If your sail is new, ask advice to the brand or their pro riders on the perfect trim, take time to trim it nicely, and if you have doubts contact them on Facebook. Send them even the photos to ask advice.
Board: If you have a new board or fin, make sure that the fin enters the board, and that you have the right screw lengths. Remember to close the air plug! Check if the strap screws are still all well tightened. This with the strap screws must be checked often, not only on the first session of the year. Often, they loosen up, and if they are not well tightened, they could be damaging the board. Check that your foot fits in the straps. You might be wearing boots now, but not on your last session.
There are a lot of components in our gear, and it’s too simple to leave home forgetting one part. It happened to everyone at least once. So, prepare all the gear before going to the fist session, make sure that everything is easy and well organised to be plug and play, because once you get to the spot, you are so horny to go windsurfing, that being that nervous, it will take ages before all is ready to jump in if you are not well prepared, and the risk to break something, or just rigging stuff the wrong way, can turn out to be less fun and even dangerous.
On the water:
After many months you might have missed out from windsurfing, the fitness level for our sport goes down to the drain. Does not matter if you try to keep fit with other sports or Gym, each sport has its fitness, and you will feel it. It’s therefore possible, that the trim you like the year before, could not be feeling good on the first session as the muscles and technique might have dropped a bit. It goes the same way even for a pro rider if he stays 3 weeks without windsurfing. So, we need to realize how much power our body is ready to handle from our gear.
Regarding the rig:
- Don’t risk going too big in the sail size. Take it easy the first time. Make sure you know how to read the wind. We tend to see less wind than what we think.
- When you are on the water, make sure that your harness lines have the comfortable length and are in the right position. If you feel the sail pulling too much at the back, either pull more outhaul, or move the harness lines some cm more back, if we feel we have put already enough outhaul. You never know that the harness lines might have slipped around during the winter storage.
- If we have a new boom, or new mast, it is possible that the positioning or the trim setting needs to be re-worked in order to find the comfortable board stance to enjoy it.
Regarding the board:
We don’t have the same power in the legs as the months we sailed more often. We could find that we need to keep the mast track one cm more forward to help us lose less power. When you feel it’s getting again too easy, just move it back to the same position. If you feel your front foot is coming out of the strap, lower the boom, make your life easy.
As said before…training for windsurfing, is windsurfing! Sure, if you did some physical training as some aerobics and gym, will have some advantage, against who has been waiting for 15°C on the sofa. Still be ready to get calluses on your hands, but don’t do too many hours on the water the first time. Better to do a bit less but be on the water every-day, especially if you are on a longer holiday. Get some cream with lots of water to put in the evening on the hands, it will help having the skin not to open up. There are good training to keep more fit for windsurfing, and for this we can look at it another time.
Even if you don’t feel tired, don’t push it to the limit. If you start thinking I’m tired, but I want to do a last 10 minutes, forget it! Go back to the beach, de-rig and go home to eat and relax. If you start having cramps, being cold, you will go home unhappy and destroyed. Go home with a good feeling of wanting to do more. If you stay too much the energy goes down and it’s easy to get hurt. You are on the water, cold water, and alone. Being often still in the cold months, there is a chance that there are no rescue services around, and not many people on the water experienced to bring you back to the beach with their gear. Try not to be on the water one or two ours to dark. Something breaks it’s hard for people to see you. If you can bring a phone with you, during these cold months, it can actually make you feel safer or save you.
Some of these advices might be obvious but try to do them. It can make the first session much more fun and a 2018 windsurfing season of pure fun!