The Importance of Falling

by Graham

Windsurfing is full of falling. I mean, most people fall ten times before they even travel ten feet. And learning to jibe means falling a thousand times. We could call the sport Fallsurfing. And it is precisely this falling that makes windsurfing a better sport than other sports and windsurfers generally better than other people (yes, better) : ) because not being afraid to fall is the key to success in any sport, art, or job.

When I set out to learn a move, I only have one plan- fall a lot. The quicker I want to learn a move, the more I have to fall. When I first started trying to figure out wave 360s, I’d try one on every wave of my session, so that I would literally come off the water and go home without having made a single move that day because I’d only tried 360 and fallen on every one. But each next day, I would complete more of the 360 rotation and project farther in front of the wave before messing everything up and crashing. Until one day, after millions of falls, I did not fall but landed my first wave 360 (I was so happy that I literally started laughing on the water). I could not have made it without falling. Along the way, each crash gave me a little bit more information on how to do the maneuver properly, so every failed wave 360 I had done was a part of my first successful wave 360. Moves cannot exist without first being wipeouts.

To most windsurfers, this probably seems obvious. They are reading this and thinking, “Who expects to land a back loop on the first try?” Yet, most of our culture does not allow for failure. One of my English professors confided in me that the hardest part of his job is getting kids to the point where they can write without expecting it to be perfect. Trying to write a flawless story on the first attempt is impossible and thus crippling. But writing a lot of stories regardless of whether they are good or bad will inevitably lead to improvement, and improvement guides one towards perfection (even if it is ultimately unattainable, everyone wants to get closer). My professor tries to teach falling to his students by assigning them nightly writing in a blog that no one will read. Windsurfers do not need anything of the sort because windsurfers have already discovered how to fall and thus learned to learn.

Other sports like skateboarding also require much falling in order to improve, but windsurfing seems to be the best. For one, water is a lot softer than cement or dirt. More of just a splash in the water, falling in windsurfing rarely means broken bones or deep cuts. Thus falls are mainly only ego injuries and not physical ones. Further, the sport of windsurfing has an infinitely large number of moves to learn, so the falling never stops. Even the best wave and freestyle professional windsurfers in the world are still constantly trying (ie falling) on new moves. Everyone, from the guy learning to jibe to Ricardo trying to land a triple forward, is falling.

More so, falling is the essence of life. Science requires multiple failures and trials before reaching an accurate result, and evolution relies on genetic mutations that create a varied spectrum of non-prefect animals, and from this variety only the ones with stronger genes survive. This pattern of falling in order to learn is seen literally everywhere. So even though no one wants to write a shitty story in the same way that nobody wants to get slammed onto the water mid forward loop, in both cases the falling stage is necessary for improvement. So, in order to improve you must fall. And the best way to learn to fall is to windsurf. So, logically, everyone in the world who is trying to improve should learn how to windsurf.