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SWA Monthly - Is It Worth It

13:11 28th February 2012 by Adam Sims
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Will Jones reports on the second SWA Monthly, an interesting read for those who may have been jolted by FOMO recently…

I was prompted to write this just last week when I arrived at work for a perfectly normal Monday morning in the office. My colleagues and I exchanged the normal Monday pleasantries; ‘what did you get up to over the weekend?  It had been a windy weekend and I, currently based in Cambridge, and Dave Williams, a student at Cambridge University, had set out early on the Saturday morning to catch the best of the forecast at Brancaster on the Norfolk coast. I told my colleagues of this little venture who immediately replied with bemused comments such as ‘you must be mad’, ‘did you not freeze?’ and one question that many people ask at this point ‘was it worth it?’

This is not an entirely unreasonable question. What my colleague was really asking was ‘is it worth getting up early on a Saturday morning, driving for 2 hours to go windsurfing in freezing conditions in the rain to then have to drive back another 2 hours?’ I can understand why this seems a very unusual thing to do.

I’ve been asked this question before many times; when I go into a lecture on a Monday morning in Cardiff and chat to the person next to me about what we got up to over the weekend. If I then tell them I got up at 6am on Saturday to drive 2 hours to Pembrokeshire to go windsurfing for the day it’ll blow their mind. And then comes that question, ‘is it worth it?’ all that effort, going all that way. Or maybe they will ask ‘why do you do it?’

Despite having been asked these sort of questions many times I always find them tough to answer when put on the spot. How can I explain to this person who knows very little about windsurfing why I want to drive all over the country to go windsurfing in the freezing cold? Sometimes I even start to question myself. Why do I do it? And is it really worth it?

On this particular Monday morning in the office I now had to explain to my colleagues, in terms they could understand, that Dave and I had scored a sick session at North Norfolk in the surprisingly warm conditions for February. It had been a full power 4.0 day, with glassy flat water close to the beach and nice ramps out the back to jump off. I was stoked to have been sailing well, pulling some pretty big loops and Dave had casually busted out most of the switch moves in the trictionary; some sick funnels and switch chachos as well as some big air flakas and massive floating shakas. All in all a pretty epic day, topped off by some chicken wings to warm us up. Definitely worth the effort! I tried my best to enthusiastically put this in laymen’s terms for my colleagues but they really couldn’t get it. When I returned the question and asked what my colleagues had got up to over the weekend what did they have to say? Well very little. If I hadn’t been planning to get up early on the Saturday I probably would have stayed longer at the usual Friday after work pub session, all the more recent graduates where I work gather there each week, and the evening would have probably resulted in Saturday morning being a complete right off. The expense it cost me to get to the beach on Saturday probably would have gone in the pub instead. So really the option to go windsurfing cost me no more, was much more enjoyable, much healthier and left me buzzing for the next week back at work. I definitely think I picked the better option.

It’s obvious to point out that there are plenty of things I could do as an alternative to windsurfing that would be cheaper and not involve going in the ice cold North Sea. Just going for a run costs nothing and will leave you buzzing with endorphins. So the question still remains why do we do it? Is windsurfing worth it?

Sometimes these questions come up around SWA events. Is it worth going? For example when I’m at uni in Cardiff and the forecast for Porthcawl or the Gower is good, what’s so special about an event in Exeter, Nottingham or Liverpool or any of the other locations where the Student Windsurf Association host events, that a group of us from Cardiff will drive all that way, leaving a perfectly good forecast behind, to sail there instead. Well, I think it’s because there is more to SWA events than a windsurfing competition. There is no more conclusive proof to this claim than the recent Cardiff event. With a forecast of zero wind and absolutely no waves along with minus temperatures the call was made in the few days running up to the weekend to abandon the competition. Despite this around 60 students still came from across the country over the border in to Wales just to party and catch up with good friends in Cardiff. Windsurfing was replaced by paintballing and an epic weekend was had by all. That’s not to say the windsurfing is an irrelevant part of student events and it’s just another excuse for a piss up. I’m sure everyone there would have been even more stoked if we had been able to roll down to the beach to 25knots of wind and some nice waves and I reckon throughout the weekend about 90% of the conversation was to do with windsurfing.

Perhaps all this strange behaviour can be explained by something Will Rogers spoke about in his most recent article on Boards; FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This concept was introduced to me a few years ago by mutual friends of mine and Will. For example if you hadn’t come to Cardiff you would have missed out on two epic parties, you won’t understand why at the next event everyone keeps mockingly describing things as ‘next level good’ or where the nickname Mr Mugatu came from and you won’t be doing endless mental arithmetic to try and work out if you can afford that new board you fell in love with in Puravida (I can’t decide if that last one is a positive or not). Check out the Cardiff report here.

So add FOMO to the possibility that each time you attend an SWA event you have the chance to win some awesome prizes, you’ll have a great time with mates, meet new people who you’ll stay friends with for life and you’ll have the chance to get some tips from some of the best windsurfers in the UK, then I think that explains why an SWA weekend cannot be missed.

Even with all that said I’m sure there are plenty of other university sports and societies that you could join that offer just as epic parties and an equally great network of people along with the chance to be coached by some of the best in the business. So still we haven’t really answered the question that prompted this article. Is windsurfing worth it? Why do we windsurf? I’m sure some people will never understand this but I think the late great Andy Irons summed up the reasons I windsurf when he explained why he surfed. In his words ‘I surf because I’m always a better person when I come in’.

So there you go. If Andy Irons doesn’t inspire you to get out on the water I don’t know what will. If you’re a student and you’ve never been to an SWA event before, then make sure you come along to the next one. Come Monday morning you’ll know a whole load of new people, you’ll be able to join in the banter that will spill over onto facebook and you’ll feel like you spent your weekend well. Or if you’re looking at the forecast wondering if it’s worth going to the coast this weekend, ask yourself what you would do instead? Chances are the alternative won’t be half as exciting.

Upcoming SWA events

Now that the weather is slowly beginning to warm up the SWA is really getting going again. Students seem to be occupying the coast line every weekend. The SWA still has several huge events to come. Northern Monkey II – Medieval Mayhem (http://www.facebook.com/events/381465861880484/) and the legendary Nationals at Southampton.  Check out this video from Nationals a few years back.

Also this year the SWA has joined forces with the Extreme Games at Beach Break Live, check out the video here. It’s our first year running a competition at the event. Student Winter Sports and Kiting have been doing it for a few years and I guess Beach Break have decided they are finally ready for the SWA.

Then as if that wasn’t enough there’s the SWA Vass trip. It’s pretty much going to be Aussie Kiss but a week long and in the sun. I can’t really think of a better recipe for success.

So that’s plenty more opportunities for Taffy to flail his arms mentally and then claim he won a dance off, even if no one else knew a dance off was happening. Plenty more opportunities for the girls from Exeter to excite the minds of many of the SWA’s young men, and then crush them! And plenty more opportunities for all the students out there to get involved with windsurfing, push their personal ability to the next level and send it SWA style!

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