It was the summer of '79 when Pam Jordan (now Dirschka) brought windsurfing to Pensacola Beach. In '81 she opened Surf and Sail Boardsailing located in the Surf and Sand Cottages, close to where Red Fish Blue Fish is today. Surf and Sail was home to a relatively young sport that was growing in popularity since it's inception in the mid-60s.
In the early days of Surf and Sail, Pam worked at Flounders and McDonalds in Gulf Breeze alongside many of her students. Those two businesses would play a significant role in sponsoring many of the big competitions that would be hosted by Surf and Sail.
Getting my feet wet
One summer morning, in the mid-80s, I stepped into that shop to signup for a week-long windsurfing summer camp. Little did I know how much that camp would impact in my life.
In the years to follow, I went windsurfing every chance I got. I got my first windsurfer when I was in middle school. I lived on a canal and I would sail that board out into Santa Rosa Sound, the body of water between Pensacola Beach and Gulf Breeze.
My first job was at Surf and Sail Boardsailing where I mastered the art of sweeping sand out of the shop, and there was a lot of that! I started teaching lessons and even was an instructor for the summer camps. Talk about a great summer job teaching kids to windsurf and hanging out on the beach!
It wasn't long before I started entering windsurfing competitions. Here in the Pensacola Bay area, we had many races that took place on Pensacola Beach at Surf and Sail and also some at Pensacola Yacht Club which was perfect for getting my feet wet in the competitive world. It wasn't long before my parents took me all over the country competing. I traveled up and down the east coast, Canada, California, Michigan, Texas, and many other places. My parents were software developers, and they wrote a software package for scoring windsurfing races, which paid my entry fee to many of these competitions.
One highlight of my competitive circuit was attending the U.S. Olympic Festival, an invitation-only event where the U.S. Olympic Committee issued 16 invitations based on rankings for that year. The festival is held every non-Olympic year for all Olympic sporting endeavors.
A Rekindled Fire
Towards the end of high school, I laid my windsurfing aspirations down, for about twenty years. I thought I was done with windsurfing but little did I know that one-day I'd find myself windsurfing and teaching once again.
Photo by @outdoorshawn
In 2013 my wife and I started a business called Outdoor Gulf Coast. We had an online magazine where we shared our outdoor experiences and encouraged families to get outdoors. After writing about kayaking and paddleboards, we started getting a lot of requests for rentals, so we decided to start a rental business. In 2014 I wrote in my journal, "I do desire to add paddleboards and windsurfers." I didn't even own a windsurfer at that time, but a fire was being rekindled to return. In 2015 a friend let me borrow a board to teach my family and teach in our business. The following year I was able to purchase some windsurfers of our own and since then we've had the privilege to teach many to windsurf.
Lindy with Outdoor Gulf Coast
Where Can You Learn
Windsurfing is a great healthy sport ideal for the whole family. When explaining to others what windsurfing is like, I always tell them it's like paddleboarding with a sail. The board is powered and steered by the power of the wind. The Pensacola Bay area is the perfect location to windsurf with our ample supply of coastal water.
Pensacola Beach, surrounded by beautiful clear water, sandy bottoms and a gentle summer breeze make it the perfect destination to experience windsurfing.
Windsurfing is great for most ages. I was around twelve when I first learned to windsurf. Today, my students range from ten to sixty-five.
I'm excited to continue to share my passion with others about windsurfing and getting outdoors. Also, I'm going to put on my racing hat and compete at the Kona North Americans which will take place at the Pensacola Yacht Club where sailors from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will gather to compete in Pensacola Bay.