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Windsurfers of all ages catch a wave during breezy festival

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Windsurfers enjoy strong winds Saturday during racing action at the 13th annual Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival.1 / 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Kale Johnson, 9, of Shore View, was the youngest racer to take part in this year's Windsurfing Regatta. Kale's brother, father and mother also raced in the event.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- With the sun shining and the wind blowing, Saturday was an ideal day for both windsurfers and spectators.

"It's very good windsurfing weather," commented Regatta Board President Scott Kraft. "The wind is at its peak; we wouldn't want it any stronger."

For some, the wind was too strong. Grayson Christensen, 12, has been windsurfing for three years now.

"It's harder to windsurf when it's really windy because you get stuck in places,"Christensen said.

However, that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable.

"Sometimes you get stuck or fall off the board, and you just get back up," he said. "It's still a lot of fun."

Claire Ludes, also 12, has been windsurfing for five years. She didn't get to compete Saturday morning as expected.

"I got to the start line, but then a buoy came loose, so the race was cancelled," Ludes said.

But getting to the starting line itself was an accomplishment, according to Grayson's mother, Emily Christensen.

"The kids go out every summer and attempt to get to the starting line. Today was a little challenging because of the wind," Emily said.

"It's hard to get to the starting line because it's small, and it kind of depends on which way the wind is blowing," Ludes said.

Ainsley Christensen and Jeff Ludes, 9-year-old siblings of Grayson and Claire, are also windsurfers. However, they spent the morning kayaking, as the wind was a bit too strong for them.

"I like windsurfing because it improves my balance," Jeff said.

"It's kind of just fun to try," Ainsley said. "And you get to be with your friends."

"It's really fun when you go fast," Claire said. "It gives you an adrenaline rush."

But their favorite part about the Regatta has nothing to do with windsurfing.

"I like the Regatta because it's different," Claire said. "And I really like the fried pickles!"

"Me too!" agreed Ainsley with excitement.

All of the kids have been taking lessons, mainly from Jeff Hegwer and Roger Jackson.

Jackson has been giving lessons at the Regatta since the year it began, and has taught people of all ages.

"The youngest I ever taught was 4 1/2 and 3/4," Jackson said. "That's exactly what she told me. It was about a month before her fifth birthday."

He's also taught people who were decades beyond their fifth birthday.

"One lady had both knees replaced and could hardly walk, but she saw her husband out there and saw how much fun he was having, so she wanted to give it a try herself," Jackson said. "She went out there and was having a lot of fun. She fell off, but she just jumped right back on the board. She said that she'd been having so much fun that she didn't care if it hurt."

Jackson has been giving lessons for about 17 years now.

"The nice thing is that there are only two directions, upwind and downwind," Jackson said. "Chances are, if something doesn't work, try it going the other direction and it will!"

Jackson simulates windsurfing on the safe boundaries of land first. Once out on the water, he tethers his board to that of his student.

"That way we have control with the student. It also helps with parents; this way they know that their kid won't be drifting off by themselves," Jackson said.

The beautiful weather wasn't only great for the windsurfers, however. The Kids Art Tent had a very successful day, too.

"The kids were showing up like moths," said Ivan Parga, also known as "The Maraca Guy." "It was pretty intense."

Parga was one of several high school AOK members helping at the tent Saturday morning.

"We had a great turnout," said Gail Holinka, leader of the tent. "We used up all the supplies."

This year's crafts included painting fans and maracas, as well as tile art with dies. Afterward, there was a water balloon tossing contest and a hula-hoop contest.

"The kids really liked it," Parga said. "They were having lots of fun."

"Everyone seemed really happy with the weather," Kraft said. "It really brought the crowds out."