Windsurfing for kids
Free & independent
Windsurfing is a very intensive discipline, providing unbelievable feelings of freedom and independence. Water, wind, a surfboard and a rig and you are ready to go: right from the start - the wind in your hands, you find your balance and you are "easy-going" on the water. Wind and waves to play with, disconnecting and relaxing, enjoying nature - that's why windsurfing is one of the most fascinating and multifaceted watersports.
Windsurfing - for whom?
"For all those who are able to swim", most watersport-instructors state. Generally, the age of onset is between 7 and 10. Be careful: a comparison between different children of that age leads quickly to the conclusion of an obvious difference in physical and mental development.
An in-depth conversation with parents and child concerning age, weight (from experience not less than 30 kilos) experiences in other disciplines and the child's autonomy can give first impressions. In case of doubt, little games or exercises on land or on water will show if it is the right time to start are indicated. What helps me to know if my child is old enough to learn windsurfing?
Is your child able to carry a kiddy-rig, without any part touching the ground? Is he/she able to pull up a sail and to right it without a tremendous effort? Is your child capable of ducking without neither difficulty nor fear for a few seconds and is he/she able to dive under a board/rig?
School boards - a recipe of success
Endless climbing and falling off? Those times are finished. Thanks to beginner-friendly equipment, the first results won't be long in coming. Large, slip-proof boards of about 180l provide for enough stability and buoyancy to get going. In combination with light teaching rigs (mast, sail and boom ensemble) in graduated sizes make windsurfing a snap.
Neoprene - a must
Even on sunny summer days, an adequate wetsuit is mandatory. Wind on wet skin leads to evaporation cold, slowly cooling down the body. Long Johns or semi-dry wetsuits are rather suited for chillier conditions. Shorties are largely sufficient for warm climates. Neoprene shoes protect not only from undercooling but also from injuries.
A careful choice of the windsurfingschool
Watersportschools may have different quality standards. If you want to play safe, check whether the instructors have a valid training and examination licence and whether the school is recognized by an international association as VDWS.
- Are there seminar rooms and changing cabins?
- Does the course fee include the equipment?
- Can the basic-licence be passed?
- In case of tricky locations, does the school dispose of an operational motorboat?
- Do the instructors make use of workbooks and other teaching aids?
Beginner-courses: the goals?
It is true, theoretical knowledge about the board's and the sail's function as well as learning and improving one's techniques and moves are part of the course. However, the feel for the balance between one's body and the wind's force is what counts most. The experience of this feeling is the base of the new pedagogic, ludic approach of windsurfing.
The "control" of the sports equipment and the "orientation" on land and on the water form another goal. Trainees are supposed to control their equipment safely, from 1 to 4 Bft. They are supposed to orient theirselves on the water, to move in accordance with other watersportsmen and women and to head into any goal.
Basic knowledge about leisure time activities' current topics, about the protection of nature and waters as well as about safety and behaviour with respect to the other sportsmen and women are some of the cognitive goals. Social-affective goals as enjoying windsurfing, mutual assistance, and consideration for others determine the course.
Contents of a beginner-course
Becoming acquainted with the equipment (clothing, board, and rig), wind recognition, rigging and derigging and the most important knots.
Getting on the board, pulling up the rig and getting going, starting aids, starting forces, stopping, turning the board, steering (heading up and bearing away), tacking, getting windward and, as a cliff-hanger: jibing at low wind.
Information concerning meteorology and the different locations, forces (steering and the corresponding forces, the sail's function), courses, the 3 different kinds of wind, protection of nature, safety (rules of way, traffic regulations, transport of boards and rig on the roof of a car, what to do in emergency situations). The beginner-course is completed by the examination for the basic-licence.
Generally, a complete beginner-course takes about 12 to 14 hours. According to the prevailing conditions, different teaching possibilities exist (e.g. one or two compact teaching blocs - split into two, three, four or five teaching units). Most of the time, trainees dispose of extra occasions to learn and to practice after the proper course training.
Schooling equipment and teaching aids
Depending on the location, its weather conditions, the trainees and the goals, following teaching aids can be of help:
- Teaching boards and rigs in different sizes
- Several robust boards for on-shore preparation
- Buoys of different colours
- Flags to indicate the wind's direction
- Tools that help trainees to orientate (i.e. for steering, tacking, jibing)
- A simple board and a paddle (specially at off-shore wind)
- A tow rope (of at least 6 m)
- Backup workbook (workbook for beginners)
- Sequences of pictures, videos, slides, CD-Rom
- Magnet board with surfing and sailing models, chalk
- Little boats and buoys for illustration purposes (rules of way)
- Ropes to practice knots, knots illustrations
- Flipchart, paper and crayons
- Home-made wooden surfing model