Fused to the sail, propelled by the wind, skimming over salty waves—windsurfing looks exhilarating, but it can be intimidating too. Get your feet wet with Boardsports School in Alameda. Unlike the high-flying, hurricane-force, acrobatic playground of the pros, Boardsports’ Crown Beach location offers gentle winds, mellow vibes, low traffic, warm(er) water, and a shallow, sandy take-off zone perfect for learning launch and steering maneuvers. On-shore winds guide newbies back to the long sandy beach to take a breather and a pointer or two from wizened onlookers. After an hour of dry-land simulator and lingo tutelage, the instructors fit, rig, and guide the class out into the smooth and easy breezes off of Crown Beach. Through one-on-one attention from the instructors, you’ll soon be gliding out into the cove and beyond into the bay (pictured), feeling the sail taut against your arms, hearing the slap of the water below. Riding the wind.
Boardsports School, Crown Beach (Westline Dr. at Otis Dr.), Alameda; 415-385-1224. The two-day, six-hour beginner lesson runs $165 per person and occurs every Saturday and Sunday through September, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; the lesson includes a full wetsuit and windsurfing rig. Boardsports has a more advanced location in San Mateo and a retail outlet in San Francisco. In addition, the shop offers kiteboarding and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons.