Windsurfing evolved as a sport in the 1970s, when smaller lighter sails were put on surfboards, offering the trills of sailing at a very low cost, and in a package transportable on the roof of a car. When the original patent expired in the mid-1980s, a wider variety of sailboards were produced, and athletes began pushing the envelope, performing flips, and going as fast as 80 km/h (50 mph). This multi-million dollar industry became an Olympic sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. The best way to learn windsurfing is to start on land, learning to control the sail and maintain your balance. Then you progress to shallow water in a light wind, and steadily progressing to deeper waters and stronger winds. Windsurfing can be done on the open sea, or on a tiny lake with any wind above a breeze. (In Canada, hardcore windsurfers continue into the winter as long as the ice remains thin).
Windsurfing combines the board from surfing with the sail of a small sailboat, hinged on a flexible mast pivot. Because there is little hull below water, and therefore little water resistance, speeds can be very high. To windsurf, you should be fit and agile, and have a good sense of balance (though this takes some practice). Improvements in boards and sails since the 1990s have made this sport much easier to learn.
Safety tip: sail when there is an onshore wind (toward the shore) or you can get blown out and have great difficulty getting back. IMPORTANT: you must wear a life jacket! It's the law.
For windsurfing, you'll need a "board". There are many types of boards on the market, though the most common one is the flat board. This type is fairly stable and made by most manufacturers (some common brands are JP, Mistral, Starboard). New windsurfing boards cost from $1200-$2400, though used boards can be found for $500. More experienced windsurfers may consider a specialty board like a "fun board", an Open-Class Division 2, or a "sinker". These have special designs and options to maximize speed and manoeuvrability, for an extra few hundred dollars.
A windsurfer (in this part of the country) will also need a "wet suit", which might cost $100 to $500. This thin foam rubber outfit traps a thin layer of water inside the suit, which is easily warmed by your body. Tighter wetsuit keep you warmer.
Cold weather or cold water windsurfer consider it worthwhile to invest in a "dry suit". A dry suit seals up sound your ankles, wrists, and neck. It keeps your body both dry and warm, and costs $300 and up. In cold weather you'll also need gloves ($25-$40) and footwear ($40-$60). The Windsurfing Shop (276-2477) in Calgary has a wide selection of summer water sport equipment and offers instructions and does repairs.
With Fredericton being the navigational headwaters of the beautiful St. John River, more and more visitors from the lower St. John River and the United States arrive to the Capital via pleasure craft. The Regent St. Wharf is ideal for boaters who want to enjoy all that Downtown Fredericton has to offer. Many historic and cultural sites, unique specialty shops and restaurants are all within distance of the Wharf. Boaters will also find Jessie's Landing, a full service marina and the Fredericton Yacht Club, which provides visitor moorings. There is also a variety of free boat launches in the city, as well as canoe and kayak rentals.
There are a couple of places around fredericton where you can launch or moor yourcraft:
- Regent St. Warf (Downtown Fredericton) full service with overnight moorage - (506) 458-8922.
- Jessie's Landing (4 km below the Princess Margaret Bridge on the northside of the St. John River) - Full service marina - (506) 452-8404
- Fredericton Yacht Club (361 Lincoln Rd., just below the Princess Margaret Bridge) for members & visitors (506) 453-2601
- Carleton Park Boat Launch, Union St. (Fredericton North)
- Morell Park Boat Launch, Waterloo Row (Small craft only)
- Fredericton Small Craft Aquatic Centre (Woodstock Road-behind Victoria Health Centre) Municipal centre for rowing, canoeing and windsurfing. Open mid-May to late September/early October. (506) 460-2260.