clubhouse, east hampton, indoor, tennis, cornhole, bar, happy hour, bowling, mini golf

Story - News

Jan 13, 2012 4:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Windsurfer Rescued By Bay Constables In Peconic Bay Says Equipment Failed

Jan 18, 2012 10:30 AM

An avid windsurfer was rescued on Friday about 30 minutes after he was reported missing from his craft in rough waters in Peconic Bay, Southampton Town Bay Constables said.

The windsurfer, Jan “John” A. van der Wolf, a 67-year-old Center Moriches resident, explained on Monday that he has been windsurfing for 25 years and often seeks out extreme conditions all over the world to participate in the hobby, which he called his “life medicine.”

“When it’s windy, we go out windsurfing,” he said. “And we look for the most extreme conditions, because that’s what it’s all about.”

On Friday, he had gone windsurfing with two friends, when the top of his mast and sail came undone. “I kind of started rolling everything up so I could pull it back on my board, but a big wave came and just ripped everything out of my hands,” he said.

His fellow surfers lost sight of him, he said, then returned to shore and called police.

A Suffolk County Police helicopter spotted Mr. van der Wolf at 12:22 p.m., standing in the water on a shoal on the 
northwest side of Robins Island, wearing a wetsuit, constables said.

A few minutes later, Bay Constables Richard Franks and Albert Tuzzolo picked him up and transported him to the Robins Island dock in Southold, where Cutchogue Fire Department Ambulance officials checked him for hypothermia, and he was released.

Mr. van der Wolf said he was thankful for the rescuers and that his feet had been getting cold. “From the shins on 
down, I felt like I was walking around on stumps,” he said with a laugh. He said his body 
temperature dropped to 93 degrees, but he was fine the 
minute he was “yanked” from the water.

“No doubt,” he replied when asked if he would go out again.

Southampton Town Police said they received a 911 call at 11:50 a.m. regarding a man missing from his windsurf board in the bay and drifting toward the Shinnecock Canal. The bay was “extremely rough with seas of approximately 4 to 7 feet,” with a southwest wind of approximately 25 mph and gusts up to 45 mph, constables said. The water temperature was about 40 degrees.

Southold Town Police and the U.S. Coast Guard were also dispatched in the search.

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Bill Vanderwolf for the cost of the rescue -- let him take risks on his own dime.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jan 13, 12 4:12 PM
if hes a taxpayer, i'd say hes already paid for it in advance.
By tm (174), mtk on Jan 13, 12 4:55 PM
I applaud Mr. Vanderwolf for going for it at the age of 68.

Well done sir.

I also applaud the rescue workers for helping him out.

By C Law (354), Water Mill on Jan 13, 12 4:44 PM
i agree.

we have a guy out there taking advantage of and making good recreational use of what we fight to protect and when he needed a hand there were professional and competent rescue persons moments away.

this is great news and a great story.
By user.name (46), hampton bays on Jan 14, 12 12:02 AM
2 members liked this comment

Dude out there charging at 68 years young and bay constables who have their 'stuff' together when the stuff hits the fan.

Top notch. I'd buy a round for all if I knew them

By C Law (354), Water Mill on Jan 14, 12 10:01 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 13, 12 9:27 PM
It should be know the Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor thinks our Bay Constables are seasonal employees. I guess not!!!!
By Truth Be Told (1), Westhampton on Jan 14, 12 8:28 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By ....Loading (3), Southampton on Jan 14, 12 10:41 AM
Have any of you any idea what boating in Peconic is like in that north wind? This loop put other people at risk. Paying your taxes does not give you that right. Sorry. Should have left him there another hour to teach him a lesson.

By Sandflea (35), Southampton on Jan 14, 12 11:05 AM
3 members liked this comment
Yeah, that would have showed him, not. Paying our taxes absolutely gives us the right. Get a clue.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 14, 12 1:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yea, leave a 68 year old man to freeze in cold water. Go step in front of a bus.
By joegti10 (8), East Moriches on Jan 15, 12 10:11 AM

Yes it is good that it all had a happy ending. However the Bay constabubbles had recieved a tip that there was a guy out there who had 3 1/2 more clams that he was allowed to have, and of course launched a full court press to capture this wrong doer.
As long as he could speak English, and did not have several cars for sale on his front lawn he would be on his way to Riverhead.
By Tommy Turbo (60), Deep River, CT on Jan 14, 12 4:34 PM
3 members liked this comment
TT why don't you take a DEEP dive into Deep River and leave the local stuff to us locals.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 14, 12 5:34 PM
Should have been given a ticket for "STUPIDITY". 25 mph winds, gusts to 40 mph, and extremely rough seas ???? Its like people going surfing in a hurricance, puts rescue people in jeopardy.
By efd124 (1), Eastport on Jan 15, 12 8:58 AM
2 members liked this comment
Mr. Vanderwolf is a pro windsurfer, doubt he went out there thinking he was going to need rescue.
By joegti10 (8), East Moriches on Jan 15, 12 10:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
Does anyone do this thinking they'll need rescuing? Accidents happen. Things go wrong. Doubt anyone is saying it was intentional.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 15, 12 12:04 PM
to all the negative posts here: As in any extreme sport Mr Vanderwolf lives for conditions of that day as many do. As for his age he's in better shape than most of you haters & has probably paid more taxes than any of you. Go play golf & hope you don't get hit by a ball! Every sport has it's accidents...live life enjoy life!
By sportlover (1), east moriches on Jan 15, 12 12:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
way to go buddy - I'm right behind you at 66 still doing black diamonds and plan to start surfing again this spring Grab life when you can and screw the consequences.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Jan 16, 12 2:21 PM
Instill some doubt in him. Send him the bill for the rescue before he and his friends take an innocent rescue worker with them. Responsible sportsmanship.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 16, 12 3:48 PM
1 member liked this comment

Life is full of contradictions.

Kudos for taking the risk!

Pay for risk-taking gone wrong in terrible weather/sea conditions.

Life is full of contradictions!

If a rescue worker had died during this operation, what would the "way to go buddy" medics be saying?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 16, 12 5:43 PM
lazily BTW?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 16, 12 5:44 PM
Charge him? What is wrong with you? He already pays to be saved, now you want to double charge him? Typical liberal mindset. Nobody forces first responders to do what they do. Hey let's take no risks in life. Please!!!
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 16, 12 7:15 PM
Liberal? I'm hardly a Liberal, nor conservative...He pays for it or I pay for it? I say make him pay for the service that way he will factor that cost into his equation and not expect people to be at his beck and call. As a windsurfer he does not need a permit where he "pays for it". Somebody pays for the ambulance its not free. The insurance you buy pays for it. If you don't have insurance, you pay for it...no?
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 16, 12 8:10 PM
Exactly how do you pay more than he does? How old are you? I bet over his life he has paid more taxes than you have. What's next, sending someone a bill because their house burns down?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 16, 12 9:26 PM
Well, the insurance would not repay him if he was negligent for the house. Even if it would not be due to negligence, a house fire is not a comparable example here. A couple of weeks ago a commercial fishing boat started taking on water and sank. The crew was rescued by the Coast Guard. I don't feel they should pay. Your buddy here took off to windsurf, a recreational activity for which he does not pay anything to practice, in conditions that he and his friends knew to be dangerous and extreme as ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 17, 12 6:31 AM
what about his taxes that, in part, pays for emergency services?

it would seem that under your theory, we should either do away with these taxes and only pay for the cops, firemen, etc, when we actually need them, or people should do absolutely nothing that would ever put them in harms way, bc otherwise they are negligent.

By tm (174), mtk on Jan 17, 12 9:19 AM
How about if a true emergency happened at the same time? Someone could have been killed so he could play in 40 degree water
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Jan 22, 12 10:18 PM
He pays taxes in Center Moriches Town of Brookhaven. Not here
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Jan 17, 12 2:53 AM
Don't all first responders(police, fire, etc) receive federal aid?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 17, 12 9:31 AM
America....Land of the Brave and Home of the Free. Freedom in the pursuit of happiness to windsurf when you want, and thankful for the Brave rescuers. An American story...there is no better.
By Born Here (26), HB on Jan 17, 12 7:07 AM
25 to 45 knot winds is not extreme - it's just a great day. For experienced windsurfers, you don't even go out if it's not at least 15 knots. These were perfect conditions for expert windsurfers. He only got into trouble because his equipment broke.
By WHBangler (9), westhampton beach on Jan 17, 12 3:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
In the middle of winter in ice cold water? This is not the Bay area...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on Jan 17, 12 10:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Which is a problem he had no control over. Yet, if it had been a warmer day it wouldn't have been life threatening either.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 12 10:02 AM
You people love to find something to fault in every article published. You know what happened here? Somebody needed help and trained professionals went and rescued him. The volunteers did a tremendous job.
This man never would have gone out if he thought he couldn't handle the conditions. Give him a break, and while your at it why don't you bunch of negative whiners give us all a break.
Please try to look at the brighter side here. A human being needed help and the system worked ...more
By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Jan 19, 12 8:27 AM
Dollars are better spent on the occasional rescue of an active person who is challenging himself than on the expensive and extensive hospital bills for obesity-related conditions. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, joint problems....

Bravo to the rescuers.
By Montaukette (46), Waterland on Jan 22, 12 8:59 PM
1 member liked this comment