You see them when you drive by the water...vividly colored banners flying and looping in the air, while below them fit young athletic types skim across the water and jump ten feet into the sky.
Or you see the flash of sails moving fast as speedboats, throwing spray as they carve high speed turns and jump off of waves…
You watch for a moment and think “that looks like great fun but:
A. You must need to be very strong to do that.
B. You need to be younger and probably crazier than you are to do that.
C. A + B.
D. But nothing…I wanna ride the wind and water!
And you can. You don’t have to be exceptionally fit (though once you join the tribe it’s fun letting friends and acquaintances think you are) and you don’t have to be young (there are plenty of senior citizens out there alongside the youths and the youthful). What you DO need, besides being reasonably fit, is a sense of humor, a resilient ego (if you can’t bear making a fool of yourself, these aren’t the sports for you) and someone to teach you.
How do you start? How do you choose? And where will you windsurf or kite? Let’s take a look…
Which sport is for me…windsurfing or kiteboarding?
They’re both great sports, plenty of people do both, and odds are that you already have a preference, which I’d encourage you to pursue. In the event that you don’t, here are some thoughts and observations from one guy (me) who has done both:
- If you have friends who are already windsurfers or kiters, do what they do. It is much more fun (and your learning curve is faster) when you’re on the water with friends.
- If you’re an adrenalin junkie, kiting will get you there faster (though there is as much adrenalin as you can handle available in windsurfing). If you are pursuing the magic of being one with wind and water, windsurfing has an edge (though kiteboarders enjoy “soul sessions” as much as windsurfers). The above judgments are purely mine, and will surely raise the ire of participants of both sports, but hey I’m writing this article.
Where can I learn?
The best places to learn are in the shallow areas of inland bays, of which the south fork of Long Island (where I live) is blessed with many. From Moriches Bay in Westhampton to Tiana and Shinnecock in Hampton Bays, the Peconic Bays in Southampton, Mecox in Water Mill, and Napeague in Amagansett, there are plenty of spots to get on the water and learn.
More important than where to learn is with whom? You’ll want professional instruction. You may have a friend who is fantastically skilled and eager to show you the ropes, but your best bet for both safety and ease of learning is to work with a pro. The main hub for both windsurfing and kiteboarding out east is Hampton Watersports who can provide instructors and rental equipment directly, or refer you to qualified people in the area who will either come to where you are or recommend some good spots to meet and learn.
There are two kinds of people at the beach. There are those who (when laying on their blanket and soaking up the sun) get annoyed if the wind builds and sand starts to blow in their faces. And then there are those whose hearts begin to race as they grab their things, run back to the house and gather their equipment so they can ride the wind and the water.
It’s time to join the second group.
Photo: Flickr | Tourisme-Loucate