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I'm too old for a sport like that...

12:20 24th May 2012 by Amy Carter
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The RYA’s Chief Windsurfing Instructor Amanda Van Santen tells us why that simply isn’t the case. 

Learning to windsurf is often thought of as something for younger people only, but actually the great thing about windsurfing is that it is a sport for everyone, regardless of age.

During my time instructing I have taught a whole host of people from five to 80 years, and everything in-between. Learning a new sport such as windsurfing is great fun, inspiring, fantastic fitness and above all incredibly social!

Paula Brockwell is a great example of someone who has put all the myths behind her and decided to take up the challenge and join her friends to learn how to windsurf…….the only problem is now dealing with that well known windsurfing addiction we all eventually suffer from!!

Learn to windsurf: Paula Brockwell in action

Paula Brockwell in action

Paula tells us all about her learning experience over the last 12 months and how it’s all about  being able to launch, sail, and get back to shore without falling in…….coping in really strong wind and just having a ball!

RYA: Tell us a little bit about yourself and the type of person you are.

Paula: I am an outgoing, friendly person who is up for a challenge. I have a sense of humour and willing to have a go at most things.

RYA: As this article is about learning windsurfing ‘slightly’ later in life, do you mind me asking how old you are…….roughly is fine!!?

Paula: 45 or roughly 32!

RYA: How did you get into windsurfing and what was it that inspired you to learn?

Paula: A friend at work already windsurfed and was really enthusiastic. Then another colleague gave me her daughter’s old board and rig and that was the beginning. I had the kit and the push I needed to have a go.

RYA: What made you decide to take RYA Courses, not learn from a friend or teach yourself? 

Paula: It’s so much easier to learn from an expert, I had been to Aqua Sports previously with my children so I knew the staff were really lovely and would be gentle with me. I couldn’t have taught myself, I hadn’t got a clue!

The Aqua Sports Company, Mercers Lake

The Aqua Sports Company, Mercers Lake

RYA: Aqua Sports is an RYA Training Centre, do you feel learning at an RYA Training Centre and taking RYA courses has been an advantage to your progression? 

Paula: Absolutely – you know you are getting the full package from people who have the experience and expertise to teach and make it an enjoyable challenge.

RYA: What have been your biggest achievements or most memorable moments so far?

Paula: Being able to launch, sail, and get back to shore without falling in!  Coping in really strong wind and having a ball!

RYA: What have you found most challenging about learning the sport?

Paula: I’m not a great one for the theory work, I like to get on the board and learn from my mistakes.  What I have found challenging is knowing where to put my feet in relation to the rig, at the right time, whilst juggling everything else. I think about it all too much and have to learn to just get on with it.

RYA: What would be a perfect day’s windsurfing for you and where would it be?

Paula: At the moment – Blowing a Hooley at Aqua Sports!

RYA: What are your five top tips for someone looking to learn how to windsurf?

Enjoying a blast on the water

Enjoying a blast on the water

Paula:

1. Go to a recommended RYA approved centre

2. Visit before you book and check out the staff (friendly ones are nice!)

3. Start saving up because you get hooked and then you want your own rig!

4. Have very understanding families who have to start to fend for themselves.

5. Prepare to have fun and achieve something for yourself!

So what are you waiting for…….if you are reading this article and fancy taking up the challenge and joining the rest of us on the water – it’s never too late to learn, DON’T put it off until tomorrow!!

If you want to know more about learning to windsurfing and find your nearest training centre visit: www.rya.org.uk

Check out further information and features from the RYA on Boards. 

  1. Alf Tidey

    It’s great to learn there are so many of the more mature windsurfer’s still out there. I’m in my 68th year and still get a great thrill from windsurfing and will continue as long as able. It has to be said that most of the older sailor’s are lucky to enjoy good health and must be thankful for that. That is not always the case as age takes over.

  2. Ruth Tracey

    Like Nigel, I’ve been a member of Seavets for a long time. We have members ranging in age from 35 to 85 and hold events around the country from April to October. Take a look at our website for details.

  3. Nigel Tailyour

    Seavets is a great place to meet and share my windsurfing life. It is friendly and full of people over 35! When I was in Florida I was introduced to a lady in a wetsuit who said she is 83 and windsurfs to keep fit – and to encourage her grandchildren.

  4. Redsurfbus

    A chap from out local salty lake is 75, he puts most of us to shame. He is out all year, even in a Northerly wind in mid February!

  5. Tim Wright

    I am 65 and still enjoy getting out on the water as often as possible here in Orkney in Scapa Flow.Warm water though, helps to get through the early stages of learning so a trip to the heat of St Lucia helped this year but anywhere warm will do when you are falling off all the time.

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