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  • Writer's pictureTed Emes

Chasing The Wind: Kitesurfing Sherman Island

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

On a sunny afternoon in late March, I had a sudden urge to visit some new kitesurfing spots after wrapping up my film industry job in mid April. I love kitesurfing adventures but picking a destination can be sweet agony as you bounce between your list of dream spots and old favourites. So with a fresh mug of coffee and my finest set of reading glasses, I let the internet work its magic and I went couch traveling to far away places in search of wind.

Destination Sherman Island!

Over the last few years I have regularly sailed the usual spots around Vancouver, British Columbia (BC) Canada: Boundary Bay, Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, Nitinat Lake and my spring/summer favourite in Squamish, BC. To scratch the travel itch, my ideal adventure scenario was a southbound road trip in search of warm springtime spots to shake off some of the winter cold. Immediately, the BAJA came to mind but after running the mileage numbers, I just did not have enough time to make it worth the trip. Luckily I just happened to come across MACKiteboarding's web series 'Destinations' and after the watching of Episode 14: Sherman Island , located in Central California, the first stop of a longer trip was anchored in.

Screen Shot of Destinations Travel Guide
Opening Shot on the Web Episode--Amazing!

Kitesurfing Travel Canumdrums

The idea of travelling to a new kitesurfing spot on your own is exciting and adventurous but sometimes you hesitate on visiting due to the your lack of familiarity with the spot. The MACKite web episode however is a great resource and can help instills enough confidence for you to pack your kitesurfing gear and give it a go. After watching the episode multiple times, I was finally convinced that this was the place to kick off my kitesurfing season without having to fly half-way around the world. Central California is certainly a long drive from Vancouver, BC but I was craving a road trip. Besides, when a new kitesurfing spot works out, you get to look forward to going back someday and build yourself some new 'legendary' fireside kitesurfing tales. Kitesurfing opens up whole new realm of the travel adventure and with some curiosity (and patience), you get some great new experiences to pair up with the 'go to' spots like Squamish and Hood River, Oregon.

Airush Carbon AMP Surfboard
Airush Carbon AMP post session

No Wind, No Problem

After two solid days of driving, then setting up my camping spot in Brennan Island, I hustled over to Sherman Island with my gear ready to be unleashed from my still kicking 2005 Pontiac Vibe. The instant I stepped out of the car, I could feel the wonderful California dry heat and golden spring sunshine running down my spine.

One slight wind.

On the edges of a kitesurfing season's start or finish, you just have to adjust on the fly. For me, no wind meant taking the time to explore the site, going over my gear, grabbing my book and putting my feet in the water while sipping a freshly brewed coffee. I had read about the friendly kiting community at Sherman Island and sure enough I was chatting with a couple of locals that were more than happy to share the ins/outs of the spot. The locals' advice was to launch quick, get to the water quickly and wade upwind to avoid the fishermen hooks and lines (they don't like it when you get snagged). The wind misbehaves a little bit in the grass launch area, so often you have to do a little jig backwards while pulling your bridle lines to get the kite up to twelve o'clock in the sky. Where and how you launch on the grass area is also critical given that there is a permanent shelter with roof corners hungry for kite dacron. There are plenty of samples of caught and ripped kites but once you get one launch on your belt, it's easy to manage.

Kitesurfing Kite above the walking trail
Kiter almost at the water on the other side of the path

Finding the Stoke!

The next two days of kitesurfing did not disappoint and the magic of the 'California Gorge' came through fully completely. With a quick launch of my 10M Airush Session Kite and a little run backwards to get the kite fully in the air, I was off down the path to the water's edge. I found it kind of funny watching the kites float over the prickly brush, all lined up like planes taxiing on a runaway. Once into the water, I body dragged up wind and sent the kite down to pop my surfboard onto a plane. Looking back, I could not see any fishermen yelling at me so I was clear of the fishing lines and hooks!

Two Kitesurfers in the evening
Evening Kitesurfing Session

The kitesurfing sessions I experienced at Sherman Island were fun and all the right elements were present: steady wind, warm temps, lots of riders, chop and flat water. The buttery smooth flat water between the islands was so much fun that after a day of strapless riding, I got on my old twin tip for a day of smooth flat water jumping and heel side transitions with kite down loops. There is so much space to play around in the delta, so once you're comfortable with the spot, it's fun to explore around the islands, channels and river sections. The wind at Sherman Island blows directly onshore, so you can explore and still make land if you have some trouble. However, like any kitesurfing spot, there are sections that may cause you grief and cause a difficult trudge back to the launch spot. Your best bet with a new kitesurfing spot is stay close to the locals and enjoy the vibe of the group session.

Spot Tips

  1. The MACKiteboarding Destinations Web Episode on Sherman Island is a fantastic starting point for your trip planning.

  2. Do an accommodation search before travelling as I found out that tent camping is not officially allowed on Sherman Island but you can chat with the camp host to see if it's possible. You do have the option of tent camping at Brennan Island State Recreation Area but get a reservation in advance.

  3. The locals are friendly and full of tips for the spot so be ready to chat up a stranger.

  4. The launch is tricky but manageable--watch the episode!

  5. Brush up on your self-landing techniques as you may have to self-land if you are the last one off the water. Kitesurf College has some great videos on some safe self-landing techniques.

  6. The iKitesurf Pro-Forecast for the SF Bay area is a golden resource and well worth extra expense.

One Last Thought

The kite surfing at Sherman Island County Park embodies what kitesurfing trips are all about–getting off your usual grid, meeting the locals and taking full advantage of beautiful new surroundings. My son loves the bump and jump style of the Event Site in Hood River, OR and so I'm very thankful that I have explored this place as I hope to bring him here to try something new. Visiting new spots exposes you to new techniques, sailing styles and moments of pure stoke. If anything, your trip report could inspire someone else to get out there and give it a go.

So go chase the wind, it's an adventure.

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