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How Did You Get Your Stoke Learning?
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shreddbob



Joined: 31 Mar 1987
Posts: 262
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: How Did You Get Your Stoke Learning? Reply with quote

In this wind drought (in Massachusetts) I'm reflecting on how it may help the newer or "thinking about learning" sailors to hear how some of us got hooked on this amazing sport. I'll start. I apologize for the lengthiness...but this is a lengthy learning process Smile

I still vividly remember my first planing reach even though it was 27 years ago! That exhilarating feeling is what hooked me! Puttering around slowly on the lake was "ok" but not life changing. Planing on a windsurfer did change my life. I had borrowed my new girlfriend's Windsurfer One-Design board/rig for a few days, having taken vacation time for the express purpose of "getting" this sport. But let me start at the beginning…

Over the previous year I had dabbled in learning windsurfing because a couple of my friends had gotten into the sport. They kept telling me how great it was and suggested I try it out. I'd jump on their gear at a local lake when they'd take a break. I was an accomplished dingy sailor, so I thought I'd pick up windsurfing "no problem". Wrong! While I could bobble around in very light breezes on flat water, whenever the wind came up I'd get tossed. Several times I had to swim the gear in a long way to get back, and my friends were never too happy when it took me 45 minutes to return their gear to them. I finally did take a few lessons on a winter vacation to Cancun, but again got flustered in any significant breeze. At that point windsurfing ("windfalling") was not high in my priorities, and was just a curiosity.

Cue up the following summer, 1985. I had just started dating a new girlfriend who happened to be a windsurfer. My competitive juices of course kicked in, and now I just had to learn. So, on to Spy Pond in Arlington for several fortuitous gusty SW wind days on her board. I'll just chalk up the first two of these days to TOW (time on water). I built on the things I'd learned in my lessons from the previous winter. TOW can be exhausting, but it cements in things you don't realize you're learning, mainly about balance and reacting to the wind and sail to not fall so much while uphauling. By day three I was an expert uphauler, even in strong winds. But every time I'd try to sheet in the sail I'd lose my balance, and either fall forward with the sail in hand, or let go and fall backwards. This is where/when the key piece of information I needed had to be learned or I wasn't going to get anywhere. Luckily I spied another windsurfer on a beach not too far away. I swam everything in to seek advice. "Just lean back against the sail like you want to fall in the water backwards and hang on…if you do fall backwards still holding onto the sail that's good. You'll get it." So back out to the gusty wind line I went. Uphauling and bobbling, I spied my gust approaching. As the wind hit, I leaned back for all I was worth, fully expecting to fall backwards. Nope! I screamed off on this insanely fast broad reach planing ride across the wind and was at the other end of the lake in seconds! That feeling of skimming quickly across the water's surface was so exhilarating that I was hooked on this sport right then. I repeated this for the rest of the afternoon, grinning the whole time. I bought my first board/rig a few weeks later.

I don't recommend learning without benefit of a harness, on an old Windsurfer One-Design from the 1980's like I did. You don't have to. But my message is:

--TOW counts, even though it may not seem like it.

--It will take patience, and a LOT of falling.

--Don't go out in the ocean (especially the ocean side of Plum Island!) in an off-shore breeze no matter what, because a customary newbie long swim becomes either a boat rescue or a trip to Portugal. Lakes are great in the beginning because it's easier to balance with no choppiness on the water, and you can rescue yourself.

--Be persistent. You won't know what you're missing until you get it. Then you'll know it was worth it. It took me, already a small boat sailor/racer and fairly athletic, about 30 hours on water time--half in small installments over a year, the other half in three intensive days. Add to this two 45 minute swims back to shore with gear, plus one boat rescue. Modern gear may reduce this somewhat, but there is no substitute for TOW. And the swims are not only customary, but really mandatory. (You have to know your are self sufficient to gain confidence.) The boat rescue is not recommended.

--A few lessons greatly help at the start, and then some key coaching at critical points is necessary.

--Compared to learning on the really old gear, today's gear makes it so much easier…so get on some modern gear and go for it! Be sure to ask around or on this forum before buying any used gear, especially gear from eBay or Craig's List. You won't know what's junk. And it's good to take a few lessons on appropriate modern beginner gear before deciding on anything to buy.
(The dinosaur I learned on was not very stable and took an immense amount of wind and arm pull to get planing, or "surfing/planing" is more accurate as those hulls weren't designed for true planing. Not to mention the sling the dagger board over the shoulder thing. And those old soft sails were awful to control in a decent breeze compared to today's stuff.)

--Date somebody who already windsurfs Very Happy
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zirtaeb



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 2316

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 weeks from completing my 30th year.
Moving from surfing shortboards, windsurfing seemed real easy AFTER the 1st day. Bought a transition board my second week, sailed it at 4' OceanBeach,SanFrancisco 3 days, sold it to SteveYong, and took my housebud's 9'x23" surfboard, stuck inserts, straps, and masttrack, sailed it another couple days there and at PedroPt. All in the surf, usually around chest high.
Then one of the surfer's who windsurfed a couple years said to try a new spot, where another surfer/sailor said was always windy, but flat. ColinGift, JohnChilds, GlenShot (harbormaster at OysterPt.) and I sailed Oyster in Sept. '83, with John sailing over to FlyingTigers on the outside and S.
Just great fun sailng new to anyone spots (including Candlestick in '83, Stinson, OceanBeach, PedroPt. (LindaMar), HMB, and other coastal spots.
Most of the surfers leaned to jibe within one month, so could surfsail right then. Some still uphauled their 9'6" glass boards, and surfsailed anyways.
But then, we discovered the winds never blew sideshore at OBSF, and almost all the surfer's quit by '94.
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isobras



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in the water, and listed sailing as a goal early in life. I was intense in my sports, and was into cross-country (not MX) dirt bike racing before I got a chance to ride in a sailboat, so a sport that combined the two endeavors jumped off the pages of that first WSing book I saw. My first sailboat ride, off Maria del Rey in mild breezes, had bored the crap out of me, so first chance I got, I took a WSing lesson at Deer Creek Reservoir, UT. Noon 'til supper in considerable whitecaps, probably pushing 20 mph average, completely hooked me. That same day I bought a standard WSer, a "storm sail", and the high-wind daggerboard, and by the end of the month I was planing pretty often, took looooooong lunches from work on breezy days, and had had a custom harness built (they weren't available off the shelf, as far as we knew). That was 32 years ago this week.

Dirt biking, in the water, without the pain, with open-ended challenges, and with the possibility of burning up all the energy I could eat in one day? Sign me up. It took me 25 more years to achieve that last possibility, but the challenges are still open-ended and although I put up with crappy conditions less eagerly and less often, the stoke has not diminished.
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zirtaeb



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 2316

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the closest sensation to dirt biking for sure, and closer to CC than moto.
That RIP video with Naish just booking in the ocean swells with a 6.2 race sail and his old 8'10" slalom board just captured the moment.
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 1200
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1981 or maybe it was 82, a friend of mine came back from Europe,
took me to the beach with his new Sailboard, and told me everybody
in Europe was doing it. Gave me an hour of instruction on how to up
haul, and turn around. After a couple of hours of uphauling and splashing
I made about 50 ft of displacement mode sailing. Came back in and told
my wife she needed to say yay or nay right now because this was something that
would get in my blood. She said yay (because at the time we were so
young that she had no idea how ugly the compulsion could get). ~30 years
later, I'm still sailing (and still married to the same woman). Fortune
it appears favors me.

-Craig
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justall



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post! I remember seeing some folks windsurfung in Dennis (maybe one of you) in the mid 80s. Just like that, I wanted to be able to do it, too. Took a short lesson on a pond in Wellfleet, Cape Cod.

But the *stoke* happened later on Cape Cod bay. On one particular day I got the board moving a bit faster than usual. Then I thought something went really wrong, either I was losing control or something broke, because the feeling changed ... the sound of the board on the water was different ... the resistance was gone ... I seemed to be lifting above the water ... I was planing and didn't even know that could happen ... I remember saying audibly "holy s*!#, this is awesome" ... and that was that. Now, every time the breeze picks up, so does my heartrate (no matter how far from water I might be). There are only a couple other things in life that create similar response.
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isobras



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

justall wrote:
There are only a couple other things in life that create similar response.

And only one that may cost as much. Twisted Evil
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shreddbob



Joined: 31 Mar 1987
Posts: 262
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

justall wrote:
Now, every time the breeze picks up, so does my heartrate (no matter how far from water I might be).


I know! Wind is magical. Just traversing the Sagamore Bridge on the way to the Cape used to get my pulse going.

Thanks for the "planing" description--awesome!
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shreddbob



Joined: 31 Mar 1987
Posts: 262
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobras wrote:
justall wrote:
There are only a couple other things in life that create similar response.

And only one that may cost as much. Twisted Evil


Yes! This brings up a good point. We're all wind addicts. Using the indelible words of wind accomplice Suzie-Q, "it's that kinetic thrill!" Maybe it's a requirement to have somewhat of an "addictive personality" to persevere at windsurfing.

And of course there's the ratcheting up of the addiction that will happen for some, usually well after the learning stage (save for those lucky few who have lived in the waves or other extremes before taking up windsurfing). This happens by mixing wind with a good measure of long period groundswell or a nukin' Gorge day standing swell-- this is unreall...the true embodiment of the term "wind-surfing" and maybe what the inventors of the sport had in mind all along...but I'm digressing. Those aspects abound in other discussion threads on here. For me on the East Coast, the sport drew me in as "wind-seeking". Coastal waves around here are way too daunting for the beginner. I broke my first mast within a few minutes of trying small waves way back when. This is not discounting the stoke along these lines by any means. I'm just saying my intent on starting this thread is to provide a kind of a roadmap for the typical(?) beginner, with a nice view of the other side of the learning curve Very Happy

Maybe some of the newer windsurfers who've been posting messages recently can chime in. What resonates with you? Is this helping? What can we add?
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Iceratz



Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 329

PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fall 1983, parking lot sailing on skateboard.
Winter 83-84, ICE sailing a Freeskate..mastered duck jibes.
Spring 1984, water started & floated for first time on a 8'6" Angulo wave board.

The balance of our sport is a lengthy learning curve. My land & Ice sailing initiation enabled me to go directly to short board thrills 1st year. Cool

1985 moved to the Gorge.
Now back on Cape Cod...where is the wind?


Last edited by Iceratz on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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