Windsurfing Arugam Bay

Wind Surfing in Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka is blessed with the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, which lap the entire 1,585 kilometres of the coastline. This, together with the two seasonal monsoons that hit each side of the island at different times of the year, means that water sports such asA?Windsurfing can be indulged in at any time.

Windsurfing began in America sometime in the early 70s after the discovery that a mast located on a swivelling pivot could be used to steer a small sailing craft by using body weight instead of a rudder. The first boards made their way to Sri Lanka in the late 70s, when a group of Swedish holidaymakers decided to try to bring them along on vacation. After this more and more tourists started bringing boards, some of which were intentionally left behind. It was these boards that west coast locals used to learn the sport for themselves.

In 1984, windsurfing was introduced as an official event at the Los Angeles Olympics. The year after, 1985, Nilaveli, on the east coast of Sri Lanka, was the location of the International Funboard Championships. An Austrian, Peter Pock, is credited with the development of the sport in Sri Lanka. He started a surfing school inA?Negombo and a surf centre and boat testing facility in Hambantota.

The west coast of Sri Lanka is popular for windsurfing, the unofficial capital beingA?Bentota, which is situated 65 kilometres south ofA?Colombo. It is a convenient place to try your hand at catching the wind and waves. What makes Bentota a natural choice for windsurfing a?? and indeed other water sports – is the fact that apart from an excellent beach, there is also the calm waters of the Bentota Ganga (river). Slow moving as it nears the coast, the river is an ideal place for the novice windsurfer.

There are many water sports centres at Bentota offering windsurfing facilities, such as the hiring of boards and sails. The Club Intersport and Sunshine Watersports Centre are the main ones. The latter is the only VDWS-certified surf school in the island, providing the training and professional certification of windsurfers. Incidentally, VDWS is the main windsurfing training facility in the world.

Sunshine Watersports Centre is run by Sri Lankaa??s top windsurfer, Thushal Gunawardene, together with his brothers. Thushal was ranked among the top 10 at the World Windsurfing Championships of 1992, so having such expertise at hand is a big help when it comes to getting to grips with the sport.

First-timers can initially practice on the river and, once they have mastered the art of tacking and jibing, move to the sea. A comprehensive training course costs Rs 8,500 a?? including equipment – and gives you 6 hours of windsurfing. Equipment alone can be hired for Rs 1,000 an hour. There is a 20% discount for residents.

Equipment at Bentota is of a high standard. Moreover, boards to suit every particular experience level and need are readily available. There is even a fleet of Mistral One design a?? the official Olympic competition board and sail setup a?? but most visitors would have more use for the many funboards available. Gear from North Sails is available, too, as the company has a sail-making factory right here in Sri Lanka.

The best time for windsurfing on the west coast is between November and April. Ita??s sunny and the water and wind conditions are good. After April the monsoon hits and the seas can be very rough. These conditions are more suitable for experienced windsurfers. On the east coast the best winds are during July and August. They tend to be on the strong side, but other than that conditions are excellent.

Along both the west and east coasts there are several great beaches for windsurfing, but sadly these suffer from a lack of proper facilities. Hambantota andA?Tangalle in the south are particularly good, but only if you have your own equipment. You can, however, arrange with a water sport centre in Bentota to provide the equipment at an alternate windsurfing location.

A variation of windsurfing catching on fast in the island is kite boarding. For this sport smaller boards are used with the surfer attached by a harness to a large kite. The speeds achieved are similar to that of windsurfing, the difference being the massive jumps that are possible.

The possibilities of windsurfing in Sri Lanka are not just limited to the coastline. There are many tanks and lakes in the interior that have the potential of making the sport island wide. This concept was recently tried out with the inaugural Inland Windsurfing Championships being held inA?Dambulla.

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3 Responses to “Windsurfing Arugam Bay”

  • Ofcourse if they want to try their hands on a more hip sport, kitesurfing lessons and gear are freely available in Sri Lanka! 🙂 Epic Kiting in Abay is always there for the more seasoned wind hunters 🙂

  • At Arugam Bay there is no wind surfing rental shop, as far as we know.
    Bring your own: And of course there will be no charge at all here.
    As we are only informed about the East Coast, we are unable to give reliable information about other beaches like Bentota etc.
    Please contact their own Community sites in this respect.
    Hope to welcome you in AbaY! It’s not perfect, but different!

  • info needed by a foreigner -the best months exactly on these beaches for wind surfing.Its not much clear on some locations.And also charges at bentota beach.equipements and rate per hour.
    and again at dabulla.


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