Thought American windsurfing was all about Maui? Think again!
If you fancy a slightly different style summer holiday this year, taking on teh great American road trip could be the answer.
Join Josh Sampiero on a whistle stop tour around 15 of the best flat(ish) water windsurfing spots in the US:
This feature originally appeared in the 2013 Spring Summer edition of Boards magazine. To purchase this edition and subscribe for the latest one, click here.
50,000 miles. That’s a rough estimate of distance I’ve covered in search of wind over six years of road-trip windsurfing in the great big you-ess-of-A as the editor of the United States’ WINDSURFING magazine. Between the deep southeast of the Florida Keys to the continental USA’s Holy Land, the Columbia River Gorge, there’s plenty of wind to be found, if you know where to look – and you don’t even need a university-level understanding of meteorology, micro-climates, sea-breezes, or frontal passages to score them – just a beat-up pickup truck with a camper top, a small quiver of windsurfing gear, and plenty of Red Bull, because roads in America are long, baby. You think you’ve been storm chasing? Try driving from Oregon to California to score a swell, and then hopping onto 1,800 miles of Interstate-10 to catch up with a hurricane. Whilst multiple cross-country road trips in America might not be on your agenda anytime soon, take advantage of my hard-earned knowledge and have a look at these four US flat-water hotspots, and put ‘em on your list of places to sail before you die.
Cape Hatteras, NC
Most of the world doesn’t know Cape Hatteras exists – and if global warming raises the seas another three feet higher, it might not. A hundred mile long spit of sand extending out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Hatteras is a wind mecca for East-Coasters from Quebec to Key West. My first visit to Cape Hatteras involved an all-night drive, three run-ins with police officers, and two broken masts – all in all, a roaring success. But you guys don’t want my tips on how to talk to Barney Fife – let’s talk about the windsurfing!
The barrier islands that form Cape Hatteras protect the Pamlico Sound, a mile-wide, waist-to-chest-deep flat water heaven, with the occasional tiny sandbars protruding up from the sound, blocking the wind chop and offering up freestylers water so flat a wakeboarder wouldn’t scoff at it. The prevailing southwesterly thermal breezes often ratchet up well into the 4.2 range, but more consistently, you’ll find yourself on a 5.2 – 5.7m sail and 100 litre board combo. If you’re not a flat water sailor, the ocean side provides plenty of fun but challenging conditions in real-world, waves, too – the knowledgeable wave sailor will take advantage of the island’s bends and curves to score side, side-off perfection almost any day it blows! Of course, while Cape Hattie serves up plenty of blasting days, any seasoned visitor will tell you the number one rule of Cape Hatteras: Bring everything from board shorts to a 5/4 semi-drysuit, and every board, sail, boom and mast you can pack. Of course, if you need to rent kit, there’s plenty of options on the island.
Now, I could spend the next twenty minutes telling you about all the awesome places to sail on Cape Hatteras, but instead I’m going to tell you how to do Cape Hatteras right. The best thing about Hatteras isn’t the wind – it’s the hot-tub equipped vacation-rental mansions that back right up to the water. So grab six to ten of your mates, and rent yourself a waterfront castle complete with storage for rigged sails – that’s right – sail right out of your backyard, rig once all week, and have a hot-tub to drink your favourite malted beverage in, après-sesh.