What the expert says...
Amanda Van Santen is chief windsurfing instructor for the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the sport's national governing body in the UK, and has been windsurfing for 10 years.
Perfect your stance It's important to have a relaxed stance on the board - don't hold yourself too stiffly, and keep a slight bend in the knees at all times. Many beginners tend to bend at the waist, which can cause backache and throw you off balance. If your head comes in front of your toes, you are likely to lose your balance.
Find your way around the board One of the most important things to learn is where you can put your feet and remain balanced. Find out by moving around on the board, keeping your weight over the centre line. It's essential to ensure your body is stable before you start moving your weight around.
Stop 'gear-gazing' Many beginners make the mistake of 'gear-gazing' - looking at what their hands or feet are doing, instead of looking where they are going. Imagine you are driving a car - you wouldn't look at the gear stick or the steering wheel but at the road ahead. Looking where you want to go will instantly improve your technique and control.
Don't go barefoot Some people like to sail barefoot, but as a beginner it's a good idea to wear neoprene shoes or boots with a rubber sole. This helps prevent you slipping or stubbing your feet on your equipment and protects them from sharp rocks or stones in the water. It also helps keep you warm.
Build your confidence Practise some fun and games to build confidence and rig control. For example, try taking one hand off the boom, or take both hands away and see how many times you can clap before losing your balance. See if you can get down on your knees and then stand back up while maintaining your balance.
You don't need to be super-fit and strong to windsurf. Modern equipment is light, stable and easier to manoeuvre than it used to be.
Begin with a taster session (usually offered between May and October), to see if you think you'll enjoy the sport, or book a two-day Start Windsurfing course, run by the RYA (£100-£150, including equipment). Go to the RYA website (rya.org.uk) and click on Get Started to find a venue near you - there are more than 260 RYA-recognised windsurfing clubs in the UK and abroad, on both coastal and inland waters. If you are going to be windsurfing regularly, it's a good idea to join a club - for camaraderie, tuition, tips and information on gear, destinations and events.
If you'd rather master windsurfing in more forgiving climes, many holiday resorts offer taster sessions and extended coaching. Look for an RYA-recognised centre to ensure you are getting reputable training in a safe environment from fully qualified instructors. You could combine learning to windsurf with yoga at Moon Beach Retreat on the Red Sea (gybemasters.co.uk).
To get in the loop, check out Boards, a British windsurfing magazine with news, RYA schools, locations, shops, forums, clubs, weather and windsurfing information (boards.co.uk) or online windsurfing magazine boardseeker.com. You need a subscription for full access but there's lots you can get for free, too.
The RYA's book Start Windsurfing (£5.20) is a good guide for beginners, with chapters on technique, equipment, basic rigging and safety.
You'll become obsessed with wind if you fall in love with windsurfing. Check out wendywindblows.com, xcweather.com, iwindsurf.com or windsurfingmag.com for the latest weather reports in popular windsurfing destinations here and abroad.
If you are starting out, all the equipment you need (including your wetsuit and a buoyancy aid) will be provided. But if you are going to take it up seriously, you will eventually want to buy your own gear. Your first purchase is likely to be a wetsuit. There are windsurfing-specific suits available, such as the Neil Pryde E3 (£199), which have more space in the upper body area. The wetsuit shouldn't be roomy enough to let in water but shouldn't be restrictive either. Bear in mind where and at what time of year you'll be windsurfing, to ensure the wetsuit you buy is right for the conditions - and try a selection first. You'll also need some rubber-soled neoprene boots or rubber surf slippers. Avoid anything bulky, as they'll make getting into the footstraps difficult later on in your windsurfing career. Expect to spend £10 to £40. The O'Neill Psycho 3mm boot costs £15.
It is a good idea to leave buying windsurfing 'hardware' until you have progressed from beginner status. When you are learning, you will probably be on a longer and more stable beginner board, which you will quickly want to upgrade as you progress.
Buying the full kit - a board, mast, boom and sail - will set you back at least £1,000. And then you'll need a roof rack and strap to transport your gear. A more secure alternative to a standard rack is the purpose-built Quiverack, which bolts to your existing roof rack and allows you to store your sails and booms with the boards (£849.50, quiverack.co.uk).
Many windsurfing centres have shops on site, others have links with local retailers where you may get a discount - your centre will be able to advise you. Also see boardseeker.com and boards.co.uk for information on UK retailers.
It's pricey Windsurfing is expensive - not just the kit itself but also the transportation and travel.
It can hurt your back According to research from the University of Chichester, lower back strain is one of the most common injuries among windsurfers. It can also lead to bad posture.
You're at the mercy of the weather Essentially, no wind, no windsurfing.