How We Caught The Windsurfing Bug
(Written April 2011)
“Wow, the wind is at 16 knots and building,” I said to my wife. “Drop everything. Let’s go! Grab your stuff. Kids, get your shoes on and get in the car. Everything else can wait til we get home.” The thrill awaited.
It all started 2 months earlier with a relaxing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the end of July. We were there to enjoy the beach and the sites with some friends. That first evening, we sat out on the porch to watch the sun set. It was deep orange and spectacular. And so were the mosquitoes – the largest I have ever seen. “Are those mosquitoes or hummingbirds?” I asked. Their bite was even bigger. But as it turned out, their bite paled in comparison to the bite of the mighty Windsurfing-Bug. My wife, Lisa, got bit first and bit hard by a Windsurfing-Bug on our very first day. Her whole head seemed to swell up from the powerful venom. We had heard that the only cure was a trip to Barton’s windsurfing shop in Rodanthe, NC. So, off she went. Two hours later she returned with a rented board and rig for the entire week and the promise that if she purchased a package before we went home the rental fee would be refunded. That should have been my first clue that I too was about to be bitten by the Windsurfing-Bug. For four days she sailed and practiced and enjoyed her newly found past-time. I, however, was too preoccupied with the freedom of not having our 2 children with us to recognize the thrill of windsurfing. But on day five……it happened. I was walking down the boardwalk minding my own business and…OUCHHH!!! I got bit. “That was no mosquito,” I thought. As I neared the beach and the end of the boardwalk my head began to swell from the powerful venom of the Windsurfing-Bug. And, low and behold, sitting there at water’s edge was the board and rig.
I dragged the rig into the shallow waters and pretended like I knew what I was doing. It was a wide beginner board – about the size of a garage door or a little bigger. I stood up on it and felt about as comfortable as a horse on a trampoline. But the wind suddenly grabbed the sail and away I went, sailing across the open sound. At that moment nothing else in the world seemed to exist - only the wind, the sail, the board, and the water. Time ceased to exist. The people on the shore became invisible. Beach houses vanished into thin air. There were no thoughts of cell phones, business responsibilities, email, paying bills, the Buffalo Bills, or anything else. It was just me, the sail, the board, the wind, and the water. It was a fresh reuniting with a freedom I had lost for too long - a freedom that I so loved during my years of competitive sprint kayaking. That feeling had returned, but in a way that was even more free. It was boundless.
Needless to say we drove home with our new baby girl, Rio, strapped to the roof of our car, her sail and mast sticking up into the front seat from the trunk. We spent August, September and part of October learning and loving windsurfing. Our skills are growing slowly, but the passion runs stronger. I have learned new patience and found new excitement, found new aches and pains and made new friends. And above all have reunited with a freedom that few people ever find – few people except windsurfers.
Below is a list of my Top Beginner Principles from our limited experiences thus far:
We hope to see you on the water. If you ever need help with your windsurfing skills or advice on equipment, don’t ask us. We don’t know much yet. But if you want to know if windsurfing is fun, challenging, inspiring, and refreshing then we will talk your ear off all day – unless the wind is blowing of course.