Check your equipment
It should be obvious for every windsurfer to check the condition of their equipment. Broken power joints or frayed ropes, likewise loose footstraps or a badly adjusted sail tops can quickly lead to an emergency situation.
When you plan a long windsurf trip, you should leave the following information to a watersport center or with friends: Where you are going? When you expect to return? The places you plan to rest along the way? The colour of your sail?
It is hard to recognised currents from the shore. If unfavourable, strong currents can turn out to be treacherous, as you are unable to paddle or swim against them. In inland waters currents are as a result of tides, ebbing and flooding. Open valleys can also be life endangering. Nevertheless, these are well indicated through good warning signs.
All currents through the open sea are as a result of tides. A tide comprises of two high waters and two low waters following each other. In 12,5 hours the water runs from high water to low water from and after it reaches high water again.
The strongest currents arise: If there is a big difference between high and low water. Around islands or other obstructions that lie under the water. In the third and fourth hour before and after high water. Close to shore, currents can pass around obstructions such as sandbanks,islands or hills and, from there, run in the taken direction of the tide. Before you go windsurfing find out if and when strong currents are present.
In an emergency?
To paddle or wait and later call for help – that is a difficult decision to make:To paddle you must, if possible de-rig your sail or abandon it. On the other hand you can wait to be rescued, and use your laid out rig as an anchor to stop yourself from drifting, especially against strong and offshore winds. Wind makes paddling very hard. To paddle back to the shore, only if you are certain, then you should cope with the distance without problems.
Wetsuits and accessories
A good wetsuit should lie like a second skin on the body, without restricting youfrom freedom of leg and arm movements. A smooth neoprene insulates a lot better than a rougher neoprene, although, unfortunately, they are more susceptible to damage. There are many various cold protective wetsuits offered. A neoprene wetsuit most suitable for north european locations is 3-4mm thick with long legs. These may also have the option of short or long arms. With some wetsuits there is the option of detaching the arms with a zip, allowing you to adapt your wetsuit for use on warm and cold days. In addition to this, extreme weather sport shops have clothing available to complement wetsuits such as neoprene hoods, kidney belts, gloves and boots. In warmer regions of southern europe it is suffice to wear only a thin shorty wetsuit. In some parts this may even be too warm and must be substituted with a sun protective lycra shirt.
It is recommended to wear shoes when windsurfing. Not only do they keep the feet warm from the susceptible cold, but also, protect you against injury and softening of the feet. Besides this, shoes offer you a secure grip on the board. Only in very warm areas, with water temperatures over 25 degrees and air temperatures beyond 30 degrees, together with a fine sandy bottom, it is unnecessary to wear shoes, and can be sometimes troublesome. There are many types of surf shoes. Depending on the location and the temperature there is a wide range, varying from thin shoes to thicker 5 mm winter shoes.
There is no shame in calling for help
The distress signal must clearly given and be seen, so that a swift rescue can be conducted.
You have two possibilities:
To sit, knee or stand with stretched out arms, then clearly and slowly move them up and down. Position yourself on the board (on your knees), balancing through holding the tensioned up-haul line.
With the other hand take a bright coloured object e.g. Harness and swing it slowly in a circle. In addition you should pull out the rig in consistent intervals. You will be best off making this in swell or in poor light.
In the second case, leave your rig laid out and whatever, stay with your board. Like this you preserve your energy and can be seen easier from a boat or a rescue helicopter. When you see another windsurfer making the distress signal you are obliged to help.