Rider of the Week

Andy McKinney

-Tell us about yourself and your career:

I was born in Albany, NY, and started windsurfing on family vacations to Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore, but didn’t REALLY get into it until living near Lake Champlain in Vermont, in 1998. It’s soooo windy up there… what a sweet place!!

Some friends and I took a week long vacation to Hatteras in 2001, and I never looked back. I got a job that summer teaching windsurfing during the day, and was making pizza and washing dishes at Lisa’s every night. I windsurfed in-between lessons and at night after the restaurant closed. The midnight sessions were always the best!

Before I knew it, ten years had gone by, things had changed, and it was time to take a plunge into the business world. I (somehow) got a few loans, maxed out my credit card, and started my very own windsurfing shop- Wind-NC! We have a great storefront in Avon and a pretty solid website business, too, which keeps me very busy. Dropping into mast high waves is a piece of cake compared to the realities of running a shop! But despite all of the stresses and worries, I feel super lucky to have a small family business with great customers, fantastic employees, and passionate industry partners. As far as I can tell, windsurfing is alive and well, and judging by the number of lessons we teach, it’s heading in a great direction!

My wife Anne and I just had our first baby- Catherine is a beautiful bundle of 5 month old joy for us! She hasn’t been out on a board just yet, but she sure does love the water! Balancing work, family life, and play time has been a real challenge. Thankfully, getting in the water here in Hatteras is super easy with a great wave right across the street from the shop, and multiple windsurfing launches just a few minutes down the road, so I’ve still been able to grab a session here and there!

-What are some of your favorite places to sail:

Hatteras offers it all- flat water freestyle and slalom spots, and side on to side off wave sailing spots on any given day, so I’ve never managed to get bored here. My favorite spot on the island to wave sail is in the Cove, but it only gets good in there once or twice a year, if we’re lucky. Otherwise, the sandbars are always shifting, so it keeps us on our toes trying to find the good spots. The search is part of the experience, and often rewards with completely empty, perfect waves. Just you and your friends!

-If you could go anywhere in the world to sail, where would that be?

I don’t know, it’s a big world! Pacasmayo Peru is sounding pretty good right about now!

-Who are your sponsors?

I’m beyond stoked to sail on Gaastra, Tabou, Chinook, Dakine, and NoLimitz gear. Today’s equipment is so good- it’s truly astounding!! I need to give my wife Anne a shout out here, too, for watching the shop and letting me go play every now and then!

-What are your inspirations?

First and foremost, my Family and Friends are some pretty awesome people, who make me want to be a better person. For windsurfing, the local crew anywhere I’ve ever sailed has always been inspirational to me, as well as some of my heroes ripping it up on the PWA Tour. It’s awesome that everyone is so accessible and helpful, too. We have a great community! Getting other people stoked up has always been a joy for me, too- the energy on the water is palpable and addictive when everyone is in a good mood and pushing themselves!!

-What is your favorite part about competing in the AWT?

Dunno yet! I’ll tell you in a few weeks. I’m very excited to see everyone descend on our little island, and can’t wait to share a wave with so many stoked and talented people!

-What are your goals for 2012?


-Words of wisdom?

Bring your bigger boards for our typical Hatteras conditions- light wind inside, coupled with lots of current can make it pretty tough to get out. You WILL schlog here, even when it’s blowing 30.