Gone with the Wind

From Diamond Head to Kailua Beach, windsurfing is gaining in popularity, so MidWeek’s intrepid reporter decided to give it a whirl

Yu Shing Ting
Wednesday - August 03, 2005
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Diamond Head is a popular spot for experienced

The winds are up and the surf is down. So, whatcha gonna do?

Try windsurfing.

Four years ago John Price discovered his passion for windsurfing during a trip to Texas with his girlfriend Maria Szczecina.

He ended up falling in love with the sport so much that he quit his job as a ski instructor in Colorado, packed his bags and moved to Hawaii.

“We both lived at a ski resort and I taught skiing, and she just thought that I would like windsurfing so she took me to try it ,and I loved it,” he says. “She bought me a lesson, but it was actually too windy so the instructor didn’t want to teach me. So, my friend just gave me a board and I just sort of started on my own and got tips from people. I did take a lesson on Maui to learn how to water start (angling the sail so it pulls you out of the water and you can jump up on the board).”

The author takes her first ride

Price, who is now working as a carpenter, goes windsurfing at Diamond Head about once a week and sometimes after work at Kailua Beach.

“I like windsurfing because you‘re not limited just to the surf area where the waves are breaking,” he says. “You can go beyond the waves. You have a much bigger area of playing field that you can go back and forth in. And at Diamond Head, the view when you get out beyond the break is just fantastic. You got the lighthouse and you can see Koko Head.

“Windsurfing is definitely the biggest reason I moved to Hawaii because you can windsurf here all year round,” he says. Having spent almost all my life in Hawaii, there’s really no excuse for why this reporter has never tried windsurfing.

Maybe it’s because I never knew anyone who windsurfs. Or maybe it was just a little too extreme for me. Or at least it seemed to be.

I mean, have you ever watched the windsurfers at Diamond Head? They’re out there charging some monstrous waves, catching air and doing flips (loops). It’s really neat to watch. But to actually do it? That’s pretty daring.

But how hard is it really? I decided to test the ride for myself but on much calmer waters off Kailua.

“Most people find their first day of learning to windsurf very frustrating,” says my instructor, Kenneth Campbell of Hawaiian WaterSports. “There’s a lot to take in, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy and a lot of fun.”

Campbell helps me to set up my rig, a process that takes about 10 minutes. Before heading to the water, he shows me the fundamentals — hand position, feet position, posture, arm movement, etc.

Then it’s time for the real thing. I stand up on the board and slowly pull up the sail while trying to keep my balance.

With the wind blowing against it, it’s a lot heavier and trickier than I thought it would be. I finally get it up, but then I lose my balance and splash. I’m in the water.

“It’s OK,” says Campbell. “Try it again. Take your time. Once you have it up, if the wind is blowing, release the sail with your left hand so the wind can pass.” After about the fourth try, I finally have slight control of the sail. Before I know it, the board starts accelerating toward the open ocean.

“Remember, use your left hand as your gas and your right hand to steer it left or right,” says Campbell. “Look, you’re sailing! You’re sailing!”

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