6yr old equipment
My 6yr old son is keen to get windsurfing more this season - up until now he's been a passenger only on the back of my JPSuperX and Carve133.*
Also a few outings on a Starboard Go.
We will be sailing on a flat lake mostly, and maybe a few flat water trips to the sea.
What is the best board for him & me to ride on together.* With him doing*some of the sailing initially with me part holding the boom, and then all of it after a few sessions.
And what sail/sail size/mast/boom is best?* Anyone with experience of starting a youngster like this would really help.
There's no worries about it being fun & keeping him interested - as he absolutely loves it :):):) *(thus far anyway, after around 10trips)
How soon do you expect to put him on his own board?
I teach lot's of kids of about that age, and if you get an appropriate rig that he can
uphaul, he could be sailing very soon. (actually next week)
A small GO board, or better still one of the Starsurfers or Kiddie boards with a 2.0 sq meter(or larger if he's larger) rig and he will be sailing along right next to you.
I use some other techniques that give the tiny sailors full control, without putting them in any jeapordy.
First, how big are you (i.e. what is your weight).
With a Start or Rio, (M or L) you can kneel on the front of the board and help with the uphauling, but once the rig is up and balanced your 6 year old can do all the sailing.
When he is able to uphaul, tack, stay upwind, flare jibe, etc. (usually in a day or 2 on the water) then you can use the bungee tether.
This puts your child on his own board and completely on his own, but you are sailing just in front of him.
Make it a "challenge".
Tell him his new task is to keep "slack" in the tether line.
Usually takes about 5-10 minutes for a kid to figure out what he/she needs to do to keep slack in the tether, then you can untie the tether and just sail along together.
The real "critical issue" here is to get him a rig that he can handle by himself, and if you are tethered, or sailing together, get yourself a similar size rig.
It does not work if you are constantly "towing" due to you having a much larger rig size.
I use the Sailworks Retro Ripper rigs (probably the best kids rigs available, anywhere) and select a rig size based on the chllds ability to uphaul the rig.
Then off we go out onto the water.
Since I'm doing this with kids at "A Taste of Windsurfing" events, I have to be alot more careful not to exceed the childs strengths and abilities and put them in some sort of "out of control' (dangerous) situation.
So, I check the condtions, select the rig, and decide if I'm going to be riding on the board with them, or putting them on their own board with a tether.
I often ask the individual kid what they would rather do. The timid ones want a "ride along", and the bolder ones want to try it "all by themselves". If I find they are much better than they thought they'd be, we switch to 2 boards. If I find that they aren't doing well on their own, we drop off one board and I ride along. Everything about teaching kids to windsurf has to be dynamic/situatiional.
All the kids I teach get a 5-10 minute session on the simulator so they understand how to uphaul correctly, tack, steer and all the other "basics".
The most important "basic" is learning to balance the rig.
Once they can balance the rig, they can sail for quite a while as they are no longer holding the rig up, because it's balanced over the mast foot.
Be sure to pick your conditions right at first.
If you send him out in intimidating conditions, before he's ready to challenge stronger rougher conditions, he may develop a fear of windsurfing that will be hard to overcome later.
The most important thing for small children is to understand their shorter attention span, and do everything you can to make windsurfing easy and fun.
The more fun, the better.
Don't be discouraged when he decides that it's more fun to play with other kids on his windsurf board, than it is to sail it. He'll get beyond that fairly quickly, but always remember he's a kid and needs to play and have fun while he's learning new things.
Let him learn at his own pace. Do not pressure or push him to do things he thinks are too challenging.
Little boys love a challenge, and as long as he's having fun and feeling challenged there's no limit on how quickly he will progress and how much his skills witll develop.
Again, keep it fun and get him a rig that he can handle. These two points are absolutely
If there aren't other kids at the beach, change beaches or bring some other kids with you.
Hope this helps,
what a wonderful response. Thank you very much for your insightful and expert advice!
I'm 84kgs and would like him on his own board as soon as possible. But I won't push it. Maybe 3-4wks = 3-4windsurf sessions at a weekend for us.
I'll take a look at the Starsurfers & Sailworks Retro Ripper at the weekend :) as his first board. In the interim I'll ride a Go L with him until he's tacking and staying up win all the time.
Would you suggest a smaller fin? I know some people use them whilst teaching kids to make the board easier to turn.
The fin you use, depends entirely on the design of the board.
If you have a large centerboard/daggerboard (that you cannot change easily and cannot change the position of at all) then playing with some different (not always smaller) rear fins can give better upwind performance.
If you have a board with a removable center fin, then you need to experiment with both the center fin and rear fin to find a combination that will work with the size rigs you are using.
I've had very little luck with rigs < 2.5 m2 because the boards are built with the mast track too far forward to allow any sort of good balance with smaller rigs.
The smaller rigs have the CE of the sail only a few inches behind the mast.
If you cannot slide the mast foot far enough back to get the CE of the rig over (behind slightly is better) the CLR of the centerboard or center fin, there's no way you (or your kid/student) can sail the board upwind.
I've had my share of "embarrassments" when sailing with really small children on boards where the mast foot won't come back far enough.
They sail the board and we go downwind.
I let them sit on the front and I sail the board and we go downwind.
Rather than sail off into the sunset, I usually end up sitting on the front with the child holding the rig up (pretending they are sailing upwind) while I paddle with my hands back to the beach.
I did some testing on the '06 Starsurfer M and I proved (to myself anyway) that for really small rigs (< 2.5 m2) adding an auxiliary "extension" to the mast track slot really helps to overcome this problem.
This is why I like the older Starts with the removable center fin better as I can use different fins to overcome this problem.
As far as "turning", that's never a problem with my students.
If your students were to use the same techniques they would have no trouble turning the board.
When my kids tack, the foot of the sail goes right down on the board with the foot on or slightly past (upwind of) the centerline.
This steers the board right up through the eye of the wind with no problems, and the sail supports itself with the foot resting on the deck of the board at the back.
We call this (in "A Taste of Windsurfing") a "faster tack" as the rig is sheeted in gradually and raked back at the same time so it "drives" the board up into the wind and usually well past "the eye of the wind".
Try it, it works.
Also, we teach our students to "step over" the mast behind the mast foot.
If your student doesn't get the rig all the way back and down on the deck, or if they step forward around the mast base and pull the rig back up as they cross in front of the mast foot, then the board instantly stops turning and heads directly upwind because that's what the "steerage" from the rig is telling it to do.
I talked to one of my sponsors today and his daughters were having some problems staying upwind in the Gorge. He solved this problem pretty easily.
He cut off an older 70 cm Deboichet Formula fin to 44 cm. and he puts this fin in the center fin box on an '01/'02 Start. Now his girls stay upwind with no problem.
I see alot of people who use smaller fins, but I've had much better success with using std. 39-41 cm cleaver (shallow Water) fins. Smaller fins do not seem to be able to keep the board upwind.
If the rig is balanced, steering while underway is never a problem, but staying upwind can be a problem.
Hope this helps,
Cheers for the tips Roger.
My eldest wants to have a go this year (she's 7) so this information is invaluable.
Hi again Anthonya:
Glad to be of service here! Thanks for your kind words. I just love to see
kids out windsurfing. They are indeed the future of the sport.
The reason I wanted your weight was to see how possible it will be for you to "ride along" on the front of the board.
Since 84 Kg. is 185 lbs, you are going to be very close to "overweight" on a GO Large.
Are there any '01/'02 Start boards available to you.
They have the best "front end float" so would make probably the best platform for someone your size to "ride along" sitting/kneeling just in front of the mast foot.
What year model GO L do you have.
Some of them were nearly the same as the big Starts and may also have good volume up ahead of the mast slot.
Another posibility might be some sort of older longboard, but then you don't get the cushy EVA deck (good for your kid, terrific for your knees).
I suppose you could add a suction cup bath tub pad on the longboard to give your knees and the seat of your shorts a more grippy, softer surface.
I often sit with my legs and feet back beyond the mast base to move my weight as far back as possible, but I only weight about 75 kg.
Hope this helps,
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