I’ve just returned absolutely knackered and two kilos lighter, after attending a 4-day windsurfing course hosted by English technical guru Guy Cribb.
Having raced against Guy and received some coaching from him in UK in the late 80s I knew of him and his outstanding skills but didn’t know him on a personal level. For him I was just another face on a start line of 250 racers.
So, what brought me to sign up for the course? To be frank, I have windsurfed for 34 years and few things bring me more joy, peace and personal satisfaction in life than a good day wavesailing followed by an ice-cold beer with good mates. But as I tripped into my 50s I inflicted some windsurfing injuries upon myself through pure kook errors and a flagrant refusal to keep myself strong in the gym. (I genuinely ’hate‘ gyms, and I know I have to learn to love them, or at worst tolerate them.) As a result, my windsurfing skills had gone backwards in the last couple of years, before returning to the same old, same old, and plateauing. I just wasn’t learning anything new and something had to change!
I preach to my staff at work that “it is really important to be open to feedback and continually sharpen your saw, however experienced you are”; so I committed to attending the course. To be frank, the week before the course I started telling myself I was cheating getting someone to coach me instead of doing the hard yards and learning through trial and error for a few more decades! And then I reflected on an article I read many years ago about the brilliant slalom ski racer Alberto Tomba who – despite being regarded as the best technical skier in the world – still sought out a coach to further improve his skills. So, as a self-confessed ‘wave riding muppet’ I decided to allow myself access to more help than I could elicit from the passing comments I actively encouraged from my local heroes George, Forrest and Finno.
The course was everything I expected, but 10 times more. Guy often told me things I had heard many times before, but the key was he told me “why” I should change these things and then made us do it again and again until it became “intuitive”. Every cell in my body wanted to argue with him on occasions but I patiently accepted his advice to drop my boom 6 inches and hang off ludicrously long harness lines until it felt normal!
The headphones and speaker was handy for on the water coaching
Yes, trying this new-fangled foiling was excellent fun, but ironically the best part of the course was the day we had little-to-no wind and we sat down and went through everyone’s drone footage frame by frame. Talk about a keen eye for detail – Cribby was born to coach windsurfing! I learned more about my windsurfing technique in those few hours than from hundreds of hours on the water.
Possibly the most annoying part of the course was discovering that Taj Ladkin, and Akim and Alex Halank, have also attended Guy’s courses in the past and NOT TOLD ME! You sneaky bar stewards. I remember being impressed by Taj’s rapid improvement a few years ago and now have an idea why! Plus young Alex happened to be down at Gerroa during our course and, oh my gad he is now doing that unrecognisable and unnameable freestyle stuff that is just too complex to work out unless we film him and slow down the footage! To add insult to injury, I found out Guy has also been providing Alex with remote video coaching to tweak his technique still further!!!!! And I just thought his Dad was investing more time into his kids’ windsurfing!. Little did I know Guy has also been the puppeteer behind the scenes.
So the “secrets” I took away from the course were:
- Switch to 30-32″ harness lines (Sorry Dan Berry!)
- Lower the boom 6 inches!
- When heading upwind, don’t drive off the fin on a quad, instead drive off the rail (like a kiteboard)
- The value of “rocket beach start” to get more jumps in
- Both hands to have over grip when wave riding
- More speed for the air off the lip
- Move the back hand even further back on forward and backward loops
- Move back hand back whilst in the air when forward looping
So what from here? Yes, I will study the drone footage he gave me and my son Jake, and it was amusing that Guy announced that after 30 years I was his longest serving ‘guest’, so I can carry that new found ‘perpetual learner’ title around!
Guy’s longest serving ‘guest’!
Basically, I will get out there and enjoy more of our wonderful sport with my new found skills, but 1000% I am going to attend Guy Cribb’s course the next time he runs it in Coronation Beach, WA.
Father and son time
For clarity, I took the initiative of writing this article as I love introducing people and seeing people enjoy our fantastic sport, so if you want to improve your skills and keep your windsurfing passion alive, I highly recommend you sign up next year – you never know you might just end up nailing that elusive manoeuvre.
See you on the water
P.S. Thanks to my sponsors for their continued support Windsurf’nSnow and to my dear wife Emma 🙂
About to practice our tacks and helicopter tacks