Windsurf

Windsurf how to get started

How many lessons, how and where to do windsurf on Lake Garda

Angela Trawoeger
Photo and text

Angela Trawoeger

Creator, photographer and content manager
Text

Federico Tonezzer

Want to have a go but not sure what it is all about?
After asking chiara about kitesurfing we’re going to ask Federico, sailing and windsurfing instructor, ski instructor and personal trainer, a obsessive sportsman and part of the famous IParassiti Association.

Hi Federico, who are “iParassiti”?

This is how we define ourselves:
re we Windsurfers? Yes, above all
Are we friends? That too
Are we mad? Yes, a lot
Are we mums and dads? Many of us
Are we a sports club? Now we are
Any definition is too confining – we are people who like to have fun together and the majority of whom share a passion for a fantastic sport called Windsurfing.

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So what is windsurfing?

As the name suggests, windsurfing is a putting together of the two wonderful water sports of Sailing and Surfing. Using a sail, you let the force of the wind propel you forward on a board which becomes liberated from the water it’s in as it goes forward, flying literally above the water “planing”.

It is this action of planing that releases a high adrenalin rush of emotions and making the person who tries out windsurfing into a ‘wind junkie’.

What is the difference between Freestyle, Slalom and Wave Sailing? Can you do all 3 on Lake Garda?

Windsurfing is divided into 3 wide groups: Wave, Speed and Freestyle. Wave sailing is the most traditional branch of this sport and the one that links Surfing with Windsurfing.

We are talking about surfing the waves as in Surfing but using the power of the wind to accelerate and to take on these natural structures and use them as ramps for developing new fast moves.

In the second category, we find the most fashionable speciality amongst speed seekers – Slalom Sailing. The term comes from the course set for competitions which consists of a series of buoys to pass on your left or right in the same way as a Ski Slalom race takes place.

Freestyle is the most liberal expression of use of a Windsurf board and its sail. This discipline consists of various manoeuvres made using all axes of the body trying to create the most spectacular show. Typically you get different patterns of sail, board and windsurfer, in flight, between the water and the air.

On Lake Garda it is normally possible to do Freestyle and Slalom windsurfing but the conditions for Wave sailing are infrequently found on the Lake and this is best done on the sea.

At what age can you start windsurfing?

Windsurfing can be done by nearly everyone from 7 to 100 years old. If you love water and the outdoor life, don’t wait – have a go!

Is this sport suitable for men as well as women?

There is absolutely no distinction between men and women in their ability to windsurf.

Do you need to be a sportsperson to go windsurfing?

You don’t have to be a particularly sporty person to have fun windsurfing and with the equipment available today there’s the possibility for everyone to enjoy windsurfing in every situation.

Is it dangerous?

Like all adrenalin sports, there are certain risks but if you windsurf within your limits and take the necessary care, it is a low risk sport. You can compare the force of the wind to the steepness of a ski-slope – as a beginner you don’t go down the most difficult ‘black’ slopes but look for the more simple runs that allow you to improve your technique and your control of your skis. In the same way, a windsurfer has to evaluate the strength of the wind and waves based on their own capacity (helped by those with more experience) and working gradually to improve their technique. A good basic course, knowing the area where you are going out windsurfing and using good suitable equipment (wetsuit, buoyancy aid, helmet) help to keep the risks to a minimum.

When should I windsurf?

On Lake Garda there is nearly always wind so there aren’t any ‘rest’ periods! The real testing point is that, from November to March the water is cold which means that it is a very intense activity to do in winter even if you use winter wetsuits.

The best time for fun surfing with lots of company therefore is from April to October.

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How can I get started?

The best way to get started is to do a basic windsurfing course where you learn the essential ideas of theory, technique and winds using beginners windsurfing equipment. This is really important especially as windsurfing is a sport that can be enjoyed in many different ways so it is important to get the basics sorted and then build on that gradually. Understanding the basics will drastically reduce your overall learning time and increase your safety and above all your fun!

How many lessons will I need to windsurf autonomously?

That depends largely on the person concerned. Generally after a week’s course you should be autonomous… but not in complete control of your kit!

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What do I have to take to a windsurfing lesson?

The various windsurfing rental centres have all the equipment necessary for everyone so if you don’t have your own wetsuit, harness, buoyancy aid etc. you can easily rent them along with your board and sail.

What kit do I need to get started?

When you have done your beginner’s course, and done some rental to understand what type of kit suits you and your level best, you should think of the following kit to allow you to windsurf autonomously:

  • Clothing: wetsuit, shoes, harness, buoyancy aid
  • Board: 110-120 litres (or more but be careful that it doesn’t become too large for you after a bit of practice), according to your weight and ability
  • Sail: size according to the kind of windsurfing you want to do
  • Mast: which ever (better to use one with a high percentage of carbon)
  • Boom – which ever!
  • Mast foot – same as above

Which are the best Spots on Lake Garda?

The Lake offers various spots. The most popular are Malcesine and Pra de la Fam for North wind, Conca d’Oro and the Pier for South Wind. Every windsurfer discovers and learns to understand the Lake from day to day, creating their own list of best Spots! But if you don’t trust yourself and you would like a guide to the spots on the Lake, have a look at:
www.iparassiti.com/webapp.html.

Advice for someone wanting to start windsurfing?

Water, Sun, Wind!
The three fundamental elements that windsurfers on Lake Garda don’t lack – stop reading and get out in the water – your planing board is waiting for you!

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