Steve Bodner is much more than just another windsurfer. Born in Toledo, Ohio, he is currently residing in San Francisco, California. Thanks to the thermal breeze found in this region, it’s essentially a windsurfer’s paradise. His main two disciplines are formula and slalom and he’s currently involved in training the next generation of windsurfers.
Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to catch up with Steve to answer a few questions about windsurfing for us and our readers. Enjoy!
BookSurfCamps: You’ve been windsurfing since 1987. How has the sport changed since then? What are the major differences between then and now?
Steve Bodner: I started as a young kid old sailing longboards in the lakes around the Midwest. The sport has come a long way since then but it’s the grassroots sailors who still make it all happen – organizing events, regattas, and windsurfing as much as they can. The equipment may have evolved, but it’s the still about getting people out windsurfing that keeps the sport going. I’m happy to say after many years of competing at local regional, national and international events, I’m now part of a team that organizes and runs slalom windsurfing races in San Francisco.
BSC: You write on your blog that it all began with a bet with your parents at the age of 12 that you wouldn't watch TV for an entire year in exchange for your first windsurfing board. What drew you to windsurfing?
SB: I think it was the sense of independence that windsurfing offered that attracted me in the beginning. I had been up until that point involved in sailboat and dinghy racing but always needed a crew to make it happen. With windsurfing, it’s just you, the board, the sail and the wind. By 16, I could put the gear on top of the car and drive to a regatta anywhere in the US.
BSC: You’re a big Formula fan, would you like to share with our readers a few things you’ve learned from Formula windsurfing.
SB: I competed in the Formula windsurfing class for just over 12 years. It took me around the world and introduced me to many new places and people. From a racing perspective, it taught me to never give up. Just showing up and going around the course will pay dividends after a while until it becomes 2nd nature. It’s all about enjoying the process and not focusing so much on the end result that has worked best for me.
BSC: What other windsurfing disciplines are you into? What other would you like to try that you haven’t yet?
SB: I’ve pretty much switched over to kitesurfing in the last year or two as I’ve progressed in the sport. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but foiling has really captured my attention. Kiting, especially foiling, is much easier on your body after having competed on a windsurfer for almost 30 years. I’m all in this season racing the kite foil but have not yet forgotten about my first love – windsurfing.
BSC: What windsurfing achievement are you most proud of? Do you have any regrets?
SB: I’m super stoked this year to see one of our own junior windsurfers – Marion Leopard from the StFYC (St Francis Yacht Club) come of age and represent the US at the Olympic in Rio in windsurfing. I never got that far myself, with just one male and female representative being selected for each country at the Olympics every 4 years, but couldn’t be prouder for her success. No regrets!
BSC: Tell us a bit about your quiver.
SB: Windsurfing is a very equipment intensive sport. If you’re not on the right gear, it’s just not fun. With that said, I’ve narrowed my windsurfing quiver down to 2 board and 2 rigs which cover 80% of the conditions we race in. I’ve had the great opportunity to work with a local board builder for the past 14 years and have always ridden a Mikes Lab board. Zajicek knows the Bay area waters like no other and his boards are more comfortable, efficient and forgiving in the SF voodoo chop. I have both a 70 cm board and an 89 cm board for slalom racing. As for rigs – the Avanti machine is still the most comfortable sail I have owned. The 7.6 & 10 m are an essential part of the quiver.
BSC: What are some of your favorite windsurfing spots in the world and why?
SB: There a golden rule of windsurfing – never leaves wind for wind. I never have to travel far to get some of the best conditions in San Francisco. Windsurfing under the Golden Gate Bridge never gets old even after 18 years of sailing here. There’s a sense of smallness when one sails under the bridge when the fog is rolling in overhead and the swell rolling in beneath. This year we’ve been treated to many dozens of humpback and gray whales in the Bay. Windsurfing next to a mother and calf is truly a amazing experience, I won’t ever forget it.
BSC: Care to share some tips for our readers who are new to windsurfing?
SB: You’re never too old or young to start. It’s a lifetime sport that brings incredible amounts of humbleness and happiness and exposure to nature.
BSC: You’re working as an architectural designer and you have your own design studio. How do these two combine for you?
SB: Windsurfing and kiting allow me to recharge my batteries after spending all day in the studio. I come back ready to take on a problem with a new perspective and open eyes. Sometimes you just need to walk away, get the sand between your toes, and fly across the water to get the answer to whatever you were looking for.
BSC: Could you share with us some of your future plans, regarding windsurfing? Any competitions or new locations in store for you?
SB: I’m doing 3 local series this season trying to focus on the fun. The StFYC Friday Night slalom series offers slalom racing 4 times a year through the summer with racing along the city front. The Crissy Field Slalom Series focused a bit more on the B fleet and social side of racing with BBQ after racing and awards and, finally, the StFYC Thursday night kiteboard series – which I am currently getting my ass kicked but enjoying every moment.
Has Steve inspired you to chase some winds? Then head over to our website, to find our extensive offer on windsurfing camps. There are always some good winds happening somewhere in the world!