Personally, I have not found books and websites to be very useful before I take a class. When I'm on the water I can't remember what I do for a living, much less what a book said.
Plus, diagrams and instructions are much more difficult to understand than demonstrations. Think about instructions for tying a knot -- aren't demonstrations better?
Still, after a day on the water a book or website can help review the experience. So for me, texts aren't a replacement for instruction -- but they can supplement it. They are also good for understanding the jargon, the hardware, understanding what the techniques do, expanding your horizons. And they have pretty pictures too.
Windsurfing by Simon Bornhoft
Windsurfing has about 90 shiny full-color pages that explain and illustrate the basics of windsurfing. It does cover a few advanced-seeming techniques like the carve jibe, but mostly sticks to the basics. It has lots and lots of photos.
Last time I was down in Corpus, I met this surfer Pieter who suggested that I get a Windsurfing subscription. I don't have my first issue yet, but the Windsurfing website has some really good content:
- If you hover your mouse over the "Instruction" menu on the left of the main page, there are some very useful how-to and hints articles. The flash-based tutorials are very cool -- even if the moves are over my head.
- There is an "Introduction to Windsurfing" PDF that you can download off the main page (if you can't find it, try this link). The "3 Steps to Get You Sailing" article has a great section that illustrate how you should uphaul, tack, and start moving.
- There is an online forum with lots of discussion.