Breaking the Mental Barrier!

October 1947, a WWII fighter ace named Chuck Yeager flew the experimental Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis" into history becoming the first man to beat the sound barrier. As he approached the speed of sound, vibrations caused by the extreme loads on the aircraft, buffeted the plane. Setting aside the danger, he pushed forward and with a sonic boom, found smooth sky beyond Mach 1. Yeager's story is a milestone of aviation achievement and a stepping stone to the advances we take for granted today. What's this have to do with windsurfing you ask?

Windsurfing skills such as the FWD loop instill a "mental barrier" in most sailor's psyche. As with the sound barrier many doubted it could ever be broken; however, once surpassed it became "easy." Like Yeager's ride, he pushed past the barrier to find smooth sailing beyond. Windsurfing mental barriers, once overcome, fit an ironically similar mold.

Whether it be your first time hooking into a harness, successfully making it to the outside on a big wave day, or committing to aerial maneuvers such as the FWD loop, windsurfing is filled with these "mental barriers" which push us to take up the challenge. Perhaps this challenge drives many to focus their lives around the sport. Some barriers are easier to surpass than others. The FWD Loop is arguably the top mental barrier facing average level windsurfers. Ironically, it is also likely the most attainable. Its very similar to the sound barrier in that it originally seems "impossible" for average sailors to attempt; however, once successfully committed, its like the smooth air Yeager found beyond the Mach 1 shock wave.

Sure, there are dangers which embolden the mental barrier; however, with knowledge, preparation, and some basic skill, the risks are greatly reduced. Luckily, there is plenty of knowledge out there online in video, photos, and personal experiences/lessons learned. Most average windsurfers possess the basic skills required.

Beyond windsurfing's FWD loop, the "Mental Barrier" plays a part of our everyday lives. Its simply an element of the game of life. Though, as we move forward, the "should of," "could of," or "would of" questions will come back to haunt us if we feel compelled to challenge some of these barriers, yet do not. I know that through the course of my windsurfing experience, when "retirement" comes, knowing that I challenged most aspects of this watersport is my goal. Some aspects may be missed, but others that I feel compelled to attain will be achieved.

Sure, this is another post intended to provide a little bit of that online motivation to push you, the reader this season. Whatever your windsurfing mental barrier may be this year, really make an effort to blast past the shock wave and seek the other side. The most fulfilling part is that it opens new chapters to the sport and sets up many more exciting sessions seeking new "mental barrier" challenges to overcome!

I will never forget what Keith Wood, late 80s/early 90s era Nags Head windsurfing rock star and then manager of Kitty Hawk Sports (when they carried windsurfing gear) told me during some random session years ago: "If your hair ain't wet, your not pushing yourself!" How true!

You may have seen this video, its one of the most inspiring online FWD loop videos I have seen. Regardless if you've seen it before, if you want to loop, press play again, and again, and again..., then get out there and shatter the barrier by taking your rig for a spin!

For some local OBX inspiration, take a fresh look at last year's LoopFest 2008 videos!

PS: If you just cannot do it alone or at your local spot, come out to the OBX this year and Keith, Andy, Stewart, Donny, or I will hopefully be able to provide some on the water motivation!