Tom's Windsurfing Lesson Syllabus
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:
- 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.
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"
- 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.
Sail under power, perform a 180 degree turn,
then sail back. Do this 3 times in succession.
- Lesson 4:
- 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:
- 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
- Lesson 6:
- 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.
Fast tack in both directions using only
three steps to get around the mast. Do this three times.
- Lesson 7:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.