It’s been two days since I conquered two elements at once – water and wind, and I honestly don’t know why I haven’t tried this earlier. Maybe it was fear that kept me from trying this sport, or maybe it was because none of my friends has ever tried it. No matter the reason, windsurfing has burst into my life together with sun, sea, lots of new friends and the laughter that comes along with them.
Surf And Sea
For my first attempt I’ve chosen to travel to Ulet Station, located on a beach near Smuglyanka recreation zone in Zatoka, Odesa region. To get there I set off from the capital on the Kyiv-Odesa highway. If you don’t have a car you’ll need to get to Odesa and then catch a bus that leaves from the Odesa railway station to take you to Zatoka, which is located 60 kilometres south-west of the city. Zatoka is a unique sandspit washed by the Black Sea from the south and the waters of the Shabolatskiy and Dniprovskiy firth from the north. I have to say, I am impressed by the beach – I’ve never seen such a vast expanse of sand, let alone how clean it is. Earlier in the day as I sat in the office I could have only dreamed of this.
So what does windsurfing mean? It’s a board and a sail. I think that’s all you need to know before you try it for the first time. Your first board is usually selected by your instructor and in most cases it’s going to be a training board with larger water displacement capacity (up to 240 litres). The rule is simple: the more Archimedes’ force affects the board the better control you have. In addition, the training sail is not as big as those professionas use. as it’s easier to lift from the water and its reaction to the wind is gentler. Of course, I didn’t notice the difference at first, focusing on balancing, but about an hour and hundreds of tries and fails later I see the professional boards have much bigger sails (up to 13 square metres area) and smaller, lighter boards. Obviously, they are faster than mine.
The first thing my instructor Vitaliy Yakimenko, who has been training windsurfers for three years, tells me is that for the duration of tuition, I have to regress to childhood. According to him, kids are the best students not only because they have less fear and big beer bellies, but mostly because they listen attentively and trust the instructor. Following this advice one can master the board faster.
From Theory To Practice
My practice starts ashore on what they call “dry board”. The first thing to remember is the positioning of the legs and arms. Legs should be shoulder width apart, one leg stands in front of the mast, the other behind. Later, I will need to put both legs behind the mast facing the front of the board from either the left or right side and try to keep my body straight.
The first task is to lift the sail by pulling a thin rope attached to the sail, and not to fall. Surprisingly, it turns out to be easy for me even though I’m not a super sporty person. Your “mast arm”, the one that holds the sail closer to the mast, goes on the boom, the handle on the sail, first. Only when both hands are holding the boom can you feel the power of the wind.
After mastering the basics ashore I’m ready to jump into the chilly water and put my knowledge into practice. The first and the most important stage when in the water is to find out the direction of the wind, as its going to be your propulsion. We are placing the board perpendicular to the wind direction, with the front towards where we are going so the wind blows from behind.
It takes a couple of minutes to get used to balancing on water, and I have a few falls – more than a few, actually a lot. In addition, getting back on the board is accompanied with multiple swimsuit problems, it literally falls off every time I get on the board. Regardless, I’m ready to continue my windsurfing education.
In half an hour, not only am I sailing straight, I also learn to turn. I feel pretty confident in what I’m doing. Fortunately, the weather helps a lot, it’s sunny today, the sea is calm with a gentle wind of about 3-4 metres per second, which reassures me I’m not going to end up too far from the shore. For the beginner, wind can cause a big problem taking them to the open sea. Fortunately there’s a rescue team on hydro-cycles at Ulet Station ready to save me if anything goes wrong.
It’s lucky I’ve rented the board for the whole day as I completely lose track of time. I learn later that my friends have managed to have lunch and play volleyball in the time I’m gone. It’s due, of course, to the exhiliaration that comes with riding the waves – the only desire I had was to feel the wind filling up the sails. When I do return to the station I am absolutely exhausted – my hands can no loger hold the boom and my legs can’t stand on the board. And yet, I am very proud of myself – friends at the station greet me saying from now on I’m in their sect and there’s no way back. I’m sure they’re right.
The Vital Questions
There are a few answers to the question: “Why windsurf?”
» Price. Education and the first hour of surfing costs 200hrv. After that, every additional hour is just 100hrv or 300 –400hrv per day depending on the board you rent. In addition, you need no additional equipment the first time you go out.
» Windsurfing is something the whole family can do. There are no strict restrictions for windsurfing so it’s good for children from 4 and up, until whatever age you can handle it.
» Windsurfing is an international and year-round sport. You can do it on every beach in the world depending on the weather.
» And finally, beacuse it’s amazing! Beautiful men and women are concentrated in the places surfers gather. Not only do they look fit. They look and are happy!
Considering this, I have a question of my own: “Why not windsurf?”
Average cost of a trip per person for two days and one night:
Road trip – 400hrv
Accommodation – 200hrv
Board rental – 500hrv
Food – 400hrv
Grand Total – 1,500hrv
Odeska Zatoka, 60km from Odesa
Ulet instructors can help you out with accommodation and give you instruction on how to get there, so call before coming
Vitaliy Yakimenko, 067-711-6363
Oleksandr Korhozha, 066-557-5969
by Alina Smolina