Tampa Bay Windsurfing

Let Go!

A beginners take on instructional videos

YouTube – We all do it, search for Windsurfing and watch the many great instructional videos online. I have my favorites like everyone but I always get a laugh out of some of the assumptions in these videos regarding my windsurfing skills or really lack of skills.

At this point in my 4+ year journey I’m obsessed with learning how to carve jibe and I spend most sessions on the water practicing this maneuver. As everyone knows the carve jibe is a many step process (as many as 12) and for this intermediate windsurfer I’ve studied and worked hard to try to master this important maneuver.

If you know how to carve jibe you know the steps – 1. Look around to make sure it is safe to turn – 2. Move your back hand down the boom – 3. Drop out of the harness lines – WAIT, WHAT!? I’m just getting comfortable using my harness lines. I’m going 20+ MPH (flying across the water) and I’m suppose to Let Go! The harness lines are my safety lines and now I’m not only going to let go but (4) get low and (5) take my back foot out of the strap and (6) step across to the leeward side while maintaining all this speed! Yes sir!

I have to laugh because all the videos demonstrate these first critical steps and move right on to the next steps without a seconds thought or mention of how unnerving this action is to someone just learning how to carve jibe. When I chat with fellow intermediate windsurfers this always comes up as probably the most difficult aspect of the carve jibe and for some folks where the carve jibe fails due to the fact that they come off plane to stay in control.

My point in all this is though the instructional videos are great, they have serious limitations and this is a result of my limited abilities not the skills the videos are demonstrating. As Dirty Harry once stated, A Man’s Got to Know his Limitations.

So I will continue to watch the videos, find the instructors that I think are best (my three favorites are GetWindsurfing, Sam Ross, and TWS Tenerife Windsurfing) and have a good laugh every now and again when someone demonstrates a maneuver in three foot irregular chop in winds blowing 20+ knots with perfect form and ends with “now you try it!

PS After much practice I’ve become comfortable Letting Go! and you can to. Just try it!

Time on the water (ToW)

Time on the water – A finite and precious resource that must be utilized to the best of our abilities.

I’m on the east coast of Florida this week sailing from the Stuart Causeway. I didn’t anticipate the choppy conditions and unfortunately only brought my flat water (Falcon 159) and light chop (Gecko 133) boards and large Ezzy Cheetahs, so not a very effective use of my ToW. I needed my Dyno 115 and smaller sails but lesson learned not all locations in FL are like Tampa Bay!

This error on my part got me to thinking as I bounced around in the swells … What is my best use of my ToW at this point in my Windsurfing adventure? Flat water freeride is my goto passion but as I see it I have two options to improve my skills but just as importantly upgrade my existing windsurfing quiver.

  1. Freewave – Add a couple of smaller and lighter sails, possibly a Freewave board and focus on improving my skills not only on small waves but in chopper conditions.
  2. Foiling – I own a Falcon 159 which is foil ready but I will need a couple of foil focused sails plus of course the foil.

So either way I’m going to spend some money but I think today I made up my mind. I believe it will be more fun to fly over the chop so Foiling is my next big adventure! This idea of flying over chop suits me best as I really don’t enjoy choppy conditions and try to avoid it whenever possible and I believe foiling will open all kinds of new options and locations for my windsurfing adventures. I have much to learn but I’m excited to take this next step.

As part of this new adventure I will soon be adding a new Foiling section to tbwindsuring.com with a focus on Foil friendly locations in and around Tampa Bay.

A Beginners Perspective

Longboards and Andy Brandt

Four years ago I began my windsurfing journey. I’ve decided to start a new blog series to chronicle my adventures, experiences and the wonderful and very positive impact that windsurfing and all the great people in our sport have had on my life.

I’m going to start with my most recent day on the water working with one of the premier windsurfing instructors in the world. I’m speaking about Andy Brandt and ABK Board Sports. Andy is normally in Bonaire this time of year working with World Champions, (past, present and future) but due to Covid we in Florida have the great fortune to learn from him this year. No matter where you are in the sport, Andy will take you to the next level! Check out his website and sign up for his next sessions! I know I will be part of his next sessions and I look forward to working with him in Bonaire in 2022!

Back to my blog: I just turned 60 and the picture above shows me on my Kona One long board in Sarasota on one of my first days on the water. I made a number of mistakes early in my journey but one great choice I made was the purchase of a Kona One long board. I still own this board and though I now own three short boards, the Kona One was my foundation for learning to sail and windsurf. I’m not selling Kona Ones in this post because there are a number of great long boards on the market but if you are beginning your windsurfing journey, seriously consider a long board as a first option.

The reason is simple, at least it was for me. Windsurfers are sailors first and before you can windsurf you first have to learn to sail. My Kona provided me with a stable, forgiving platform which allowed me to progress at my own pace. I learned to sail, use harness lines, get into foot straps and then one wonderful day I felt the exhilaration as the board came up onto a plane and I was windsurfing. I still love that feeling!

As mentioned I now own three short boards but I sold my first short board, a JP 135 shortly after purchasing it early in year two of my journey. The JP was simply too much board for me at that early point in my process and I really struggled and almost quit windsurfing. Short boards can do wonderful things but they will also highlight your flaws if you aren’t ready for one and I wasn’t ready and it really shook my confidence. Fortunately I still had my Kona and with it I rebuilt my confidence and sharpened my abilities so that when I purchased my second short board (a Gecko 133) I was ready for the challenge.

I still take my Kona out on occasion and it is a great board. It is great fun to drop the dagger and rail on a light wind day or practice non-planning sail and board control. I might sell it some day but if I do I hope the next person enjoys it as much as I have.

Tierra Verde and location updates

I’ve updated all the major locations for the Tampa Bay Area and I want to say thanks to Jonny, Dee, Jake, Martin and everyone for pictures and information, much appreciated. I’ve added a Google Satellite Map too many locations to identify the sandbars, deep water etc. and on the Emerson Preserve and 75¢ pages I’ve added informational videos. Pictures just don’t tell the whole story in my opinion so I’m trying to add videos to help to visual the size, space, landmarks, etc. Hopefully we will have more of these very soon and I will do my best to keep them up to date.

Good news Tierra Verde (S/SE) looks like it will re-open this summer and based on this image it appears we will have access to the water on the south side. Still trying to get additional information on parking options but hopefully that won’t be a major issue. I do know the old bridge is going to be completely removed. No fishing pier but it looks the current roadway will be used to allow us to drive under the bridge on the north side(?). It will be a bit different but it will be great to get back onto the water at this great location. Open water, shallow but not incredibly shallow like 75¢, East Beach or Emerson and deep water closer to the boat channel.

UPDATE via FDOT: Access to the “beach” area after construction will be similar to the pre-construction condition. There will not be a paved parking area, however beach users will be able to pull off onto the dirt/sand area and park if space is available.

Please continue to provide feedback, new location information, images, etc. as I want to keep the locations up to date. Also if you want me to add you to the Instagram options on the Community page please let me know. No ads, no equipment sales but most everything else is welcome.

Updated!

Well I’ve finally completed most of the updates to Tampa Bay Windsurfing and I hope you find this information helpful!

tbwindsurfing.com is the new location for this website. flwindsurfing.com will still work for the foreseeable future. I’ve also updated and started to add more detailed information about Tampa Bay locations as well as updating the other primary pages.

I’ve dropped most information related to other locations in Florida and will continue to focus on the SW coast from Sarasota to Tarpon Springs with an emphasis on the Tampa Bay area.

I will be reaching out to the Windsurfing community for more information, images, etc. so more very soon!

Hope to see you on the water very soon!

Highlighting Windsurfing in the Tampa Bay Area

I’ve been thinking about updating this website for sometime and I’m now finally getting around to it.

The new focus will be the Windsurfing community in the Tampa Bay area including Clearwater and Sarasota which make one of the best windsurfing destinations in the US, especially during the winter months when cold fronts move towards Florida bringing strong NE winds but the water stays above 60 degrees F as does the air temp.

Updated location and resource information will still be a priority of this site to help visitors find the best places to visit and where to locate the best equipment and expertise.

I’m also planning to provide links to YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, etc. sites created by local Windsurfers and community events.

Much to do so please be patient as I update the site and hopefully provide a better resource for the area Windsurfing community.

Tampa Bay Windsurfing

Tampa Bay are my home waters.  I can say many positive things about the area and conditions but the best thing about Tampa Bay is the windsurfing community!  We have many wonderful windsurfers as well as newbies like myself and we also connect regularly with the great folks in the Clearwater.  We have a great time staying connected and chasing the wind and if you visit Tampa Bay please reach out to our community as we always enjoy meeting and windsurfing with new folks.  A great place to start is North Beach Windsurfing.

Like much of Florida, fall and winter are the windy season with a bit of carry over into spring.  Cold fronts bring strong northerly winds and sometimes weaker cold fronts help to pull strong winds from the south.  In summer we hope for good east winds in the mornings and of course summer storms in the Gulf of Mexico can produce spectacular opportunities.

Tampa Bay offers a great number of windsurfing options with flat water free riding being the most popular but foiling has become very popular over the past couple of years and the right conditions send the experts into the Gulf to wave windsurf.  The one item that is must have in Tampa Bay is a weed fin or two!  Shallow water is a great option especially for beginners but you don’t want to drag a fin especially on plane unless of course you wish to practice catapulting!

The Locations link on the website will direct you to many of the great spots we take advantage of but I can say our favorite is the Scenic Skyway (anything East).  We also enjoy Tierra Verde (S or SE) but due to construction this location is closed to us for most of 2019.  Northwest locations are many and probably provide the greatest number of windsurfing options.  Two of my favorites are 75¢ near Ft. DeSoto and Emerson Park, great flat water windsurfing.

Great community, great water, warm weather and beautiful locations make a visit to Tampa Bay one of your best options for Florida windsurfing.  Hope to see you soon!

Bonaire or my short board adventure

In January my wife and I enjoyed a week in Bonaire.  Bonaire is best known as one of the best locations in the Caribbean for Scuba and Snorkeling but on the east side of the island is a small bay that is a paradise for windsurfers.   Consistent strong wind, beautiful water, a couple of great rental shops and the bay is protected by a reef that creates ideal flat water conditions for ripping.

That is my ad for Bonaire but I went to Bonaire to test out short boards, specifically Fanatic Geckos.  I needed to do this because in the spring of last year I purchased a used 2006 JP short board which turned out to be quite a mistake.  I really struggled with this board as it was too hot for me and as a result I lost confidence and ended up selling the board.  Fortunately I was able to return to my Kona and was able to regain my confidence and continue to build on my skills.

For non-windsurfers, short boards dominate the sport and can be used for a wide variety of conditions.  The advantage, speed and maneuverability but as you can imagine they are more challenging to master.

So by November, my confidence was returning and it was time to start testing short boards again but I thought it might be fun to accelerate this process so off to Bonaire for a week of windsurfing in ideal conditions or so I thought.  My first day in 20+ MPH winds was challenging to say the least but by Day 2 I was making progress and continued to improve.  I played with a few boards, had a great lesson and ended up really enjoying the experience.

Long story short, I’m the owner of Gecko and I’m having a great deal of fun gaining new skills and a couple of weeks ago set a new personal speed record of 29 MPH and hopefully will master the carve gybe (fast downwind turn) with a bit more time on the water.

So my lesson, progress comes in small steps.

Sailboarding – A great Florida option

This weekend I took advantage of the beautiful weather and light winds and went sailboarding around Shell Key and Fort DeSoto near St. Pete Beach.  (Windsurfers are sailors first and only when the wind picks up do we advance to surfing or windsurfing.)

Florida has so many beautiful islands, bays and a wide variety of water access that you just have to get on the water and enjoy these wonderful locations.  Paddleboarding is a great option but when the winds pick up a bit (8 – 12 MPH) I like to switch to sailing.  The key is you need the right equipment and I’m fortunate to have a Kona One one of most popular all-in-one boards in the world and perfect for sailing in light winds.

One real advantage to sailboarding is this is a great option for beginners to our sport.  A person with good lessons and the right equipment can be sailing in a weekend.  (I’ve seen Northbeach Windsurfing students enjoy the pleasures of sailing in a weekend even in pretty strong wind.)

Sailboarding allows you to move quickly and easily around the inland waterways, which are typically shallow here on Florida’s west coast.  One can enjoy the beautiful views and see more in the water and stop as you like to explore or just take a break.  The speed is moderate and you have a great deal of control so what are you waiting for – Get out and Sail!

Check out the Resources page for where to take lessons with the right equipment in your favorite FL location.

Glide 2990 in Tampa

It isn’t everyday one gets to windsurf with an Olympic Gold Medalist but more importantly Bruce Kendall is a wonderful “dude” and we had a great week at the WSA (World Sailing Association) and sailing in Clearwater.  Thanks Bruce!

I’m a big fan of an all-in-one board and I wish Bruce and team great success with the Glide 2990.  My hope is that this category of boards will be commercially successful and continue to be great options for all levels of windsurfers.

Jonny, Eric and I had the pleasure of checking out the Glide 2990 at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center along with the all the great folks at CCSC (Thanks Justin!).

I’m not very good but I enjoyed sailing the Glide 2990.  It was easy to sail, very responsive and though the wind wasn’t strong enough for me to get up on plane it was obvious the board wanted to jump up and go.  Bruce had no issues getting the board on plane and showing what it was capable of and it was impressive.

My time on the board was short but I hope to get more time on the board this summer if I can make it up to the Cape Hatteras area where I believe the board will be sold in the US market.  (I hope to report on that option later this year.)