Its Been 20 Years!

1992 at Jockey's Ridge with my old Dufour Bic.  My first shortboard?!since I started windsurfing! Pretty amazing that it has been 20 years since I began this fantastic watersport. During the summer of 1987 my life was changed when I first stepped onto the Mistral Competition which Charlie M (Ride Hatteras) received for Christmas from his parents the year before. I always wonder, if Jason M (our friend who was with us the day I took my first ride) would have went before me, things may be different. On my first attempt, I was blown across the lake at Pinchot State Park in PA. Jason and Charlie had to rent a canoe to recover me and the rig from the other side. After seeing what happened to me, Jason never tried it. What if he would have went first instead of me?!

After the humble beginnings in south central PA; followed by college years at Morgantown, WV with sessions at Mt. Storm, Presque Isle on Lake Erie, and long weekend trips to Hatteras...; the beach bum/BrewThru years during my first time living on the OBX in the early-mid 90s...; the metro DC work grind and regular weekend escapes to Hatteras from 1997 to 2001..., and finally the move back to the OBX full time in 2001... it has been a wild ride! I am still windsurfing harder then ever, and probably now at the peak of my game.

Wow, 20 years and right now waiting anxiously for the next day the wind will blow!

Here are some photos I dug up highlighting nearly 20 years of windsurfing:
(click any to enlarge)

1990 - Charlie and I on a Spring Break trip to the OBX. Loaded is the Klepper (Charlie's ride), and my 1988 O'Brien Pro-Am (my first windsurfing board). This shot was taken behind Jockey's Ridge in Nags Head before the State acquired the land and built a parking lot there. At that time, it was only a sand road, and we used to sleep on the soundside beach there.

1990 - Charlie and I at Canadian Hole, south of Avon before there was a parking lot and shower stalls/bathrooms. At that time, you simply drove onto the sand.

1992 - My early years of shortboard jibing. This shot was taken by my college girlfriend during an early summer SW session at Jockey's Ridge.

1994 - Winter/early Spring sailing at Jockey's Ridge. Charlie's Wind & Surf board was the true fiberglass short board we had to ride/jump at that time.

1994 - Definitely the early years...check out those gloves! I do not even own a cap or gloves these days...if it's that cold today, I stay dry! 100 Rule applies!

1995 - Time to head into the ocean. My first "shop sponsorship" with the now defunct Soundside Sports which used to be in Nags Head. I had the sails for a year, but removed the stickers after the owner of the shop stirred up some bad blood on the OBX. But hey, it was the first and actually only time I had big stickers on my sails?!

1996 - Aftermath of washing up on the rock jetty at the south side of Oregon Inlet. This occurred during an ocean session on approach of Hurricane Fran to the OBX that year. The current was ripping near the inlet and I got too close. My apparent wind was gone, and though I made it to within 5 feet of the beach, the current was so strong, I could not make it with my gear. I ended up drifting into the rock jetty. I ditched my gear and scrambled up onto the rocks of the jetty just before a 6 ft wave smashed onto the rocks, destroying my rig. I was quite lucky that day since if I had been a few seconds late on the scramble up the rocks, I may have been destroyed by that wave too?! Definitely the closest near death event I have ever experienced while windsurfing. Great photo though!

1999 - Early Spring windy session at HISS. Coming in for a landing after a big jump. That is my second Kinetic wave board after the first one was destroyed in 1996 (photo above). I got this one immediately after the other one was destroyed...could not miss the remainder of the 1996 Fall tropical season!

1999 - Early Summer. New gear, including a waterproof camera. Interesting perspective and view of the 1999 Drops 88 GOT. I actually still have the board, and ride it on occasion if the waves look fun and the wind is light. This shot was taken at the HISS sailing site in Waves.

1999 - High speed jibe at the HISS sailing site. At that time, I was living in the metro DC area, and driving nearly every weekend to the OBX to fulfill my windsurfing need.

1999 - The trip to Baja... The best vacation I have ever had. We (Charlie, Caleb, Timo, and I) lived like cave men out there for 17 days, collecting scrub brush to cook our meals over our rock pit fire, drinking Pacifico Ballenas cooled by the morning air and shade under the van, and dealing with the dirt, rocks, and flies which are everywhere...; however, the wavesailing every afternoon in perfect waves at the Chili Bowl made it totally worth it. Plus even though we cooked over a rock pit, and collected scrub brush daily for the fire, it was some of the best vacation dining I have ever had. Especially the rock lobster burritos we made when Timo (our German buddy who came with us on the trip after meeting us for the first time at the San Diego Airport) went fishing with some of the local Mexican fish camp crew. (See report and photos)

2000 - It's a new century and there are many more windsurfing sessions to come. This shot was taken at the Salvo Ramp when my van was fairly new and I did not drive it fully onto the beach. Of course in later years, that van turned a lot of heads when people saw me driving it on the soft sand. As long as I aired the tires down, and kept out of the ruts, it ran great on the beach! Perhaps not the "coolest" ride, but definitely the best functional windsurfing vehicle I ever owned! Before it died in Avon during the Fall of 2004, I had accumulated over 100,000 miles driving it between Hatteras and metro DC during my years in northern Virgina from 1997 to 2001.

2003 - One-handed laydown jibe at the Canadian Hole. My Mom took that shot!

2005 - September session at the North End of Ocracoke. September is my favorite month on the OBX since the weather remains summer-like, the crowds/traffic are gone, the water is warm, and often we have waves from something spinning out in the Atlantic.
photographer: Keith M

2005 - September session at the North End of Ocracoke. This photo just makes it look like so much fun!
photographer: Keith M

2006 and beyond - You will find here in this blog!


At 8:14 AM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

Cool timeline, Bill. LOVE the high speed HISS jibe shot...your fin is halfway out!

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a great blog. i wish i was windsurfing as long as you....then i would be totally rad.

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it only took you 20 years to learn how to loop. Hope you nail a Goiter before you're 60.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Well, I began looping at about year 9 but broke my leg over rotating a big fwd endo in the ocean in 1996. It took a while to get over the mental block after that accident, but now I am more conscious of rotation control, so hopefully it will not happen again.

But yea, if I wait until 60 to try a Goiter, well... hopefully, I can do one at that age?! : )

At 5:08 PM, Blogger James Douglass said...

I really enjoyed this retrospective. It would make a good article in the new "Windsurf Journal" magazine that Clay Feeter is publishing.

At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fun to read. I started windsurfing in 1980 (27 years!). Like a few others I moved mostly to kitesurfing, which the OBX is absolutely great for. If you get a chance stop over at Rodanthe Water Sports Camp Ground and say hi to Helmut. He'll get you hooked on kitesurfing in no time.

Still have my old long board for that super old school freestyle stuff


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