Evan Thompson / The Record — Scott Robbins, a Freeland resident, rides across Useless Bay.

Evan Thompson / The Record — Scott Robbins, a Freeland resident, rides across Useless Bay.

Kiteboarders battle big waves at Useless Bay

Strong winds recently attracted a few kiteboarders to Useless Bay.

Three adrenaline junkies donned wetsuits and strapped in their harnesses to charge the waters from the morning into the afternoon on Dec. 28 near Double Bluff Beach Park.

Waves reached as high as four feet while wind gusts peaked at 26 miles per hour.

The riders battled the waves as they attempted to get into a riding stance. Once they managed to do so, the wind swept them back and forth across the bay.

One of the riders was Useless Bay resident Steve Boyle, a longtime kiteboarder. He said the adrenaline rush keeps him coming back to the sport.

“Take water skiing and snow skiing without a boat having to tow you,” Boyle said. “You’re just out there on your own. It’s a total rush.”

The sport isn’t without its dangers, Boyle said. Tangling up with buoys or breaking a line are just a couple possible hazards. Boyle considers himself an “OK” swimmer but is confident he could make his way to the shore if he needed to.

He added that Useless Bay is a safe place to ride because it prevents riders from drifting out into Puget Sound.

“That’s why this place is so good,” Boyle said. “You’re always going to drift back to the shore.”

Boyle regularly keeps an eye on weather services to get an idea of the type of winds he has to work with.

The wind and waves were a bit too strong for Seattle resident EJ Gong, who watched Boyle’s launch. Gong, 52, was inspired to take up the sport, also known as kitesurfing, about two years ago when he lived on Shore Avenue in Useless Bay.

“We used to watch the guys out on Useless and it looked so fun and exciting that I wanted to try it,” Gong said.

It wasn’t easy learning the ropes of kitesurfing, Gong said. Flying a kite and riding a surf board at the same time can be difficult to master.

“It’s the steepest learning curve of any event that I’ve ever done,” Gong said. “But then once you break through, then it gets a little bit easier. But, it’s just incredibly difficult.”

Gong said local riders like Boyle have taken him under their wing to help show him the ropes.

“The community of kiters here is really supportive,” Gong said.

Not far from where the kite surfers were riding, a sailboat was having a tough go.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS received a call from a homeowner on Shore Avenue just before noon that the boat was not making any headway as it attempted to move south out of the bay. Winds kept blowing it back near the shore, according to Deputy Chief Mike Cotton.

The fire district prepared to launch its emergency rescue boat, but by that time, the sailboat had dropped its anchor and was stable. It also had a dinghy that would allow the occupants to abandon ship if it had been necessary.

“It was really windy,” Cotton said. “…It looked like the ocean.

“To me, it looked like they were riding out the storm.”

Evan Thompson / The Record — Steve Boyle charges across Useless Bay on a windy day.

Evan Thompson / The Record — Steve Boyle charges across Useless Bay on a windy day.

More in Life

Oak Harbor Garden Tour picks whimsical host home

Patchwork of flowers, fun and quirky finds

Mucking about looking for squirts in the sand is part of the fun of digging for clams. This summer, Sound Water Stewards teaches six Digging for Dinner classes. Photo provided
Mucking about in clamming class

‘Digging for Dinner’ a popular Sound Water activity

Molka Xete, a new restaurant in Greenbank, specializes in street-style tacos that are five for $10. They make all the food from scratch, including sauces, tacos, tortillas and chips.
Center of island buzzing with new businesses

‘Molka Xete’ opens while store, deli and pot shop get ready

Anderson at the parade.
Marching, waving, saluting, singing … because it’s fun

As soon as I moved to the Rock nine years ago, friends… Continue reading

Photos provided.
                                Land Claims Founders Sculpture by Richard Nash is both visually striking and educational.
New public art honors Oak Harbor’s pioneers

Land Claims Founders Sculpture honors three explorers

Nudibranch Whisperer of Deception Pass

Sea slugs cast a spell on me…and it all began with fake… Continue reading

New look for familiar frozen treat

Whidbey Island Ice Cream gets a modern makeover

Sketchers draw Whidbey’s world

Open a journal of one of the Whidbey Island Sketchers and details… Continue reading

Historic sheep barn repurposed

Tucked away on the Pratt Loop Trail, a formerly dilapidated 1930s sheep… Continue reading

Tunnel vision: Time for ‘Golden chains’

Crowds gather at Bayview nursery for annual display

‘Art with a Message’

Students worldview a kaleidoscope of visions