View Full Version : Out of shape beginner....need help :-)

31st July 2007, 07:14 PM
I have been in the windsurfing world for 4 whole weeks now.

I have now been 8 times.... anyone impressed? Well I love it, and I am truly hooked.

One problem, I'm out of shape. I'm 6'1" (185.42 cm), 216 lbs (98 kg).
After only a few weeks I can tell that windsurfing works you pretty good.

My problem is that I am so hooked, I know I need to work out on the days I can't go so I am better on the days I can.


What exercises are the best to help you on the water?

Also, right now what gets the sorest are the bottoms of my feet... Is that weird?

I have flat feet and that might be my problem, but I think it has to do with balancing.

Thanks for any advice.


31st July 2007, 07:47 PM
Hi Anthony, and welcome to the Starboard Windsurfing School Forum!
I suspect that the reason yoiu are "getting worked" has to do with how you are doing things, the gear your are using to learn, and perhaps the conditions you are trying to learn them in.
Have you taken some lessons, or are you "teaching yourself"?
Just like many other sports, there is an easy way to learn, or you can tough it out and try to teach yourself which takes 2 (or more) times as long and has a huge frustration factor.
Can you describe for us a few things, and perhaps we can suggest an easier way for you to learn the basics with provides a strong solid foundation for further progress.
How much wind are you sailing in (windspeed in knots if possible)?
What size board are you using? (brand/model/width and volume would be most helpful.
What brand/model sail are you learning on and what mast are you using (length/IMCS/weight or carbon percentage here please)?
Also,how many times do you fall in the water in each of your sailing sessions? A few, every time you need to turn around, lots of times between your turns?
The above questions are designed to determine your current skill levels, what gear you are on, what conditions you sail in so that we can give you solid advice that's going to work for you and give you some immediate solutions to problems you may be having.

Does your board have an EVA rubber deck pad, or are you learning on something with just non-skid?
My guess would be, having taught a ndred or more guys your size, that you are moving your feet around on the board and also trying to hold onto the deck with your feet. We will give you some techniques so that you place your feet in the correct positions and simply stnad there, not moving your feet at all.
Your feet do not need to be "attached to the board" and trying to hold onto the deck with your toenails is completely unnecessary, but most beginners (end especially larger guys) seem to think intuitively that they need to do this, rather than placing the feet comfortably, where they need to be to give the best fore and aft and side to side stability (i.e. over the centerline, both feet behind the mast foot BEFORE you apply any power)
When you learn to stay over the centerline, and do any "balancing" with your knees and hips, it all gets much easier and falling in the water happens a couple of times per session.
As far as exercises, anything that gives you a full body workout (rowing machines/ weights/ AB exerciers, etc) will help improve your overall stamina, but "time on the water" is the best conditioning.
Hope this helps,

31st July 2007, 08:43 PM
Roger has nailed it again :)

A few quick thoughts from a 245 lbs guy who just went through all of this relatively recently :)

(1) With your weight, watch how you are falling into shallow water. It is really easy to twist your ankle. At my age (45) I begin to notice, these things do not want to heal quickly at all and leave behind some nasty residual, arthritis-like pains.
(2) Loosing some wight in any way you can will be really good for you
(3) If you are having the same problem I had at first with wrist and elbow pains, the good news is, they eventually get used to the increased loads. I was initially suffering immensly at night, especially with some minor arthritis problems i have.
(4) The foot and back pains are mainly a function of poor posture and position on the board. These will go away really fast as you progress. real soon, you will be probably quite amazed as how efrotlessly you can do certain things that used to be such a pain.
(5) Limit your wind speed/wave height exposure at first. Strong wind/high wave combinations are not only a spirit killer for a beginner, but will leave you totally exhausted sometimes after just a few attempts to get on the board and uphaul. That too improves greatly with the technique improvements and the sense of balance you gain with time.
(6) If you are not using shoes, try it. I have water shoos with relatively rigid soles and that has helped me with my initial strong foot fatigue. Off course, it may be a required safety item, depending on the bottom in your area.

Windsurfing will teach you humility, as you body will be defeated by the weather time after time in the months and years to come, and you will be tested to your limits. However, that is exactly what makes it such a great sport. If you persevere, you will eventually get a very rewarding sense of accomplishment. And that is true at any skill level...

1st August 2007, 01:10 AM
Thanks for all the great help!

Here are a few answers to some questions.

1. I'm teaching myself. Lake Waccamaw is a great lake to windsurf on, but there is not really many folks that do it. I could not find a place to buy a board in a 75 Mile radius. Wilmington NC had several surf shops, but none of them had windsurfing gear. I ordered my gear online. I have a DVD and a subscription to a magazine. The only guy I could find to "teach" me has just had shoulder surgery and will be out of commission for a while.

2. Sailing in wind that is 3-10 knots ish. My first day I had the board I tried to sail in 18-21 knots. :-) Stupid, but I had a few 300 foot runs. The next day it was around 4 knots and I was able to stay on for a while. Now I can stay on the board and do basic tacks and jibes. (T&J's with 80% success rate.)

3. Equipment:
Board: Fanatic Viper 85. 85cm/220l,
Sail: Gaastra Pilot, 6.0
Mast: Fiberspar 3200 30% Carbon 420, IMCS 21

4. Don't fall off that much now. 20% of the time when I turn I fall off. (Basic no frill turns.)

5. I think I am moving my feet a bunch. I have not used the straps at all, and at this point, I would really need to move them for them to be useful to me.

"If you are having the same problem I had at first with wrist and elbow pains, the good news is, they eventually get used to the increased loads. I was initially suffering immensely at night, especially with some minor arthritis problems i have."

Good news.... I have had some issues with my elbows, wrists, and forearms...but I have also been hauling concrete blocks under my house....I didn't know what it was from I bet it was the windsurfing.

Thanks again for all the help.

1st August 2007, 02:55 AM
Hi Anthropod,
OK, I looked up Lake Waccamaw on Google Earth.
Since yoiu are so close to the coast, why not head down there for a bit more wind?
As far as moving your feet around, where do you try to place your feet on the board after uphauling?
If you set your feet like I will describe, you should not need to move them at all. Until, of course, you are ready to mo0ve further back on your board. Leave the footstraps where they are, you will soon be back there and the location will make sense.
As far as the wrist/elbow problems, you guys are "hanging on for dear life" I would bet.
This tells me you are not balancing your rigs and you are working a couple of magnitudes harder because you aren't getting your rigs balanced BEFORE you add power.
Also, does you boom have a 1 1/8" grip diameter (std. smaller dia boom) or a larger 1 1/4" grip diameter?
The larger grip dia. may seem good for you, but it's one of the things that cause extra ordinary forearm/wrist/elbow problems.
What is the title of the DVD you are using?
That could tell us alot about what you are trying to do and whether that is appropriate for your equipment and your conditions.
According to my windsurfing physician, Advil (a little more than the bottle recommends i.e. 3 tablets) often will relax the hans/wrists/elbows and help with the evening pain from holding the boom way to tight for way too long.
Learn to simply balance the rig and then you can control it with just a couple of fingers hooked lightly over the boom.
You are big guys, and I'll bet you think windsurfing requires big muscles.
If that were true, them my 100 or so (per year) < 80 lbs. students would never be able to windsurf.
Give up on trying to out muscle moterh nature and learn to balance things first, then apply only enough power to make the board go it&#39;s fastest.
Sheting in more just increases the side force the rig can generate and basically kills the forward drive.
When in doubt, sheet out and then use one or 2 fingers on your back hand to just sheet in until you "feel the power" in both front and rear hands. Pulling things in any more than this just make you use alot of muscle and cannot make you go any faster until you are planing; in the footstraps; and hooked in. Then all the pull will go onto your harness and thru the big mucles in your thighs and calves, not thru your arms.
Come up to Cape Hatteras sometime and we&#39;ll have you doing things the easy way in no time.
Hope this helps,

2nd August 2007, 05:52 PM
Since you are so close to the coast, why not head down there for a bit more wind?
I really want to, and will. I live a couple of blocks back from the lake and have a dock so it is really easy to get there. My wife and I can be there and have it all rigged up in less than 15 min. When we feel more confident we will have to try somewhere on the coast.

"As far as moving your feet around, where do you try to place your feet on the board after uphauling?"


I think this is it. Also, where the straps are pictured is where I have them set. should I keep them there or move them to a more "basic" position?

Also, does you boom have a 1 1/8" grip diameter (std. smaller dia boom) or a larger 1 1/4" grip diameter?

It is the 1 1/8" diameter.

What is the title of the DVD you are using?

Basic Windsurfing "New school BEGINNERS and FREERIDE instructional DVD" by Flow

Can you suggest a better, or different DVD that could be helpful?

Sheeting in more just increases the side force the rig can generate and basically kills the forward drive.

Thanks for the great advice on sheeting more! I played with that on Wed and I truly could tell what you meant. I had been really trying to sheet a lot thinking I would go faster.

3rd August 2007, 11:13 AM
Hi Anthony.
Tell me how you did your photo, and how I can move the feet to a better place.
If you place your feet as you have them in the photo, getting planing and not heading upwind all the time is goig to be difficult.
The rear foot should be further forward on the board (like between the front footstraps in your photo, but with the arch of your foot right over the fore/aft centerline of your board.
Unless you are really tall person, I think your feet (as depicted in your photo) are too far apart.
Trun your front foot so your toes face forward with your front foot 4-6" upwind of the mast foot and 4-6" behind the mast foot.
I&#39;ll have to see if I can find a copy of the DVD you have and perhaps offer some alternatives.
Yes, keep the straps were they are as your board isn&#39;t going to plane very easliy if you put them further forward.
It a strange situation as they are easier to get into when they are further forward, but that affect the fore and aft trim of your board too much and the board "plows along" becuase you don&#39;t have your weight far enough back to get the nose up and the planing surfaces inclined higher at the front.
Hope this helps,

4th August 2007, 04:44 AM
I did the feet thing in photoshop. Just in case you have it, here is the download link:


I think I understand the feet thing now and can&#39;t wait to get back out there.

Thanks for the strap advice as well!

Roly Gardner
5th August 2007, 04:34 PM
Hi Anthropod, Hi Roger,

Roger has recently cured a basic problem I had by purely changing the position of my feet and therefore stance. It has had such a dramatic effect on my sailing that I want to share it with you- hope it works!

My main problem was that I was overly keen on getting the power on BEFORE getting my feet in the right place on the board. Your diagram shows exactly where my feet used be.

Now when uphauling I first get the mast up and the sail pointing directly downwind ie no power wharever, and the board across the wind which is at your back. Moving your rear foot to between where the front footstraps are and your front foot BEHIND the mast foot puts you in the correct stance. Picture a fencer (swordsman not construction worker!) with his rear foot at roughly 90 degrees with knee slightly bent and front foot pointing more forwards and straight at the knee.I find this more comfortable and more stable. THEN if you slowly put the power on by sheeting in with your back hand you begin to move off.

I am learning too so this is NOT gospel just my experience in trying to crack the basics. Roger got me doing this and many things have led off from it in a matter of 2 to 3 weeks including;more controlled steering;staying upwind;more comfortable stance so less pain in my back and arms;more stamina because it hurts less;even my first beach start yesterday.

Recommend the wet shoes too-much less pain. Best of luck!


5th August 2007, 09:21 PM
Hi Roly,
Thanks for your input here.
Getting input and feedback from a sailor who is currently working to get beyond precisely the same issues and problems as the sailor who&#39;s asked the question is really the most relavent advice possible.
I only see one item in your post that I would take issue with.
Are you still "sheeting in" by pulling in with your back hand?
Want to make the "sheeting in" process even easier and more precise, as well as getting you ready for the next level (hooking in to a harness)?
Try this.......
Once you get your rig to the balance position (I&#39;m not quite certain that you are really getting to a fully balanced position as big guys have alot of muscle so they have difficulty finding the tiny nuances of a truly "balanced on the mast foot" rig.
So, when you have moved your feet back and are in your comfortable stance (this will be very stable, so there&#39;s no hurry here) try this.
Tip the rig until the mast is vertical (front to back) but the mast extends well to the upwind side of the board (side to side). Take your hands off the boom and see what the rig does. If you "get it correctly balanced" the rig will simply stand there balanced like a top on the mastfoot. You can even clap your hands together and the rig will still be standing.
Now it&#39;s truly balanced, and you are ready to sheet in and go.
But, instead of "pulling in" with your back hand, try to rotate your upper body so your shoulders stay parallel with the center line (center of the mast to the centerline of the boom tailpiece at the clew) of the rig.
Only rotate about 5-10 degree, NOT MORE!
Your rig will power up and your board will sail away across the wind.
There is no need to sheet in more, unless you head your board upwind.
Use only 1 or 2 fingers on your back hand so you remain sensitive to when the rig is powered (sheeted in to the correct degree to make the maximum forward drive and the minimum sideways (downwind) force.
You will move alot faster, with alot less effort as you are now sheeting in so that you are always getting the best forward drive and the least sideways "pull". The sideways pull may seem like it&#39;s making your go faster, but until you are planing in the footstraps and sailing faster than the windspeed (on the apparent wind) sheeting in further than the max. forward drive angle just slows you down and uses up your energy fighting the sideways pull.
Hope this helps,

6th August 2007, 05:01 AM
The advice given is excellent. Technique and posture are important. When taking up a new dynamic sport like WS or snow sports the novice tends to tense up with muscles in lock down rather than working in a complementary way. That said, I note that many WS people do &#39;weights&#39; and endurance things like commuting to work by bike or running - this way you can stay on the water longer (especially when the wind is really in) and it helps to ward of injuries. Basically do the kind of exercise that your body tells you it wants. Important thing is to do it and frequently but without becoming a exercise junkie.

And welcome to the world of WS. :p