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Learning to windsurf can be a really frustrating experience as the learning curve is a really big one, especially with no previous wind sport experience. But going on a dedicated learn to windsurf holiday can make the experience quicker, and more fun.  

How it works

To learn how to windsurf we would recommend taking a course lasting around 10 hours over several days. Each centre differs with the courses they offer, and beginner courses vary from as little as 2 hours which only cover the very basics, and will only just leave you able to practice on your own. Whereas other centers offer 10 hour courses which are perfect for ensuring you are completely independent and having fun. You will also have a lot more structure to your learning by taking a long course as a structured plan will already be written. With this we would also recommend equipment usage hours, which usually come with the course, giving you on average of one hour of practice for every hour of instruction.

Learning to windsurf involves being taught both the physical and practical parts of windsurfing. The physical section is learning to be in control of the board and rig (sail), and to understand how to make your windsurf kit respond in the way you want it to. On the theory side you will learn about the wind, conditions, and choosing the right equipment. You will cover how to increase and decrease your power and speed using the correlation between the direction you are sailing in and the direction of the wind. In this section any previous wind sport experience will rapidly speed up your understanding, and awareness of which direction the wind is blowing from.

What you will learn

Your first lesson would begin with the instructor spending the first 10-20 minutes on land with you. Most centers use an old windsurf board and sail as a simulator, which they use to show you the basics of windsurfing, how to get on the board when in the water, stance, and how to perform a simple turn called a ‘Tack’. After that it’s straight on to the water to practice what you have learnt, with the instructor's guidance. This is one of the best things about learning to windsurf as opposed to other wind orientated sports, your up on the board and having fun within the first 30 minutes.

After your first 3 hours you should have gained a really good understanding of windsurfing and the factors that affect it. A few hours of solo practice is now recommended to sharpen you new skills and get you ready for the next step.

If you are feeling confident by your next lesson, you can discuss with your instructor about learning to beach start and harness. Beach starting enables you to step on your board and sail away form the shore line, which is crucial for when you begin to sail in areas with shore break (waves which break on the beach). The harness is what helps you to sail in stronger winds. Your instructor will show you how to wear the harness, hook in and out, how to use it safely and the new stance you need to adopt.

After more solo practice with your new skills, if you are feeling happy sailing with a harness, and can hook in and out, it’s time to start speeding thing up. Your instructor will start helping you to pick up speed, and begin planing. This stage is often referred to as getting the ‘bug’ because once you have experienced the incredible feeling of planing you just can’t get rid of the desire to windsurf, it happens to the best of us. Planing is what happens when you skim the water because you are going so fast, and a wake occurs behind you. This happens by using a bigger sail and smaller board in stronger winds. It may sound as though this would pull you over, but in actual fact, once planing the rig becomes really light. Once you have begun planing your instructor will introduce you to the foot straps, and teach you to control your new speed. This is now the point where you really need to put in the hours to practice, and remember what you have been taught, and eventually learn to control the sail with your arms and the board with your feet.

This varies between people, as some people may get to the planing stage in 9 hours, whereas some people take longer. The plan above is not set within a certain time period, and each centre and it’s instructors differ with their teaching methods slightly, there is not a specific ‘right’ or ‘better’ structure. But you can be sure that we only work with centers that use effective methods of teaching.

Learning to windsurf can be done as either private or group lessons. Needless to say private lessons will ensure quicker progression, but group lessons are a great way to have fun and meet new people. It is also a really good way to spend time with people, and can be done from as young as 6 years old, so is something that the whole family can enjoy and participate in!

There are many factors which affect the speed of learning, with the biggest one being the chosen destination. We would recommend you a destination with flat water, no shore break, and shallow water. Warm water is also good as you will feel more comfortable, and won’t tire so quickly. The centre is also a big factor, the chosen center needs to offer a course which suites you, and any previous experience. The centre must also stock good quality beginner equipment. We have all learnt at one time or another, and are able to work with you to choose a destination and centre which will fit your requirements. All the destinations that we offer have been visited by at least one Planet consultant, and we are therefore able to recommend you the very best choices.