Thursday, September 4, 2008

29 years

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It was in September of 1979 that I first learned how to windsurf. I was all of 9 years old, the gear was heavy and kludgey and monstrously awkward and slow by today's standards. I learned on a tiny little pond that I could have swum across in all of fifteen minutes. Even now, 29 years later, I remember the incredible rush I felt when, after repeated uphauling and flailing and stalling, the stars aligned: I sheeted in, and a little puff got me going. I had sailed Optis for 3 years at this point, so I knew about the feeling about being driven by the wind - but the immediacy of the experience was different.

From that moment on, I was hooked. The thrill of catching the wind and feeling its power come through your body, transformed into motion, is something that has never let me go to this day, and probably never will. To me, this sport is release, zen practice, plain fun, competitive outlet, and so much more.

This summer, as we were out on the water in the Gorge, my daughter Hope (now 8) and I were on a raging plane on the Start together; as we were coming into the Event Site, after almost hollering herself hoarse, she looked up at me and said: "Dad, I really get it now!" That week, she'd been doing the Big Winds kids' camp, had felt the wind in her hands, and now she had experienced the adrenaline rush of skipping over the water on a full plane. I don't know if she'll ever be hooked the way I have been; at that moment, though, windsurfing, often seen as a lone individual's pursuit, was a bridge for connection - a shared experience between father and daughter, her window into a part of my soul, and mine into hers.

3 comments:

Milo said...

Andreas,
I'm one year behind you at 28 years since I found life 'on a plane', and just his summer I got both my 16 year old daughter and 11 year old son out on the water (lake)with me for an awesome tactical session. I saw the light come on for Paul when he saw the lay line to put the drop on his sister at the downwind leg to the finish. If I wasn't flying an 11m to his 3.8, he would have dropped me as well...
As you said, I don't know if the jones is in them like it was/is for me, but at least I know they know there's more to life than pushing the gas pedal...

Milo in Ashland, OR

Fernando said...

Awesome words, congratulations! :)

USA 4 Steve Bodner said...

Great post Andreas!
As much as windsurfing is a sole activity, its the people you share it with that make it so special.
Steve