Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Local boy does it again

Well done Mike.
http://www.northshoreoflongisland.com/Articles-Features-i-2012-03-08-91628.112114-sub18236.112114-Part-II-Hail-Aeolus-Greek-god-of-wind.html

nothing                            Photo by John Dunn

Source: Times Beacon Record Media
 

Part II: Hail Aeolus, Greek god of wind

by Eileen Gerle

March 08, 2012

In my last article, I wrote about the Aeolian forces that shape the shore and impact the maritime landscape, but I could not write an article about wind at West Meadow Beach without mention of the many windsurfers and kiteboarders who frequent here. So one windy morning I headed out to the parking lot where I found Mike Burns of Port Jefferson Station, suited up and getting ready to hit the surf. I asked Mike if he would mind being interviewed. He was not only agreeable, but a pleasure to talk with.

Mike started windsurfing at the age of 14 when his aunt and uncle taught him the ropes. Mike is now a pro windsurfer and has been an enthusiast of the sport for the last 20 years. He has windsurfed across the U.S. and the Caribbean, but his favorite place to do so is, you guessed it, West Meadow Beach. To be able to wind surf here is why Mike moved to the area from the South Shore. "Being in Oakdale just didn't allow me the time to make it to West Meadow as often as I can now," he said.

I learned from Mike that there are two methods of windsurfing: riding the waves and freestyle. The best conditions for riding the waves are high tide and winds of between 18 and 40 knots. Freestyle, or doing tricks, such as a funnel or shaka, are most easily performed at low tide. Spend several hours at West Meadow on a windy day and you can do both, since the many sandbars make for really shallow water at low tide. In addition, the winds here are typically onshore, another plus, as one doesn't have to worry about being pushed offshore and looking for a ride home from Connecticut.

Interested in taking advantage of this local natural recreational resource? For as little as $500 (or as much as ten times that), you can secure the equipment needed to get started. Beyond that, Mike had some valuable tips for newbies. First and foremost — get a lesson. Hampton Water Sports and the Smithtown Recreation Center offer lessons. Also, check out the local forum online: sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/LongIslandWindsurfer. Additionally, be sure not to miss the annual East Coast Windsurfing Festival, held every June at Heckscher State Park, where you can meet some nice folks and maybe score some used gear. And girls, windsurfing may be a male dominated sport, by 10 to one according to Mike, but don't let that intimidate you. What women lack in muscle, they can make up for in technique. Mike has already had his 5-year-old daughter on a board.

I asked Mike if one day stands out in his mind as epic, and he said that any day windsurfing is a good day. However, being out there during recent Tropical Storm Irene stands out as being the most awesome day yet. I'm no windsurfer, but if you are just starting out, I would suggest leaving the stormy surf to the big guns like Mike. There are plenty of windy days here at West Meadow Beach.

Eileen Gerle is Brookhaven Town's ranger and environmental educator for West Meadow Beach.

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