There’s no time like the present to start checking off a bucket list of sports you’ve always meant to try but haven’t gotten around to yet. One idea while the days are still warm: Windsurfing.
Windsurfers maneuver a board with an attached sail that rotates. The sport’s primitive origins date back to 1948, with a technological boost by aerospace engineer Jim Drake in the 1960s, according to World of Windsurfing. Windsurfing has been an Olympic sport since 1984.
Over the decades, the sport and its gear have evolved to encompass a variety of styles. Just about anyone can learn the basics of windsurfing. With experience, advanced windsurfers can slalom, ride waves and perform gravity-defying tricks.
Also known as kiteboarding, kitesurfing is a lot like windsurfing but instead of using a sail to catch the breeze, kitesurfers wear a harness attached to a large kite that soars high in the air.
Unlike traditional surfing, which involves a lot of paddling and waiting time, kitesurfing is full of "action time," explains the Kitesurfing Handbook. It’s also a great option when the wind is blowing too hard for other water sports. Kitesurfers can ride strapped in or strapless.
It can take as many as 10 sessions to master the basic skills of kiteboarding, like launching the board both off the shore and in the water and changing directions. After 30 or more sessions in the water, intermediate kiteboarders often start carving turns and making jumps. Eventually, experienced kiteboarders may choose to ride big waves and pull a litany of impressive tricks. KSurf International Magazine offers detailed instructions about how to preform a wide variety of stunts.
Expert rock climbers speak their own language full of lingo with words like beta (tips about how to get up a route), choss (loose rock) and crux (the toughest part of a climb). But climbing is not a closed secret society.
The sport is appealing for many reasons, writes Trevor Allred at Rockclimbing.com. Climbing facilitates balance and creativity, exercises the whole body, helps you overcome fears and gives you a reason to go to beautiful places. And even though it’s up to you to do the moves, climbing partners often become friends for life.
For aspiring climbers who live far from real cliffs, there are rock-climbing gyms all over the world. Styles include bouldering (climbing without a rope on shorter routes), sport climbing (clipping into bolts on the wall) and traditional climbing (placing your own gear into cracks before clipping in).
In teams of two, beach-volleyball players compete on sand courts, attempting to ground the ball over the net on the other team’s side. The sport of volleyball began in 1895, according to Beach Volleyball Database, and the sand version took off in Santa Monica in the 1920s. In 1996, the sport entered the Olympics at the Atlanta Games.
Sand courts are smaller than indoor volleyball courts. The balls are softer, lighter and slightly bigger. And compared to a gym floor, sand is much tougher to run over, especially when it’s hot.
Volleyball Worldwide offers a rundown of the skills required: serving, passing, setting, blocking, hitting and defense. If you want to give it a try, you can find links to beach-volleyball organizations in states and cities around the country.
People have been kayaking and canoeing for transportation since ancient times. Today, many boaters paddle for sport, and no type of paddling is more thrilling than the whitewater kind.
Paddling on whitewater requires its own gear, strokes and techniques. In a kayak, for example, you’ll need to learn how to roll in order to right yourself if you tip in the rapids. The American Canoe Association offers information on safety and provides links to races, paddling clubs and courses for all kinds of boating. Paddling.net is another great resource of information on skills, gear and trips.