When you picture a windsurfer, you probably imagine golden sands, blue skies and turquoise water. Leeds doesn’t automatically spring to mind.
But there is no need to leave this landlocked Northern city to discover whether this is the hobby for you.
Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre, on the edge of Yeadon Tarn, now offers windsurfing courses for children and adults.
Instructor Jackie Friend said: “This is the perfect place for beginners and improvers. It’s always a bit windier here than further into Leeds but it’s safe. And in the sea you have to deal with the waves.” There’s a maximum of six people per instructor, plus a powerboat available which means help is always at hand if you drift in the wrong direction or fall in.
The sessions are taught using a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) 2.5m2 sail and a Rio medium board and start on land to help you master the basic movements from crouching to standing and pulling up the sail.
If you’ve never stepped on a board before there’s a lot to take in but once you get on the water, when your sense of balance really comes into play, it’s a relief to have already honed those skills on dry land.
And it was a lot easier than I expected. You don’t need to be particularly strong to pull up the sail and this is a sport that doesn’t demand a high level of fitness but can help you get in shape.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, said: “Windsurfing is a brilliant addition to a programme of activities which already offers so much for people of all ages and abilities to take part in.”
It’s £95 for a two-day course for adults or £10 for weekly women-only sessions every Friday lunchtime.
The course is around eight to 10 hours – around six hours on the water and a few hours of theory.
For more details go to leeds.gov.uk/sports/Pages/Leeds-sailing-and-activity-centre.aspx or ring 0113 378 1271.