Wind Surfing

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 as 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 in Negombo and a surf centre and boat testing facility in Hambantota.

The west coast of Sri Lanka is popular for windsurfing, the unofficial capital being Bentota, which is situated 65 kilometres south of Colombo. It is a convenient place to try your hand at catching the wind and waves. What makes Bentota a natural choice for windsurfing ? 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.
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 and 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 in Dambulla.