Chuck Hardin anchors some boards in the water and breezily swims back to the shore of Thurmond Lake.
He greets some eager pupils and sets about readying the gear of his windsurfing rigs.
Hardin owns White Cap Windsurfing, the only windsurfing business of its kind in Georgia and South Carolina. In addition to selling windsurfing equipment through his Web site (whitecapwindsurfing.com), he also gives regular lessons to anyone willing to try out the growing sport.
"I took my first windsurfing lesson in 1995," said the 47-year-old Evans resident. "I never imagined at the time that four years later I would have my own windsurfing business and giving lessons of my own."
Hardin is a certified instructor with US Sailing, which sanctions several sail-inspired sporting events, including the America's Cup yacht race.
He bought White Cap from its original owner, Renee Jenkins, in 1999 - the same time windsurfing underwent a revolution.
Windsurfing gear is comprised of a board, a sail, a mast and a boon. Boards were once slim and narrow, similar to surfing shortboards. In 1999, Hardin said manufacturers began making boards specifically with beginners in mind that were wider and more buoyant.
"The sport was starting to die out until those new boards came out," Hardin said. "The new boards made it much easier to keep your balance and people began to revisit the sport."
The new boards also had the added effect of moving windsurfing more to lakes and off the sea.
Like surfers, hardcore windsurfers can be territorial. With the influx of new windsurfers, many of the older windsurfers switched to kite surfing - basically, surfing while holding onto a large kite - which Hardin says is much more conducive to the ocean.
"Inland windsurfing is becoming more and more popular, because you have this large, open body of water where the prevailing winds are working in your advantage," Hardin said.
At Thurmond Lake, Hardin said he has seen windsurfers sailing as fast at 31 mph in only 24 mph winds.
"The reason you can go faster than the wind is because the sail gives you lift almost like an airplane wing," he said.
Unlike many water sports that are relegated to the summer months, Hardin said with the improvements of insulated body suits, windsurfers can sail year-round.
"This is the time of year when windsurfers start getting excited," he said. "The winds pick (up), the water is still warm, the conditions are perfect."
For more information on lessons, call Hardin at 860-0639.
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