Tom's Windsurfing Lesson Syllabus

The first three lessons below constitute the Beginner Certification Course and include: Basic Windsurfing and Sailing Theory, the Wind Clock and Points of Sail, Wind Awareness, Rigging and Handling, the Secure (or Stable) Position, Sailing Stance, the 180 Degree Turn, and Getting Under Way.

If you have successfully completed these three lessons, you should be able to sail away, turn around and sail back to where you started with a full understanding of the mechanics and technical theory of windsurfing.

The subsequent lessons are Improver Lessons to learn and master: Quicker Turns, Controlled Maneuvers, Faster More Exciting Sailing, Tacks, Jibes, Beachstart, and Introduction To Harness. These Improver Lessons, coupled with lessons for Shortboard Sailing, Waterstarts, and Footstraps and Planing, will give you all the skills and techniques you will need to be able to sail shortboards in high winds and chop.

Lesson 1:  Uphauling
Lesson 2:  180 Degree Turn
Lesson 3:  Sailing Under Power
Lesson 4:  Steering
Lesson 5:  Beachstart
Lesson 6:  Fast Tack
Lesson 7:  Power Jibe
Lesson 8:  Harness
Lesson 9:  Waterstart
Lesson 10: Getting On A Plane
Lesson 11: Getting In The Footstraps
Lesson 12: Speed Sailing And Stance
Lesson 13: Planing Jibe
Lesson X:  Freestyle

A very helpful study aid to prepare for these lessons is to visit the pertinent internet links, particularly those in the "Glossaries" section to help with the terminology and those in the "Beginner/Intermediate Video Clips" section to help with understanding the maneuvers.

Lesson 1: Uphauling

Lesson Plan: Learn to uphaul by using your body weight to balance the weight of the rig. Learn how to arrive at and maintain the "Stable Position" in a comfortable, upright, "number 7" body position. Learn to uphaul from both a downwind and an upwind sail position.

Test: Uphaul repeatedly with the back straight, not bending at the waist, using your body weight instead of your muscles (i.e., shoulders back, hips in). Uphaul, looking out around you, not at your feet or the rig or the uphaul line. Demonstrate the "Singing In The Rain" technique. Demonstrate changing hands and clapping hands in between. Demonstrate the one handed "Save" technique.
Lesson 2: 180 Degree Turn

Lesson Plan: Learn to turn the board 180° by moving the rig back towards the stern ("tack to the back"), and walking your feet around the front of the mast as the board turns underneath you. Learn to do the maneuver looking out around you, looking where you are going, not at your feet or the rig. Learn to do the maneuver, standing comfortable, upright, in the "number 7" body position, not bent at the waist.

Test: Perform 5 180 degree turns in succession without falling or losing the rig in the water.
Lesson 3: Sailing Under Power

Lesson Plan: Learn to feel the power in the sail and how to move the power hand independently of the mast hand. Learn to step back on the board and balance (lean) body weight against the sail power, hips in and shoulders back, standing erect and comfortable in the "number 7" body position.

Test: Sail under power, perform a 180 degree turn, then sail back. Do this 3 times in succession.
Lesson 4: Steering

Lesson Plan: Learn to move the rig forward and back along the chord line of the sail, and the manner in which that turns the bow in the direction you desire. Learn to fix (lock) the bow on a point and hold it there as you sail. Learn to sail upwind.

Test: Part 1: Sail for a limited session and return board to where you started (requires ability to steer upwind). Part 2: On both tacks, steer up to 12 o'clock, then fall off to a powered up close reach. Part 3: 90° Culebras - On both tacks, tall off 90° from a powered up close reach to a broad reach, then steer back 90° to a close reach. Repeat 3 times on both tacks.
Lesson 5: Beachstart

Lesson Plan: Part 1: Learn where the balance point is for the sail. Learn to "fly the sail". Part 2: While standing in the water with the board, learn to (1) power up the sail, (2) let the wind move the board and rig, (3) steer the board using the wind, (4) turn the board 180 degrees using the wind. Part 3: Learn to mount the board under power and sail away.

Test: Part 1: Perform a "step up" (no power in the sail) beachstart in both directions. Part 2: Perform powered up beachstarts (sail pulls you up) in both directions.
Lesson 6: Fast Tack

Lesson Plan: Part 1: Perform the first half of the fast tack by maintaining power in the sail until the bow turns all the way to and through 12 o'clock. Part 2: Perform the last half of the fast tack by throwing the rig forward across the wind in a "bow and arrow" position, sheeting in hard, with body weight low (butt near the water) and "pop and drop". Part 3: Learn to step around the sail with only three steps (plié) as the connecting move between Part 1 and Part 2 above.

Test: Fast tack in both directions using only three steps to get around the mast. Do this three times.
Lesson 7: Power Jibe

Lesson Plan: Part 1: Learn the rope jibe. Part 2: Learn to power turn downwind. Part 3: Learn to sail steer on a run. Part 4: Learn to foot steer on a run. Part 5: Learn clew first sailing. Part 6: Learn the sail flip (keep mast vertical). Part 7: Perform the complete power jibe.

Test: In both directions: Part 1: Perform 2 rope jibes. Part 2: On a run, sail steer from a board reach on one side to a broad reach on the other side. Part 3: On a run, foot steer from a board reach on one side to a broad reach on the other side. Part 4: Sail clew first in both directions 3 times. Part 5: Perform 3 complete power jibes in both directions.
Lesson 8: Harness

Lesson Plan: Part 1: Learn to wear and be comfortable in harness (not using it yet). Part 2: Learn to hook in and hook out while sailing powered up on a reach. Part 3: Learn how to fall windward while hooked into the harness; learn how to fall leeward (and under the sail) while hooked into the harness. Part 4: Learn to lean back in the harness and "play piano" on the boom with your fingers. Part 5: Learn to lean back in the harness and release one hand, then two hands from the boom.

Test: Part 1: Sail on a reach and hook in and hook out 3 times. Part 2: Sail on a reach hooked in for the entire reach; do this in both directions 3 times. Part 3: "Play piano" on the boom. Part 4: Release one hand from the boom and hold it at your side for 8 seconds. Part 5: Release both hands from the boom and hold them at your side for 3 seconds.
Lesson 9: Waterstart

Lesson Plan: Part 1: Beach start in progressively deeper water until you can do it waist deep, then finally chest high. Part 2: Learn to fly the sail and "butt sail". Part 3: Learn to solve the "sail puzzle" in shallow water (there are only 4 ways the sail can fall) to get the board and rig in the "optimum waterstart position." Part 4: Learn the technique of swimming away from the clew, not towards it. Part 5: Learn the technique of "pulling the sheet over your head." Part 6: Solve the "sail puzzle" in deep water.

Test: Part 1: Perform 3 beach starts in both directions in water that is chest deep. Part 2: "Butt sail" twice in both directions. Part 3: In shallow water, solve the "sail puzzle" for each of the 4 ways that the sail can fall. Part 4: Solve the "sail puzzle" in deep water. Part 5: Perform 2 water starts in both directions in deep water.

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