A New Year – a new start. As the fireworks and champagne explode, many of us will make our New Year Resolutions. A worthy resolution is to improve at the sports we love, but how many of us will keep them beyond the bleary hangover of New Year’s Day and the cold, dark months of winter?
We learn from the world of business that our goals should always be ‘SMART’. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (with a timescale.) To look at this in terms of sport, it is not SMART to say “I am going to get better this year!” What is ‘better’? How will you know how much better you have got? If, on the other hand, you set yourself a SMART target ”I am going to learn to plane out of my gybes and aim to have a 50% success rate of planing exits by the end of the season.” – this is an Achievable, Realistic and Specific target for an intermediate. (OK – that spells ARS…) But you can at least Measure whether you have achieved it within the Timescale that you have set!
So, once you have decided what they are, how are you going to achieve your SMART New Year’s Resolutions? You can’t sail to new horizons without losing sight of the shore – and here are some ideas!
1. Tuition – getting professional tuition will TRANSFOM your technique. Check out the websites of our lovely NWF gurus, who offer training days in the UK as well as intensive weeks of coaching in ideal conditions abroad. Whether your objectives are making your first dry transitions or double loops off Jaws, there will be a clinic to suit you!
2. Practise –Instead of just blasting up and down, spend half an hour of every session practising something specific, eg do 50 dry tacks on the trot – then treat yourself to a blast!
3. Go out in Light Wind – this comes under the heading of ‘more practice’ and I cannot stress its importance enough! While not as adrenaline fuelled as going out in planing winds, practising moves in non-planing conditions will improve your muscle memory and balance as well as developing a sixth sense for the subtle feel of the wind in your sail.
4. Sail at a New Location – Go on a road trip! If you are used to sailing in one location, challenge yourself (within reason!) If you sail on a lake, try the sea. Sport-specific beach reports are widely available on the internet eg Bigsalty.co.uk helpfully rates locations for beginner, intermediate or advanced windsurfers as well as giving excellent wind forecasts. Or book a holiday or coaching trip. A week or fortnight of sailing every day will really bring on the improvements, particularly if you combine it with some tuition.
5. Treat Yourself – 2014 could be the time to abandon that Windglider with the canvas sail and wooden boom! Modern materials and years of evolution in design make newer equipment much lighter and easier to use – and this can only be a bonus to your technique. Many intermediates could also benefit from progressing on to smaller kit… Most dealers have a quiver of equipment to try-before-you-buy or run demo days in the summer. The OTC (Official Test Centre) at Weymouth also has a wide selection of equipment to hire. A holiday abroad could be an opportunity to try out kit from a different marque. (Although do make sure that the centre has it properly set up. I was really looking forward to trying Severne sails in Turkey recently, “light and powerful” said the review in ‘Boards’ – but the centre had rigged them with all the responsiveness of a pair of Grandma’s giant knickers tied to a twig!)
6. Tuning – “MOST people don’t put on enough downhaul” Ant Baker told me recently. And that means you! And when was the last time you fiddled with your footstraps and fandangled with your fin? Experiment with altering your setup according to the conditions and learn how to get the most out of your kit!
7. Enter a Competition – As I found when I entered my first ever race at the NWF this year, a race makes you go out whatever the conditions and really gets you thinking about squeezing performance out of yourself and your kit. Many clubs run fun races and there is, of course, the UKWA, who organise a circuit of events in the different disciplines of windsurfing.
8. Watch your DVDs – I don’t know about you, but I have an awesome array of tuition DVDs. I even bought a portable DVD player so that I can take them to the beach and revise a particular move just before I go out on the water… I RESOLVE to watch them at home and to take them with me to the beach…!
9. Join a Club and Sail with Someone Better than You – The RYA’s Project Windsurf lists many clubs around the country. There is no doubt that getting together with like-minded individuals will encourage you on to the water more and you WILL pick up tips and encouragement from watching and talking to more advanced sailors.
10. Try Other Watersports – it is no coincidence that NWF incorporates four complementary sports. If the wind isn’t blowing, learning or taking part in another watersport will enhance not only your fitness, but understanding of the aquatic environment and other water users. I know a lot of windsurfers who have ditched their big kit for a kite in light winds. Many wave sailors take to SUPs or kayaks when there is no wind or to improve their strength, balance and understanding of waves. Resolve to become an all-round waterman or woman!
11. Come to the NWF – if you have not been to the NWF before, make 2014 the year! With taster sessions in all featured sports, free coaching, the latest kit to demo, friendly races for all levels and the odd world champion thrown in – as well as great parties… The NWF delivers pretty much all of the above in one SMART package!
While winning a PWA World Title is not a SMART target for most of us, there is no doubt that there is plenty that we can do to improve and thus enhance our enjoyment of our beloved sports in 2014.
“May the wind always be at your back and the sun shine warm upon your face. And may the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars!”
HAPPY NEW YEAR from us all at the NWF!
Our lovely NWF Gurus are (in alphabetical order);
Ant Baker www.baker-academy.com
Simon Bornhoft www.windwise.net
Guy Cribb www.guycribb.com
Jim Collis www.windsurfevolution.co.uk
Jem Hall www.jemhall.com
Peter Hart www.peter-hart.com
Danielle Lucas & Phil Richards www.getwindsurfing.com
Sam Ross www.sam-ross.co.uk
The OTC (Official Test Centre) – http://uk.otc-windsurf.com
Portsmouth Watersports Centre http://www.portsmouthwatersports.com
Project Windsurf www.projectwindsurfuk.org.uk
If you want to know how I got on in my first ever windsurf race at the NWF, check out http://nationalwatersportsfestival.com/my-nwf-how-was-it-for-you/