If you look out onto Lake Erie when the winds are blowing and the waves are kicking, then chances are that you’ll also see windsurfer and kiteboarder Eric Mihelbergel sailing his way over the white caps.
Eric is one of the diehard kite and windsurfers who calls Buffalo’s waterfront “home”. He’s been part of the surfing community long enough to know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the landscape, and gets excited to share with others just how far we have come as the Queen City of the Lakes, and how that distinction pertains to those who enjoy riding the wind and the waves.
If you think that it’s a little late in the season to discuss this generally perceived warm weather topic, it’s actually not. This time of year brings with it some of the best surfing conditions. With the right equipment, including a full body wetsuit, the winds and the waves don’t get any better. Here’s Eric discussing the best places to surf (year ’round) and the overall conditions of the sport(s).
“The best place to launch for windsurfing is Gallagher Beach. It is a great place for beginners and experts. For kitesurfing the best place is Woodlawn Beach. At Woodlawn Beach they have an outdoor bar serving food and drinks, and a lifeguarded swim zone too. Windsurfers also ride in the Niagara River just north of the International Bridge. For folks who don’t mind a little drive there is great fun to be had at Bennett Beach near Angola.
“As far as improvements, we would like to see more access to launch in the section between Gallagher Beach and the Skyway. There is so much perfect unused waterfront there. Hopefully we will be able to launch from the new beach they are building adjacent to the Times Beach property.
“In Buffalo we windsurf and kiteboard from late April though the end of November. Some of the hardcore guys go right through the winter on the Niagara River. When Lake Erie freezes we kiteboard on the snow and ice along Hamburg (or see Gallagher Beach) using our snowboards. Generally we look for wind conditions between 18-35mph. The best wind direction is southwest, however when it blows from the north or south we can usually find a spot on the Niagara River. East wind generally takes us to Canada or to Lake Ontario.”