“A wet and windy weekend”.
Possibly the most familiar yet groan-inducing phrase known to the British population having been subjected to a lifetime of pessimistic weather forecasts. But what if it was said with a smile? Or, more specifically, the smile of a windsurfer?
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of windsurfing, it is ultimately a hybrid of surfing and sailing that challenges you to negotiate winds with a sail attached to what resembles a large surfboard underfoot. It is the perfect combination of technique and tenacity, enabling you to take on and convert Mother Nature’s wind-power into a fuel that feeds your very own adrenaline fix. So how do you get started?
The equipment is fairly straight forward; consisting of a board, mast, sail and boom. The board supports the mast, to which you attach the sail, with a boom running across the middle allowing you to hold on to the sail for stability and direction. You then position the sail in relation to the direction of the wind, allowing the gust to hit the sail’s large surface area and power the board along the surface of the water. And, in doing so, you are effectively combining and testing your delicacy of balance, grasp of wind dynamics and physical strength.
And a rather physical battle it can be… in tandem with the speed generated, the prime thrill of windsurfing is the opportunity to wrestle against such a raw force of nature whilst dancing to its gusty tempo and rhythm. Enthusiasts and professionals take this contest to its extremities; competing within the sport’s various formats of wave-surfing, free-styling, speed-sailing and performing big air jumps that defy all of the gravity laws you’d assume a board and sail (ranging up to 15 metres tall!) couldn’t possibly breach.
So what else do you get from this windsurfing business? Good health and good vibes to name but two. The sport provides you with a full body workout; thoroughly conditioning your legs, back, arms and shoulders whilst you lift, hold and spin the sail according to the conditions (oh, and be prepared for some quality swimming time around the board whilst you’re learning). However, you’ll be happy to hear that the adrenaline generated more than compensates for any exerted effort, with the sea air and endorphins combining to create an additive-free high without the hangover. And all of this comes at a minimal cost to the natural environment, for windsurfing is an eco-friendly and sustainable sport with zero dependence upon fossil fuels and is forever accessible in the open access playground of your nearest lake or beachfront.
As a result, windsurfing is now a well-renowned extreme sport in the UK and beyond, and such is its popularity that there are now specific holiday resorts and inclusive packages aimed at fanatics willing to travel in search of the winds that dwell over warm waters. It has even inspired a new derivative of itself, effectively growing to become big brother of the newborn phenomenon that is kite-surfing, where you capture the wind’s energy via a parachute whilst your feet are strapped into a mini surfboard. Oh and I should mention that you can windsurf on land should you make the perfectly rational decision of strapping your sail onto a specialised skateboard or kart.
So check the forecast… wet and windy this weekend? Turn off the TV, get down to the beach and you can be the one smiling come Monday morning.
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