Hello friends, visitors and subscribers of the blog. Step by step we are seeing that each week posts are well received and that makes us happy and encouraged to continue. Thank you very much for the support. Today we have to add a new chapter to the series on safety in windsurfing, the preventive actions.

Cabecera SeguridadIn our post “How safe is your favorite spot?“, which we recommend reading, we talked about the different aspects to consider when it comes to windsurfing. We focus on performing the preliminary evaluation of the spot, to see the possible risks or obstacles. Today we are going to talk about the preventive actions to take before getting into the water.

Of course, it is practically impossible to comply with all safety recommendations. But it is good to know them and to know which are important each time. In this area it is essential to appeal to common sense, which we already discussed in the post “Mens sana in corpore …“, to be conscious about our level and to respect the sea..

It’s obvious that any safety recommendation applies more to a windsurfer who is learning than to one who has been sailing for 25 years. But if wind is gone or the gear breaks, will have much more chances to reach the shore the one who has previously thought in his safety than the one who hasn’t. The windsurfing level becomes secondary.

Here you have a list of preventive measures that I personally consider sufficient to sail safely. Clearly it isn’t definitive, there will be people who can contribute with different ones or someone may consider this ones aren’t reasonable. Coming back to the above, common sense, to know your level, to know your spot, to know your wind, your sea and your physical condition.

Never sail alone

Acciones PreventivasApart from being much more boring than sailing with people (personal opinion). It’s one of the most dangerous things we can do, no matter our level. When I talk about this I’m not refering to go with your colleagues (I would have sailed half the time I did it in that case :p). I mean, it should be more people sailing at the spot.

It is true that if the day is good to take a good bath and there is no one in the water, it’s difficult to say “I won’t get in”. But let’s think about the consequences of getting in and something happens. To whom will you ask for help? Who will give you a hand until the rescue arrives if you can ask for it by any method? An alternative to these cases might be talking to someone on land (the bar waiter, the surf shop employee, etc.) to look at you from time to time. Generally people is cool and willing to help, but you should evaluate if that gives you the level of comfort you need.

Make sure someone knows where we are

whatsappIt is essential that someone close to us and not sailing at that time, know where we are going, what time we go into the water and what time we plan to finish. Simply by leaving a message on whatsapp or an SMS with this data, we will have the peace of mind that someone knows where we are and will miss us if we do not communicate again at the time we said.
But, when leaving the water you have to notify that everything is ok. It is very common to leave the water to go to have some beers with the colleagues forgeting the call …. home fight on its way!!!

Escape to offshore winds

We saw it in the first post and I insist here. Offshore winds are very dangerous if we sail in open waters. Different is in a lake or similar, where we can have the situation controlled in case something happens. The offshore wind is very treacherous as it is easy to get into the water. We think about sailing next to the shore and that nothing will happen, etc.

But when we get tired, the moves begin to fail, or we go to much into the sea. Then suddenly we have a giant problem to return to land. I put this one as the 3rd measure because the other two apply always. But classified by danger this might be the first one. Avoid offshore wind as much as possible !!

Carry a mobile phone

waterproof bagI know, it’s a pain in the ass, but it can save your life. Today a waterproof case costs two pennies and many mobiles come with geolocation applications. There are infinite advantages so the inconvenience of carrying it is secondary. And of course, carry it with full battery :-).
It is also a good idea to carry the rescue number recorded in speed dialing (in case of an emergency we will not be able to search the directory, remember how we recorded it, etc.).

For this, it is important that we previously know how to describe where we are. By this I mean that we should have “pre-recorded” in our mind the speech we’ll say to the person who picks up the phone. We need to make them know where we are. Things like approximate distance to the coast, if we see some special element (lighthouse, buoy, breakwater, singular building, etc.), if it is east or west, etc. Keep in mind that to define location you will need at least two clear references.

Check out the gear

If we will have a whole sailing week is not necessary to do it every day, just the first. I recommend to do it if we spend a long time without putting our material in the water and routinely every so often. Particularly sensitive parts are:

  • Ropes: The one in the mast extension, two in the boom (head and clew), harness lines, the small ones in the mast foot if we use silentblock or pin type.
  • Rubbers and/or plastics: mast foot tendon or silent block, boom head.
  • Fiber: mast union, fins, we should look for cracks or abrasions that may indicate a possible break.
  • Screws: footstraps, fins, mast foot.

Using a wetsuit

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t prefer to sail in shorts, it is infinitely more comfortable. There are some places where this is unthinkable, because of the water temperature, and there are others where it is not necessary at all. The truth is that we must see the wetsuit as a safety element when deciding to use it or not. In case of having a mishap the neoprene provides two basic things:

  • Protection against cold
  • Buoyancy

wetsuitIt is necessary to take into account that the sensations we may have if we are going in and out from the water, with the sun warming up and with the physical activity, are not the same than the ones we will have if we have to be 2 or 3 hours floating in the water. Hypothermia is a very powerful enemy in these situations and being protected as best as possible from the cold can mean a lot in the success of the rescue.
The second element, buoyancy, can also play an important role if necessary. Although our first flotation element should always be the board (we should never ever let go the board in any case!!), this additional help will decrease the level of effort we must do.

There is another very important point that I include here although it can be achieved with lycras as well, and it’s visibility. Personally I like choosing brightly colored wetsuits. Also wearing a lycra over the wetsuit increases the likelihood of being seen from afar.
Nowadays there are extremely comfortable and flexible wetsuits so it is always recomended sailing with one.

Other measures

Simply to mention other preventive measures that doesn’t cost much to carry out. They can help us prevent an unpleasant situation or solve it better if it comes:

  • Hydration. It is always an important recommendation to be hydrated.
  • Review mentally the escaping ways. We saw it in the previous post, knowing where to go if something happens can save us many headaches.
  • Check weather reports. To know if the wind is expected to fall or to rise, to know the tides, etc.
  • Know the sunset time. If we get in at the last hour, is a good idea not to stay last in the water and control that everyone is out before we go home.

Finally, we go back to the beginning, common sense. Know your level, know your spot, know the wind, your sea and your physical condition. It is basic to respect the sea and never underestimate what may happen. Remember that we do this to have fun and not to have a bad time.

In this sense it is also very important to be attentive to help others, whether it is a windsurfer, a kiter or someone with a paddle. We must help anyone in a potentially dangerous situation.

In the next post of this series we will review the different security elements that we should consider adding to our gear.

See you next time and good winds!!!

Safety in windsurfing, preventive actions
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