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Becoming a Wavesailor

00:00 1st October 2012 by Boardseeker
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Becoming A Wavesailor with Lewis Merrony

Lewis Merrony has for years been a passionate wavesailor, now making his way into the pro fleet on the British tour; he wavesails not for results or bragging rights, but for the pure love and uncontrollable addiction to this aspect of our sport. Here Lewis guides you through his view of wavesailing, aiming to help you understand what it means to be a wavesailor and how to go about becoming one.

Lewis Merrony

Lewis Merrony, heading out.

 Wavesailing has opened up a world to me, that no other sport could ever offer. Lining up on a mast high point break feels like a shot of adrenalin direct to the brain. Wavesailing is an addiction, a passion. I’m no tech spouting professional so this article is no ‘how-to’ manual. Wavesailing to me is more about personal expression than a book of rules. As long as you’re getting out, that’s all that matters.

And let’s make this clear: you don’t need to be a natural talent or some kind of hell man to achieve a fair standard in wavesailing. However, you do need to be committed and know what you want to get out of your sailing.
You need to be able to sail out and turn around, in some manner or other, and return to shore with no confidence issues. Consistency is not essential with gybes, but confidence is important. Sail on a beach that makes it easy. Rhosneigr is a good example. It has soft waves, it never gets too big, and there is usually a good turnout so if it does go wrong you can get help.

 

Lewis Merrony

Lewis Merrony

Kit is important too. Get a board that is easy to sail. Try and test a few from your local shop, at a demo day or at a test centre. A sure sign of the right board for you is one that will turn how you pictured it to, with no surprises or quirks. If it feels right to you, it is right. Rigs are a bit different. You will smash up rigs. At age nineteen, I destroyed my entire quiver. With very limited funds that was a hard pill to swallow. After that I resorted to ‘bombproof kit’. It worked for a while in heavy South Wales waves. However through sponsorship, I later discovered how strong the new modern kit is. And the performance is incomparable. In the last fives years, I’ve broken only one sail, compared to four or five a year before that.

When it comes to technique, I’m no Peter Hart, but I will give you a guide of what works for me, and what I think about while I’m on the water. The first thing to do is create a picture in your mind of what you want to do. A beginner needs to focus on feeling comfortable sailing amongst the waves, riding a few swells and committing to getting out the back on bigger days. Always think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And remember, the only way to improve is by committing to every thing you do – be that your first jump or your first double. If you don’t try, you don’t improve.

The best tip I can give for wave riding is to move your back hand back for drive and forward for turning. Use your shoulders to turn and smash that lip as hard as you can. For those of you who are already consistent sailing in waves, start thinking about attacking sections. Look at what the wave is doing and try to flow with it, rather than putting the board in awkward positions and hoping it will sort itself out. It won’t.

Photos: Jules Merrony and Kel Clark

Photos: Jules Merrony and Kel Clark

Photos: Jules Merrony and Kel Clark

Photos: Jules Merrony and Kel Clark

Once you get better at wave sailing don’t stagnate. I see a lot of people who can ride well and jump on the way out but they stop there and don’t ask themselves ‘what will I aim for next?’

Lewis Merrony

Lewis Merrony

Goals are important. I could watch Mark Angulo and Scott McKercher all day, so I base a lot of my sailing on them. I’m not saying that’s how I sail, but I strive to put some of their style into my sailing.  When you see something that impresses you make it your goal. Chances are you will never get there, but if you get one tenth of the way there you will be a standout at your local spot.

There will be days when fear interferes with your plans. That’s normal. It’s how you deal with fear that counts. Distraction works well when learning tricks, as it removes the mental build up. Ask a friend if you can follow them into a given move. This concentrates your mind on copying what they are doing and the fear diminishes.

I usually experience fear when the swell is bigger than average, and the world feels as if its about to fall over a ledge. However, this is the very thing that will keep me addicted to windsurfing until the day I die. Days like that are etched deeply into my memory and are the reason I push to sail big days. It’s not that I’m comfortable getting washed, I’m not. I don’t think any one is. A lot of people ask me how to deal with swimming in those conditions. First of all relax. If you’re getting tumbled, start to count the seconds – you will rarely get beyond six before you come up ready for more.

I often preach the values that windsurfing has brought to my life – it’s made me a happy man. And as windsurfers we are privileged – we have the skills to put ourselves into positions few people will ever experience.”

 

Lewis Merrony, is sponsored by Puravida, Simmer, K4 fins and No Limits.

The next competition on the British Wavesailing Tour kicks off this weekend in Tiree and will be shortly followed by the final event in Cornwall. Boardseeker will be at both events and providing you with the latest coverage.

 

 

 

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