WindGliding the Grenadines

American WIndsurfer Magazine was invited to the 1999 WindGlider Photoshoot in the Grenadines this past June.

The WindGlider came on the market and quickly became the highest selling windsurfing board in the world. Over 15,000 were sold in the first year.  American Windsurfer Magazine was invited to the 1999 WindGlider Photoshoot in the Grenadines this past June.  Naturally, we wanted to send our best correspondent for this assignment.

John John Chao (enlarge)
Alex Johnson (enlarge)

So we searched for weeks. . . well OK, maybe days. Or would you believe hours? How about minutes? Well, there was a lot of soul searching . . . .yeah, that’s it! Soul searching!  So we finally settled on a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters. Course the fact that they were the sons and daughters of the presidents of WindGlider and this illustrious magazine had absolutely nothing to do with the selection process . . .  I swear! Huh hum . . . Sorry somethings caught in my throat.

Anyway! So!  The four kids, Alex 13, John 11, Robby 9 and Katie 8, fly down to the Grenadines with their parents in tow. . . after all, they are minors and the parents. . . well, they just had to be there. They lived on two boats and had to work for a whole week sailing from island to island from sun-up to sun-down.  Let’s face it! It was a  tough assignment, but the kids were troopers and they hunkered down and made it through with all the “lights, camera aaaand action!”

They filed this report all by themselves! Weeell . . . would you believe . . .?

Stocking up for the trip in Admiralty Bay in Beguia after sailing from St. Vincent on the previous day. (right) Racing towards Tobago Cays and snorkeling in its crystal clear waters (below). (enlarge)
Robby Chao (enlarge)

That night we arrived in St.Vincent in the Caribbean. We loaded our baggage onto two big boats. We stayed on the Katimavik, one of the two boats for the trip. We stayed docked in the St. Vincent harbor for that night. the next two or tree days I thought were the most exciting of the trip. I woke up the next day and went to sit on the bow of the boat. The grown ups took us shopping so we couldn’t leave till noon. Before leaving, me,  my brother Rob, Katie and Alex went snorkeling. The reefs were beautiful and the fish shined like silver. There where also sand dollars, minnows and stingrays.—John Chao, Jr.

The one thing that I loved most about the Caribbean was the snorkeling. John and I were snorkeling buddies. No matter where we went,  we would go snorkeling.—Alex Johnson


Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau was everyone’s’ favorite where the filming, swimming and sailing near the pal covered beach were idealic. (enlarge)
Katie Johnson (enlarge)

For the next two days we Island-hopped and shot the video. There was a particular cove I enjoyed most. There were lots of palm trees and a few sharks and other sea creatures. I also saw a water snake, octopus and lots of reefs!  On the other side of the island there was a native village where we met the school kids. After we left that cove we had to restock our food supply. So we found the closest mainland and docked in the harbor over night. The next day we went into town. We bought fruit, soda and other tropical foods. That day we had pizza for lunch at a parlor with everyone on the two boats, we ordered way too much food.—John Chao, Jr.

Rebecca Leigh, the 1999 WindGlider girl demonstrate the first steps of becoming a windsurfer. For a more detailed instruction call 1-800-292-2772 for the latest WindGlider Instructional Video. $8 for video & s/h (enlarge)

We learned how to windsurf from Rebecca. She was the WindGlider model and is a windsurfing instructor from England. Ken, the inventor of the WindGlider, was also there showing us how to sail. I learned that the WindGlider is real easy to use after Rebecca showed me how. She got on the board and stood over the mast and pulled the sail up. It is so easy anyone can do it.
Even my brother Robby. —John Chao Jr.

Since there is no rudder on a WindGlider, turning the board around is completely dependent on the sail. Notice how Rebecca rakes the sail towards the back and the board turn into the wind which is coming from her back. Once the board cross the eye of the wind, she steps around and continues to turn the board around by reversing the process with the sail. She pulls in with her back hand and tips the sail towards the front of the board. This helps to turn the board away from the wind. (enlarge)

We left for another island the next day, but when we got there we were disappointed because the current was much too strong. But still the grown ups could sail with it. So all the kids got to walk around on the deserted island. We found and played with an abandoned Jack Russell Terrier. After we where done, we sailed to another cove where we windsurfed on the WindGlider for the camera. I got to be real good because it was so easy to use. It was a lot easier than the board my dad let me use at home. Even my brother Robby got good and he’s never been on a windsurfer before. That evening we watched the Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz game on the television. We were very disappointed at the end because we all wanted to see the Jazz win for once.
—John Chao Jr

Exploring the wonders of the Grenadines: Alex, seasick in rough seas. Katie, Alex and John weathering the storm. Robby in his favorite seat. Finding a rope swing on Princess Margaret Beach. Fresh bread from the oven. With school kids on the island of Mayreau. Discovering a sand shark in Salt Whistle Bay. (enlarge)


The Grenadines are located at about 12.5 degrees north latitude, and consequently have 80-degree water and balmy winds year round. They’re sort of a high-wind version of the Virgin Islands. The best time for high-wind sailing is December through June, when 15 to 25 mph winds blow and the sun shines almost every day.

From North America, the two easiest ways to get to the Grenadines are through St. Vincent (to the north) and Grenada (to the south). Grenada is the less costly gateway and flights are more frequent. Both islands offer good windsurfing in their own right, but for a remote island experience, it’s hard to beat the Grenadines.



Of course, the best way to do the Grenadines is by charter yacht. You can book a week on the Katimavik and benefit from the decades of windsurfing and sailing experience that Derek Escher and Jennifer Slack have to offer, or you can bareboat. The Katimavik experience includes equipment by Naish, F2, Fiberspar and other top manufacturers, as well as coaching and guide service by Derek Escher, a seasoned windsurfing instructor and former top racer.


The bareboat option is a little more work but every bit as much fun. Sunsail Yacht Charters provided an excellent 44-foot monohull for the WindGlider photoshoot. If you plan to sail high-wind gear from your charter yacht, you’re better off getting something like a Sunsail catamaran – something with more deck space for gear storage and rigging.

In any case, in the Grenadines you windsurf new bays every day and see new islands every evening. If you don’t need to do disco every night and want to spend some quiet time with friends, there’s no better way.

For more information on the Katimavik check out their website or call 508-878-7497. For information on SunSail Charters call 1-800-327-2276.


View Windglider Video.

by Alex Johnson and John John Chao

Thirteen-year-old Alex Johnson's father is the president of North Sport and the creator of the Windglider. John John Chao, 11, is the oldest son of the publisher/editor.

photos by Robby Chao and Katie Johnson