Right now, and probably for the last couple of years, windsurfing is the sport that I have loved the most, yet had the opportunity to do the least.  No thanks to the weather of course!  When doing my most beloved sport so seldom, it's been hard to keep fit specifically for it, that's where the rowing came in.  I can happily say, having had a few good long sessions on the water this year, that the combo of rowing, weights and running has done the trick and after a few tweaks to the routine following a full week on the water and the associated niggles and aches, I have nailed it. Huzzah!  Well, ok, so I'm fitter on the water, have more control over the rig with the increased strength but admittedly my balance, timing and style still leave a lot to be desired.  When this is the case it's good to pretend that you meant to give yourself a good rinsing because you needed to cool off! ;)

Why Windsurf?

Watersports are by their very nature, exhillirating.  You're out on the water, messing about like a big kid with a new toy.  The mental benefits of this are huge all year round, yep, you heard me, all year round.  The physical benefits are many and varied, you'll get stronger, a little more agile (perhaps...), your balance will improve, if you're doing a lot of work with the sail, challenging yourself with tougher conditions or different kit or even just pumping the sail then you'll get a good CV workout too.  I'm told the minerals in the seawater are good for the skin but I'm sure you can undo all that goodness with the social aspect of the sport quite quickly.

Windsurfers tend to be a friendly bunch and there's something for everybody.  Nobody is going to stand back watching anybody struggle un-necessarily and on a popular beach there's usually a few folk willing to help folk out with rigging and learning.  Or give you a friendly ribbing when you come out the water like a half drowned rat.

There's a style to suit everybody...

...And also for every weather condition, from light wind freestyle where the young whippets will wow you with their seemingly impossible moves as they whip the sail round and pop the board out the water, right up to the daredevilesque wave sailing of some serious nutters at the worlds biggest wave spots.  The 'everything inbetween' has your weekend warriors blasting up and down and having a giggle in slight conditions, slalom up and down a course between buoys either for fun or in competition, speed sailing on the huge Formula 2 rigs like Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw (our olympians), going extreme with super:x which requires the wearing of helments and jumping over of giant inflated 'sausages' and adopting of some very strange language whereby the word sick takes on a whole different meaning.  Whatever you might decide to try your hand at, there's one guarantee, you're gonna have a lot of fun doing it!  There's really no age limit either, if you can stand, you can get on a board.

Where does one start?

At the beginning!  Get thee to an RYA approved windsurfing school and book in for a taster session first to see if you like it.  There's a list on the RYA website...  If you're not sure, then let me reassure you.  The new kit is big, floaty, light and stable, wetsuits will keep you toasty warm and with the real high quality of instructors today you can be up and sailing within a couple of hours.

Once you've done that and you've declared your love for our mad sport you really need to book yourself onto a beginners course.  Speak to the folk around, a lot of the centres will run clubs on the evenings or weekends and do it over a long period of time, or you could do a weekend somewhere, or even a week! Another very good way of learning a lot quickly is to head to one of the Club Vass centres for a holiday.

Then what?

Join a local club, or get on the forums on the net to find out where people are sailing and in what conditions and get thee some second hand 'improver' kit and just get out there and do it!  Please, please, please remember though to tell folk where you're going, who with, what time to expect you back, be aware of the weather conditions, sea state and tides at all times, don't go beyond your limits and make sure you can get back to shore safely.

Pick up a copy of Boards magazine or Windsurf magazine from one of the larger newsagents or order it in at your local, or even subscribe online.  The info and interviews in them is really top notch, they cover local events too and advertise second hand kit, holidays, lessons and clinics.  If you're up for heading off to a clinic then check out the likes of Simon Bornhoft, Jem Hall, Nik Baker, Jamie Knox, Peter Hart or Jim Collis.

For chicks, you can't beat a Club Vass Diva week!

I feel I should include some sort of disclaimer here and say that I can be held in no way responsible for your credit card taking a sudden hit when you go out and buy a customised van for weekend sessions, 3 wetsuits, a raft of boards and a full quiver of sails...

My Favourites

Ellie at Clubvass, Matty B at H20 and last but not least, perhaps the two most charming fellas in the sport, Tris and Si at the OTC at Portland Harbour.  You're all ace!  See you on the water.