Ucluelet local David Gerbrandt flashes a smile while surfing in the wind off Ucluelet’s 52 Steps dock on Jan. 17. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

VIDEO: Windsurfing in Ucluelet

Wind warnings from Environment Canada last month were music to the ears of local windsurfers.

Wind warnings from Environment Canada were music to the ears of local windsurfers last month.

After hearing that an “intense Pacific frontal system” would bring Southeast winds of up to 90 km/h to the West Coast on Jan 17, Ucluelet locals Jesse Jared Cohen and David Gerbrandt were amped to get on the water.

“I’ve been cringing at work all day,” Gerbrandt told the Westerly News from the water at Ucluelet’s 52 Steps Dock. “It’s really fun. It’s the most addictive thing. Once you do it, you’re hooked. It’s just too much fun. It’s like surfing and motocross combined. That’s the best way I could describe it.”

Gerbrandt, 38, said he started windsurfing around Nitinat Lake while living in Bamfield and continued the sport when he moved to Ucluelet with his family two years ago.

“We love it,” he said of Ucluelet. “It’s a playground.”

Cohen, who has been windsurfing for roughly six years and earned a fourth place finish in Oregon’s 2017 Pistol River Wave Bash amateur division, said he’d first heard of the incoming winds about four days prior and his excitement increased as weather reports remained consistent during the week, serving as an invitation to a thrilling experience.

He said Jan. 17’s readings recorded winds around 45-59 knots, but the sheltered harbour around 52 Steps offered a more rideable 15-20 knots.

“You get pretty stoked. Anything over 15 knots of wind, that’s where we really come alive. The sail power is just bang on,” he said. “With the experience I have, it’s no longer scary. It’s actually fun…The biggest joy about doing this on stormy days is the fact that we’re able to have fun outdoors when it’s so miserable out.”

Windsurfing has not yet caught on in popularity around the West Coast and is more common around Parksville and Victoria, according to Cohen who estimated he hit local waters about 50 times in 2017.

“There’s safer spots to windsurf on the stormy south-east low pressure systems, but on the West Coast there’s only a couple of us that are really chasing it,” he said. “The wind’s just way more gusty and unpredictable on this side.”

He added though that Ucluelet’s harbour provides a sheltered space to learn and anyone looking to get into the sport should expect to spend about a week getting a feel for it.

“The Ucluelet harbour offers really sheltered waters and there’s a lot of light-wind days,” he said. “This is an easy spot for learning.”

Just Posted

Gardening event in Ucluelet this weekend

Feb. 25 event include deer-proofing tips.

Tofino and Ucluelet cheer new Airbnb tax agreement

“This is a good and necessary step for the government to take.”

Food Bank on the Edge Society seeks safer location

Facility serves Ucluelet, Tofino and surrounding communities.

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

No foul play suspected in death of Stanley Okumoto, 79

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Pilot program trains next generation of Island farmers

Parksville’s GoodSeeds introduces youth 17-30 years to agricultural careers

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Indigenous elders share history with Ladysmith students

‘Our kids learning their history through elders is nothing that we can find in our textbooks’

It’s quietly business as usual for the E&N

Waiting game continues in quest for direction on service ceased since 2011

Three new judges appointed to B.C. Supreme Court

Two spots filled in Vancouver, one in New Westminster

BCHL Today: Merritt’s Buckley nets scholarship and Vees slam Salmon Arm

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Pilot program trains next generation of Island farmers

Parksville’s GoodSeeds introduces youth 17-30 years to agricultural careers

Trial date delayed in case of slain Victoria sisters

Andrew Berry’s next court appearance will be in three weeks to set a date for trial to begin

B.C. MP invites convicted terrorist to Trudeau reception in India

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister

Most Read