So this is my first post on the Rooster blog. Steve was kind enough to ask me to join Team Rooster following his critique of my sailing last week, and I’m very happy to contribute.
It’s a difficult thing this first post, as there are a whole bunch of great sailors who already post here, and any insights that I have into dinghy sailing are most likely overshadowed by their greater expertise. That said, my background is probably different to the majority of sailors, in that I’ve rediscovered dinghy sailing after a 15 year break for windsurfing. I’ve found that some of the skills required in windsurfing are very useful in racing, and thought that a short piece outlining the benefits of windsurfing to the dinghy sailor may be of interest.
So here is my view of the benefits that windsurfing can bring as a second sport to dinghy sailing.
1. Wind Awareness.
If nothing else, windsurfing builds great wind awareness. As you are learning to windsurf, you quickly learn that unless you are scanning upwind you will get knocked off in the next gust. Your head has to be ‘off the board’ (that’s the closest I could get to ‘out of the boat’, suggestions welcome). As you improve, you learn to search out gusts to get the board planing – it takes more wind to get planing than to keep planing.
2. Strong winds are welcome
A key difference between dinghy sailing and windsurfing is that the windsurfer selects different kit for different conditions. Smaller sails are selected for stronger winds, you don’t feel overpowered (if you walk past of bunch of windsurfers rigging, you will hear random calls of ‘5.4 and 100’, ‘4.7 and 90’ and the like. This is a coded discussion on optimal sail and board size for the given conditions). After a while you welcome strong winds, and the waves/chop that comes with them. This is transferable to dinghies to a point, but I have to say that a Force 6+ in the 300 is still feels more like an ordeal than a pleasure to me!
3. Sailing in waves
Weaving your way through chop or waves is a necessity on a windsurfer and it happens at speed. The same principles apply as for dinghy sailing, you look for the ‘path of least resistance’ to get through, although the technique is much easier on a windsurfer. And no by-the-lee transitions!
Balancing skills are progressively honed as you progress in windsurfing. But I can tell you that getting the trim feedback upwind on the 300 is as much of a challenge.
Looks hard, but in reality the same skill set for dinghy sailing - balancing the power of the rig with the trim of the board/boat.
Windsurfing is great for upper body fitness. Blasting back and forth doesn’t take too much energy, but finessing those gybes and tricks is a good workout.
Please note that I’m not suggesting a prolonged break from dinghy sailing to get to a reasonable standard in windsurfing. That would not be good for the Rooster business, you should continue dinghy sailing preferably with a major refit once a year. Or a new boat. But as a complementary sport, windsurfing is great. And next time it is too windy for racing, you could join friendly windsurfing communities that pop up only when a low pressure dominates.
Now I’ve just recognised that my very first post includes no references to any Rooster kit. That can’t be good, Steve will revoke my id. So for any windsurfers out there, in autumn/late spring I’d recommend using a summer suit with a Thermoflex or Hot Top underneath, it keeps you really warm without the rigidity that comes with a steamer. And use a Rooster Beanie for a warm head without loss of orientation. Marlow Excel Control makes for excellent downhaul/outhaul lines, no stretch and good grip. There, that should do it.
Any other recommendations for complementary sports to sailing ?