Clearwater Windsurfers Making Their Mark
By Anne McKay Garris
Austin Emser and team member, catch the wind in Clearwater Bay
The Clearwater Community Sailing Center's windsurfers, had their first overseas competition, this summer. They have just returned from Weymouth, England, where the 2012 Summer Olympics are scheduled to be held. Simply being there, participating in a regatta with 261 other windsurfers, all under seventeen years of age, was an adventure for the Tampa Bay young people, according to their Coach Britt Viehman.
After a summer of learning to windsurf at the Sailing Center, 6 new members have joined the team, bringing the number of team members, aged 10 to 17 years old, to 16. With summer learning behind them, the team has started practice for future competitions, in Fort Walton and Miami to begin with. They have a formidable reputation to uphold. Last year two Clearwater Sailing Center windsurfers took first and second place in the National races, held on Hood River in Oregon's famed The Gorge. Sixteen-year-old Chris Gardener took first place, followed by Cullen Ahearn in second.
Practice for the team is on Wednesdays and Sundays, sometimes in Clearwater Bay and sometimes in the Gulf, according to the weather and the experience of those practicing, according to Coach Viehman. The youngsters always enjoy visitors at the Center watching their lively sport.
"It's not hard to get on the team," says the coach. "We are always equipped to provide lessons at the Center and, when a sailor reaches the level of proficiency where he can participate safely, we welcome him, or her, to the team."
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