... happened at the Event Site in the week between the Blowout and the FW Northamericans this month. It was a pretty light day (15 out on the river, some holes on shore). What made it special was that for the first time, it wasn't me giving a ride to my six-year-old, it was her giving a ride to me.
Two years ago, I got to give Hope a ride on Bruce Peterson's Start, using a small Retro Ripper rig. It was a ball - she loved, actually told me to pump so we could go faster. We bummed a few more Start-sessions off Bruce and Joe Wyatt, and then last year, we got our own, complete with a Sailworks 1.7 Retro Ripper rig. For someone used to 11m race sails, that feels like a handkerchief.
Hope has loved getting rides on the nose. Sometimes, on windy days, we'd actually get the Start planing (on a 5.0 Retro), and she'd be standing between my legs holding on to my boardshorts, hooting and hollering. But for some reason, she wasn't all that interested in holding on to the boom by herself, or uphauling the sail. She had a lot of fun, especially if she could get rides with other kids at the same time. It's actually quite doable for a full-size adult to have two six-year-olds on the board and still go places - amazing.
This summer, after a few sessions riding and playing (the Start makes an excellent lake toy), she decided she wanted a 'lesson.' So that puts us at the Event Site. Just so happened Charles Ivey was there, too - and he kindly gave us some pointers on how to do the on-the-beach piece of this. Within minutes, she was balancing the rig, feeling what little changes in stance and posture did.
Afterwards, we hit the water, with me kneeling on the nose of the board (gotta love that EVA foam deck...) and Hope in full control of the rig. Occasionally, I'd balance things a bit for her, but generally, she just did it all by herself:
Now what's really cool about this is that there was no 'instruction' here - it was all just her being a kid, being in her body, and feeling her way around the thing. Because we had the right gear (big, floaty, forgiving, cushy board and the Ripper rig that was the right size for her and reacted appropriately to her input, unlike some of those board-flat kids' rigs you see sometimes), it was completely intuitive. She was playing instead of receiving a lesson. Sure, one of these days, she'll want to know stuff about how it all works. For now, though, she's just enjoying the sensation of being the link that converts the force of the wind into forward motion - the same sensation that got all of us hooked on windsurfing. What a kick - here's my daughter, grinning at me and having the best time, effortlessly sailing along.
If you have kids yourself, or you're an actual or honorary aunt/uncle, you owe it to yourself to take them windsurfing. It's tons of fun, and incredibly rewarding. Just let them experience that thing that lights you up - you wouldn't believe how easily they get the stoke. Just don't think you have to teach them any lessons - you're just along for the ride ;)