Every year people flee the UK to get their windsurfing fix on holiday somewhere hot and sunny. But how can these adrenaline-seeking tourists get a shot of the same when they return home? The RYA tell us how.
Words RYA // Photo NEILSON
Dave Parsons was a typical windsurfing tourist. A veteran of some 20 Neilson and Mark Warner adventures in Greece, Turkey and Egypt, Dave, who lives near Durham, had never contemplated windsurfing back home. For a start, the water would be too cold, wouldn’t it?
Yet, after a bit of coaxing from some Rutland-based windsurfing friends, Dave relented and to his surprise he enjoyed it. Now he is looking at what he needs to do it more regularly.
Dave explains: “Windsurfing was always something I did on holiday and I was happy with that. But over the past couple of years I’ve got more confident and a bit better. Our friends windsurf a lot in the UK and they kept egging me on saying ‘We’ve got a wetsuit, we’ve got a board, just have a go!’ The water was warmer than I thought it would be and with a good wetsuit on, once I got moving it was fine. Now I’m looking to join the windsurfing section at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club, have bought a wetsuit and am researching what kit to buy.”
Dave’s concerns about the cold are common amongst holiday windsurfers, as are his queries about how to pick it up back home when everything is on a plate on holiday. Yet RYA Instructor Trainer and Coach Sam Ross insists just doing a bit of windsurfing when you come home means you can return overseas much more proficient. “You see people spending the first three days of their holiday getting back into it again and then fatiguing quickly towards the end of the week. How much more would you get from your holiday if you didn’t have to catch up? Nothing is better for windsurfing fitness than windsurfing and going home and practicing what you’ve learned on holiday means you will improve faster too.”
Top tips for post-holiday windsurfing
- Don’t put it off!
UK sea temperature is warmest in September and October, with the main season running until the end of November. In the UK when it’s windy from the south, it tends to be mild too. If you plan to wait until you think it will be warmer in the spring, you probably won’t go at all. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
- Find the best place local to you
Whether you want more tuition, to hire kit or need equipment storage, the RYA’s Where’s My Nearest website (www.rya.org.uk/wheresmynearest) is the best place to find RYA Training Centres and clubs that can help.
Some centres, such as The OTC in Portland, Bray Lake Watersports in Maidenhead, Lagoon Watersports near Brighton, Queen Mary SC in London and 2XS near Chichester do gym style memberships. These are starting to appear more and more.
Certain sailing clubs, like Derwent Reservoir SC in the North East, Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club in Somerset and North Lincolnshire and Humberside SC, also offer kit access and packages for windsurfers.
3. Pick the brains of your holiday instructor
There are three essentials you need to know to pick it up back home
- What volume board do I need?
- What width board do I need?
- What ‘starter sail’ do I need?
Yes there are lots of other technical bits to learn about along the way, but these, plus a good wetsuit and a harness, will get you started.
- Get kit you’re comfortable with
You don’t have to get your own kit immediately, but if you do want to buy a board don’t go the ‘I’ll grow into it’ route – if you can’t do it you will lose interest. Kit has a much longer shelf life than it used to, so get a board you’re happy on and you will be surprised at how long you’re able to use it.
- Use the expertise in windsurfing shops
Windsurfing shops get most of their custom from repeat business, so they are going to tell you what you need to know, not just try to sell you the most expensive thing. Their knowledge, both about kit and windsurfing locations, is vast too.
The National Watersports Festival (www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com) is also a great place to demo kit on the water that is much more representative of what a post-holiday windsurfer is likely to find at home.
6. Enjoy home comforts
The UK has some fantastic locations and conditions for windsurfing, coastal and inland. Don’t think because the sun might not be permanently shining or there isn’t a Mistral blowing that it’s pointless. Savour the new experience and return to your favourite holiday destination a better windsurfer than when you left.