Windsurfing

Just because the temperatures take a dip does not mean local residents still cannot enjoy the waters of Cayuga Lake during the fall. Members of the Cayuga Windsurfing Club will still be out on the lake this season, shredding the waters at the Merrill Family Sailing Center.

“The prevailing wind is northwest, so it just comes right down the lake and it’s just perfect,” Jeff Bishop, advisor of the Cayuga Windsurfing Club, said. 

An official Cornell University student organization, the Cayuga Windsurfing Club is not only open to the college’s community, but also the Ithaca community as a whole. Interested individuals must be at least 18-years-old and will need to pay a $20 fee to join for the calendar year and reap the benefits offered by the club. Members congregate at the sailing center, located right by the water on East Shore Drive, and have free access to all the necessary windsurfing equipment.

“You literally roll in, sign up, sign out a board and be out on the water in less than five minutes,” Bishop said.

Bishop said the club is meant more for experienced windsurfers. The club has offered an introductory clinic for inexperienced individuals in the past, though it will not be offered this fall due to schedule conflicts with the club’s volunteers. However, Bishop said the club is an excellent fit for active windsurfers or those who are looking to get back into the sport.

“They can join the club for 20 bucks, demonstrate that they know what they’re doing to the club members,” he said. “It’s pretty easy. If you know what you’re doing with windsurfing, you either do it or you don’t.”

Bishop himself is an experienced windsurfer as he has been practicing in sport for 35 years. He said he got into windsurfing from watching it on T.V.

“I liked Miami Vice when I was in college, and I thought it was cool […] on the opening scene they had a windsurfer lean back and dip their head in the water,” he said. “That looked really neat.” 

“A friend of mine had [a board]. It was on the dock and I was like, ‘Oh man that’s a windsurfer. Can I try that?’ They were like, ‘Sure. We don’t know how to work it, though, so you’re on your own.’ I just hopped on it and it just came naturally to me.”

There are no set dates or times when the club meets to windsurf. It is all predicated on the weather each day.

“It’s highly weather-dependent,” Bishop said. “The wind is very fickle and it’s not easy to predict. The forecasts for wind are notoriously bad and inaccurate, but we do our best to give notice to people. We tell them basically if you look outside your door and see the leaves wiggling around on the trees, chances are we’re thinking about windsurfing.”

The club’s windsurfing season concludes around the end of October. Bishop said he recommends people join the club if they not only love being on the water, but also for those interested in an environmental-friendly sport.

“[If] you don’t want to be on a motor boat, you want to have a low impact on the environment, you’re just using the wind and your own power, your own body, to guide this craft across the water,” he said.

He said his favorite part about the sport is the community aspect.

“It’s a really great group of people that are involved,” he said. “Just real down-to-earth; care about the environment. Just being out on the water with friends. It’s not competitive. […] It’s just you and the board, and you’re just out their having fun.”

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