10 tips to boost your windsurfing

Hello everyone! Yes, I know, this sounds like a self-help book. 10 tips to boost your windsurfing, read this and you’ll land a double forward!!!. That’s how internet works, you need to find an attractive title and nothing better came to me. Sorry!!

Today I was just wondering how complicated can be to progress in this sport. This time I won’t talk about initiation, not even about the first phases of intermediate, that’s relatively simple, at list like any sport.

Today I’ll try to explain some keys to perform a perfect gybe and do it in every attempt (which is the most complicated part). To achieve a tack in a short board with style and make everybody on the beach look at you. Or catching the timing of a wave making you feel Jason Polakow for one second. Those achievements aren’t easy and looking at someone doing it deserve, at least, some respect.

Katha jumping in Big Bay

@katha_uhr

10.000 hours sailing

Improving our windsurf level requires a lot of effort and a lot of hours in the water. If you’ve been able to read the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwel, (if not, I recommend it) you’ll be familiarized with the 10.000 hours theory. As a summary, this theory based in some studies performed on musicians at the University of Berlin, says that to become an expert in any task, you’ll need around 10.000 hours of practice.

For the average windsurfer, the problem comes when to be 1 hour in the water means that the intensity of the wind is good, the wind direction is ok, the equipment availability is ok, you’re close to the spot, etc. Then multiply that by 10.000.

If you want to be a better violin player, you grab it and start playing a piece as many times as required to do it well. Windsurfing doesn’t work like that, you’re conditioned by the environment and to improve you need, as a core skill, to understand, accept and use the environment in your benefit. If you don’t, your progress will be slow and frustrating.

Gera-y-Rafa-analizando

The goal

We’ll try to give you 10 tips to escape from this limiting factor of windsurfing. Or at least, make it affect your progress as little as possible. Our main goal will be to make that every hour in the water count to improve. If you only want to hangout and have fun you don’t need to continue reading (but you can!! hehe).

Please don’t think I’m a superb windsurfer, I’m too far from that. The writer is an average windsurfer trying to figure it out a “method” to make the process of learning more efficient. What follows is what I think today about the best way to progress when things start to become more complicated.

If you have any other advice or if you’re not agree with something, please use the comments box so we make the debate useful for everyone. Here we go!!!!

Advices for the practice

1 – Physical conditioning

It may be obvious, but if we want to reach a new level in our windsurfing we have to have a proper physical condition. It’s as simple as it is a sport and in sports you have to be physically prepared.

Let’s put it in this way, if you don’t have a good conditioning, your time in the water will be less and it will be of less quality. If our only physical activity is to windsurf from time to time, it’s quite likely to be injured more often, to need more recovery after a session, to need a rest after trying a move a couple of times, etc.

If you really want to be better in the water, it’s mandatory to prepare yourself out of it. I don’t want to spend a lot of time here as the importance of this point is quite clear. We have a couple of articles about this in our web, here you have the links to check them out.

2 – Pay attention to exhaustion

Windsurfing is a very physical sport and it’s practiced in an environment that makes things more difficult. The process of learning something requires effort and concentration, both are capacities we all have but in a limited amount. No matter how well physically prepared we are, human beings have a very limited capacity to stay focused in something.

TED TalksDo you know why TED talks only last 18 minutes at max?That is related with a concept called “cognitive backlog”, a theory, developed by Dr. Paul King, saying that our brain collects information until a certain point in which it blocks and flush it. When your brain becomes saturated, you stop paying attention to the task.

For that reason trying a new move after being 2 hours in the water is frustrating and a waste of time. Our brain simply doesn’t want to learn.

It’s important to try the new things at the beginning of the session and during a limited amount of time, 30 to 45 minutes. The right thing to do is to wait until the next day. But as the sailing days are limited I recommend to program the learning sessions in blocks.

This means, as an example, that after the mandatory warm up, you try the most challenging task during 25 minutes and then take a break for one or two hours. This break can be active (sailing for fun with no challenges) or passive (taking a sun bath at the beach), depending on our physical condition. After the rest we can go for the second learning block.

3 – Time in the water

We must make our time in the water as productive as possible. If we make the same mistakes every time, it will be very difficult to improve.

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.Albert Einstein

At the beginning of this post we’ve made reference to the 10.000 hours theory, but we must take into account that they must be learning hours. The time we use just to “sail”, even when it helps, won’t make us better without a clear goal and a defined strategy to achieve it.

Watch parts -TheWindsurfingBlogA good formula, is to chop a complex movement into as many easier parts as we need to perform it successfully. Once we’ve learnt one part we go for the other. As many times as necessary until we become capable of doing the full movement.
Every time we go into the water we have to know what we want to do and how are we going to do it.

We must choose the right equipment for it and prepare our body and mind to make it. It’s really important to set the right movement patterns and to make our nervous system to memorice them. For this reason, if we find ourselves repeating a mistake, we must find an alternative to avoid memorizing an incorrect pattern.

4 – Use the skill transference

The concept of “skill transference” is about practicing certain action or movement A, knowing a priori, that it has influence to improve the action or movement B. In plain English, even when the best way to be better at windsurfing is to practice windsurfing in a planned way and with a clear strategy. When this is not possible, we must use other sports or exercises known for having a positive influence (skill transference) in our windsurfing performance.

Researchers Jean Cote and Joseph Baker, among others, have discovered that the top athletes spent more time playing random games in their backyards during their youth than their less successful peers. This is on top of the structured practice of the sport. They used the example of hockey players spending time just skating on ice when they weren’t training.

What’s my point with this? We must take advantage of the time without enough wind, or with no wind or the the time we just can’t sail. If you want to improve your windsurfing you can practice surf, kite, ski, skate, snowboard, etc. Any sport with positive skills transference to windsurf will always make you better windsurfer.

Advices for the technique

5 – Don’t rule out coaching

As we said at the beginning, the goal of this post is helping you to be more efficient. If what we want is to progress as fast as we can, having a coach will save us a lot of time trying things without a proper method and making mistakes over and over again.

Is not very common that intermediate to advanced windsurfers take a course, but there are specific coaching courses for these levels, and very good ones. You’ll find wave clinics, freestyle clinics, slalom technique clinics, etc. Here you have a list with some of the most renowned coaches in the word.

In principle this clinics aren’t cheap because the instructors are very top ranked. But at the end that’s part of the idea. A good instructor will keep from acquiring bad habits or positions. He will present you some exercises to split the maneuver we want to learn into easier parts and will supervise the whole learning process. At the end of the day you’ll progress a lot more in 4 or 5 days with a clinic than in months of trying by yourselves.

Jem Hall Clinic

https://www.jemhall.com/

Additionally, you’ll meet more people with your same level and goals. The time shared during the clinic, where the main topic is what you’ve learnt on that day, the review of the videos and the correction of mistakes from ones to the others. That may continue in the future if you keep contact. That’s a very important added value.

6 – Windsurf trips

It’s a similar concept than the previous one but with friends or colleagues taking the coaching role. The key point here is to prioritize windsurfing and the learning process. Personally I have very good experiences in this kind of journeys where I’ve learnt a lot.

The important thing is to sail during several days in similar conditions and with the same gear. This way the progress is huge because your body starts to acquire the movements and the repetition of the maneuvers in similar conditions. This allows you to forge the necessary muscular memory we need to put in practice the theory we have in our head.

Viaje de windsurf - TheWindsurfingBlog

It’s very important, if possible, to choose the right place for the specific movement you want to improve. The more advanced you’re, the more specific the place must be.

As an example, is not the same Pozo Izquierdo than Fuerteventura if you want to practice jumps or rotations, even when they’re both in the Canary Islands.

The key is in the details, paying attention to them will make a huge difference in your progress and in your understanding of the sport.

Additionally, if you go with friends or with the family this can be the best holidays of your life. If making your windsurfing better is your objective, some days every year must be dedicated to that. Is not that much, isn’t it?.

7 – Learn to rig your gear

If you had the chance to sail with any pro windsurfer, you’ll have seen how important is for them the proper tuning of the equipment. Obviously this is more important when a competition is decided by details.

However, “loosing” 15 minutes before a session tuning your gear at your best understanding, going for 2 or 3 rides and coming back to adjust it until is perfect, will make a big difference in the rest of your time in the water.

A gybe done with a proper rigged sail is a lot, I mean, a loooot easier than doing it with a sail who is not. This means more successful maneuvers and therefore a better muscular memory.

Trimado del equipo de windsurf - TheWindsurfingBlog

Each sail has its own tuning. The position of the mast foot depends on the relation sail-board and on your goal for the session (early planing, control, fast turns, etc.). The harness lines must be adjusted for each sail (we usually forget about this). Also, the fin size affects a lot as well as its position in a multi fin board.

It’s fundamental for us to understand that when our level is higher, all this things take more importance and they may help or block our progress.

8 – Record yourself on video for analyzing

Most of us spend a lot of time reading about how to make each movement and watching tutorials on video, post in blogs (some of them quite absurd like this one ;) hehe). Therefore we perfectly know the theory. We know every single step to nail it. The problem is that knowing what to do and being capable of doing it, are very different stuff. Recording ourselves on video will let us know where are we failing. We can also share it with colleagues with a higher level or even with any coach we may know.

Pepe Duck Gybe - TheWindsurfingBlog

Personally I prefer the shots from the top of the mast because they allow you to see the body position, the movements and the response of the gear to them. However, this shot has the problem that it only work one way, when we come back we can only see the sail. This is the perfect shot to practice planing technique, waterstart, gybes, tacks and surfing.

Another possibility is to put the camera in the board nose. This solves the previous problem but the perspective isn’t good enough to see the foot movement. I think this position is adequate for jumps, loops and maneuvers where the focus is in the hands and body position.

Finally, the best option is to have someone recording us. It could be following us or waiting in the water while we perform the maneuver around him. Of course if you have the chance of a dron recording that will be awesome :-).

This kind of videos will give us a lot of perspective on the whole movement and will show clearly where the fails are.

Advices for the mind

9 – Avoid fixed mindsets

If I have to choose, this is the most important piece of advice of the whole post. One of the most common mistakes we all make is to focus in some specific movement as if we have a preset path.

It’s usual  to think “I want to nail the planing gybe”, “I want to jump higher”, “I want to break my speed record”. But, if we want to learn how to power gybe with a brave sea, we want to control our jumps in a gusty day with no vertical ramps, or we want to go fast with a lot of “choppy”, the most likely outcome is failure and frustration. It’s also very likely that our performance result worst compared with the previous days, or even that we can’t make movements we had already controlled.

Sin ideas fijas - TheWindsurfingBlog

@katha_uhr

In windsurfing, the best thing to do is to have several different objectives and to practice each one when the conditions are the best for them. Learning to read the surroundings is basic for our skills improvement. A very useful strategy is to look around and watching what people are doing, specially the good ones. If they are jumping, let’s think that is a jumping day and if they are surfing, let’s think about making better our bottom and cut backs.

Obviously this is not black or white, generally when you can jump you can surf. But remember that the difference is in the details, and our learning capacity is limited. Keep focus!!! Even when you can do both things, in that spot, that day and with those conditions, it’s better for one than for the other.

10 – Get it, this sport is complex and frustrating

Finally, if one day you’ve nailed it and everything went smooth, enjoy it because it’s very likely than the next one you’ll suck. This happens because a small change in the wind direction, the sea condition, the rigging of the gear or just your fatigue, may change everything. Even those things you though you’ve controlled.

Jason Polakow Broken Gear

© EVGENY IVKOV/RED BULL CONTENT POOL

Don’t be frustrated, just assume that’s part of the sport. That’s why it’s so important to understand the previous point, the most advanced you are the more importance to the details. This is a slow process and when we have full energy and motivation the wind goes off or we break the gear like our friend Jason hehehe. We must learn to enjoy the whole process. From watching videos to argue with friends, choosing what equipment to bring, choosing which sail to rig and even the hours of waiting for the wind.

Many times choosing the wrong equipment make us to loose a full day of windsurfing. This is one of the things that piss me off the most, but I always try to learn from it (not always successfully). Recheck the weather forecast to compare it with what actually happened, rethink about why I choose that equipment, etc. We can learn from everything and we must enjoy the whole process.

Conclusions

As a summary of this post, I would like you to keep the this main idea. Start paying attention to details to be able to progress. The higher your level is, the harder the work you’ll need to do to improve.

We must stop focusing on getting into the water asap, you’ll never see a pro doing that. They look at the spot and the conditions for that day. Then they analyze exactly which specific equipment they’ll need and its tuning. They think about what they’re going to do, get ready and they do it. Even when our goal isn’t to become a “pro”, following their method will make us to reach the best version of ourselves.

If you really want to improve, you’ll have to take time from amusement and use it for training. Is not the same thing going out for a ride than training, and there isn’t reward without sacrifice. The old gym’s mantra is valid here “no pain no gain”.

So!!! Get fit, prepare your training in short blocks and split the maneuvers in easier parts. Practice other sports with skills transference to windsurfing, learn to rig your gear properly and book a clinic. Once a year make a windsurfing trip, avoid fixed mindsets and get it, this is frustrating and slow. But it’s still the best sport in the world.

And don’t forget to enjoy the process, even the bad days because they’ll be a lot!. What do you think? Are you agree with me? Please leave your comments down here and if  you liked the post don’t forget to share it, therefore you help me to grow the family of TheWindsurfingBlog. Big hug, good winds and see you next time!!!.

 

 

10 tips to boost your windsurfing
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