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  • Writer's pictureThe Launch Pad

Biggest Lesson Day Ever!

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

I received an email a few weeks ago from Eden looking for family windsurfing lessons for her husband's surprise 50th birthday gift. I was happy to reply and say yes and then found out that Eden and Doug have 8 kids. Would we be willing to give a bunch of lessons?

Sure, I've never had a crowd that large but let's see how it goes. We booked July 13th as our date and hoped the weather would co-operate. One day before our scheduled date the wind was looking light and rain was likely. Indeed it was pouring at our 10am rendezvous and the wind was from the north. By the time we had both boats full of our 10 guests out to the Launch Pad, the weather was clearing up! We had our safety briefing and then headed out to the point. A muskrat was swimming under the bridge to greet us.

I've never had 10 people listening to my "learn to windsurf" lesson! With the north wind being a bit shifty, the simulator was slightly more difficult but Rita and Ezra were the first to volunteer and did well. Then Doug took a turn on the simulator and we were ready for our first on the water session.

Ezra took off on the family gear, a nice 3.0 trainer sail on a great Starboard intermediate board. Rita took my Viper HD and the new 3.2 Duotone Now sail. Dave started on a Fanatic Viper 80 and my 6.2 Duke. I got on the Seadoo and followed them giving advice. Ezra had sailed almost a full kilometre out toward Mann Island and his smile was beaming. Rita managed several tacks and a jibe without even getting her hair wet. Doug was having a great time out on the water with 1/4 of his kids.

With the wind being really light from the north I took Albert out on the big Viper HD with the 6.2. He had a great time on the front of the board and we visited a bunch of the kids who were floating out on the Lilly Pad floating mat. Other kids were out taking turns in the kayaks having fun exploring around the island too.

After I got the kids back to shore (Rita only needed one tow upwind) we took a break for the nice lunches that Eden and the kids had prepared. I did more simulator work including getting Doug to try the harness. Then it was time for Carli and Martina to go out on the water as the next set of students.

The north wind had lightened up more and I took Doug and Carli out to try foiling. They both tried a few times to get up on the foil but we all agreed it might be better to save additional attempts for a future lesson. Doug looked pretty focused in the photos! In the meantime, kids were having fun on the Lily Pad mat!

Finally at 4pm the wind shifted to SW. Note to self, the prior day iWindsurf forecast for the Launch Pad/Key Harbour was bang on with their prediction., not so much - see the acual direction and strength in the 3rd image - exactly as predicted!

The SW wind was an opportunity for some kids to sail boards back to the dock. Rita took the Viper HD and Robin had her first ride on their family board. They both sailed straight to the dock with steely determination. I think the shot of Robin waving beside me on the Seadoo is the shot of the day? Doug went back out to try the harness for the first time. I suggested he'll go over the handlebars 5x before getting it figured out. He gave it a try; still a few more falls until he gets that skill dailed in, but great looking form as he was almost getting on a plane in the 12 knot wind.

When we all got back my daughter Katie and her off duty Coast Guard crew were there. They told Carli, Rita, Martina, Phoebe, Ezra, Robin, Matthew, and Albert a bit about the coolest summer job ever!

We packed up and headed back to Key Marina. On the way back, 6 year old Albert did a great job diving the boat. We said our goodbyes and Jen and I were grateful to have been part of what we hope will be a very memorable 50th birthday for Doug!

I promised the group some links... Here they are:

Jibe city bonaire - WestJet flies direct this winter!

Defi wind 1,400 person windsurf race start (windsurfing still a growing sport in Europe)

Tricktionary (great present for Dad!)

Coast guard IRB program (for the teenagers to plan ahead...)

We had a great day and have to thank Eden for booking Doug's birthday with us!

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