The San Diego Windsurfing Association is on a Mission!
By Bob Torline
The San Diego Windsurfing Association (SDWA) just held its Annual Fall Picnic last weekend on Mission Bay, and a record 70 members and guests turned out! These events are a great opportunity for members to meet socially, make new friends, share windsurf stories, buy or sell used gear – and of course introduce their guests to the sport!
We had 15 beginners at the picnic this year receiving expert group and one-on-one instruction from Robert V, Nina, and Gary on the club’s boards. This part of Mission Bay (Playa Pacifica near the Hilton) is ideal for early windsurfing experience: it has a clean sandy beach and the wind is light and onshore, facilitating a safe and swift progression. What a thrill it was to see our guests’ enthusiasm as they first figured out how to control that 2.5! This alone made the whole picnic worthwhile.
With warm 10-15 mph onshore winds, the conditions last weekend were ideal to bring out the crowds. A perfect day in San Diego! Xavier Ferlet, the 2019 US Windsurfing Windfoil Champion, put on an impressive aerial display on his cutting-edge Starboard/Gaastra foiling gear, weaving effortlessly among us mortals. There were seven others on various windfoil setups silently carving up the bay, save for a few joyous whoops and hollers. This was truly a glimpse into San Diego’s light wind future.
We think interest in foiling is partially responsible for the high turnout this year. Like everywhere, foiling has greatly extended the number of our sailing days and revitalized the sport. There are 20+ local windfoil owners (Slingshot, Starboard and Horue are the more popular foil brands around here), and that number is growing rapidly. Mission Bay offers lake-flat, protected waters that are ideal for foiling. There are not many weeds or underwater obstructions – but best to avoid areas designated for jet skis and powerboats!
Liberally mixed in were many others enjoying the day on various slalom, formula and long boards. It was almost crowded with windsurfers! The beautiful thing is our association is made up of all skill levels, young, older, women and men all coexisting and supporting one other. There is also a strong contingent of wave sailors frequenting the break at Tourmaline. Some even missed the picnic to be away at local Mexico breaks.
While many clubs exist mainly for racing, ours is more focused on social activities. Formula racing was popular a decade ago, but the interest has waned along with the dependable wind it takes to run weekend regattas. We try to be as inclusive as possible, offering group trips to local destinations, a Kids Day and the popular non-competitive Mission Bay Tour – with a stop at a waterfront bar and ending up with a potluck! We also hold a Spring Picnic in early June and a Holiday Party in December. Great value for members!
Speaking of food, our hard-working party committee plans and pays for event food from the club’s budget. This picnic featured a variety of submarine sandwiches, fresh veggies, cookies, chips and iced water. Amy B. made sure everyone received a good healthy lunch!