WET now holds 2-3 “Intros” each summer. We had one in May, and one last Saturday, each with over 35 new people! At an intro, all the local windsurfers come out and teach groups of 4-5 people the basics of windsurfing. We use beginner equipment lent by Beach Sports, supplemented by our own loaner equipment. In between the Intros, we do supervised “Sunday Sailing” at a local site called Mill Creek. The idea of Sunday Sailing is to bridge the gap between the first lesson and the point where someone is seriously “hooked” and ready to buy their own equipment.
Working the kinks out of the Intro to Windsurfing system has been an iterative process, but judging by the wild success of last weekend’s event, we’re starting to get it right. One of the key ingredients for an Intro is a core group of US Sailing-certified Windsurfer Instructors, because teaching by a defined method is WAY more effective than not. We also press some untrained WET members into service for the intros, and give them a crash course on how to teach. We start the lessons on land, using boards with the fins taken out as simulators. The picture below is instructor Bruce Powers showing his group how to face into the wind and point their arms to the side, identifying the directions perpendicular to the wind in which they will be sailing.
Then here’s me coaching my group in how to uphaul and get into the basic position with the body in the shape of a 7.
After we do the basic on-land stuff, we go the water, which is where it gets interesting. Through experience, we’ve learned that we need to teach people to turn around BEFORE we teach them to sail. Otherwise they go way out in a straight line, fall down, and can’t figure out how to get back. Of course, some spectacular splashdowns are inevitable. The photographer who was there this time recorded some good ones. (The full album is at this link).
But by the end of the day, everyone was doing very well.