windsurf right here! We have the best inland windsurfing
lakes in the Southeast, along with certified instruction
and an equipment retailer, right in our own back yard.
Warning: Do not try this sport
unless you are ready to change your life. <<
its first cousin, wave surfing, it is one of those sublime,
free-riding, passion sports. It puts you in touch
with the Source, and awakens something deep within your
soul. We've seen it happen too many times. From the
hard-core outdoor sports enthusiasts who-have-seen-and-done-it-all,
to the casual sun-and-fun types, they come off their first
fully-powered windsurfing experience
blown away with the wonder and awe at what just got hold
of them. But one thing is consistent, they all have to have
is unique. It's you with the elements -- not
you against the elements. You do not need a motor to make
it work nor gravity to pull you forward. It is you and the
forces of nature, wind and water, working together to have
the best time in your life.
rejoice, you live in a great place to pursue this exquisite
sport. The Augusta to Columbia, SC oval - and on over
to Atlanta -- is about as good an inland windsurfing location
as can be found anywhere. You can have just as much fun
sailing in a lake -- on "flat" water -- as out
in the ocean. Of course, it's also a pretty short, easy
drive to the coast where there's some really hot locations
for all skill levels; but, both Clarks Hill and Lake Murray
and several other area lakes have excellent, convenient
venues for windsurfing.
prime season on our lakes is long -- from early Fall to
late Spring. Both lakes are beautifully positioned, geographically
speaking, to catch the higher, steadier winds of cold fronts
during those seasons. These fronts almost always sweep
across the area within several compass points of a northwesterly
direction. One of the nice things about inland lake windsurfing
is that the windy days are quite predictable. Just look
for that blue-studded cold front arc on the national weather
map somewhere from the midwest to New England, and in three
days or so when it sweeps across here, the wind is usually
going to blow stiff and steady -- sometimes so hard you
think it's going to pull the hair right out of your follicles.
high winds are not required anymore. The manufacturers
have introduced new ultra-light-wind gear that can get you
on a skimming plane in very light airs. As WindTracks Journal
put it: "Recreational windsurfers can dramatically increase
their sailing time with the recently introduced light wind
gear.... You could easily top 100 [sailing days] a year
and hold down a full-time job, raise a family, make the
mortgage payment -- you know, the regular stuff you're supposed
and air temperature are hardly a concern anymore, even
in the dead of winter. When a shorty is not enough, the
new high-tech, lower cost, pliant dry suits will radically
change your attitude about winter forever. On a strong frontal
wind of 25 knots, it is not unusual at Clarks Hill to see
a dozen windsurfers cavorting on the lake when the air and
water temp are both in the mid-forties. Get a taste of the
ecstasy in this sport and "lake wind advisory" will replace
"moderate temperatures with low humidity" as your favorite
is Easy to be Hard.
is attainable for everyone short or tall, old or young,
male or female, thin and, uh, not thin. Yes, this sport
does have a learning curve that is considered relatively
tough in this instant gratification world of ours; but,
hey, fun is cheap; however, there is very little true joy
that comes without some effort in this life. It compares
to snow skiing in it's learning curve. Anyone can be
up and going the first day and progress quickly.
windsurfing is harder to explain than it is to do. Windsurfing
involves the near effortless balance, often in a stiff breeze,
of several square meters of sail which is attached to a
curved mast fastened to a surf board with a universal joint,
in such a manner that, due to the pressure and placement
of your weight on the board in harmony with fin dynamics,
you will skim across the water, often quite fast.
a lot easier if you don't get off on the wrong fin, so to
speak. Many people's first taste of windsurfing has been
on a heavy rental rig in either a too-calm, or too-windy,
lagoon at some resort without the benefit of any instruction
at all. This is not a sport to pick up on your own or learn
from a friend. Also, many young male muscular types take
a combative approach to learning and give up in frustration
while a lightweight female with an open, listening, surrendering
attitude can often progress quickly to the advanced level.
Major breakthroughs have been made in both instruction and
beginner equipment making it possible to learn in 3 hours
what used to take 6 months. It's about technique, not muscle.
Major upper body strength simply is not a requirement as
most people believe. Check
out our intstruction page.
Sport for the Ages
Wall Street Journal recently reported that windsurfing is
one of the outdoor participation sports rising in popularity
while many other are declining. Reasons why may include
clean and pure
a sport for all of your life, all age groups
is no "peak of achievement" to define, much less attain
the sport yourself, from light wind cruiser to wave shredding
extreme if you like -- it certainly can be-- but it can also
be a peaceful, sublime experience. But, most importantly,
it's accessible to all, close-by, year-round FUN. Just add
makes a good windsurfing spot? Obviously, a body of water
with as long a fetch as possible. (Fetch is the distance wind
or wave is able to travel without physical interference.)
But then you also must have vehicular access and a place to
rig your equipment. Here are the best on our lakes...
Hill Scott's Ferry Landing one mile north of Thurmond
Dam on S.C. side off US Hwy 28. This Corps of Engineers maintained
area is a little-used boat ramp that is THE premier windsurfing
spot for all cold front winds from SW to N-NW. Security patrolled,
parking, great rigging area, and easy boat ramp launch Be
here on the next lake wind advisory day this fall and you'll
see a dozen fanatics or so shredding the chop with abandon.
Shores end point of this residential area, about 5 miles
further north on Hwy. 28 above Thurmond Dam in S.C. Good N
- NE sailing but more difficult rigging and poor launch arrangements.
Springs (Center Point) excellent site in all categories
for N to less-common easterly winds, that is, when the park
is open. Off Hwy 150, one mile west of Thurmond Dam.
Recreation Area*** off Hwy 104, one mile S. of Little
River Bridge, enter and drive all the way to the end point.
Almost a "secret spot". Best on due W and E, but this is an
excellent site for beginners (with a friend) in almost any
wind direction, except S. Added feature of two nifty little
sandbar islands about 100 yards out on the left and right
side of the point make convenient jumping-off spots. ( ***
In Fall ' 01, a military ID was required to get in. When security
relaxes, it may change back to open access for everyone.)
Murray Columbia's lake has a huge, wide-open fetch 5 and
miles on the prevalent W-NW cold front winds. That is almost
twice as long as can be found at Clarks Hill. It doesn't mean
the wind is harder, but it definitely produces waves bigger
in breadth and height. I've sailed in legitimate, consistent
4 footers there. I've sailed Murray and Clark Hill on the
same day in 20-25 knots and it is two different experiences.
(Don't know why, but the water is noticeably colder in Murray,
Park Lake Dr. N (Hwy 6) about two miles N of Lexington,
20 minutes from downtown Columbia. On NW wind, super-convenient
in all categories: secure parking, grassy rigging, bathrooms,
phones, but cost is $3.00 each time you enter. Swimming area
rope to cross or you can launch above it.
Coast From N. Myrtle Beach to Savannah there are countless
great places to sail, especially at Folly Beach and Hilton
Head. But one premier spot within easy driving distance that
warrants special mention, is Station 29 (one of the
numbered roads perpendicular to the sea) on Sullivan's
Island just north of Charleston. A unique combination
of offshore sandbars, curvature of the beach, and tidal currents,
this venue can accommodate agressive beginners in the cove
within the sandbars and experts can get radical with true
wave sailing and huge take-off ramps out beyond the further
sandbars. On 15 knot plus days, there's always lots of very,
very friendly local sailors.
inspiration? Take a look at our "what
is windsurfing" page.