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How did YOU start windsurfing?
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Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject: L2W Reply with quote

My L2W story is the usual similar series of life altering co-incidents as most, but slightly different locations. As kids, inland on the east coast of USA, Mom gave us swim lessons because she couldn’t. She wanted us to have the fun – and not drown. Dad had a small sailboat so we had some sailing on the Hudson River, and occasional lakes. As a kid, wanting to go faster, a sunfish seemed the likely move, but it was just out of reach for the cash I could earn delivering newspapers, besides the fact that there just weren’t any good sailing spots nearby unless you had a car.

Fast forward to 1993, work had me travel to Hong Kong. In the down time, I took a bus to the small Stanley Fishing Village beach. When the bus rounded a corner on the mountain road, I couldn’t believe me eyes - there were HUNDREDS of windsurfers on the bay! THAT’S better than the sunfish I dreamed of as a kid. I marched up to the concession and tried to rent a board. The manager, a guy named Patrick, asked if I knew how. Naturally he advised a lesson. The wind was probably blowing around 20 mph. After a little stretching the truth about my sailing and skate board experience, he let me take out a rig. After a couple of hours of falling in the water, as I returned the gear, he said, “Why don’t you come by for a lesson.”

The lesson was a beach simulation and then onto the water. That was it - addicted. Every single day off from work, I was back at this beach trying to sail in all kinds of Hong Kong summer weather from barely moving winds to full on cyclone-passing-nearby insanity. The only windsurf info I found in town were the UK “Boards” and “Hatteras Guide” magazines. Between those mags and the Chinese sailors at the beach, I managed to learn to tack, plane in the straps, beach start and water start in that amazing month.

As soon as I returned to NYC, I headed up to the last windsurf shop in Manhattan and bought a used set of gear. Fall sailing in Plumb Beach Brooklyn and Long Island are amazing places to learn to windsurf - safe beaches, plenty of wind and always other sailors nearby. It’s been a nonstop learning curve. It took me 8 years to finally get a car that would make it to Hatteras and it was everything I imagined including my first completed jibe. I now go back there a few times each year.

I have been lucky enough to sail – or try to sail - Hong Kong, India, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Florida, East Coast USA and the Gorge. At every beach, there has been some friendly windsurfer to give advice and share the stoke, whether they were pros, industry reps or just the regular sailors like me. Just like the other guys here, when I see a new sailor struggling, I try to help them out, to pass on the fun that was given to me by the rest of you guys out there. What an awesome life experience.
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Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19886

PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up in the water, always wanted to try sailing, loved sports that offered endless all-consuming physical and mental exertion, and particularly loved the unfettered thrill of racing dirt bikes WFO across wild, remote, untracked terrain. My first sailing excursion -- off LA in 5 kt breezes in some kind of tub -- was such a bore I thought I’d be dirt biking until it crippled me. I never dreamed I’d find a sport that combined all four of those so effectively.

Then one day as I walked past a small table of remnant books in a Utah department store, a cover caught my eye. It depicted a surfer on a big surfboard, with a twist: he was holding onto a sail. Now, isn’t that special! There’s no real surf in Utah, but I relocated often with the Air Force and the book was only $3. I snatched it up and continued shopping.

Holy CRAP, but that was an expensive book! Over the next 30 years it cost me beaucoup brownie points with my commanding officers, a small fortune in equipment, a significant fortune in dedicated vehicles, and finally my career when my career impeded the book’s siren call. Like Alice down that rabbit hole, man … I was a goner. I bought one o’ them things the next Saturday at Deer Creek Reservoir above Salt Lake City, went back the next day to return it because I already had too many toys gobbling up time and money, but returned from that trip with two of ‘em so my wife could play, too. Fortunately, even deserts have water, and some of them blow like stink.

Within two years I had bought the last of my long line of desert racing bikes. The rest, as they say, is geography and meteorology, as in traveling often and moving twice in pursuit of better windsurfing, leaving one TV tuned to The Weather Channel, and walking into the bowels of the Albuquerque Weather Bureau forecast center when TWC’s details left me hanging. I had finally blended all my sports loves into one pursuit that strengthened, rather than threatened, my life and limbs. I wasn’t about to let nuisances like work, social obligations, or living in the desert climate I love interfere with it. It was like dirt biking without all the pain.

By design, I now live in the desert near one of North America’s premiere windsurfing meccas. For a few years in my 50s I got paid to test next year’s high-wind windsurfing gear from around the world, I’m still improving some of my skills, it’s keeping me in great shape, I never get tired of it, and my wife supports it 100%. Win/win/win/win/win. Warren Buffett, eat your heart out.
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Joined: 24 May 2011
Posts: 84
Location: White Salmon, WA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pretty sure this topic was my idea in our group brainstorm Josh!! Nice work! Glad it is happening!

I will never forget being so stoked and digging through all those nasty used sails in the shed behind Southport Rigging in Kenosha WI!!!
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Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 677

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


All of these are great stories. It's truly amazing how many similarities there are in our paths to becoming windsurfers.

I'm PM'ing a few of you for your names to find out if you're OK with me publishing this content on the L2W website...


My personal website:
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Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 4838
Location: East Bay

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1983, just sold my 3 RM Suzuki's due to an overload of injuries, looking for a fun sport that didn't punish you after every mistake.
16 years of full time OceanBeachSF surfing, falling in water is less painful, and OBSF getting crowded with SanDiegans and OrangeCounty dudes.
Took a lesson with the local shop, taught by my future g/f, bought an Alto the Tuesday after the weekend lesson, bought a Marker111 that following weekend, bought a Seatrend9' poly glass the following week. Didn't miss a day for the first 90, and discovering OysterPoint with GlennShot, JohnChilds, and ColinGift, sailed into Thanksgiving.
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Joined: 19 Sep 2007
Posts: 499
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1986 Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS. I was a student KU and joined the sailing club to sail Lasers. One day all the Lasers, the flyin' J, and the C-scow were all out being sailed, so me and my friend Geoff Smith decided to try and put together one of these old Bic 250's that were lying around. With no instruction and no clue it took forever to figure out how to make the thing go, but it was fun and different. We got better and better that whole summer, but it wasn't until I was offered a ride on a better board and got on a plane for the first time that I was hooked. I still sail every chance I get; it's my favorite thing to do.
Kansas City
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Joined: 06 Oct 2015
Posts: 151

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

funny, of all people, I have to thank my mom for getting me hooked on windsurfing Smile 

Back in high school we took a family vacation to Martha's Vineyard.  My then 48 yo mother thought windsurfing looked cool so she signed us up for a 1/2 day family lesson and subsequent several day rental.  A month or two later she decided to buy a Bic Melody and rig for the family.  

Over the next year I was the only one who really got hooked, so much so that she let me have/borrow the board.  I ended  up helping to found a windsurfing club in college complete with a group trip to Hatteras.  

unfortunately after college, due to work, having kids and life in general, I was  able to sail only 0-4 times a year over the next 15 + years.  

I don't know what did it, but 2 1/2 years ago I refound my passion for the sport. New/new to me used gear, more TOW, two ABK camps later and I'm so much better than I ever was when I was 20 and even more stoked !

nice to be back and thanks mom !
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Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 15
Location: SF Bay area

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 1999 I graduated from college and moved to the Bay Area; there I saw the first kiteboarders and immediately became enamored with kiteboarding. Alas, it was too expensive to pursue, so I took a windsurfing lesson in Foster City instead. I struggled with uphauling on a cold, grey, nearly windless day. Not a lot of fun.

I moved inland to pursue a career that would allow me to live and kiteboard in Hawaii (amongst other things Smile. Eventually, I had the opportunity to try kiteboarding in Oahu and was not impressed. The lack of physicality and delayed kite response just didn't appeal. Never the less, I fantasized about the day I would be able to be on the water.

Fast forward to 2008. Finally free from grad school, I took a drive down to the Delta on what happened to be a nukin' day. There were at least 75+ sailors on the water, many throwing loops, jumping, etc. Warm temps, sunshine, wind, and the possibility for big air--What's not to like?! I managed to eek out two lessons at Delta Windsurf before the season ended, and then spent 3 weeks in Bonaire learning how to windsurf from the ABK crew. By the time I left Bonaire, I could nearly water start and subsequently moved to the Delta to hone my skills. I don't think I could have asked for a better experience and am still wholeheartedly addicted to windsurfing. The physical and mental challenges can't be beat, and it draws such an interesting demographic. I’ve met so many really cool people and can't wait to meet others, learn more, and travel the world in search of wind...
Lisa Wink
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Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 1114
Location: Montréal

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the long version is on my blog Smile

I grew up on the water near Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, but did not fall in love with sailing and my wife - at the same time - until around 27 years of age.

The in-law extended family received a BIC Dufour free when i was in my mid-thirties and I learned on the lake at the cottage with hints from a colleague and the trusty windsurf magazines. Everyone, butt I abandoned the Dufour and windsurfing !!!

When i turned 50 i bought my first new shortboard 160liter/79 cm AHD FF
a few sails and years later - now have a Fanatic BEE 124 LTD, Fanatic CAT, etc
in 2011 the longboards doubled my time on the St Lawrence River - about 60 outings on the water.

About 4 years ago i built a sled to windsurf on ice and broke my shoulder Easter Monday.

now i have designed a sled for snow and another for ice

windsurfing has become a year-round event for me now - even though i live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada !!!

Windsurfing relieves stress, gets me outside, keeps me fit, allows me to chat n learn, allows me to get others in the sport and makes my wife say "you love windsurfing more than you love me!"
I still do not understand why my silence after that question upsets her Smile
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Joined: 02 Jan 2010
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My L2W story starts 4 years ago. I was doing orientation for my new job at a watersports complex on a lake, and windsurfing was one of the sports my work offered, so I decided I wanted to learn the sport. As a kid in the '90's, I had wanted to try it, but the gear was just way too heavy. So here was my chance. At the time though, I weighed 300lbs... I couldn't stay standing on the board (even big starboard starts!) for more than a few seconds. I understood the concepts however, and started helping my coworkers get the hang of it.

Every spare moment with wind for the rest of that summer I practiced, and practiced and got very, very wet. This was about when I decided to start losing weight. I went to Japan for a year, lost a lot of weight, and came back. With improved balance, stamina, and strength, the windsurfing bug bit, and bit hard!

This started my addiction to wind. I learned to sail and started teaching sailing and windsurfing, and later took up kitesurfing too. I now mostly kitesurf (the gear is the most portable of the 3), but windsurfing will always hold that special place in my heart, and thanks to my great work, I can still windsurf (shop gear available for use Very Happy).

I am now 215lbs, fit, healthy, and an unrepentant wind addict. Thank you windsurfing Very Happy
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