To a windsurfer, there's nothing
more inviting than heavy
swell moving in from a distance.
It's the perfect challenge
that the sea can throw up, and
it's got two equally able and malevolent
companions to throw you off balance
-- the wind and tide.
But if you're calm, you'll observe how
all of these together make for great surfing
conditions. And once you've figured
out the direction you're going to be travelling
in, it's all a matter of poise.
Step wise progression
Actually, there are three stages
to it. You start with lying flat
on the board and swimming
for a while. This is to warm
up your biceps for the rigour
that is to follow. The next
step is stand up paddleboarding,
which is a sport
in itself. You stand on the surfboard and
use one oar to manoeuvre the waves.
With this you can go real fast, and the
activity is just as thrilling. But to Alistair,
my instructor from England, it is a way
to get me acclimatised to moving around
in the choppy sea. He says it will help
me with my surfboarding stance.
In the middle of the Mana Mana
beach resort, in Singapore, I'm all set
for my first windsurfing lesson.
Learning the basics
After a few laps of paddleboarding,
the exercises begin on Alistair's simulation
kit set up by the shore. He starts
with the basics. The mast is the pole
that holds up the sail, the boom is a
curved bar that controls the sail, and
the mastfoot is a universal joint at
Throughout my time at sea, I
will place my legs sideways, at
an arm's length from each other,
except when turning the board.
To start off, I will climb the
board,lift the mast and grab hold of the boom.Then i will turn the board
depending on which direction the wind
is blowing in, and begin surfing.
We do one session on
land, and the combination is
so difficult to remember, I
either forget to position my feet
correctly or direct the mast the
Out in the sea
When we enter water, the wind
is blowing in the south west direction.
This means that we can either
go north west or south east. Alistair
chooses south east. We wade into
about 5-feet deep water, and then I
climb onto the board. Even on my
beginner's Starboard, with a volume
of 250 litres and a 3 metre sail, lifting
the mast is difficult. I almost tip over
twice, and then get its position right.
No sooner do I hold it there that it tilts
backward and the board sets off. I
realise I've opened the sail a bit too
much. But before I can act, I lose control
and plunge into the water headlong.
The next time I make it a point to
hold the mast close to my body so as
not to expose too much of its surface
area. I get my balance right and, securing
my grip on the boom, tilt the mast
downwards and behind me.
The breeze propels the board forward
but also turns it in the direction
of the shore. "Tilt the mast to the left
and let your feet turn the board... then
step over to the other side,"I hear Alistair shout from behind. If he were
me, he'd have turned the mast to the
other side and slowly stepped to the
back of the board to make it turn. But
I'm content just to see the board moving
and I expose a little more of the sail.
Within minutes my little watercraft
picks up pace, about 30 kph, and I have
set off parallel to the shore of Singapore.
I feel like one of those professional guys
on TV, riding the wild surf. But I'm not
in complete control yet, and I know
The wind can drag me wherever
it wants. Even as I'm wobbling on
the board trying to turn it and
give it a new direction, the mast
jerks and goes out of control. It
doesn't hurt me that I fall into
the water again. But it is
painful when the sail lands
right on my head.
Before I get back on,
Alistair comes rumbling
behind me on his
motorboat, saying I
should use the wind
to get the boat sailing.
I try his
and this time it
does work. I'm
surfing at a
and I even
make quick turns before letting go of
the mast in fatigue.
The board slows down by the shore
and, just as I am about to alight, it gives
a sudden jolt and throws me overboard.
It is my umpteenth dip in the water and
I'm really not amused. Alistair walks
up to me from behind. "What did I teach
you before we entered water, the first
thing?" It hits me in bits. "Oh yeah.
Alight when you're about five feet from
the shore and drag the board all the
way outside," I say. "So should we do
only the last bit again, then?
Wind surf in the city
H2O water sports offers lessons spread
over 7 sessions. Basic knowledge of
swimming is essential. Call: 23677546.
Lamhe.com organises windsurfing
expeditions at a camp near
Mahabaleshwar. Cost: Rs 20,000.
Visit: www.lamhe.com for details.
Windsurf in the Varasgaon Dam back
waters, 45 km from Pune with Wind
Nature Trails organises windsurfing
camps at the Tapola River over a period
of 2 days. Call: 022-66557777
Go windsurfing in Goa. Get in touch
with the Goa Yachting Association at the
Dona Paula Beach Resort.