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Outer Banks Windsurfing

Outer Banks windsurfing is one of the most popular sports on these barrier islands. Enthusiasts come to North Carolina from as far north as Canada to experience the “Wind Surfing Capital of the East Coast." Blessed with temperate weather, steady winds, wide and shallow sounds and rolling oceans waves, the Outer Banks offers nearly year-round windsurfing thrills for both novices and experts.

Windsurfing is a thrilling sport, but isn’t an easy one. Depending on the winds, surfers can glide over the calmer sounds or fly over choppy waves at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. As a result, windsurfing lessons are highly recommended. Outfitters throughout the Outer Banks offer lessons along with equipment to rent and for sale. Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels.

For newcomers to Outer Banks windsurfing, the flatwaters of the Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds provide the perfect spot for lessons and acquiring windsurfing skills. Though the majority of windsurfers are men, with the advent of lighter and more user-friendly equipment, women and children are joining in the sport, too.

Visitors often assume, incorrectly, that windsurfing requires a tremendous amount of upper body strength. The truth is the sport is all about balance. The body is used as a counterweight to the force of the wind in the sail. Together these two forces form an intricate balancing act, and allow the rider to glide over the water with grace and ease.

Outer Banks windsurfing takes place all along the over 100 miles of shoreline, both on the ocean and on the sounds. The islands provide several public launch points, and restrict windsurfing only along lifequarded beaches. Skilled windsurfers, especially those seeking a challenge, may want to try the high winds spots off Hatteras Island. Depending on the direction of the wind, thrilling rides can be caught at “The Reef” (soundside), “Ego Beach” (oceanside) and “The Cove” off Hatteras Point.

Since the winds change with the season and with weather fronts, windsurfing varies during the year, and can do so from day to day. Spring and fall usually bring the high wind fronts for both the ocean and the sounds. Sunny, summer days are usually calmer, with low winds which are perfect for taking lessons. To prevent windsurfing at winds above their skill levels, visitors should keep in touch with the current weather conditions. Outfitters and local shops can provide detailed weather information. Free NOAA Weather Radio provides weather updates as well.

While Hatteras Island offers spots to challenge the windsurfer, Nags Head and Duck offer slower, calmer areas for novices. The soundside of both these areas contain water which is flatter and shallower than Hatteras, which makes them perfect for beginners. Other villages with windsurfing spots include, but are not limited to, Avon, Buxton, and Kitty Hawk.

Again, windsurfing lessons are highly recommended before getting out on the water. The lessons last two to three hours and are taught by expert local instructors and technical advisors. Not only do these instructors teach the basics of the sport, but they also teach the windsurfer which equipment and conditions are suited to his or her experience level, and what type of equipment suits that windsurfer’s personal needs.

Listed below are a few of the outfitters that provide windsurfing lessons.

Fox Watersports in Buxton.

Kitty Hawk Sports.

Waterworks Sports Center (252-441-8875) in Nags Head.

Windsurfing Hatteras (252-995-5000) in Avon

For more information on windsurfing, contact the Outer Banks Visitor Center at 252-473-2138 or 1-877-OBX-4FUN (629-4386).

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