How do you keep the momentum going, keep active and keep improving your windsurfing over the winter months? RYA Chief Instructor, Amanda Van Santen, offers some advice.
Words Amanda Van Santen // Photos Paul Wyeth/RYA
Get the right gear
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. With colder weather you need to ensure you have the right personal equipment. Do your research and use the expertise in windsurfing shops to invest in a good wetsuit, gloves, hood and boots – ensuring they fit well too.
Winter is the ideal time to get some coaching or try something new as conditions are perfect for short, focussed sessions, so concentrate on a couple of key things you want to work on and achieve. If you’re keen to learn something new, wind foiling provides a great alternative, helping to enhance your core windsurfing technique, as well as widening the wind range you’re able to get out on the water in.
If a UK winter is really not for you, why not take the opportunity to treat yourself to a dedicated windsurfing holiday overseas? Enjoy time afloat in the warm sunshine, improve your skills and benefit from great coaching. And with more than 2,500 RYA recognised training centres all over the world – including winter hotspots Kenya, Bermuda and Mauritius – you’re spoilt for choice.
There’s plenty of opportunity to increase knowledge through some winter reading; the RYA Windsurfing handbooks are all packed with top tips and advice for all abilities. With everything from buying kit, to technique and scenario-lead coaching, you’ll be raring to get back out on the water with your newfound knowledge.
Most importantly, keep yourself active. Staying fit and healthy will help your windsurfing in general and keep your body ready to get back out there – especially if you decide to take a winter break.
The RYA’s network of affiliated clubs and training centres offer great opportunities to keep windsurfing throughout the winter months. Queen Mary’s Sailing Club (QMSC), Ashford and The Official Test Centre (OTC), Weymouth and Portland tell us about their winter windsurfing activity.
QMSC is situated on a large reservoir near London. The friendly and active club and training centre is open all year round, and with winter wetsuits and warm showers available, there’s no excuses! Assistant Manager and Principal, Paul Adams, says “By keeping going through the winter months, your windsurfing will keep improving and you won’t have to refresh when spring comes along. We have coaching available for all levels and our ‘Select Members’ get a winter training programme which includes clinics on specific intermediate and advanced modules and can be tailored to all conditions. If you’re looking to improve and get out in stronger winds, then winter is the best time. If it’s not windy, just try and keep active. Lots of aerobic exercise like running or swimming is good, or get out there with a small rig in light winds and try some freestyle – this will improve both rig and board control.”
It’s a similar story on the southwest coast. Situated within the grounds of the Olympic Sailing venue at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the OTC cater for every ability, from grassroots, to wind foiling, to pro clinics and coaching all year round. Director, Tris Best, says “We’re really lucky to have such fantastic facilities, and try to organise regular events to keep people active and out on the water over the winter period. It’s all about community, it keeps everyone safe but there’s also that added camaraderie and encouragement that comes from having other people to windsurf with. The best advice I can offer is to gear up so you’re ready for the colder weather. Our climate is fairly temperate compared to other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean the chilblains won’t set in when those cold winds come through. The level of kit available today is seriously impressive and wetsuits are now more flexible and warmer than ever before. Without a doubt, the best part of windsurfing in the winter is the .wind! You can use the same board and rig, but bear in mind with low pressures coming through, the conditions can change very quickly. Get a good forecast, make sure you stay safe by going out with other people and keep an eye on what’s happening throughout the day.”
Visit www.rya.org.uk/go/WheresMyNearest to find an RYA affiliated club or recognised training centre near you. To find out more about the RYA windsurfing courses visit www.rya.org.uk/go/LearnWindsurfing. To browse the collection of publications and eBooks visit www.rya.org.uk/shop.