Blow out good for mind
A mixture of colour and speed, the 2013 New Zealand National Slalom Windsurfing Championships are on Otago Harbour this week, until Sunday.
About 50 people are competing in the event organised by the Dunedin Windsports Association.
Secretary Paul Vlietstra says Dunedin's 10th hosting of the champs will add colour and vigour to the harbour basin.
Turning up to compete in the top class, the opens, are local Gareth Wood, a several time national champion.
Spectators should look for a derby between Wood and his rival, James Dinnis from New Plymouth who is also expected to race.
A huge silver (golden oldie) fleet is also competing, with a few newcomers who don't want to compete in the open class thrown in, Vlietstra says.
Nine women will vie for placings in their own heat, three of them from Dunedin - Jodie Taylor, Barbara Vlietstra and Ali Grant.
Also appearing are the country's top national slalom youth, including New Zealand Youth Champ Laurence Carey.
Windsurfers began appearing on Otago Harbour about 35 years ago and the sport has gained in popularity.
"An advantage is that once you've got your gear, you've got no further ongoing costs," Vlietstra says.
Then there's the freedom.
"You're being blown by nature, you're riding over the top of nature and if you fall off, you don't hit asphalt.
"It's pure freedom.
"You feel the wind rushing past you.
"When you're out there on your own, you don't think about anything else except for sailing. You get everything off your mind and you have a good blow out."
Dunedin Windsports Association has been operating intermittently for many years but has made its harbour basin home permanent in 2006.
"Our club has its base alongside the harbour which is a massive advantage for us in terms of organising things. No other club in New Zealand has that. In fact I'd wonder if any other club in the world has that."
Vlietstra says local conditions are near perfect for windsurfing.
The Southland Times