Bonaire: An Island Watersports Playground!

If you’re looking for a warm-water destination in the winter – particularly in the months of January-March, look no further than Bonaire. We just got back from a 9-day trip to this small, Caribbean island just off the coast of Venezuela and we wanted to share our experience.

Ultimately, this a great island to escape to if you’re looking for a diversity of things to do in the water. This island is mainly renowned for two thing: sensational SCUBA as the island is surrounded by a coral reef and a place called Lac Bay, an intermediate and freestyle windsurfer’s dream. However, there is a kite boarding beach, amazing snorkeling, powerboat rentals, wakeboarding/waterskiing and sailboat excursions.

Let’s start with Lac Bay, the windsurfing area.


The winds speeds in Lac Bay were fairly light compared to our wind conditions.The average wind speed was probably about 14-16 knots but we had some lighter and some strong wind days.

The bay is divided into two sections.One section is a huge area of thigh-high, flattish water.This area is amazing for intermediates to practice all of their skills and a great place to work on freestyle moves because if you mess up you can easily just hop right back onto the board. This is a perfect place to work on any intermediate skills or non-looping freestyle moves.

If you do want to practice looping or go for longer runs or even get into less crowded deeper blue waters, just sail a longer distance into the deeper section of the bay. You may even see lots of sea turtles and other fish (there are flying fish all around the island).

Just as fun, and sometime more fun than sailing, is watching the unbelievable freestylers on the island. 3 of the world’s top 5 windsurfing freestyle champions are from Bonaire. The moves these guys can pull will blow your mind. Even the light wind freestylers are hard to take your eyes off.

Caesar Finies is just ridiculous in light winds. If you think light winds are boring, let’s see if you can do some of these tricks! Do not miss the end of this video for him taking the sail off, throwing it into the air and catching it to sail back onto the beach. This is him below.

 

For rentals and/or lessons there are two beach side equipment rental concessions to help you out: Jibe City and Bonaire.

Jibe City rentals are very nice and consist of mostly new JP and Neil Pryde equipment.


Bonaire Windsurfing Place has a stellar selection of Starboard, RRD and some Naish Boards. They also carry a full spectrum of Hot Sails Maui Sails including the DD for those who want the lightest weight rig possible.

 
 
Both locations also have restaurants and bars right on the beach so you can eat, drink and watch the action – or have a place to relax after a long session.

On the kiteboarding front, there is a smaller, offshore wind beach about 10 minutes away from Lac Bay. If you’re an experienced kiter confidently going up wind, you’ll do just fine. The local kiteboarding school has rescue boats and for $20 you can catch a ride back home if you get stranded down wind. As this site is on the ocean side, you can see lots of flying fish in this area. There is really nice swell on the outside and the area closer to the launch can be relatively flat.

We did take some down time from all of the windsurfing and kiteboarding to rent a powerboat and cruise around Klein Bonaire, a little islet about a half mile off the western side of the island. The snorkeling and diving there are absolutely amazing: Lots of coral, fish, crabs and things to see.

Bonaire is a little quite on the nightlife side, but the food on the island is the best that we have had in the Caribbean. Try the ceviche at New Peruvian Restaurant, the mussels with spinach and gouda at It Rains Fishes, the grilled shrimp and Mona Lisa and just about anything at Unbelievable Restaurant.

For accommodations, I’d recommend contacting Ann Phelan the master of Bonaire travel info: ann@bonairecaribbean.com

Spring has sprung, OPENING day in Alameda this weekend with great wind!

Rebecca and I headed over to Alameda on Saturday for some Spring cleaning and enjoyed a gorgeous, warm day. Temps were in the high 60s, and the consistent, gentle breeze beckoned me onto the water on the 14′ Naish Glide Sup and 5.5 Naish Session. I couldn’t quite bring myself to put on a full wetsuit (yes, Barbados and St. Lucia totally spoiled me this winter), so I opted for my 2mil top and shorts…and was plenty warm enough. I cruised around for a while, enjoying the relatively warm water for this time of year. The water was crystal clear as well…perfect for shallow water stand up paddling.


After enjoying my leisurely sail, I was happy to be surprised by our kite instructor Benjamin. He dropped in for a visit while in town, and it was just like the old days hanging out at “The Shack”.
Rebecca and I decided to open up officially on Sunday…as the forecast predicted good north west winds. We had a beginner windsurf renter come out. He almost got planing on the 12’6 Starboard SUP and 4.5 Hot Sails Maui sail…so once I saw him jamming along, I knew there was hope for some good wind. Around 3:30pm it picked up nicely, and before I knew it there were 25 kites on the water. Wind was averaging around 19 by 4:30pm…and later was gusting into the mid 20s.

Jesse headed out to teach our first Intro To Kiteboarding Clinic, and I pumped up my 12m Naish Cult and grabbed my 137 Nobile 555 board. Somehow I ended up putting my 3/2 wetsuit on (not knowing it wasn’t my 4/3) and realized it out on the water. I was actually warm enough…which is a miracle for this time of year. When the Tahoe snow starts to melt, I imagine the water will get chilly, but for now it’s blissfully warm for March.

All the usual suspects came out to grab the first great Spring winds. Arde was on his 19m Naish Raven all day and managed to hold it down. Tim was out riding on his 15m Naish Boxer, enjoying some solitude upwind by Ballena Isle. Sven, Tomomi, and Scott came out (Happy Birthday Scott!!!) to ride. Loud Mouth Charlie was out and was hoping his new puppy didn’t eat his car while he was on the water. Thor was out on his new 12m North Rebel (nice kite Thor!!). Kevin came out later and rode his 8m North Rebel and was powered enough. That made me feel silly for riding my 12m. I am just so used to a big kite!

All of us are happy to be back out on the water to greet the Spring winds. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our good fortune continues.
Jane

SUP, Windsurfing and Kiteboarding in November!

After 18 years of living in San Francisco, I still feel extremely grateful for our weather. The picture above was taken this past Saturday, November 14th! What a great day to be in Alameda.
As you may recall, Saturday morning was gloomy! I woke up to cold, dreary skies and rain. My first thought, “The weatherman sure missed the mark.” The forecast was for sun, but I had serious doubts about seeing sun that day. Fortunately, about 1 hour later, blue skies were on the horizon and the next thing I knew, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen!!

I drove to Alameda and set up for our SUP tour/BBQ and windsurfing lessons. Four of us, hit the water for a Balina Isle paddle at 11:30. The conditions were ideal. Amazing flat water, blues skies and lots of pelicans diving for their lunch. The tide was ebbing so the paddle out was also easy.
Once in side the lagoon area, I could feel the wind picking up. Perfect for our two beginner windsurfing students, Ed and Ben. It was also perfect to have tail winds come back around the other side of the Isle.
Ed and Ben were able to sail around as the wind picked up to a steady 8-10mph and stayed there all afternoon. Even Jesse was able to get out kiting on his 19m Flysurfer and Litewave 161 Wing!

At the end of the day, a few of us sat on the lawn chairs and watch the sun start to set. How lucky we are to live in the Bay Area!

Stellar wind in Alameda this weekend…and traveling to Crown Beach by Ferry

I went to Alameda by ferry yesterday, cruising down Nob Hill on one of our new Ultramotor Electric A2B Bicycles. The whole SF to Alameda bike/ferry trip takes about 35 minutes.

We are now a dealer of these cool electric bikes. Come by or call us for a free demo ride anytime.

I am totally addicted to riding around town on them. They go up to 20mph, have a range of 20 miles on one charge, and can fully charge (by basic power outlet) in 3 hours. You can pedal while you motor, gaining great speed and getting everywhere in a flash. They are technically a bicycle, so NO registration or motorcycle license is required, and you can take them on Bart and all the local ferries. Saturday Marie and I cruised down to Coyote by Bart and bike and I had so much fun that I decided with the Bay Bridge closed for the weekend, this was the most elegant option for getting to Alameda on Sunday.

The ferry leaves from the Ferry Building in SF, and drops off right by Rosenblum Winery in Alameda. From the winery, it’s about a 6 minute pedal to the shack.



It’s a gorgeous ferry ride and it was a beautiful day to travel by boat.

I got a nice view of the Bay Bridge Construction Project.


Alameda was warm and mellow when I arrived at the shack. Around 2:30pm, the wind came up nicely, blowing a steady 18+.

Arde was overpowered (I mean totally lit!) on his 19m Raven. I went out on the 10.5 Cult and had a blast. We have just received our 2010 kites so if you would like to demo the new Cult, give us a call. It is sweet!
The beach was less crowded than usual, with lots of people out of town for Labor Day Weekend.

On my return trip to SF, the Bay was lit up by an almost full moon.
What a nice way to spend the day, and a what a relaxing, fun way to travel the Bay. Thanks to the wind Gods for a very nice windy September weekend in Alameda!

Jane

Test Ride on the Tandem Windsurf Board at Alameda Sunday Evening

Susan and I got a chance to take out our brand new 2009 Starboard Gemini Sunday evening at the “Shack” in Alameda. We had been hopeful of potentially getting the board up on a plane together, but by the time we got our sails ready and the board down to the water, the wind had backed off. We were looking forward to a tandem ride just the same, and the weather was gorgeous. The sun was setting over San Francisco, and the water was warm and mellow. A small crowd had gathered just to observe the launching of this veritable ginormous boat.

The Shack is an ideal place to keep this tandem Starboard windsurf board. It is quite heavy, and quite large. If you live on the water then it works great. I am not sure how anyone would get it on top of a car, although Jonathan managed to transport it to Alameda on the top of our Jetta. It takes 2 people to move it around, and carrying it around is not a frivolous task. The board has 370 liters of volume, is 12 feet long (367 cm), and weighs about 50 lbs. The fin comes up to my mid section (a.k.a. rear end) and is over 2 1/2 feet long (70cm) , so we turned the board on its’ side in order to bring it down to water’s edge.

We used mechanical universal joints so we didn’t have to turn the board on it’s side to put the sails on. They proved to be quite useful later when taking the sails off in the water.
We executed our double launch procedure with relative ease. I managed not to chop Susan in half despite her precarious position in between the two sails.
We had to schlepp the rig out a bit due to the low tide and absolutely ginormous fin. Once we got out far enough to clear the fin, we climbed onto the board and both started to uphaul. The board was EXTREMELY stable and even if we were hoola dancing on the deck, we would not have fallen in. I guess that is what you get when you have 370 liters of volume!!! We got into a rythym quickly and easily. I ended up giving Susan a stance and fast tack lesson, and it was an ideal platform for teaching. I could stand right next to her (sail right next to her I mean), watch her sailing technique, and give her feedback and watch her make small adjustments. This is incredible teaching tool and I can’t wait to schedule some lessons on the Gemini.
Susan and I chatted the whole time, and it was really nice experiencing windsurfing with a companion. We swapped positions while on the board (easy due to how stable it is) by setting our sails in the water and crawling alongside eachother to swicth between the front and back positions. Theoretically the more experienced rider goes in back, but we had fun trying it on the front and back. Tacking is a bit of a challenge as the front sailor needs to really duck when the back person flips their sail to the other side of the board. Susan pulled that off with ease and I don’t have a single bruise from the experience (nor does she, thank God!). We wished we had brought along some wine and cheese so we could stop for a picnic while sailing. That will have to wait til next time.

The sunset proved to be an ideal setting for our first Gemini ride. I can’t wait to get back on! Come rent it anytime for the ultimate social windsurfing experience, or schedule a lesson and have your instructor right next to you while you learn to plane and go really fast! By the way, the speed record on the Gemini is 29 knots (33 mph)! And if you think 2 people can have 2x as much fun, check out this Mistral clip from Europe where 9 people get on a tandem board and pull a waterskiier behind them!

Here is what Starboard has to say about the Gemini on their website:

A wide-style tandem board changes everything about the windsurfing experience.

For advanced windsurfers: the Gemini reveals more performance and brings more fun than you can imagine. Guaranteed to make you laugh and enjoy the most unique ride of your life, the Gemini also unlocks amazing speed and power that will see you overtake the solo windsurfers on the water. For the most social windsurfers out there, the Gemini is the ultimate date.

For beginners: feel the rush of planing and experience the basics of high-performance windsurfing from the first minute onboard. Simply get in the front with a smaller sail, and partner yourself with an experienced sailor in the back.

For schools and centers: the Gemini is a wide, stable shape that offers a platform for both the coach and the learner to sail together. The beginner can also learn solo sailing with the coach sitting on the board. As a tool, it’s a must and a fantastic way to start windsurfing.

Summary:
The World’s only widestyle tandem board
For advanced windsurfers and for social windsurfers
For schools, centers and beginners
The current Gemini World Speed Record: 29.2 knots

Bye for now,
Jane

Rent the Starboard TANDEM Windsurf Board in Alameda

Windsurfing just got to be twice as much fun! Come out to our Alameda facility and rent the 2009 Starboard Gemini. This is a wide style tandem board that allows you to have twice the fun! Now you can have those conversations with someone else while sailing (as opposed to talking to yourself all day!). Rebecca and I tried sailing tandem while down in Mexico, and had a blast. Jibing is a trip without luggage! This is great form of entertainment for beginners, advanced sailors, and families with kids. I plan to sail it with Rebecca and my dog Zoe! I get the back seat Rebecca!!! (we recommend you put the shorter more durable sailor in front).

Here is the review from Windsurfing Magazine>

Test date: 9/18
Location: Merritt Island, Florida
Wind: 4-9 mph, 8-14 mph
Water conditions: Mild wind chop
Tester(s): Josh Sampiero, with Eddy Patricelli and Sean Sullivan
Level: Advanced, expert, advanced
Weights: 220 lbs., 180 lbs., 140 lbs.
Yes, it really is that big – the
Starboard Gemini tandem board.

Starboard Gemini
Volume: 350 liters
Length: 372 cm
Width: 101 cm
Fin: 70 cm
Sail size: 2.0-10.0 m
star-board.com

First take
• It’s big. Real big. It dwarfs any other windsurfing board I’ve ever seen – and takes up as much floor space as a small sailboat. There’s no question it’s going to be stable – but can something that big actually be fun to sail?

• It’s a good thing the board is designed for two people – because it almost takes two people just to carry the thing.

• Long Formula-type fin, with a relatively normal-size centerboard. The Gemini has three mast tracks – two for tandem and one in the middle for solo sailors. Full EVA deck is soft and easy on the feet or knees – good for beginners.

First sesh – light winds
I climbed on for my first tandem experience with veteran tandem windsurfer Eddy Patricelli. The first rule of tandem sailing is that the heavier guy always goes in back, so I got in the pilot’s position and Eddy took shotgun. The 70 cm fin made getting away from shore a little tricky, but once we were going, it was easy sailing.

• The board floated our combined 400 pounds of weight with ease – I’m betting it could take more if needed. If there was ever a board made for an NFL offensive lineman, this is it.

• Sailing – In light winds it’s stable, but not a particularly fast light-air cruiser. Just sailing along is no difficult feat, but synchronized pumping definitely requires some practice. We tried kicking the centerboard up to get planing but no luck – there just wasn’t enough wind.

• Headed upwind, then downwind, with no problem. The board turns slowly, as expected, but steering is fairly intuitive – it works just like any other board you’ve ever sailed. Tacking and jibing is a dance that requires communication and timing. The sailor in front leads, and the sailor in back follows. It’s a little tricky at first, but once you’ve got the timing down, it’s a breeze. Remember to duck!

Second sesh – more wind, less weight
When the wind came up later in the afternoon, I grabbed WindSurfing’s featherweight board tester Sean Sullivan to introduce him to the thrills of tandem sailing. With some bigger sails and our reduced combined weight, would we get the big board on a plane? You bet!

• Getting onto a plane is fairly simple. Bear off, kick up the centerboard and away you go. Though the Gemini has Formula board width, its length means it slowly climbs onto a plane, rather than popping up quickly like a shortboard.

• As far as I know, there’s no tonnage rule in windsurfing – but this board might inspire one. Once you’re up and planing, steering is certainly possible, but it didn’t happen fast. Fortunately, other sailors tended to give the Gemini a pretty wide berth.

• After a few runs, Sean and I are in perfect harmony. We bear off onto a plane, then move into the straps at the same time. Transitions are initiated with a simple “1, 2, 3″ countdown. Since I’m using a 10-meter sail in the back, we stick mostly to tacks, though jibes – slow, not planing – were possible, too. We’d definitely want some more time sailing the board, preferably with smaller sails, before going for a full-speed jibe. Although I didn’t have a GPS, we were able to attain some pretty impressive speeds, almost keeping up with other sailors on normal windsurfing gear.


Boujmaa Guillol (front) and Eric Girard enjoy having room for two on the Starboard Gemini.

Conclusions
This is serious fun! The best part of sailing a tandem isn’t the actual windsurfing – it’s having company while you’re doing it. Windsurfing can be such a lonely sport when you’re out on the water, you forget how much fun it is to enjoy the company of others. Plus, there’s a thrill to working in concert with another windsurfer – and getting the massive board powered up on a plane is a blast.
Starboard is marketing the Gemini as bringing a wide-board, early planing shape to tandem windsurfing boards – and I think it’s succeeded. With enough sail power and moderately skilled riders, the Gemini will get going in a relatively light breeze – it had Sean and me planing in 10-14 knots.

The biggest drawback to the Gemini is that its sheer size isn’t very practical – it’s not going to fit in most vans, and probably isn’t very easy to get on the roof racks, so it’s not something you just bring along for a day at the beach. Its long fin might be limiting for some locations, but it is offered with a shallow-water fin (we did not have a chance to test the board with it). But as a board for windsurfing schools, or as something to keep at the family lake house, it’s pretty tough to beat – a tandem board will provide hours of endless fun no matter the wind conditions.

The coolest aspect of the Gemini? How quickly it will create new windsurfers. A tandem board allows complete newbies to experience the thrill of sailing without the common frustrations of learning. They can watch and imitate you while getting instant feedback from the board – minus the shouting.

Hot Sunny Weather for the Crissy Swap and SUPing at Half Moon Bay

The weather was GORGEOUS on Saturday for this season’s annual SWAP MEET at Crissy Field in San Francisco. The swap meet was packed! Many people commented that it was the busiest swap they had seen in years. Lots of people were buying and selling their used gear. I had fun socializing with everyone and checking out the gear.


Abigail (one of our Crissy team riders) helped me to promote our school and shop by passing out brochures and showing off our new ’09 Naish SUP boards. They got a lot of ooos and aaahs with their irresistibly beautiful wood veneer construction.

I also brought our newly arrived Powerex Sean Ordonez 100% Carbon SUP paddles. Here is what Lightning Bolt Maui said about the SO Powerex carbon paddle on a recent forum post:

“In my eyes, the Powerex paddle is the best built paddle out there. I have been testing them for about 10 months now. I find the paddle to be my favorite paddle to date. I have left all my other paddles for this paddle. The paddle is very light yet very strong. Cort the manufacturer stated on a video if you break this paddle he will buy it back unless there are tire tracks across it. Thats a great warranty. I have been testing the hell out of this paddle, surfing big waves and doing down winders and letting beginners beat it up also. The paddle is stiff but flexes enough for my liking. The blade is bigger then most blades but it is not so big that you feel it right away… fast and powerful. Enters the water and exits well and plenty of torque.”

Watch The Video of Cort Larned’s overview of the new Powerex 100% Carbon Paddle and how strong it is. We have them in stock and they retail for $349.

With hot sunny weather and no wind all weekend, I also got a chance to join Kathryn Martin and her husband Jeff on a surf adventure south of the bay. Our kite instructor Mike joined me on the road trip, and we all headed to Half Moon Bay. The surf break south of Half Moon Bay Harbor is one of the coldest spots on the coast, as the tides are strong and upwell some mightly chilly h20. I am spoiled with some of the warmest water in the bay at Alameda and San Mateo (right now about 63 degrees), but I figured my 4/3 Xcel wetsuit would do the trick. We entered into the 48 degree water unknowingly (and without booties), and our eye balls almost popped out upon the sensation of ice cold water enveloping our vulnerable bare feet. Kathryn (apparently some type of alien in terms of cold water tolerance) was only wearing a 1 mil shortie, and doing just fine! She is my new cold water heroine…her bravery was quite impressive.
Link
Paddling around helped warm me up. Before I new it, I caught a great big (for me as a novice at surfing) 3 foot wave! I shot down the face and was excited to feel the smooth glide of the board under my feet. Closer to shore, I managed to fall into the white water for a cold water full body plunge. By some miracle, the freezing cold water was not as bad as I thought it would be through my warm wetsuit. With the adrenaline rushing through my veins, cold water was no bother to me now, and with wet hair, now I could actually see where I was going.


After about an hour of paddling into the waves, we decided it was “beer thirty”. We drove to the nearby Half Moon Bay Brewing Company to take in the warm glow of the sun and some much needed salty Cazadores margaritas. This is an ideal place to stop for apres surf. They have great food, great drinks, and dogs are allowed on the patio (Zoe was psyched!).

Mike and I decided that the next time we go, we’ll have to hit a warmer spot (any spot is warmer than this one)… perhaps Pacifica, Bolinas, or Maui! Until then, I will savor my big 3 foot wave.

Jane

Maui Feb trip testing windsurf and sup gear


Rebecca and I are lucky enough to be able to travel to Maui and call it a “business trip”. This year’s trip was designed for some typical fun in the sun, including trying out a bunch of new stuff from all of our wonderful “dealers”. We are addicted to the wind for all the right reasons!

We arrived into Kahului airport in Maui on February 5th. From SFO, it’s a non-stop flight where you arrive around lunch time…just enough time to make it to the best windsurfing and kiting spot, a short 10 minute drive from the airport. We looked a little funny at the beach in our long blue jean pants, pale skin, and admiring glances. After casing out the wind at the beach (it looked nice), we decided to tour the local shops and visit with our dealers and friends.

There are 2 great places, both very close to the beach, where you can rent all the windsurfing gear you need. The first is the Naish Maui Pro Center where “Coach” and his crew will take great care of you. They have all the latest and greatest Naish windsurf, kiteboard, and SUP gear for rent and for sale.


The other great place is Kanaha Kai Maui where you can rent all the best Hot Sail Maui sails, as well as Starboard, Tabou, and Realwind boards.

If you are going to kite, bring your gear with you, and/or take lessons with Action Sports Maui in order to use their kite gear.

We were in Maui for 10 days total, and there are 1000 reasons why this is on of our top favorite vacation spots. First off (I won’t list all 1000 reasons here, I promise!), Maui is easy to get to from SF (one non-stop flight on United). Secondly, it’s AMERICA (sung to the tune of Team America World Police please), so we pick up our rental car with ease, have all of the modern conveniences at our finger tips, and find everyone super welcoming and friendly every where we go.

The food is fantastic (sushi and fresh fish to die for, as well as some killer pulled pork), and there are 1 billion things to do on this gorgeous tropical paradise island. If we don’t get wind, no problem. There is great surfing, stand up paddling, snorkeling, boogie boarding, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, sunset watching, mai tai drinking, and did I mention the best ever windsurfing and kiteboarding? Of course you can also sit on a beach and read a book if that floats your boat (never works for me some how).

We taught our friend’s daughter Sasha and her friend Alicia how to windsurf while we were in Maui. Another day at the office while on vacation!


They both picked it up with ease! When the wind died we taught them how to Stand Up Paddle!

The first few days of our trip proved to be ideal for Stand Up Paddling in the waves.

The wind was light and the waves were perfect for us (1-3 feet). We had done plenty of SUPing back home, but had yet to hit the waves, so this was our chance to try it in beautiful warm water with sea turtles poking their heads up to monitor our progress. There are many spots to SUP in Maui, but we chose Kihei, as it’s a great beginner surf spot. SUPing is everywhere in Maui, and all the surf spots we went to seemed to be about 50% regular surfers and 50% stand up surfers. The groups co-exist quite nicely, often separating in to two adjacent areas. We felt welcome as new comers and didn’t feel worried that we would take someone out with our boards. If you do head out into waves for the first time, don’t forget to brush up on surf etiquette so you don’t make any new furious friends.

The crew at the Naish Maui Pro Center in Kahului set us up to try the full line of Naish Stand Up Paddle boards. We got to try the 11’6, the 11’4, the 10’6, and the new smaller 9’6. The 11’6 is a great big boat that will catch any wave with ease, but does not maneuver that well unless you are a big guy. It is a great board for first time SUPers in the waves, or bigger guys over 200 lbs who want to catch any and every small wave to be found. This board does have the best glide in flat water, as we have found in all of our paddling in the calm waters in Alameda and San Mateo back home.

The 11’4 (my favorite board at home) was much more maneuverable on the waves. It still had tons of stability, but was much easier to turn. The 10’6 (Rebecca’s favorite at home) was a dream in the waves and ideal for smaller riders or bigger riders on bigger waves up to 6′. Rebecca’s favorite test board while we were in Maui was the Naish 9’6.

This board is 30 inches wide so it still had stability (for experienced SUPers anyway) but handles really well on waves and is a ton of fun. I preferred th 10’6 and 11’4 as I am bigger than Rebecca, and found the 9’6 to be a little too challenging for where I am at on the waves. We had a blast riding the waves, and especially loved viewing the sea turtles and fishies from the vantage point of the SUPs.

As the week progressed, the wind forecast got better and better. After improving on the waves with the SUP boards, we were ready to get back into harnesses and head out into the wind. When the wind came back, it came back strong.

It blew from the east (side shore and gusty), so we made due with the conditions and were happy to have any wind at all for this time of year. The more consistent wind season in Maui is similar to ours, going from March to October.

With our duty and responsibility to our business holding strong and true, we hooked up with our dealers to try out a bunch of new 2009 windsurf boards and sails. By some small miracle, our Hertz rental car pulled off the task with ease. We were able to fit 4 boards, 4 masts, 3 booms, and 4 sails all inside of the car! If you are looking for a great windsurf gear car that can make it into the snow, we highly recommend the Nissan Murano!

We met up first with Rebecca, who hooked us up with Tabou boards in Matt Pritchard’s absence. He was off teaching a clinic down in Baja, and was so kind to set us with her for our visit to Maui. She met up with us at Kanaha and set us up to test 3 09 Tabou boards: the Pocket 69 and 80 (wave style boards), and the new 76 3S (wave, bump and jump, and freestyle blend).


We had a blast on all 3 Tabou test boards. The Pocket is super turny and really fun to ride in wave conditions. Both the 69 and 80 boards planed up quickly, and were fun to jibe as they turned on a dime. I would recommend the Pockets for anyone hitting the coast back home. Their rocker line and rails are a dream for jibing and wave riding.

The 76 3s (new smaller size for 09 in orange in photo above, and in addition to the 86, 97, and 107) was truly amazing. This board planed up with ease, cut through chop like a knife, and was very lively, fast, and fun to ride. The board felt super stable as it has decent width (hence will work great for freestyle too), but the stability did not compromise the ride through bumpy chop as the rails cut right through it. Overall this was my favorite ride of the 3, and definitely an awesome board for the conditions in the SF Bay Area where we get lots of chop.

Next on the test list was one of our best selling board lines for 08, the Quatro boards. We took the time to go visit the board production room up in Haiku.

Jake Miller at Quatro gave us a full tour, and we met on of the board makers and learned first hand what goes into making a board from start to finish. Quatro makes a ton of custom boards (on Maui) as well as production boards off island.


For the price, the Quatro production boards are truly amazing and feel as close as you can get to a custom board. If you spend the extra money for a custom board, you can adjust the rocker line, rails, or footstrap placement to perfectly match your riding style, size, and local riding conditions.

We couldn’t keep the boards in stock last year, as people would buy them the minute they tried them!

We got to ride 2 Quatro boards while in Maui, the Freestyle Wave 75 and the Wave 72.

The FSW 75 was very lively to ride, cut through chop with ease, and popped up off the swell like popcorn! This is a fantastic bump and jump board, well suited for both chop and swell (great for Crissy Field or the coast). It planed up super fast, jibed easily, and felt super light under my feet. The 09 board is slightly more compact, which may add stability in freestyle moves on the waves. It is also faster than the 08, making it fun to blast around and pop off jumps. The Wave 72 is an ideal pure wave board, but also kept up wind with ease. It would be great for the coast or for rippin’ days at Crissy on an ebb tide. The 72 was more turny than the FSW, but also super fast! We can see why Quatro boards have been so popular in our shop, and the 09s will be even more popular!

Next on our test schedule was the new Naish Global Wave 70.


This board is best described as a Porsche and Cadillac rolled into one. It was smooth like a Cadillac, but fast and sporty like a Porsche. The board planed up like a rocket, but cut through chop and was extremely smooth to ride. The rails felt tight and stable, so the board goes up wind with ease but takes a little more skill to jibe. Overall the Global Wave 70 is an ideal board for the bay area as it will go fast, get you up wind, and cut through the chop.

For sails we tested the new 09 Hot Sails and Naish Sails. Our favorite sails were the Hot Sails Superfreak, the new Hot Sails DD (replaces the Hot Diva), the Naish Session, and the Naish All Terrain. They are all great for different riding conditions. The Hot Superfreak is ideal for strong, gusty conditions as the smooth quiet feel absorbs the wind.


The Hot Diva is great for lighter riders looking for the lightest sail on the market wtih both low end and top end range. The Naish Sessions were full of power and very maneuverable, great bump and jump sails with early planing power.


The Naish All Terrain is a great all around sail that can be used for bump and jump, freestyle, or wave riding. It offers plenty of power and ease of handling.

Testing all of this gear was a total blast. We came home and ordered all of the above mentioned gear for our shop. We will have all of these boards and sails in our demo fleet so come try them for yourselves!

Our last night on Maui was Valentine’s Day, so we rewarded ourselves with a Mai Tai at Mama’s Fish House on the north shore.


We bumped into Whit Poor who is working at Mama’s! Windsurfers are everywhere on Maui…we also bumped into our instructor Jack in Paia. He never left Maui after going there for a month long vacation a few years ago.

After taking in the sunset at Mama’s, we headed back to Kahului to try out a highly recommended local’s favorite restaurant, “Da Kitchen” (the best pork on Maui according to the lady at the Xcel Wetsuit shop in Lahaina). We sat down for dinner and realized they didn’t serve booze (how could we not drink on Valentine’s Day?). I ran out to get a bottle of wine while Rebecca chatted with our table neighbors. I was back in a flash with a nice California Cabernet, just in time for our pulled pork dinner to arrive. We ordered th Kalua Pork dinner which is slow cooked pork “shredded from da bone”. It was so much yummy pork that we had to take some home and eat it the next day. Our Da Kitchen dinner was a great way to end our trip, and allowed us to revel in the sunshine and wind fests that we were able to gobble up during our 10 day visit. Aloha Maui, we’ll be back next year!

Giving Back to the Community – Project AVARY

On Sept. 14, we sponsored a free learn to windsurf day event for Project AVARY (Alternate Ventures for At-Risk Youth) at our facility at Crown Beach in Alameda.   Project AVARY is a bay area non profit that helps children & youth with incarcerated parents.   Their mission is to help these children develop the skills, confidence and positive life views that promote healthy personal development and responsibility to the community.

In addition to our staff, we had 5 wonderful community volunteers come to help us teach 15 teens how to windsurf.     (THANKS! to all of the volunteers!).  We all loved working with the kids, but more importantly the kids loved it.  Here’s what one of the children had to say in the Project Avary monthly newsletter:
“In October the teens all got together and went to a Windsurfing Adventure Day.  We met up with the Windsurfing instructors at the Boardsports School.  They set us up with wetsuits, we had to wear them because the water is so cold.  The wetsuits were so tight I couldn’t stand it.  After we suited up the teachers showed us how to windsurf.  The broke it down, how to do it, and set us up on practice boards on the sand.  They explained how to properly get the sail up, and how to get up on the board.  After that we split up into groups, two teens per guide.  they gave us more instruction in the water.  It was hard.  The sail felt like it weighted a million pounds, because I couldn’t put it up. After about 20 minutes, it seemed like everybody got the hang of it!  For some reason me and Jovon got the hang of it a lot quicker.  Our teacher said that was because windsurfing is a lot like skateboarding.  Overall the day was a lot of fun. A big thank you to Boardsports School in Alameda.   We all want to come back because it was very exciting, I hope we get to do it again!”
To learn more about Project AVARY, please go to: www.ProjectAVARY.org.  If you would like to volunteer for next year’s event, please email us at info@boardsportsschool.com

Trip to Oregon to test Kite, Wind, and SUP Gear

Rebecca and I spent last week up in Oregon to test out some ’09 gear and have some fun on the river and at the coast. We had a blast of a week – and got very lucky with the conditions. Here is a bit about our trip…

Friday, August 8 – fly to Portland from SFO and drive 1 1/2 hrs to Hood River, OR
We drove straight to Pacific Boardsports (north american distributors for Naish) to meet up with Charlie, Nick and MJ. The crew was unloading a container of ’09 goodies, but had time to stoke us out with windsurf and kite gear, and got us on our way to get a session on the river.
Rebecca and I dropped by Big Winds to say hi and get the scoop on the forecast. They pointed us slightly east for the best wind, so we hit Doug’s Beach and they were spot on! The wind was pretty gusty and in the high 20s, but it was a perfect warm up session for sailing in the gorge. I was on a 75 ltr Naish Pro Wave and 4.2 Force and Rebecca was on a 65 ltr Naish Pro Wave and 3.7 Session. The gear was sweet and we got it dialed in for the weekend.
Saturday Aug 9 – get up and go sailing!
Saturday the forecast dictated we hit the road for Roosevelt (the delta of the gorge – 1 1/2 hrs drive east of Hood River). The drive along the Columbia River was gorgeous. As we got further east, we saw the wind continue to build. By the time we got there, it was gusting into the low 40s and we were wondering if we were going to be able to hang on to our 4.2/3.7 sails. We rigged up, hit the water, and lasted about 45 minutes. It was too windy and super gusty. That day got chalked up to a nice drive along the river. Here is a video clip of the conditions (notice the inside is light so winds were NW and GUSTY at Roosevelt). The little 4 year old had no trouble with his fast tack!!

Sunday, Aug 10, get up late and go sailing!
We slept in Sunday and had a big breakfast in our awesome Skamania Lodge room. We once again hit the road and headed to our new gorge favorite spot, Doug’s Beach. Although the launch can be a bit of work (you have to drop your gear at an opening/crossing in the rail tracks, carry it down a hill, walk back up and then go move your car). The sailing spot is sweet and worth the effort with great wind, nice ramps for jumping, and some of the smoothest swell around.
Once we dropped off and walked down our gear, we went back to move the car and change into our wetsuits. The string of parked cars went back about 20 cars, so we pulled in and gave ourselves several car lengths of space so we could get half naked and change into our suits without being right next to our parked neighbor (who was also changing). While I was half exposed and in the process of pulling on my wetsuit, I started to hear a train approaching behind us (we were in between the road and the rail tracks). With the train approaching and the tracks just adjacent to my half naked state, I was about to be exposed to the driver. I screamed to Rebecca to quickly pass me a towel. I avoided a full flash, but the driver could not resist blowing the horn “whuuuuhhhh wooooooo”. I did not know train horns could do that. Ah, the efforts and adventures we go through to windsurf!
Here is Rebecca enjoying our favorite session of the trip – 3 hours of solid sailing on Sunday afternoon in 28mph winds that were relatively steady.
Monday, Aug 11, get a quick ride on the ’09 Naish Cult, then head to the coast
Monday the forecast was for light winds, so we decided to test out the ’09 Naish Cult and then head to the Coast for our Starboard dealer meeting. We went to the Event Site and rigged up a 10.5m and a 12m. Kiting at the Gorge is a bit intimidating, especially with the crowds and the normally gusty high winds. The Event Site proved to be quite welcoming and friendly, and due to the light winds, we managed to enjoy a nice session before heading out. The new kites turned super fast and are even easier to water relaunch, so we know the “Cult” will continue to be an easy kite to love.
We picked up Kipps, one of our windsurfing instructors, at the Portland airport Monday evening, and headed west of Portland 1 1/2 hrs. to the little town of Netart’s Bay. After a gorgeous drive, we arrived in time to catch sunset and dinner at the local Schooner Restaurant.

Tuesday, Aug 12 thur Friday Aug 15 Staboard Dealer Meeting and Product DemosThe rest of the week was made up product meetings and demos. The crew at Trident Sports hosted a top notch week of fun and our hosts included Declan and Tracy (organizers extrodornaire), Scott Mckercher (2004 World Wavesailing Champion), Svein Rasmussen (owner of Starboard),


Ekolu Kalama (3x champion of Molokai to Oahu SUP race),

and Jim Drake (inventor of windsurfing).

We all stayed in a cozy little cabins and condos at the Edgewater Inn, complete with a wood burning fireplaces and views of the breathtakingly beautiful Oregon coast. We didn’t have to get in the car all week so we got much needed respite from the trappings of city life.


The most exciting stuff we heard at the meetings was about Stand Up Paddle boarding’s new explosive growth around the world. The SUP growth is bringing many of our memories back to the early days of windsurfing… when everyone was getting into it and you could see it everywhere (1 in 3 Europeans owned a windsurfer in the 80s). The promise of this new craze is to bring lots of newbies into a very easy to access sport. SUP has many cool features including a built-in awesome core workout, super easy for anyone to learn, tons of fun to cruise/tour on flat water/lakes/bays/open ocean, and easier to catch waves than regular surfing as you have that nice big paddle to help out.

The new ’09 12’6″ Starboard SUP (“The Cruiser and fastest, nicest one to take out with a windsurf sail) features an optional retractable centerboard – so we can help beginner windsurfers easily make the crossover….as well as easliy get SUP entrants into windsurfing.

Netart’s Bay was a perfect setting for for testing all the Starboard SUPs. I woke up early one morning, and caught a nice paddle all through the bay, complete with views of bright orange starfish and sensational bird watching (oh golly, I am getting old!).

The best part of our coastal stint was catching up with other schools and shops around the country and sharing ideas for promoting windsurfing and SUP. We had a lot of fun hanging with Mark from “East of Maui” in Annapolis, MD, Mark & Steve from Big Winds, Captain Kirk from LA and Baja, Jim Ballantyne from Sailworld Cape Cod, Randy & Angela from Worldwinds Corpus Christi, TX, Simon from Toronto, Wardog from Santa Barbara/surfingsports, Pete DeKay from Windport Mag….and many others!


Thanks to Naish and Starboard for such an awesome week! We’ll be back next year :)
Jane

Matt P Windsurfing Clinic a great success…thanks Matt!!!

Matt gave us an overview of the Tabou 87 and 97 3S boards that we had everyone demo out at the event. The boards are great all around freeride shapes,  super smooth in chop, and great for bump and jump. If you didn’t get to demo on at the event, stop by any time and we’ll get you out on one!

We had a great turnout for Matt Pritchard’s Tips & Tricks Clinic. Thanks to
Matt for coming out to Coyote and teaching us some new moves! Matt covered everything from fast tacks, haas tacks, carving jibes, duck jibes, looping, and wave sailing. The wind and weather were awesome both days – WNW 18-25… and Coyote was so crowded Saturday that it looked like the 80s again! The parking lot was full and the clinic was standing room only.

Matt takes to the water at Coyote and busts a nice jump!

Rebecca and I loved the whole weekend and hope everyone had a great time.
Jane & Rebecca

Best wind season in years in Alameda!

We have had one of the best seasons ever for wind this year.  We have seen more solid wind days than in any year since we started managing the school (2002). This has helped us get more beginners up and riding and stoked on their new gear!

Come out and get some of the good wind. The forecast for the 4th of July weekend is more of the same…and we are open all weekend (including the holiday tomorrow).

The NEW NEW THING in WINDSURFING instruction…


We had a sold out US Sailing Instructor Certification class this past weekend. Tinho Dornellas (owner of Calema Windsurfing in Merritt Island Florida) flew out to lead our class and certify 12 windsurfing instructors. For 4 full days (9am-6pm) we went through many hands on training exercises, including many new presentation techniques to help us teach beginners more quickly.

The best way to sum up the NEW NEW technology we learned is that we applied shortboard efficient planing techniques to longboard beginner instruction. These new techniques can help avoid the pitfalls of unbalanced sailing, such as beginning intermediate catapults, and get beginners progressing more quickly.
Come down to the beach and we’ll show you some new stuff!!
Jane

TV Crews in Alameda, wassup?


On May 21st and June 3rd, TV crews from KTVU Channel 2 News and KRON Channel 4 Bay Area Backroads visited Crown Beach Alameda to report on a couple of cool stories.

May 21st KTVU report: The crew was reporting on water quality improvements in the Bay. Crown Beach Alameda was featured. Footage of kiters were shown on KTVU news that evening, and I got to see myself kiting on the news!  The water quality seems to have improved over the 7 years we have been running the school. The water is clearer than ever.
June 3rd Bay Area Backroads report: Dean, the cameraman from Bay Area Backroads, came out to Crown Beach to film Boardsports School for an upcoming feature. They are producing a spot on fun things to do on the Bay. Dean caught some great footage of kiting and windsurfing at Crown Beach. The weather was absolutely perfect – sunshine and wind in the 20s! The show will air in September and we’ll post it on the blog so you can catch the Boardsports Alameda action.
This is a great week for wind – come get out on the Bay!!
Jane
Boardsports School & Shop