Windsurfing in Santa Barbara can be quite good, particularly following passing storm fronts in the winter and spring months, but generally it's on the lighter side, and more a product of thermally driven winds. Another thing about sailing here is the kelp and eel grass, which can bedevil folks that don't have weedfins. The weed concentrations can vary from spot to spot, so there are some spots where one can get away with use of slalom fins.
The thing that can be interesting about the area as a whole is that over relatively short distances (8-10 miles) the conditions can be totally different. For instance, in SB Harbor area (Leadbetter Beach) the wind can be too light to sail, but westward up the coast in the Goleta area the wind can be averaging 15-25 knots. Similarly, the Goleta area can be virtually windless, and another 8 miles up the coast at El Capitan State Beach it can be cranking. Being so close to the Central Coast where winds are consistently stronger, the wind can come from a northwesterly (downslope) direction over the mountains producing strong sideoff conditions.
If one doesn't mind driving a bit, conditions can be quite good along the western Malibu coastline, or a bit closer in Ventura. Also, just around Point Conception at the base of the Central Coast, there is Jalama Beach where the wind and waves can be awesome.
Really, to get the most out of the Santa Barbara area, one needs to be flexible and somewhat adventurous. That's a big reason why the club or organized activities have a hard time getting off the ground. If one tends to go to only one or two spots, they could be missing many interesting opportunities. Of course, being a bit more creative can mean sailing alone. In fact, in all my sessions so far this year I've been sailing alone.
Last edited by steveC; 13th February 2008 at 12:42 AM.