How do I get started with windsurfing?
- Take a beginner lesson from a certified school. Windsurfing is pretty technical and is MUCH EASIER to learn with a lesson from a certified school. Within a 2 day beginner lesson, you will be sailing (windsurfing) around and turning.
- Practice. Windsurfing is easy to learn but takes time to get really good. The more time you spend on the water, the faster you will improve. We rent gear for all ability levels so you can come back and practice after your lesson.
- Buy Gear. Once you have passed the beginner phase and are learning to use a harness and waterstart, you are ready to get intermediate gear. All students taking our 2 day class receive a $200 discount on a complete windsurf package. See our gear page for more details.
How does windsurfing work?
Windsurfing was invented in the 1960s by 2 California guys – a sailor and a surfer. They decided to try putting
a sail on a surf board, and a new sport was born. The sport has come a long way, and now is easier than ever to pick up. The boards have become wide and stable, the sails light and easy to manage. Windsurfing uses the same engineering principals as flying and sailing. The sail acts as a foil, and the wind creates “lift” in the sail that makes you glide along the water. You learn to sheet in (bring the sail in closer to you by pulling in with your back hand) to increase power. You learn to sheet out (let the sail out away from you by letting out your back hand) to decrease power. With alternate hand movements, you control the angle of the sail to the wind. The more wind in the sail, the faster you go. Turning is accomplished by leaning the sail back towards the back of the board (go upwind) or leaning the sail towards the front of the board (go downwind).
Do I need to be really strong to lift up a windsurf sail?
Contrary to popular belief, windsurfing does not require upper body strength. The modern day equipment is light weight and easy to use. The boards are wide and stable, and the sails are light and nimble. All you need is balance, finesse and a good lesson from a certified school on modern equipment.
How long does it take before I am able to practice by myself on a windsurf board?
The average person can learn the basics of windsurfing in our 2 day beginner lesson. It is an easy sport to learn (with a good lesson and good modern beginner gear). We teach all ages (age 4-100) and windsurfing is all about balance and finesse, not strength. As long as you can swim and are in reasonably good shape, you will enjoy picking it up quickly. Then you can come back and rent gear from us to practice on your own.
How much do lessons cost?
Our 2 day beginner lesson is $165 for a 6 hour lesson and includes all gear and wetsuit. Please visit our windsurfing page for more pricing information.
What type of equipment do I need?
You will need the following for your windsurfing (which you can rent from us after taking a lesson):
- uphaul rope
- mast extension
- universal joint
Visit our gear page for more details on equipment. All of our students taking our 2 part land and water lesson receive $200 off a complete windsurf gear package.
Can I rent gear or do I have to buy it?
We can rent you everything. We rent all size windsurf boards and complete rigs (sail/mast/boom) as well as wetsuits and booties. After you progress to the intermediate stage (using a harness) you may want to buy gear and windsurf at other places. All of our students taking our 2 part land and water lesson receive $200 off a complete windsurf gear package.
Visit our windsurf page for more details on equipment rentals.
How much does the gear cost?
A complete windsurf package that includes board, sail, mast, boom, mast extension, universal joint, uphaul rope, harness, and wetsuit runs approximately $2000-$2500 for all new equipment. We also offer used a closeout gear that is less expensive. We also carry lots of used gear that is much less expensive. Visit our gear page for more details on equipment. All of our students taking our 2 part land and water lesson receive $200 off a complete windsurf gear package.
What type of equipment does Boardsports School teach on?
We teach on HiFly, Naish, Mistral, Hot Sails, and Loft. We have boards and sails of every size (beginner through advanced) and can teach all ages (ages 4 and up).
Visit our gear page for more details on equipment.
How important are safety considerations?
Windsurfing is a very safe sport. These are the most important items to consider to maximize your safety:
- Learn and practice at a beginner friendly site (ask the locals for advice, Alameda is the best for the Bay area)
- Learning in side on-shore winds (as opposed to offshore winds)
- Learn/practice in manageable wind speeds (ideally between 5-10 mph when you are learning)
- Be aware of tides and how they effect your riding (incoming flood tide decreases power of the wind, outgoing ebb tide increases power of the wind)
- Avoid storm winds and gusty unstable winds
- Be aware of right of way rules
- Be aware of water temperature awareness and wearing the right wetsuit. Hypothermia is a real risk in the SF Bay Area. We recommend you wear a full wetsuit with a thickness of 4/3 mm or more.
- Respect for mother nature and judge wind conditions – “when in doubt, don’t go out”. Know when it’s too windy, too gusty, or your ability level is not ready for crazy wind conditions.
Where are good places to learn and practice windsurfing in the SF Bay area?
Boardsports School enjoys exclusive teaching rights at the best beginner location in the Bay Area – Crown Beach Alameda. We have side on shore wind, a 2 mile long sandy beach, and shallow warm water. Learn at this ideal beginner location where you will come back to
practice on your own.
When you are learning, avoid sites with:
- off shore wind
- water obstacles (pilings, rocks, or any obstacles in the water)
- rock levees
- gusty conditions
- crowded water (boat traffic, shipping lanes, recreations boats)
- cold water (coastal sites)
- waves (too hard to learn in waves)
Once you have learned how to ride upwind and are an advanced beginner (able to tack, jibe, use a harness in moderate winds (10-15mph) you may consider going to the Berkeley Marina or Coyote Point in San Mateo. Alameda is the best spot for learning and practicing until then.