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

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Woman who died hours before daughter’s wedding wanted her family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while floating on a surf board in Tofino

Ahousaht welcomes massive Surfrider Canada conference to Meares Island near Tofino

“It was the first time we’ve all come together.”

Ucluelet shakes up emergency services, removes manager, eyes new sirens

District has eliminated Emergency and Environmental Manager position

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

The Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island is expected to be closed until Thursday evening

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Vancouver, Squamish pipeline challenges dismissed by court in B.C.

Justice Christopher Grauer ruled the province’s decision to issue the certificate was reasonable

Early learning programs for Indigenous kids get $30M boost

B.C. government to help expand Aboriginal Head Start Association programs with three-year funding

Most Read