Want to get into waves?
It's easier than gybing!
DO YOU WANT TO WINDSURF IN WAVES?
In this feature we cover: Are You Good Enough / How To Get Into Wave Sailing / Wave Sailing Locations / Kit Preparation / Techniques To Learn
Wave sailing evokes all sorts of emotions – trepidation and fear, but ultimately it’s about pure exhilaration. Everyone, at some point, has sat and admired surfers, wave sailors or ‘perfect’ waves rolling ashore. It’s one of nature’s most beautiful forces and accessible playgrounds. But while you’ll have seen amazing pictures, you don’t need to live in Hawaii, ‘Go Big or go home’ or be an expert to windsurf in waves. With the right guidance and especially with new super easy SUP’s and modern wave riding kit you too can ride small, medium or even large waves! It’s far easier than learning to gybe!
We’ve spent years assisting thousands of windsurfers through every stage of the sport and learning to windsurf in and enjoy waves is far more accessible than many people might imagine. Remembering that every other wave sailor once felt just like you do now. It’s our job and pleasure to show you the right tactics and give you the knowledge, assistance and skills to help you have the ride of your life!
ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH?
One of the biggest questions people ask themselves is, “Am I good enough to sail in waves”. It’s common to put things off or feel you’re not up to it.
Many seasoned windsurfers shy away from waves, when in fact they are way above the level needed to get into waves and relative newcomers successfully move into waves much early on. It’s got nothing to do with age! We have taught clients well into their late 60’s how to sail in and enjoy waves! So yes, respect waves, don’t be unnecessarily fearful. We show you locations, techniques and skills to find ‘comfy pillows’ conditions, rather intimidating waves. Especially with the advent of windsurfable SUP’s, catching small waves in non-planing conditions without high wind skills is incredibly accessible. But it’s true to say the fun really gets going on smaller wave orientated kit in breezier conditions, which is accessible to pretty much anyone who can plane in the harness.
If you can waterstart and sail a sub 120L board, you definitely have your passport to venture into waves. Wave sailing has little to do with your blasting or gybing ability. Wave sailing skills are no harder, just different and many would say easier than learning to carve gybe!
HOW TO LEARN TO WAVE SAIL
If we had to get you wave sailing and riding in the shortest possible time we would run through these stages with them to build up their understanding and skills base. It can take only a couple of days in the right conditions.
STAGE 1: DEVELOP COMPLIMENTARY SKILLS
Start to develop the wave related skills outlined in the ‘WAVEWISE COURSES & SKILLS SECTION’ further down in this feature, alongside that we would run through stages 2 & 3.
STAGE 2: WINDSUP / LARGE VOLUME BOARD IN LIGHTER WINDS/SMALLER WAVES
Start with a large SUP/Paddleboard in no wind with a paddle to show you how to actually catch a wave, check the line up and improve wave awareness.
Move to high volume WindSUP style board with something like 5.3m rig in non-planing winds and catch some waves and do the same in planing conditions.
STAGE 3: TRANSFER SKILLS INTO WAVES!
After some successful rides on slow motion style and much easier WindSUP, we’d transfer down to 85-105L Freestyle Wave / Wave board to suit your level. From them on you’d just want more!
Where as many people think it’s beyond them - Wave sailing with WINDWISE is accessible, fun and designed for even the most tentative. We can take it one stage at a time or push you to your limit. We're there to help you learn the supportive wave sailing skills, with our specialized WINDWISE windsurfing coaching system we’ll get you riding the smallest easiest waves first and then the waves of your dreams!
Q. HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT WAVES FOR ME IN THE UK?
A. There’s some cross over, but essentially you get two types of ‘waves’ - wind blown and swell driven. Wind blown waves are what you get in large reservoirs and more sheltered coastal waters when the wind alone creates surface waves or large chop, sometimes building large enough to form white water, break and ride. But wind blown waves tend to be short, steep and irregular, so more suited to bump and jump. We use places like Hayling Island as you get waves forming on a small sand bar which are a great introduction to the sport. However, ‘real swell’ comes from large low-pressure weather systems and ocean storms creating visibly defined ‘swell lines’ that travel hundreds of miles to the shore. Hence more exposed coastal locations like Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Scotland and Ireland being very popular with wave sailors. As the swell makes its way towards land it reaches a shallow reef below the surface. The reef, which could be stone, rock, coral or sand, causes the water to form more uniformed curved ride able waves (for a few seconds) before the swell comes to the end of its life as breaking white water.
Looking for an introduction to wave sailing locations, clinics, courses and holidays?
Hayling Island / Daymer Bay / Fuertaventura / Prasonisi / Mauritius / Lancelin / Maui
Experienced on wave kit? Want a wave sailing clinic, course or holiday with coaching?
TOP TIPS FOR FIRST TIME WAVE SAILORS
You want to avoid large shore breaks or launching straight into the waves on your first session. Certainly in the UK the tide and swell will vary during the day. In many wave spots the waves are smallest at low or on out going tides and larger on incoming or mid-high tides. This is where our learn to wave sail courses assist you in choosing the right location and time of day to get the conditions right for you! Ideally we find you somewhere with flat water leading up to the waves or a deep-water channel next to breaking waves. This means you can sail close to the breaking waves and work your way up in wave size more easily.
- Tide coming in on a low tide, ideally somewhere with a channel or well defined wave area.
- Cross-shore winds make it easier to sail in and out through the waves, with less wind shadow.
- Cross-off winds are harder to launch out through, but better for riding ‘front side’ along the wave.
- Cross-onshore wind is safest, more suited to jumping, but harder to ride ‘front side on’.
- Waves always have slack periods, so try to head out through the smaller ‘sets’.
WHEN DO I KNOW I’M WAVE SAILING?
If you get an amazing sudden burst of acceleration and you feel like the world underneath you is surging forward, guess what…YOU’RE ON A WAVE! In which case...... turn left or right to stay on that wave - don't go straight ahead! Unlike normal blasting in the harness across the wind, you’ll unhook and either head upwind (‘back-side riding’, a bit like starting a tack) or downwind (‘front-side’ riding, a bit like turning through a gybe). If you blast directly ahead, you’ll instantly lose the wave behind you. Usually as wave size increase, so does the wind shadow between them, so this is another reason to stay on the wave as it gives you more speed and stability. So god wave riding is all about being able to turn tightly in the straps, out of the harness and us the power of the wave. Contrary to what you might think, riding larger waves, (away from the white water), is easier than trying to catch smaller waves, they hold their shape for longer and are much easier to catch and stay on. In time you’ll link your top and bottom turns and enjoy the whole wave vista!
HOW TO SURVIVE GETTING TRASHED IN WAVES?
Should you find yourself in the ‘washing machine’ it will be a lively and humbling (it happens to us all!!!), but usually hurts the ego more than the rest of you. Here’s some simple in the moment anti panic thoughts.
- When standing in a shore-break, take waves head on and forcibly push the board towards the wave – keeping the rig clear of the water.
- If you fall in front of a wave ALWAYS try to hold onto you kit – flying the rig out of the water whenever you can!
- Stay ‘wave side’ & upwind of your gear to avoid the force of the water pushing the kit on to you!
- Avoid kicking like a crazed frog when waterstarting, reefs can be shallow!
- Uphaul or waterstart the way the rig has fallen, rather than spend time swimming the rig around.
- If you’re caught in a big set, grip the mast tip (tight with both hands) and submerge yourself and push mast tip beneath well below the surface before a wave breaks on you and hold on tight!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR WAVE SAILING
As the saying goes, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!’ It's vital to be on the right kit, properly set up and we help you achieve this!
Ideally start on a SUP even large freeride board (single back strap) in very small waves in non-planing winds.
In planing conditions most people end up riding a board similar in volume to their weight in Kg’s + or – 5/10L’s. But a well-rockered sub 120L Freewave board is fine for first time waves in plaining wind
Set the footstraps well forward (single back strap) and ‘more open’ for extra comfort and ease when riding.
Single fin is fine. Multi fins come into play when you’re concerned about how acute your top turns are.
Rig for the wave not the wind! There’s a lot of apparent wind once you’re on a wave so always use a sub 6m rig!
Compared to Freeride sailing, slightly drop your boom and lengthen your harness lines (elbow to start of finger/pads) for ease of hooking in and out.
WAVEWISE SKILLS TO PRACTICE
To make your first experiences in waves more enjoyable, on our WINDWISE wave sailing courses we coach you through these complimentary skills.
You’ll learn to do the things most people never do…but should. You can learn to windsurf in waves and we are with you all the way!
We teach you how to uphaul a submerged board in non-planing winds. Vital part of wave safety, survival between waves and lining up for waves in marginal situations.
We you get you amazing at clew first beachstarts/waterstarts for speedy exits and developing your clew first wave-riding skills.
We drill loads of flat-water wave riding in the straps to simulate what you’ll do on a wave! Check out the RYA Advanced App for this move!
You'll discover the value of learning to ‘hover’ and stay upwind on a short board off the plane to wait, observe and catch that wave, rather than let it catch you!
We help you develop all the key skills that link into surviving, jumping, wave riding and making it fun, rather than fearful.