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6The Daily Tar Heel Wednesday, .October 10, 1984
By TOM CAMACHO
Gazing out across a choppy, white
capped Jordan Lake, a local boardsailer
grins. Turning, she looks over her
shoulder to find the treetops at the lake's
edge swaying in the steady breeze.
Overhead, soft cumulus clouds gently
make their way across the sky. Con
ditions are optimal, even in October.
All around her, boardsailers, sporting
wetsuits, rig their sails. Others haul
boards to the water's edge. The parking
lot is buzzing with activity as busy
sailers remove boards from the car tops,
and still more board-topped autos
search for a place to park.
Minutes later, her board rigged, she
launches. As she pulls up her sail, the
wind fills it and she is off, tearing across
the lake. She leans back, arching, and
suddenly it all comes together. It feels
something like a cross between surfing,
sailing and flying. It feels good; she cant
help but smile.
Feelings like these have attracted
many people in the triangle and all over
the world to take up the exciting and
fast-growing sport of boardsailing.
Boardsailers from all over the Triangle
flock to the water like Jordan Lake to
experience the sensation and challenge
of this relatively new sport.
Boardsailing has been around for
several years, but only in the past two
to four years has it become a popular
water sport in the United States. Today,
people boardsail all over the world, year .
round. Our very own Tar Heel state
hosts a large number of boardsailers and
offers excellent sailing conditions both
inland and on the coast. In fact, the
outer banks has earned a reputation
By TOM CAMACHO
On the sandy slopes of Jockey's Ridge, the
thirteen-story monster dune on North Carol
ina's outer banks, over 50,000 people have
soared like birds in the same coastal winds that
called Wilbur and Orville Wright to leave Ohio
and move to Kitty Hawk over 80 years ago.
Clearly visible from atop Jockey's Ridge, the
tall, granite Wright Borthers Memorial, just four
miles to the north, still presides over the flying
that takes place in Kitty Hawk. The common
sight of beginning aviators struggling to
maintain "straight and level" on their very first
flight is somehow quite natural in this windy
hang glider's haven.
As the Wright Brothers well knew, the wind
conditions and gentle slopes around Kitty Hawk
are ideal for learning to fly. Today, hang gliders
are the dominant mode of flight here and Kitty
Hawk is the fitting home of the world's largest
hang gliding school.
While the eastern end of the state offers
favorable conditions for fledgling gliders, the
mountains in the west have several prime hang
gliding sites for more experienced pilots. North
Carolina is the home of many hang gliding
enthusiasts, most of whom live in the western
part of the state. The North Carolina Hang
Gliding Association was formed in 1982 and
has well over 100 members. The USHGA boasts
over 8,000 members and it is estimated that there
are over 75,000 glider pilots world-wide. And
the sport is growing.
Fittingly, the inventor of the hang gliding
wing, Francis Rogallo, lives in Southern Shores
on the outer banks, just a few miles from
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Lakes attract a relatively
among east coast boardsailers as the
place to sail.
The sport has come a long way since
S. Newman Darby first publicized it in
a 1956 article in Popular Science
magazine. The article read, "Sailboard
ing: Exciting New Water Sport for
High-Speed Water Fun. A sport so new
that fewer than 10 people have mastered
it." Today, millions boardsail world
wide. Advances in design have made
today's sailboards faster and irnre
efficient than ever before. The -st
sailers on modern specialized boards
can do amazing tricks that Darby surely
Besides the thrills of the sailing itself,
boardsailing has become popular for
several reasons. First, the sport is
relatively inexpensive. For anywhere
from $500 to $1,000 a beginner can be
fully outfitted. After this initial cost,
however, the sailing costs only the gas
it takes to reach the water. There are
no expensive maintenance fees, no
docking fees and no lift tickets to buy.
Convenience is another plus that
makes boardsailing so attractive. The
entire sailboard unit takes up little
space, can be transported atop any car
and can be launched by one person. And
most convenient of all, water to sail on
is normally not too hard to find.
"The cost, simplicity and size of the
sport appeal to people of all ages," said
Bob Shaffer, president of the Traingle
Boardsailing Club. "And the majority
of boardsailing is done on inland lakes
like Lake Jordan," he said.
People of all ages, both men and
women, enjoy boardsailing because it
is not too difficult. Sailing the board
requires proper technique but not a
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great deal of strength. And to top it
all, boardsailing is a good form of
exercise. In a strong wind, a sailor's
muscles must work overtime to control
The sport caught on in Europe in the
early 1970s. The convenience of the
sailboard's size suited the smaller
quarters of the Europeans. Betwen 1973
and 1978, over 150,000 boards were sold
Jockey's Ridge. Rogallo, a former aeronautical
engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, who has had a life-long
infatuation with flying, is honored annually at
the Hang Gliding Spectacular held in Kitty
Hawk each May.
In it early stages, the sport of hang gliding
was considered a crazy and dangerous thrill
seeker's pastime. The equipment used then was
generally not regulated and many people were
injured as a result. Today, the USHGA has
developed a rating scheme which regulates the
pilots who fly on the more difficult sites. Also,
today's gliders are more technologically
advanced. Fatal accidents are very rare, despite
the fact that tens of thousands of pilots take
off hundreds of thousands of times each year.
People of all ages and sizes come to Kitty
Hawk to learn to hang glide. Most of those
who take lessons at Kitty Hawk are tourists.
A small percentage of these people take up the
sport as a regular hobby. "IVe taught people
from eight years old to eighty at Jockey's Ridge,"
said Steve Wendt, experienced pilot and
instructor at the Kitty Hawk Kites School.
Spots such as Grandfather Mountain attract
many hang gliders as well as spectators. A team
of pilots puts on daily demonstrations there.
One member of the Grandfather Mountain
Team, Stu Smith, is among the best hang glider
pilots in the world. The Grandfather Mountain
site is for very experienced pilots because of
its high winds and steep cliffs. Tater Hill, a
grassy mountain near Boone, is another popular
hang gliding spot. Instructors at Kitty Hawk
Kites make trips to Tater Hill for pilots who
have learned at Jockey's Ridge and desire more
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... WE CAN FIT YOU
NO MATTER WHAT SIZE
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any white lines to follow, sailboard racing involves skill, tactics and a knowledge of the rules.
there. Today, well over a million people
enjoy boardsailing in Europe alone.
George Webster, an Englishman who
works in the Triangle, recently made
a trip to Europe and said the sport is
a religion there. "On the roads, we
counted and every sixth car had a
sailboard on top," he said. "It's more
popular there than it is in the states."
In the U.S., boardsailing is rapidly
flock to N.C. coast
challenging conditions. Most of the other North
Carolina hang gliding sites are centered around
Asheville and Morganton.
Lessons at Jockey's Ridge are offered year
round through Kitty Hawk Kites. The Beginners
course lasts about three hours and begins with
classroom instruction. Learning pilots watch a
training film and receive a glider's manual. For
the last two hours, beginning students are shown
how to handle a glider and finally make five
launches under the close supervision of a
qualified instructor. Normally, a beginner's
flight is anywhere from 75 to 200 feet long and
about 5 to 10 feet off the ground. The cost
of the beginner's course is $44. Serious students
can take advanced lessons at Kitty Hawk and
earn a USHGA hang rating (Hang I through
Hang V) which allows them to fly at more
Advanced glider design has allowed expe
rienced pilots to reach new heights and stay
in the air longer. The record for distance in
one flight is over 150 miles. One pilot stayed
airborne for twenty-four hours straight. Fliers
have soared as high 20,000 feet.
These type flights don't happen at Kitty
Hawk. The conditions simply don't allow it.
There is a challenge, however, that no pilot
has yet accomplished. Francis Rogallo and his
wife Gertrude have put up $1,000 for the first
person to fly from Jockey's Ridge up the four
miles to the Wright Brothers Memorial and
back. One good pilot managed to catch some
favorable winds and flew up to the monument,
but could not return to the ridge. As it stands,
the challenge is . . . well ... up in the air.
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FR ALTERATIONS .
I AYAWA.Y AVAiLADLE W1H NO EXTRA CHARGE ,
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new, but growing sport
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growing. More and more people are
learning how, and the market for boards
has increased tremendously. Stores like
Waterworld Marine Services in Dur
ham, Triton's Cove in Raleigh, and the
Trail Shop in Chapel Hill sell boards
year round. Waterworld and Kitty
Hawk Kites in Nags Head, N.C., both
offer lessons for beginners as well as
experienced boardsailers. Both stores
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Rolling out the sails for a day on Jordan lake,
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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE SPECIAL SAVINGS AT:
DATE: WED. OCT. 10 Time: 10 am-3 pm
PLACE: STUdENT STORES
North Carolina Graduate Services
also carry a full line of boardsailing
Learning to boardsail is not difficult.
With good conditions and a knowled
gable instructor, an average beginner
can be up and sailing in a couple of
hours. Learning to handle stronger and
stronger winds, however, takes a lot of
practice and mastering any of the
freestyle tricks of the sport takes even
The best boardsailers enjoy sailing in
ocean waves. On the strong surfs of
California and Hawaii, professional
boardsailers can be seen sailing up the
face of huge waves, shooting as high
as 25 to 40 feet in the air. This obviously
requires a good deal of experience. For
any boardsailer though, ocean waves
are an exciting challenge and bring a
new dimension to the sport.
Boardsailing competition takes place
all over the world. Types of competition
include triangle racing, slalom, distance
and freestyle wave riding. The sport was
even featured in the 1984 Olympics. A
small number of those who boardsail
are professionals and compete world
wide for prize money year round.
Boardsailing has grown popular for
a number of reasons. The wind, the
water, the sun, the simplicity and the
cost all are given as reasons why
boardsailers fell in love with their sport.
But George Webster has a rather
interesting story. "I was always fasci
nated by hang gliding," he explains,
"but once I saw it done, it looked rather
dangerous. I guess I got frightened.
Boardsailing appeared less dangerous,
so I tried it. It took only one trip and
I was hooked."
are Tom Camacho, left, and Jim Gulley.
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