Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. — Bertrand Russell
I went to University of Wisconsin at Madison for school. Madison has the second largest sailing club in the United States, second only to the US Navy club. The so-called Hoofers sailing club is extremely affordable (less than $200 for annual membership back in 2011) and one can take unlimited lessons and checkout equipments as long as he/she holds the corresponding ratings. In the summer time you can sail, and in the winter time you can ice kite on the lake surface. Members also organize trips to windsurf at other (warmer) places.
Although I have ratings for most small to median sail boats, I almost never check them out. My real interest is in windsurfing, for two reasons
- It takes less than 5 minutes to get into/out of water for windsurfers whereas rigging the sails and docking/undocking the sail boats take much longer.
- The windsurfing mast is not fixed to the board thus allowing more maneuvering (freestyle) than sailing boats.
One particularly fun thing about windsurfing (and some sailing boats too) is planing. With big enough wind and sail, the board floats above water leaving only the fin in contact with water. In planing, friction is minimum and it feels like flying on the cloud.
It is a very good sport to practice one’s awareness, both to the body and to the environment. The sail needs to be adjusted to the wind (the wind on Lake Mendota is quite shitty). You will also need to read ripples for the gusts. Once you get into planing, any small adjustment of the body, sail, and board may have a big effect.
Another effect of windsurfing on me is cultivating awe of nature. In front of big wind and big wave, the strength of a person is basically nothing.
My friend Chamond has a windsurfing site with a lot of information
If you happen to visit Madison in the summer, sailing/windsurfing on Lake Mendota can be a fun option.