by Dave Turner
I was thrilled to be the 2017 winner of a free ABK Boardsports Windsurfing Clinic, generously donated to BABA by ABK owner, Andy Brandt. For those unfamiliar with ABK, they offer windsurfing clinics at most major US windsurfing sites and in the Caribbean, typically in shallow water sites to facilitate learning without all the climbing up on the board. I had taken ABK once before in Waves, NC, just north of the site of our Hatteras trips in Avon. While the free voucher specified that I needed to take the clinic in 2017, Andy very generously allowed me to take the clinic in January, 2018 in Bonaire. Here are some thoughts from that week:
- It is really fun to be a part of a group of windsurfers, ranging in skill from beginner to experts. We had about 20 in our class and it was great to see each of us progress toward our goals and delight in progress as individuals and as a group.
- They instructors can very quickly size up your skills and identify drills and techniques to improve your sailing. They seen to have infinite patience and are genuinely excited to see each sailor progress.
- I sailed a week on my own prior to the clinic and received valuable tips even before the start of the clinic. The instructors provided useful recommendations on equipment choices that best suited me to improve my sailing.
- The video analysis at the end of each day is invaluable and was a really fun group activity. They seem to delete your greatest failings and show videos that are geared toward improving your sailing skills. Sometimes you think that you are following through on instructor feedback but the video tells no lies.
- I made significant progress with the carving jibe and planned through a couple of jibes. I now have a much better understanding of the jibe and what I need to do and when. I am greatly looking forward to the upcoming season to further hone these skills.
- The ABK system is one of progressive skill building. You learn the individual components of skills and sail handling, then use those techniques to progress to more advanced moves. For instance, I never even considered sailing fin first(because it seemed ridiculously difficult) but one instructor taught me to do so and I learned how to sail using the waterline of the board for steering.
- You make a lot of friends at an ABK camp. I now have windsurfing friends in Gemany, London, Canada, and the French Alps.
In summary, ABK can help you progress toward your windsurfing goals and progress you from straight line sailing to a sailing with skills and options when it comes to turning your board around. I’ve never met a windsurfer who didn’t have a goal of planning through jibes. ABK can help you to realize that dream. It is well worth investing your time and money in an ABK camp and accelerating windsurfing’s sometimes steep learning curve.