Lake Washington Windsurfers Carve Their Niche

I had lived for the past year in Rio Vista, in the Delta, riding a Simmer Pure Slalom board and Enduro sail, doing some fast runs but also a lot of walks of shame (back upwind up-current along the road). Honestly, I never really dug the brown, bumpy water: it hurt the knees and was just a short quick run and back weaving through kiters. I’d say 20 years on Maui spoiled my ass. Then I got a job in Sacramento and thought, OK, time to hang up the cleats.

Jonathan Weston on Lake Washington
Wherever you find wind and water, you find sailors. Jonathan Weston windsurfed in Maui, and now sails Lake Washington in Sacramento.
© 2019 Jonathan Weston

But I found this tiny spit of water where guys invited me to race Lasers and Thistles on the west side of the city. It was ugly industrial ship cargo on one side, but on the other, a clean sweep where the last of the Delta breeze could roll through in the late afternoon. I noticed a couple of guys out windsurfing, John Mathias on an old Mistral Equipe longboard, and Skip Goncalves on his Naish foil. There was a lady, Barbara West, with a big smile out there as well. I thought, I haven’t been on a longboard since the ’79 Internationals. I’ll give it a shot. Surprisingly, it was a nice feeling, and easy on my rusting parts.

Fast forward a year later, and I saw this Windsurfer LT. I’m good friends with Bruce Matlack, so I ended up buying the first board out on the Left Coast. The rig was too small for my fat ass, so I rang Kai Katchedourian up and reminded him that when he was still in diapers, I was a team rider, so he gave me the bro deal on a 7.8 Simmer Race XT, about the right size for the Lake Washington.

You can’t beat the Delta for its warm winds and warmer waters. For those of us who shiver in our full wetsuits in the Central Bay, donning a ‘shortie’ or even trunks is a welcome reprieve.
© 2019

The wind comes up here around 5 p.m. like clockwork, and blows 10-15, with some days blowing harder when a front comes through. We have races every Tuesday night throughout the summer. I did OK for an old fart, and had some great battles with John. Skip went off to some stupid lake in Italy so there really wasn’t a whole lot of interest from people watching us sail around the course, but up to 15 were just coming out to play.

What makes for a good windsurfing spot: consistent winds, which the Delta has on tap.
© 2019 Jonathon Weston

It looks like the sport is growing here year after year and it is largely due to the efforts of John Mathias. It takes people to drive a fleet. If you’re in the area, come join us. It’s only about 100 bucks a year to join, and even less to use all the club gear. We’re working on getting five together for the LT fleet deal but people are always slow to pull out their wallet, particularly when it comes to buying my book! Old school, new school, it’s a mix of mutts and really doesn’t matter as long as you get out on the water and go sailing.

This was an excerpt from Jonathan Weston’s Maui Glory Days Blog. The book of the same name, which we’ll review in the coming months, is now on sale.

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