Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? (Plus recent video from Hartwell)

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Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? (Plus recent video from Hartwell)

Hi Atlanta neighbors - so I’ve been at this windsurfing thing for about 5 years now. I’m mostly “self taught” (tho coming from a sailing background), and most often am on the water alone. Regarding safety, I’ve thankfully not had any real scares. And as a precaution, I’ve mostly worn a bicycle helmet, figuring that was an easy safety choice to take to avert even just ‘dazing’ knocks to the head from falls onto board, onto mast, or vice versa. But to date, I’ve never really felt like I’ve even come close to hitting my head, and I’ve recently been shying away from using helmet so much considering it could actually be as much of a potential liability (getting hung up in harness lines while under sail, under water, etc???). Watching plenty of videos of windsurfers, I realize most don’t wear helmets, but some do. And I know there’s probably no clear answer, but I”m sure there’s more to consider than I’ve yet imagined. Any of you want to offer more educated thoughts as to the pros/cons of helmet wearing - and if choosing to wear one, what type might really be best (maybe my bike helmet is just not the wisest choice).

And, of course, for fun ... here’s an overly dramatic sampling of a roaring day on Hartwell some Wednesday afternoon about two weeks ago when the wind proved quite heavier than forecasted (most of that day I felt over-powered on a 6.0).

Thanks, all...For any thoughts, this forum, and the good support/resource this group is for your rural neighbors : )

Gary (of Hartwell area, and NC hills)

https://youtu.be/_bDirq3bZX4

And PS: I’m wearing an impact vest under the blue jacket in this vid, so feel adequately floaty

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

Nice video. You were really ripping there!

I usually wear a windsurfing type helmet (except sometimes on light wind day). I've never had a bike helmet but use my ws helmet riding when a bike. I've sailed more than a thousand time over 20+ years and never had a situation where the helmet was a safety liability. I have bumped my head on a mast a few times, so it was good I had it. I also wear one because the lake is crowded in warm weather months and a collision with a boat is possible. I figure it can't hurt. It seems that most local guys I know do wear helmets at least in planing conditions, while most of the pros on videos don't. That may be more for image than anything. They are probably more at risk for injury than most of us.

I've had several windsurfing injuries - sprained MCL, bruised ribs, bruised knee, ankle sprain and a quad sprain. Helmet would have been irrelevant to all those. Learning to ws I did get launched many times, so who knows it might helped then. Most of the other problems windsurfers experience (broken masts, booms, sail separating from board, lost fin, etc) wouldn't be helped by a helmet. Other risks include hypothermia and drowning I suppose which are more or less unrelated to wearing a helmet. So it seems like it's more a personal choice.

For me, safety equipment is for the worst case scenario, not normal conditions. Brain injuries are scarier than things like a sprained ankle so I figure it is worth it. I sail alone a lot too, so I think there is a stronger case for caution when sailing by yourself.

There is no off season.

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

First, you're never alone - you have us! Biggrin

It's personal - there's no hard and fast rule. As Randy mentioned, the greater risk is joint, ankles, knees, etc. Even for the pros. I know of only one case of a really bad concussion amongst the pros and it was from a triple loop attempt. Looking around here, I'm not seeing that as a big risk... Wink People learning to loop will wear one. Balz Muller always wears one but he's doing insane stuff in insane wind. Most pros don't and I don't think it's a "image" thing - really good windsurfers are much more in control in big conditions than we are. When they are pushing the boundaries and the risk is higher, they'll wear one (ie Luderitz, PWA foil racing). Where I've seen pros get hurt is either collisions (PWA slalom), bad landings from aerials or getting caught in the straps in a closeout wave.
Relevant: https://www.continentseven.com/jaeger-stone-about-his-knee-injury-interview/

I didn't own a helmet for 20 years but I wear one foiling in 20+ mph winds because I've gone over the handlebars more in one day than I have in the decade before. Overfoiling when overpowered and then catching an edge seems worse than doing it on a regular board. My skills have increased enough that I'm not pranging that much under 20 any more so on light wind days, it stays in the car.

If it's blowing 3.7 and a regular board, I'll probably wear one. Anything less, I don't. I do wear an impact vest after a long swim a few years back and always wear one foiling where I'm much more likely to end up on the boom.

This is me and the choices I'm making. I'm not against helmets. On a bicycle, I always wear a helmet because a) I've attended a funeral (it sucks), b) I fell off a tandem at 8 mph in a parking lot and it hurt.

I don't know of any cons from a safety aspect except loopers will cover the ear holes so a jet of water doesn't blow out their ear drums.

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

What if you are a very tall windsurfer who likes clean hands? Shok

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2859645-celtics-tacko-fall-suffered-concussion-hitting-his-head-on-low-ceiling

Quote:
Boston Celtics center Tacko Fall suffered a concussion when he hit his head on a low ceiling while washing his hands at a practice facility, according to John Karalis of MassLive.

The 7'5" big man did not feel the effects until the next morning when he woke up not feeling well.Fall did not play in Wednesday's season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers as he remains in concussion protocol. He does, however, expect to be cleared "real soon."

No evidence the big man windsurfs other than his name: Tacko Fall which is pretty much what happens every time I do...

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

I think riding a bike is far more dangerous than windsurfing if you are anywhere near cars.

I now recall the best reason for wearing a helmet if you are foiling: I hit my head with my wing once. Would have been nasty w/o my helmet.

There is no off season.

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

Thanks, guys, for confirming what I suspected (no clear answer, and no obvious cons to helmet wearing). I’ll probably continue to wear one more often than not.... AND will be sure not to attempt any double forward loops when alone. : )

Keep up the good and safe fun - and I’ll do the same

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

Okay, so there are some types of sailing where a helmet is probably a wise idea...

https://www.facebook.com/ParentAtwoodRacing/videos/512722945973794/

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

Helmets help keep your head warm, good in the winter, not good in the summer.  But the main reason to wear one is protection from the sun, for your forehead where sunscreen would run down into your eyes, and if you have them, for bald spots.

Gene

Gene Mathis

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Re: Safety question for rainy, windless days: helmet, or no? ...

A baseball cap can do all that, Gene. I thought you were going to say what told me:

"You only need to wear a helmet if there is something inside worth protecting."

There is no off season.

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