Sunday 12 September 2010

Why do I windsurf and how did I get here?

Nearly 30 years ago as a small boy I remember helping my cousin carry a huge lump of plastic with lots of bits stuck to it about half a mile to the sea. It was such hard work that when I tried to pull that massive triangular sail up I had no energy left. It just looked so cool to have a pack away boat that could be sailed wherever you could manage to carry it.
Just over 20 years ago my parents wanted to move from Stockport to North Wales near Anglesea and open a B&B, all I wanted was to be near the sea and dreamt of having my own windsurfer. That year I went on a school trip to the south of France, an activites holiday in which most of us were so hungover every day that it was impossible to appreciate the activities. It was then that I got the sail out of the water, moved about 10m along the shallows, fell in and then it was someone elses turn. I forgot about watersports for a long time after that, my parents did move to Rhyl but I went to university in Hull. If ever there was a place to put someone off the sea its Hull, or rather the Humber estuary. I hope the picture shows the colour well enough.

About 10 years ago I decided to retrain and become a teacher, in the long summer of my 2 year course I lived in a tent down on the north coast of Cornwall, started surfing and rekindled my love of the sea and the feelings of freedom it generates for me. The next year I applied to a few schools on the south coast, from Christchurch across to Wadebridge. Stuck in the middle was the place for my first interview, Weymouth. They put me up in a hotel overlooking the bay and I sat there thinking what a nice place, got the job and turned down all the other interviews.

In Weymouth I found it hard to get a place to live, and ended up lodging with a new found friend who had some old windsurf kit in his garage. He hardly used it, he wouldnt let me borrow it (now I understand why - too easy to break) so I wound him up that if he didnt get out on it then I would use it one day when he was at work. He is now as hooked as me, well perhaps not quite as bad as I am. I got a lesson through Windtek, managed to tack and gybe in the first half hour, went back into the shop on the way home and got a full board and rig package.

 That was perhaps my first mistake, I was overconfident as learnt quickly on a big board so decided to go straight for an intermediate 150l, which I promptly broke the nose of in a force 6. It took me 4 years to gybe again as I then replaced the 150 after about 10 short sessions with a 133 which was too small. This put me off unless the wind was perfect for it, it was hard to uphaul at first and I couldnt waterstart.
For about 3 years I had the kit, one board and 2 sails and hardly used it. My girlfriend at the time wouldnt let me drop everything when the wind blew, in fact she made it so hard to windsurf I think that in the 2 years we were together I got out twice.

When it was over I got out about 10 times in the following year and was up to the point where I could get my feet in the straps and beachstart as long as I could touch the bottom. Then the winter set in and the kit was packed away. I also met Kat who loves the fact she is with someone who does a lot of sport, and enjoys watching at times.

Last year I had 59 sessions, developed a full quiver of boards and sails and got the bug big time. A brief break this winter and I have not been off the water for more than 5 days since.

Over time as I think about it more I will edit this to get it spot on, why do I windsurf - escape from reality, fitness, pushing myself, soul healing even though I dont think there is a soul, meeting more genuine people than any other walk of life I have strolled around in...........

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