BAŞAK GÜNEŞ BAŞAT
İZMİR - Turkish Daily News
Get on the surf board, pull the sail out of the water! Check your balance, make sure the wind is behind you, and embark on a thrilling ride across the blue waters. A leisurely sail brings about a feeling of solitude with the waves, sail faster and enjoy the rush of adrenaline while jumping over the waves. And don't forget that the world speed record for a sailing craft is held by a windsurfer and that the highest wave jumps are performed by windsurfers. Either way, windsurfing will become a passion. �There is no limit or point where you can stop because you are good enough; eventually, you will find yourself helpless and have to challenge yourself when you are stuck in the middle of an ocean storm, no matter how professional you are. So, this feeling of �not having full control over it� turns it into a passion,� said national surfer and well-known model, Çağla Kubat, explaining the role wind surfing plays in her life. As its popularity in Turkey increased, windsurfing was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984. The most popular place for windsurfing in Turkey is Alaçatı, located 70 km from İzmir. The resort, seven km from the famous holiday town of Çeşme, continues to host world and European windsurfing championships. The wind blows here continually throughout the year. The beach, which is roughly 500 m long, and the shallow sea, only 1-1, 5 m deep, make Alaçatı the best place for both professional surfers and eager beginners. There are seven or eight windsurfing schools in Alaçatı. Toby Prade, the German manager of Club Mistral in Alaçatı, a worldwide windsurfing school, says that windsurfing is becoming increasingly popular in Turkey and adds �Turkish people are ambitious; they do not give up at the beginners' stage but usually want to continue to a more advanced level. The quality and professionalism of instructors has also improved.� One of the most attractive features about windsurfing is that it can easily be learned at any age. Turkey's leading windsurfer, Ertuğrul İçingir, who will represent Turkey for the third time at the Beijing Olympic Games this year, was introduced to this sport at the age of ten and first met with success at age 16 in the Turkey championships. He has won several prizes in European and world championships since. According to İçingir, windsurfing is similar to riding a bike. �It is all about balance,� he says �When you figure out the balance issue and understand how to use the wind, you can pick up the basic skills of sailing, steering and turning after one week of practice.� İçingir also emphasizes the importance of a good instructor or trainer for both professional surfers and beginners. Çağla Kubat offers another tip for beginners: �Use equipment which is appropriate for your level.� Some people are put off windsurfing because they think it is costly. İpek Özkoyuncu, back office manager at Alaçatı Surf Paradise Club (ASPC), which is one of the oldest and largest in Alaçatı, says the reason for the high costs can be put down to the kit used. �The better the quality, the more expensive it becomes.� One should look at this from a different angle: once you have the strongest, most durable kit at your disposal, all the best bays with the best winds are open to you.