Facts about Windsurfing in SA
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Combine surfing and sailing and you’ll get an exciting sport called windsurfing. Riding a board powered by wind on a sail can be tons of fun even if you’re a beginner, with jumps, loops and spinning maneuvers to potentially engage in, once the basics have been mastered.
What better place to do it than South Africa, one of the leading windsurf destinations in the world? This is also the right time of year, with summer months offering temperatures of around 30oC and near-perfect wind conditions. So dust off the old kit or borrow some from a family member or a friend, and head out to defy friction and gravity by engaging in a seductive dance with both the sea and the wind.
Short History of Windsurfing
The sport stems back to 1948, which was when a 20-year old American Newman Derby thought of using handheld sail to control a small catamaran and invented what was known as a sailboard. The next major development took place during the late 1960s. Jim Drake, an aeronautical engineer, had the idea to get the sail moving by rotation and consequently conceived the universal joint. This mechanism is what allows a rider to control both power and direction by varying the angle of the sail to the board. In 1968, Together with a guy called Hoyle Schweitzer, Drake filed the first ever windsurfing patent. The popularity of this fun and challenging water activity reached its peak in the 1980s and was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984. Now a days organised competitions such as: Formula windsurfing, Slalom, Wave and speed sailing, SuperX and Freestyle, all take place around the world. Did you know windsurfing can also be done indoors? The PWA/UKWA World Indoor Windsurfing Championship, held during the annual London Boat Show, takes place at a massive indoor pool with powerful fans taking on the role of the wind.
A Lifetime Activity
It may look difficult to learn, but they say it takes no more than a few hours to conquer the basic skills of sailing, steering and turning. You're likely to start off on a large board with a tiny sail, in shallow waters along with a wind of less than 5 knots. Beginners start off by; developing balance and stability, understanding the basics of sailing theory, and learning a few techniques. Mastering the more advanced manoeuvres will take a bit longer so don’t expect to do planing, carve gybing or jumping before you’ve put in an increased amount of hours, (or more likely weeks to months...) of practice. The great thing is windsurfing is a sport that even kids as young as 5 years old can partake in, and once mastered one can continue on well into retirement. This is largely due to the fact that even if you were to crash, you’re likely to suffer significantly milder injuries than those with sports taking place on hard surface.
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