Basic Windsurfing Maneuvers

Every great windsurfer began by learning the basics. When you see experienced riders performing stunts that make your jaw drop, it's easy to forget about the fundamentals. Remember, those stunts and tricks that you've witnessed others performing are only possible because they first learned the basics. They mastered the complicated jibes, tacks, aerials and jumps only after they conquered the easy moves. In this article, we'll describe a few easy windsurfing maneuvers that you can begin to master. Once you can perform them proficiently, you'll be ready for a few of the intermediate and advanced moves.

Balance And Steering Upwind

These are the 2 most important skills to learn. As long as you don't adopt any bad habits, you can master them easily. To balance yourself on the board, make sure your knees are bent with a large portion of your weight placed on your toes. Your feet should also be positioned over the center line of your board.

Steering is a little trickier. Most beginners can ride downwind easily. Riding upwind can be more challenging. First, know where you want to head and look toward that direction. Second, you'll have to learn how to use your sail and mast to steer. If you want to turn your board upwind, tilt the mast away from the wind while lowering your clew. Your board will slowly begin to point upwind.

Surviving The Wind

You may have heard the term "sheet in." This is what windsurfers do to control their sail and mast. They pull the sail in by using their back hand. Even though it sounds relatively easy, it's not. But, it is important to master. When you experience high winds, they can easily rip control from you hands as your sail captures the gust. By sheeting in, you can limit the effect of the wind.

Easy Jibe

A jibe is a maneuver that turns your board downwind. Here's an easy way to think about this move: imagine 3:00 on your wind clock. When you perform a jibe, the nose of your board is going to pass your wind clock's 6:00 on it's way to 9:00. As it does this, you're going to change your position on the board to compensate. This is one of the most effective ways to change direction on the water.

Hop For Plane

Planing is when your board skips along the water's surface. While most boards that are sold today are designed to maximize planing (instead of cutting through the water), the weight of the rider, placement of the feet and wind conditions can make planing difficult. Planing is preferable since it provides greater speed and more flexible maneuvering. If your board is partially submerged (making planing impossible), use this maneuver to recover...

Position your front leg so your knee and foot face forward (it should be positioned behind the mast). Bend your knees and allow your backside to hang over the back of your board. While in this position, move the mast back and sheet in while straightening your knees and pushing your hips to propel the board forward. You may have to do this a few times to get the momentum you need.

Start At The Beginning

Windsurfing is filled with small techniques that eventually lead to performing the advanced tricks. That's why most experts suggest taking a windsurfing class to get started. They can teach you the fundamentals while preventing you from learning bad habits. Over time, you'll start to intuitively react to changes in the wind. Your body will know what to do before your mind gives the instructions. That comes from experience. Take some classes. Learn the basics. Then, get some experience. Before long, other beginners will be watching you in amazement.