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/ABOUT OLYMPIC WINDSURFING/

Windsurfing is a diverse, exciting, and challenging sport. Windsurfing is considered by many to be the purest form of sailing possible and has endless limits to which the sailor can pursue perfection in skills, self-expression, and competition. Many windsurfers incorporate this constant search into their lifestyle and philosophy, and those who can take it to a higher level become some of the best athletes in the world.

Windsurfers can compete in freestyle, slalom, speed sailing, wave sailing, Super-X and course racing. The discipline practiced in the Olympics is course racing and is similar in format to sailboat regattas. Races are run on the same “trapezoid” and “windward-leeward” courses as the other Olympic-class sailboats. These courses incorporate upwind, reaching, and downwind legs. Olympic-format regattas consist of 16 races over 9 days, with a typical day of competition consisting of two or three 45-minute race. All this adds up for some very intense competition! Windsurfing became an Olympic sport in time for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

The Equipment: Neil Pryde RS:X
Windsurfing technology changes at a rapid rate and the Olympic equipment has evolved with it. The latest change to the Olympic equipment was made in 2004 for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and was selected to reflect the current trend of wide raceboards that plane early (Formula boards). The design is a deviation from former Olympic class sailboards, which were all a classic longboard shape (narrow, about 12.5 feet in length). Neil Pryde RS:X is a true crossover board in that it makes a compromise between traditional longboard racing in sub-planing conditions and planing-style Formula racing in conditions over 8 knots. It has a mast track and centerboard similar to a longboard, but is much shorter and wider like a Formula board. The sail is also designed to give a locked-down feel while planing, but also have a softer feel for easy handling in sub-planing conditions.

Specifications

Neil Pryde RS:X
Length: 286 cm (9 ft 3 in)
Width: 93 cm (3 ft)
Weight: 19 kg (42 lbs)
Volume: 220 L
Fin: 60 cm (size for women only)
Sail: 8.5 m2
Mistral One-Design (IMCO)
Olympic class from 1996-2004 Games
Length: 372 cm (12 ft 3 in)
Width: 63.5 cm (25 in)
Weight: 15 kg (33.07 lbs)
Volume: 250 L
Sail: 7.4 m2

Training Program
Training is a full-time job! Windsurfing is an intricate sport that brings together three major aspects: racecourse management and tactics, equipment handling and sailing technique, and sheer physical fitness. Being able to utilize all three symbiotically takes a lot of practice! In addition to training, managing a campaign and fund-raising is a full-time commitment.

Training: The Basics
Pumping was introduced before the 1996 Olympics, and makes the physical aspect of racing more challenging. Pumping the sail creates artificial wind and can triple boardspeed, but physically requires both power and endurance. Thus the windsurfer must be a great endurance athlete as well as a great sailor. The very best windsurfers have Ironman-level fitness and train both off and on the water for endurance. However, windsurfing is still an intricate sport that requires good board handling, starts, and tactics for success.

Training Schedule:

Per week

  • 12-36 hours of water time
  • 20 hours aerobic exercise (swimming, running, cycling, weights, yoga)
  • 15 hours fund raising
  • Strict diet and mental preparation

In one year

  • 6-8 months traveling
  • Training with partners from all over the world
  • 8-10 international regattas; variety of local regattas
  • Instruction from outstanding Olympic boardsailing coach

He who is the best sailor can steer within fewest points of the wind, and exact a motive power out of the greatest obstacles. -Henry David Thoreau

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Farrah Hall
Farrah Hall
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