01 October 2022

Getting started- Windsurfing

August 3, 2010

Imagine skimming across the water, wind on your face, water splashing at your feet, just you and the elements, enjoying and appreciating what nature has provided. Amy Carter gives us the lowdown on the sport of windsurfing.

Getting-started-windsurfingLeaving the stresses and strains of everyday life on the shore, and using every part of your body in unison with your equipment, with nothing else to think of except going that little bit faster, making the next turn, catching the next wave or just enjoying being out on the water with friends.

Windsurfing has a different meaning to everyone, but to me that is what it’s all about.

What’s it all about?

A windsurfer basically consists of a board, mast, boom and sail. The principle of windsurfing is simple; you stand on the board, with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, and hold the sail up with your hands. The aim is to control the board and execute all the different manoeuvres with a variety of techniques. When you learn to windsurf it will be in a safe, calm environment where you can get to grips with the theory and techniques of the sport. After mastering these you can move onto sailing in more challenging conditions and continually improve your windsurfing ability.

There are many different types of windsurfing. From blasting along or learning tricks on flat water, to surfing or jumping in waves, there is an aspect of the sport that everyone can enjoy and excel in.

The Basics


The number one reason for doing any leisure activity should surely be the enjoyment you get from it. The feeling you get as you are floating across the water is quite hard to explain, or fully understand, until you experience it for yourself.


Windsurfing is a complete body workout. It naturally tones your back, arms, stomach, bum and legs. A session on the water will use your cardiovascular system too, but unlike most exercise you won’t be clock watching, an hour or two windsurfing can fly by and rival any gym workout.


Windsurfing is an incredibly social sport, and you are bound to meet lots of like minded people. As windsurfing inevitably becomes a significant part of your life, acquaintances met through the sport quickly become good friends.



Your local lake is by far the best place to start. As your windsurfing level improves you may seek out more challenging conditions, and it becomes possible to travel to some incredibly beautiful locations across the UK, Ireland and the rest of world in search of that perfect spot.

How easy is it for women and girls?

It is a common misconception that you have to be big and strong to be able to windsurf, and although strength may help at the top level of the sport, it is in fact technique that is paramount. Females are widely considered to be better pupils than men, the ability to take a little time understand the theory of what you are doing before jumping straight on a board is definitely advantageous!

www.flowindsurfing.com and the FLOW (For Ladies Of Windsurfing) group are making it even easier for women to get into the sport by providing a great website brimming with information specifically for the fairer sex involved in the sport. There are top tips and articles written for every level of female windsurfer, as well as offers on female only courses, packages and with retailers, making your first steps on a board even easier and cheaper!


Getting on the water

There is no better way to learn to windsurf than by getting lessons at an RYA (Royal Yachting Association) accredited centre. Here you will be taught by a fully qualified instructor in appropriate conditions with safety cover.

Many RYA recognised training centres, sailing clubs and schools offer taster sessions for as little as £25.00 per hour. There are centres and clubs based all over the country and abroad, both inland and on coastal waters.


What you might need

To learn to windsurf you will need minimal kit as most training centres will have the equipment and a wetsuit for you to use. It might be useful to take along something to eat and drink, sunblock, swimsuit, a towel, a warm coat and some wetsuit boots or old trainers if you have them.

Once you have become hooked you will almost certainly want to buy your own kit. There is a whole range of equipment out there, suited to different people for different conditions and disciplines.

Find a club

There are many excellent clubs around the country that actively promote women’s windsurfing and run various courses, social events and racing calendars. Many clubs offer a ‘pay as you play’ type package, where you can hire equipment per day or within a monthly subscription. This is a great idea, particularly when you are starting out as you can try different types of equipment while progressing your windsurfing.

Use the RYA club finder  to see what’s in your area.

Where to buy

You do not need to buy brand new equipment, especially when you are starting out.

There is a massive range of second hand equipment available online and at your local shops and centres where you can buy boards. sails, wetsuits, a buoyancy aid and/or harness, and wetsuit boots. Looking in the classified pages of windsurfing magazines, the notice board at your sailing club, or on second hand websites is a great way to pick up bargains. Websites such as  www.boardwise.co.uk and www.boardseeker.com/equipment.php have great section hand sections. Also check out FLOW website for some fantastic deals.

When you have progressed through the basics of windsurfing you will be able to decide which type of windsurfing suits you:

Freeride: blasting around on flat(ish) water on the most comfortable equipment, easy to use sails and boards, a great progression for beginners.

Freestyle: tricks on flat water, similar to some skate boarding moves, including spinning, jumping and sliding.

Wave Sailing: surfing on waves, like a surfer, and jumping off waves to go as high as you can and adding some tricks into the jumps as you progress.

Racing: All about going as fast as you can around a set course, some racing is quite competitive but there are lots of events for those who just want to have fun too, it is a great way to improve your windsurfing.

Equipment Glossary:

Board – the piece of equipment which you stand on and floats on the water.

Nose – the front of the board.

Tail – the back of the board, distinguished by having the fin attached to the bottom.

Deck – the top of the board which usually has a rough finish to give grip, which helps you balance.

Fin (also known as a skeg) – found on the underneath side near the tail of the board, it projects out to give stability and lift to project the board along the water.

Footstraps – found near the tail of the board, they are straps attached to the deck which are used in windier conditions to secure your feet to the board.

Daggerboard – found on some, but not all boards, like a longer fin which is situated more in the center of the board and can be used when needed to help with stability and direction.

Deck Plate/UJ – attaches the board and sail together.

Rig – collective name for equipment which fits together to drive the board, a main component of which is the sail.

Sail – the piece of material extended over a mast which catches the wind and propels the board.

Battens – long strips usually made of carbon, inserted inside the sail to give it shape and stability.

Mast – the tall upright post used to support the sail.

Mast base/extension – fits into the bottom of the mast to make it the exact measurement required for a sail, and then attaches to the deck plate/UJ.

Boom – extends from and around the mast, and is what we hold onto while windsurfing.

Uphaul – an elasticated piece of material used to pull the sail up with.

Outhaul – a piece of rope going between the clew of the sail and the back of the boom, pulled tight to set the sail.

Downhaul – a piece of rope running through the mast base/extension which is pulled tight to set the sail.

Harness Lines – lengths of rope covered in plastic which can be attached onto the boom and used in windier conditions to hook into (using a harness) to take the weight from your hands and help keep control of the sail.

FlowAmy Carter, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Image credits:

Image 1 – Maeli Cherel pictured

Image 2 – www.lauraslaterphotography.co.uk and Nayra Alonso courtesy of Severne

Image 3 – www.lauraslaterphotography.co.uk

FLOW – For Ladies Of Windsurfing www.flowindsurfing.com is the online resource designed specifically for female windsurfers.

FLOW has been set up by experienced British windsurfer Amy Carter, to encourage more women into the sport she loves, as well as forming a community for those already enjoying the sport. It has information provided by women, for women, about every aspect of windsurfing and related areas that women care about. The site is regularly updated and contains articles on everything from how to get into the sport, how to set up your equipment, windsurfing locations, interviews, news and much more. It is the perfect place to find out all about the sport, get in contact with other female windsurfers and take advantage of some great offers just for FLOW members.

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