Is windsurfing better than sex? I put the question to a diverse group of men I hang out with at the Berkeley Marina parking lot. We are usually leaning against our vans waiting for the wind or bullshitting after a big day on the water. The younger, single guys are evasive. They’ve had plenty of windsurfing but maybe they haven’t had enough sex to make a fair judgment. The older married guys have no such ambivalence; almost all prefer windsurfing. Not that they would give up sex permanently in favor of windsurfing, but on any given day they would choose a session on the water over a session in bed- with anyone.
For me this question became more than academic a few years ago when a friendly lady at the marina, while changing out of her wetsuit, invited me over to her place for “a beer and a soak in the hot tub.” I will never forget that moment. I looked at her (she looked pretty good). I thought about my wife waiting for me at home (I had always been faithful). Then I looked out at the water (it was still blowing 5.0) and my answer came out without hesitation, “Thank you, it sounds great, but I really want to sail some more.” Assuming that the invitation was in fact a proposition (at the time I was pretty sure it was) and setting aside moral and practical considerations, why was it so easy for me to choose windsurfing over sex?
1. It’s a lot safer. Have you ever heard of a windsurfer being stabbed by a jealous wife? Has anyone acquired any fatal chronic debilitating illness from windsurfing? Maybe a little skin cancer, but what’s that compared to AIDS or herpes?
2. Windsurfing is really like an extramarital love affair, but so much better. You don’t have to keep it secret from your wife and family, you don’t have to feel ashamed, and it can go on forever (in my case 11 years). But you ask, is it really love? I don’t know how you could call it anything else. I’m totally committed to it and would gladly promise to spend the rest of my life with it “in sickness and in health” (similar promises to my wife were accompanied by far more ambivalence); I fantasize about it all the time; I’m happiest when I’m with it (or on it); I like to buy it expensive presents; I always remember the anniversary of my first time (July 1, 1983); every aspect of it fascinates me; I like to read all I can about it; spend all of my time with it, and now I’m even writing a story about it. Call it an obsession if you will. I’d rather call it love.
3. You can do it for hours at a time, even after the age of fifty. How long can the orgasmic part of sex last, even if you’re a world class stud? On a good day you could windsurf at least 5 or 6 hours and still want more. You want multiple orgasms? Try a 4.0 day at Rio Vista with an ebb tide and 5 foot ramps to blast off.
4. When you get tired or bored with your windsurfing equipment you can trade it in without ruining someone’s life. For less than the cost of a lawyer you could buy a whole new quiver of boards, sails and masts every year. No tears, no anger, no pain, no lies, no therapists.
5. Performance anxiety is not a major issue in windsurfing. As long as there is wind you can always get it up. Your mast will never fail you. Even if you miss all your jibes you don’t have to explain or make up excuses. Chances are no one will even see your humiliating performance, certainly not the one you will have to face at the breakfast table the next morning. On the other hand, if you master your duck jibe or forward loop you can tell everyone (see #6).
6. Privacy and discretion are not sensitive issues in windsurfing. You don’t have secrets to hide or lies to tell. Your mother-in-law probably already knows you’re a boardhead. Some windsurfers do lie to their spouses about where they have been or how much they’ve spent on equipment, but the consequences are usually minor.
Windsurfing harassment in the workplace has not yet become illegal. You can’t be sued for telling your secretary about your “off the lip” moves, or your new super stiff carbon fiber boom and constant curve mast. At worst, your loose talk might bore the hell out of your non-windsurfing friends, but it won’t get you labeled as an offensive sexist boor.
7. Foreplay is a lot simpler in windsurfing. The new sails can be rigged in less than five minutes, and you don’t have a lot of talking. Headaches, hormones, mood-swings, and dirty dishes play no role in the process. As far as arousal is concerned, all I need to hear are the magic words, “It’s nukin!”
8. Windsurfing, while admittedly very expensive (if you like good equipment), is still a lot cheaper than sex, regardless of whether you have sex with your wife, a mistress, or both. Just consider the cost of upkeep- housing, food, presents, doctor’s bills, children, and non-windsurfing vacations. If you only had windsurfing to attend to, you could live out of your van. Blackmail and divorce are other expensive activities associated with extramarital sex but not with windsurfing.
9. Windsurfing has other advantages over extramarital sex. Your wife may actually take an interest in windsurfing and allow you to have a menage a trois . Some wives may want to sail with you, while others, like mine, will enjoy writing about it. Still others will start twelve-step groups for windsurfing codependents.
10. Finally, I have yet to meet a man who thinks about sex when he is actually on the water shredding (the beach scene doesn’t count). On the other hand if you are a real boardhead, it is true that during the act of sex, your mind occasionally wanders, and you remember the feeling of your board, responding to your every move, gliding across the water, barely touching the crests of the small waves…thump, thump, thump, thump…riding hard on that stiff pointer fin down through the smooth water between the swells, picking up speed as you anticipate a beautiful ramp, blast off, pushing the board straight up into space, then the silent weightless ride back to Earth for a soft nose-first landing…
I would not want to leave you with the message that windsurfing is all you need. For us middle-aged guys, the ultimate perfect day is sex after a great session of windsurfing. Then there is sleep- definitely right up there in third place behind sex.