Not Too Old To Windsurf

Carol – Contributer

January 2017

Carol who at the age of 43 took to the waves and took her first Windsurfing lesson.

On the morning I took my first windsurfing lesson, I turned up to the centre and sat thinking to myself ‘What on earth were you thinking?’ whilst waiting for my instructor.  I feel uneasy at best on water, and knowing how cold Lake Garda is, even in the height of summer, I kept wondering what madness had lead me to book a lesson.

However, there I was!  I shared the lesson with a 10 year old boy called Patrick from Galway.  We started the lesson by learning the names of the various parts of the board and sail and by practicing turning the sail on the simulator board.  At this stage, it didn’t seem too difficult, but I was still apprehensive about actually getting into the water. Finally the time came for us to suit up (which caused its own issues due to the suits being so tight, it was a mission to actually get it on) paddle our boards out and swim them out into the lake.  The sensation of being in the water in a wetsuit was strange; I could feel cold water trickling into my suit, however, once in there, the suit made the water feel warm.

My first stumbling block came when we had got about 10 metres out into the lake and the instructor told us to jump off our boards, telling us we would not be allowed our sails unless we were wet through. There was NO WAY I was going to voluntary throw myself into the water. Especially, knowing I was going to be spending more than my fair share of time in the water rather than on the board and so I paddled back to the shallows and gently dunked under the water.

Carol Windsurfing 

Sail finally obtained, I got on the board, pulled up the sail and, faster than I thought, sailed out into the lake. It really wasn’t long until I fell off the board and was plunged into the cold waters of the lake, as turning the sail on the water was an awful lot harder on the water than it was on the simulator board. Of course, even though he had never been on a board before, Patrick excelled at windsurfing, totally putting me to shame. 
The part I had been dreading the most was getting back in the board once in the water. Watching people climb back on never ceased to amaze me. I had thought that I would not be able to drag myself back on the board, as it would just turn over in the water if I tried to pull my weight up onto it.  However, this actually was the easiest part. The board is remarkable sturdy and it was relatively easy getting back on from the water. Not so easy was pulling up the sail once it was in the lake and had the added weight of water on it, especially when trying to keep your balance. Several times, I found myself pulling the sail up one side of the board, just to have it fall the other side, with me falling into the water close beside it.      
Not one to give up (although I was close at times) I preserved and eventually managed to sail out into the lake, turn the sail and sail back into the bay without falling in! I managed this a few times and on each occasion I was amazed at the fact that I had been able to do it.  That said, the lesson was three hours long and as expected, I did spend more than half of my time in the water.
Before the lesson, I was not looking forward to windsurfing. However, sitting here writing this piece, there is a little spark of excitement inside me and I find myself strangely nostalgic for the experience. I think, although I vowed at the time to never do it again, when I next find myself at the lake, I will again book a lesson and again spend a good many hours in the lake (probably moaning and wondering what on earth was I thinking).

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