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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9407

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I won't make the cheerleading squad with my kind of outlook, despite the fact that it has served me quite well over the years. I have to think though that with all the high praise and unwavering support for lessons, the windsurfing instruction business must be a huge success story. Yet, one has to wonder why windsurfing remains a relatively small sport when such an impeccable silver bullet exists to churn out hoards of outstanding windsurfing talent almost effortlessly. Must be one of life's great mysteries.
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DanWeiss



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 2274
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler wrote:
I guess I won't make the cheerleading squad with my kind of outlook, despite the fact that it has served me quite well over the years. I have to think though that with all the high praise and unwavering support for lessons, the windsurfing instruction business must be a huge success story. Yet, one has to wonder why windsurfing remains a relatively small sport when such an impeccable silver bullet exists to churn out hoards of windsurfing talent almost effortlessly. Must be one of life's great mysteries.


With all due respect, the number of instructors has as much to do with factors other than the difficulty of teaching oneself to windsurf.

What is true in the windsurfing business is true for the dry-cleaning business. If you can't run a business properly then the business will fail. Part of running a business is properly allocating cash and time to the aspects of the business that cater to cash flow and ultimately, future success. For small businesses like windsurfing shops, labor costs are usually the largest cost category, so the savvy owner will only employ the minimum number of talented instructors and pay the minimum amount. Nothing wrong about that, but its effect is to make windsurfing instruction as a shop employee an untenable career.

Moreover, many shops do not require US Sailing Certification for their instructors. There are many thoughts about this, but one of them is that if most shops did require certification then the certified instructor's ability to demand more money increases across all shops. Since US Sailing certification requires a moderate commitment of time and money, few instructors make this investment.

The shops that offer instruction actually seem to be the most successful over time. Check out the success of Big Winds, Calema and Wind's Up! for a small example. Each shop employs good if not spectacular instructors, each has taught thousands of people how to windsurf and each are in their third decade of operation, at least. There is a strong connection between good instruction and shop success. It's one important element for many of the surviving windsurfing shops. I believe that the majority of windsurfing shops have affiliation with proven instructors, whether or not these shops employ the instructors.

We are a relatively small sport for many reasons, including the lack of a large pool of talented instructors. But the lack of comparative popularity cannot be laid at the feet of the good instructors. That simply is a logical error. Perhaps it is the relatively small size of our sport that prevents the instructor pool from growing to a size capable of supporting explosive growth. I believe that is the case.

For example, over the past three years, over 50 new windsurfing programs have been established at sailing centers and yacht clubs. Windsurfing is being taught by certified dinghy instructors, not all of whom are certified as windsurfing instructors. Those programs that do have a certified windsurfing instructor on staff do far better at keeping kids moving forward in their skills and creating a windsurfing environment attractive to kids and their parents. That tells me that instruction is critical to the rapid growth of of junior windsurfing in the USA. US Sailing and US Windsurfing recently announced a new certification program for beginner instructors that is designed to remove the daunting obstacles facing a prospective instructor. It's proving a big hit and will show dividends this summer, as literally thousands of kids will learn to windsurf with good technique from the start.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 9407

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In all honestly Dan, I was being a bit facetious in my last post. I just couldn't resist.

However, if I was to really target why windsurfing remains a relatively small sport, I would highlight two notable issues. The first would be the fact that many folks don't want to get in the water, particularly in the ocean. Secondly, windsurfing could be viewed as a relatively expensive sport. Also, for those that gravitate to the ocean, surfing easily nets the majority, especially amongst the youthful crowd.
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jpbassman



Joined: 19 May 1998
Posts: 3321
Location: Leo

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 2:30 pm    Post subject: lessons helped me Reply with quote

I had surfed and sailed for years but failed miserably when trying to teach myself how to windsurf. After a couple of lessons it all came together.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19113

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am living proof that one can become a good recreational windsurfer without lessons (or instructional videos). I spent months and thousands of dollars over many years seeking good lessons by traveling to the Gorge, to Corpus Christi, and to Maui expressly to procure professional lessons in a two-page list of skills from carrying my kit across a wide windy beach to ripping off consistent full-speed jibes. No freestyle/tricks or racing techniques, just solid recreational skills pertaining to WSing in lakes, the Gorge, and modest surf. I was more than willing to Ö and in fact did -- offer thousands more in cash for a solid week of all the productive instructions a good teacher had the physical stamina to provide.

I never found an instructor worth $50 back then. Thatís largely why after 30 years of WSing, 22 of them WSing full time in windy areas, I am just a good, rather than outstanding, recreational WSer. Learning to waterstart took me a season or two and learning to rip full-speed through most of my jibes took me 10 freaking years; Iíll be damned if Iíd waste more years learning any pony tricks (for show rather than go) with names even if they interested me. I can sail pretty fast already; damned if Iím going to unlearn 30 years of adequate technique now and replace them with superior technique so I can finally catch Beric or Gus, let alone anybody youíve actually heard of.

Iím a damned good athlete, blessed with the stamina of some whole relay teams and 20+ years of virtually zero responsibilities outranking WSing. With good lessons, I probably could have been where I am now 20 years ago, with 20 free years since then to become outstanding by now. I wish to hell I had found Ö and taken Ö some good lessons during my formative WSing years. Good lessons early in the game become even more -- much more -- vital to the learning curves of people with obligations such as mowing a lawn, let alone a career or kids.

Even if a newbie has buds who can jibe (none of my locals could back then), itís awfully presumptuous of us to ask them to give up precious windy weekend shred time to teach us, and theyíre probably lousy teachers anyway. Besides, anyone who expects me to give up precious, irreplaceable, quality shred time to teach him something complicated had better be offering me something of comparable valuable, and I donít know what that would be. Ask me when itís not windy or expect a brief answer rather than a lesson.

I strongly urge newbies and intermediates to consider Puffinís and many othersí advice and take some professional lessons.

Mike \m/
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braden



Joined: 12 Jun 1987
Posts: 71
Location: Providence RI

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I learned without lessons. I didn't have much talent but I was determined to learn. The trouble is, you can't think about what you need to do, it takes too long. By the time you figure something out, you have fallen in already. And I fell in a LOT.

If you can't afford lessons or they aren't available in your area, don't let that stop you. If you can get them, it will smooth your path.

Also, I would have learned quicker with modern equipment, specifically wider boards. I would have fallen in less. My big (145L) shortboard looks as wide as a battleship compared to the longboards I started with, at that time considered to be beginner boards.
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 2239
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took me a day to learn to waterstart (without lessons). It took me a
season (in the Gorge 1991) to learn to plane out of my jibes (without lessons). But I did watch Short Board Sailing Technique until it was
in my dreams ;*). Windsurfing is unquestionably the most difficult sport
I've ever learned. The right gear is good, lessons are good, but a place
where you can (sorta) count on good wind is priceless. You can ride the
express with all 3. But, there are no long term casual windsurfers. If you
don't hunger for it, you're not gonna make the sacrifices it takes to enjoy
a sport so dependent on the confluence of appropriate weather, adequate
time, and adequate resources.

-Craig
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windward1



Joined: 18 Jun 2000
Posts: 1127

PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never took lessons and learned pretty much on my own. Videos were not even available until later. I had sailed dinghys and lard boats before, so I knew what "sailing" was. I just really wanted to learn windsurfing and so did.

Would lessons have helped? Yes!!! Would I take them? No.

I took a personality test. The same one the Navy uses to test compatibility of submarine crews. One thing came out loud and clear: I do not like being told what to do. Part of my innate personality, I guess.

So am I happy that I never took a lesson? Not necessarily. I know I would have progressed faster with them. But I am ok with not having taken them and I do understand why I did not go out of my way to take them.

Learning has been fun, even if slow.

So I do agree with Schandler a bit. Do not let not having lessons available stop you. However, like the others said, if available, do not let your personality stop you from taking a lesson.

Windward1
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noshuzbluz



Joined: 18 May 2000
Posts: 791

PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgoudie1 wrote:
It took me a day to learn to waterstart (without lessons). It took me a
season (in the Gorge 1991) to learn to plane out of my jibes (without lessons). But I did watch Short Board Sailing Technique until it was
in my dreams ;*).
Windsurfing is unquestionably the most difficult sport
I've ever learned. The right gear is good, lessons are good, but a place
where you can (sorta) count on good wind is priceless. You can ride the
express with all 3. But, there are no long term casual windsurfers. If you
don't hunger for it, you're not gonna make the sacrifices it takes to enjoy
a sport so dependent on the confluence of appropriate weather, adequate
time, and adequate resources.

-Craig


LOL! I watched shortboard I and II until I could do the narration myself. Great videos! Although old now, still worth watching if your getting into Gorge/Rio Vista bump n jump sailing.

_________________
The Time a Person Spends Windsurfing is not Deducted from their Lifespan...
http://www.openocean.com
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bred2shred



Joined: 02 May 2000
Posts: 961
Location: Jersey Shore

PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But, there are no long term casual windsurfers. If you
don't hunger for it, you're not gonna make the sacrifices it takes to enjoy
a sport so dependent on the confluence of appropriate weather, adequate
time, and adequate resources


Totally agree. IMO, the number of lessons required is inversely proportional to the sailor's own enthusiasm for the most part. If you really want to learn to windsurf, you'll get out there and bust yer arse to learn...at least that's what I did. My one and only true lesson consisted of "put your feet on either side of the mast to uphaul and pull the sail up like this...OK now go do it." Other than that it was the occasional discussion with local experts on waterstart and gybing techniques.

The point being that if you find yourself totally jazzed on windsurfing, you're not going to need much in the way of lessons. If you plan on persuing the sport as just a hobby or summertime leisure activity then you're probably going to need lessons to push you though some of the progressive hurdles.

Of course having the right gear, conditions, and athletic ability definitely helps too. I started windsurfing in my late teens, had a sailing background, and was willing to travel to the coast, so that all helped too.

sm
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