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newbie - no skill, lots of enthusiasm, a few dumb questions

 
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elenay



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject: newbie - no skill, lots of enthusiasm, a few dumb questions Reply with quote

I just started windsurfing this summer. I am having a blast time, but the difference between where I am and where I want to be is huge. When the wind is gentle and not off shore, I am able to zip around Mission Bay, San Diego and get back in no problem. In other conditions, I have had a couple of very unpleasant experiences with not being able to get upwind and back to where I started. Since I am going out by myself, that can be a pretty serious problem even though I am staying in the bay and letting someone know when I should be back. I gather that most beginners have that happen at first. Does that ever happen to you more experienced windsurfers as well? How well does self-resuce really work? The one time I had to try it, I was not strong enought to paddle in against the current. The wind just died suddenly and the current was pushing me out. I flagged down a boat for help. It sucked on an epic scale. I went back out the very next day, just to get back on the horse before I had too long to think about it.

Last weekend I went out in stronger, somewhat gusty wind and got absolutely mauled (still kind of fun though). I just could not control the sail - sail was 4.9, I am 125lb. If I use a smaller sail for over 10 wind, how much lower should I go? Or should I just tough it out and learn to control the sail?

About wet suits....I have not been wearing one so far, but the water is getting colder. I don't like wearing a wetsuit because the tight neck drives me crazy. I wear one when I dive, but for windsurfing, I am thinking of trying a framer john (jane for me I guess) suit. I could add a jacket if it temp requires it. Any advice on that? Any manufacturer that tends to a leaner fit? Typically, suits that fit me in torso length are too loose in the arms and legs.

That is it for now. Thanks in advance for any good advice!
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JoeT



Joined: 27 Aug 2007
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just started this summer too (SF bay area) so here's a fellow newbs advice before the other guys start to post (usually a day or two :p)

I'd suggest skirting the 'shore' a little more while you're still a newb. In my area I have kelp to deal with so that is a little awkward for me where "close" to the shore is like a mile out. (free from kelp)

I can't tell from your post if you have a skill problem getting upwind (maybe?) or if it's a gear problem (intermediate/advanced board w/no dagger system or similar?) in that perhaps the board you are using is only really capable of going upwind by a intermediate/advanced sailor. Who knows, maybe a little of both.

Speaking for myself, I have a beginner mid 90s longboard (3.4 meters, ~200L displacement) and as long as the wind is ~10 knots I can make really good progress upwind. Around 5 knots measurable progress becomes more difficult, and below that.... I probably can only put upwind at a snails pace.

Sail sounds a *little* big for your weight as a beginner, but I have no idea what the wind speed was where you were running into problems. I'm sure everyone here knows more on the subject than me but just to take a stab at it a beginner at your weight could probably handle a 4.9 into 15 knot winds or so... around 20 might be a little difficult particularly if gusting. Tacking/jibing probably looks more like a comedy routine if sufficiently gusty. (Esp. with kelp everywhere, heh. anyways it does for me lol)

wetsuit--- yes even in SD I'd say you need one. Water temp even in the summer is about ~65 if i remember correctly (probably a little lower a mile out) which equals hypothermia in a couple hours with no wetsuit = bad scene. I'd always wear one if I wear you, especially if sailing alone.

Since there are tons of kayakers and not so many windsurfers... can you buddy up with some kayakers? I've done that near me to ask them to watchover me if something bad happens. I've even towed them on a reach... they love that. heh.

Yeah the 'arm-less' wetsuits are fine. But since you're not swimming... I'd just wear a full suit. Less sunblock required :p plus it's warmer if you're ever in the position to have to swim back to shore (*knocks on wood*)

regarding self rescue: yeah it's really slow. It seems the best way is to get the sail out of the water as much as possible but you probably already know that. Be prepared to ditch the entire mast/rig and paddle for your life in a nasty current situation.

Also: I think a rule of thumb (beginner or no) is to never sail in offshore conditions.

and #2: don't ever sail/swim/surf/kayak/climb alone

I break rule #2 all the time.
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Arrgh



Joined: 05 May 1998
Posts: 863
Location: Rio

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure on water temp in San Diego, but probably close to those at Sherman Island where I usually sail. I wear a farmer john in the summer. I've used a jacket in the past, but imho they don't provide a lot of warmth because of the loose fit and the zipper. I hate having to get in and out of a full suit in the spring and fall, so this year I bought an O'neill Gooru GBS L/S Crew which is a 2mm, smooth skin, t-shirt of sorts, and it is really doing the job this fall. I wear it under the john. Not sure if they make a women's version, might be a choice between warmth and style. If you go the jane and jacket route check out Bare, as they make, or made, one with smooth skin. Really makes a difference in wind.
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rswabsin



Joined: 14 May 2000
Posts: 423
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The more you sail the more experience you'll gain with both sailing and general knowledge of the weather behavior in your area. ALWAYS keep an eye on the weather and the wind as your sailing. If you see the wind dropping off, head to shore and wait a little while before heading back out and see what the wind does. All windsurfers and kiters have done the "walk of shame" back to their car after coming ashore miles down wind and many experienced sailers still do, it's all part of the learning curve and sometimes there is no way to avoid it when the wind drops unexpectedly. If the wind is dropping off slowly, try and sail closer to shore until it picks up. There will be many days where you'll only sail about 1/2 hour or less before the wind dies and this just happens to all sailers.

For learning tips, try and rent or purchase one of the intermediate winsurfing teaching videos availabe through most shops. Or spend some time watching other windsurfers at a popular spot. It's a great sport with many frutstrations but all well worth them in the end.

Good Luck,
Rob
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vims



Joined: 16 Nov 2016
Posts: 0

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Elenay,

Welcome to a wonderful and rewarding (though often frustrating) sport. Smile What kind of a board are you using and how strong is the wind and current? That makes a big difference in going upwind and downwind, so if you don't know you should find out.

To get an idea of what sail size to use for what wind strength, enter your weight into the box in this excel file.

http://www.vims.edu/general/sailpaddle/SailCalculator.xls

It says that for your weight, a 4.9 is good for about 16 knots. If you want to sail in more wind than that you might want a smaller sail, although if you're sailing in less than 10 you might want to use the biggest sail you are comfortable with to help you go upwind. If you are using a big board with a daggerboard then the sail size won't matter as much (i.e. you can still get upwind even with a smallish sail if you are using the daggerboard).

One other thing I have learned that helps is to make sure you go upwind as much as possible on your way OUT from shore so you don't have to work as hard to get upwind on your way back. Also, you should make your first run out and back short, so that if you do get pushed downwind, you won't have as far to walk along the beach. If you can't get back to where you started after the short run, then try a different board and sail, a different technique, or waiting for conditions to change.

As for wetsuits, it's sort-of just something you get used to. Although some wetsuits are definitely more comfortable than others, so try a variety if you can. Some farmer-jane wetsuits for scuba diving have less of a collar around the neck than surfing wetsuits, so they might be more comfortable for you. The only disadvantage of those is that they let more water around the neck when you fall, especially if you aren't wearing a hood.
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speedysailor



Joined: 11 Sep 2007
Posts: 841

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>>I just could not control the sail - sail was 4.9, I am 125lb. If I use a smaller sail for over 10 wind, how much lower should I go? Or should I just tough it out and learn to control the sail?<< Tough it out.
TOW is the answer to all your questions. Don't get caught up in throwing a lot of money at the sport.
>>About wet suits....I have not been wearing one so far, but the water is getting colder. I don't like wearing a wetsuit because the tight neck drives me crazy. I wear one when I dive, but for windsurfing, I am thinking of trying a framer john (jane for me I guess) suit. I could add a jacket if it temp requires it. Any advice on that? Any manufacturer that tends to a leaner fit? Typically, suits that fit me in torso length are too loose in the arms and legs. << That Farmer J. and jacket combo isn't used much in this sport in that you need a lot of mobility and strength in your arms. You will forget about the neck once on the water. Try wearing a rash guard.
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elenay



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to all for the great tips. To answer a couple of the questions that came up.....I am on a beginner board and typically sailing in wind of around 10 knots. My last outing had gusts of around 20 according to the graphs on this site, which really threw me off. Basically, I was clinging to the sail while the wind tossed me around. Not pretty. At one point, I could hear some guys on a sailboat laughing at me as they went by.
I will start wearing the wetsuit I have and see if I can get past my issues with the tight neck. I really have a thing about that - I don't even wear T shirts because I just end up pulling on the neck all day. If not, I will go to a farmer jane type of suit (and perhaps some therapy?).
I ordered a basic windsurfing video and it just arrived. Can't wait to check it out! I had a few lessons to start, but I think I am at a point where I need more information on technique to advance.
What a great sport - it is the first thing I have tried that I like as much as skiing. Thanks again for the helpful replies.
Elena Y.
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SteveFoy



Joined: 15 Jan 1995
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really try to windsurf with other windsurfers. This makes a huge difference when you're a beginner. Seeing other people windsurf is a big motivational tool. Being able to talk to windsurfers and ask for tips and help is invaluable. There is a certain amount of risk when windsurfing alone, but when you're with others, the risk is greatly reduced. Contact local shops, use this forum, ask around. There's got to be popular places in your area where windsurfers sail, you just need to find them. Don't be afraid to talk to kiteboarders either. Many of them have a windsurfing background and could also help you out.
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USAM1



Joined: 19 Sep 1994
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey elenay,
keep on sailing, have patience, the more time on the water the better. ask the locals, if any are available, about site conditions. most people are more than happy to share a little wisdom.
about the wetsuit, could try trimming out the neck a bit with some heavy duty scissors. i had to do that with my dry suit (bare polar) , but it has latex/rubber seals. not sure if this would damage your suit, it may have stitching or some type of seal setup around the neck area. a snug neck fit is good, especially if you take the plunge in cold water.
good luck
andy m.
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