Venture: Windsurfing

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Among the seafaring set that congregates in the boat launches and sailing clubs along Hoover Reservoir, a piece of wisdom borne over many years circles like a waterspout: If you can learn to sail here, you can sail anywhere.

The Midwest's shifty wind whips over the plains, tumbles over the tree line and enters the Westerville water in a series of frustrating gusts. They shift and die, pick up and swirl.

But there's plenty of it most days, if you were curious. There are also about 3,300 aquatic acres and a dude on the east side who can teach you the fastest way to run them.

"If you like small boats, you've got to try windsurfing," said Doug Golding, who runs the Wind Over Water Sailing School in Galena. "You actually become part of the boat. It's the fastest way to sail."

Golding worked for years as a boat-safety instructor before retiring to a small brick ranch with a grass path that runs straight to the water's edge. He's been teaching the art of windsurfing and small-boat sailing for more than 20 years.

From a cozy backyard dry dock, he offers two-day courses that cover everything from tying knots to basic sailing theory to windsurfing technique. Each of three remaining sessions - Aug. 7-8, Aug. 28-29 and Sept. 18-19 - cost $130.

"Without instruction and the proper equipment, it's not something you just pick up," he said.


At first, the novice windsurfer is a nest of limbs. Your jumbled book knowledge spews soggy and useless into the water. You forget to keep your feet balanced across the centerline, to haul the sail with your arms straight or that tilting the mast changes your direction.

A point of progress seems to cue a wobbly, humiliating splash.

Slowly, though, you learn to read conditions and control speed and direction. You learn to pick your heading and grasp the boom. Depending on skill level and experience, Golding can have you running out and back before the end of class.

And if not, he'll let you come out again until you get a good ride.

For more on surfing, sailing and other Buckeye water sports, click to the Ohio Adventure Map at

Wind Over Water Sailing School

5530 Red Bank Rd., Galena