On board: Sheena Ashford-Tait and Sue Bradley set sail


If you visit Frankton Beach on a Wednesday, you’ll likely find Sue Bradley and her group of keen windsurfers.

Bradley runs Queenstown’s windsurf, kite and wing foil club and has been running the group at Frankton Beach for about 15 years.

‘‘The more advanced people go different places in the lake where it’s stronger wind and cleaner wind,’’ she says.

‘‘But there wasn’t really anything for the beginners and intermediates, so I started doing a weekly thing in the main part of the summer to support them.’’

Still keen to get people on board, Bradley tried to coerce Mountain Scene’s chief news hound Philip ‘Scoop’ Chandler into a lesson, which he kindly passed on to me, and I — slightly terrified — accepted.

But just 10 minutes in, I realised this can be a sport for anyone — even the extremely water-shy.

The lesson started on land on a simulator, where we learned to get up on the board, lift the sail and do 180-degree turns.

It was all smooth sailing, getting into the water, practising what I’d learnt, and when the wind picked up and my panic set in, Bradley was there with clear instructions.

Buzzing: Windsurf instructor Sue Bradley

‘‘Right from the very beginning, I have enjoyed seeing other people’s smiles when they get it as much as I do doing it myself, I just get such a buzz.’’

Queenstowner Sheena Ashford-Tait is on the more experienced side, and rents equipment from Bradley on Wednesdays — that’s an option as soon as you’ve completed the first lesson or have previous experience.

She says the best part of the sport is that it’s exciting.

‘‘It’s the power of nature and your equipment is harnessing that power to give you that speed,’’ Ashford-Tait says.

‘‘For me, that’s much more exciting than doing something that’s got a motor or an engine.’’

Bradley says beginners should expect after a 90-minute lesson to be able to sail away from her, turn around and sail back, which is ‘‘pretty amazing’’, she says.

‘‘Then after that, it’s just building on that and coming down and practising.’’