Twenty-five-year-old Scott Steele of Annapolis, a member of the U.S. Boardsailing Team, is America's No. 1 ranked boardsailing racer after winning five U.S. and North American championships in his weight class (light) last year.

Steele is also a leading contender to represent this country as its sole entrant in the Olympic boardsailing competition in Los Angeles next summer.

Boardsailing (or windsurfing), a combination of surfing and sailing, is rapidly growing in popularity, and the sport's bright-colored sails can be spotted from beaches all over the world.

Already this summer, Steele has competed in Finland, Canada, Martha's Vineyard, Long Island, South Carolina and Long Beach, Calif. Upcoming events will bring him back home to Annapolis--"the wind starts getting good in October," he says--and to Bermuda and to the Barbados.

A good wind is an important consideration in his choice of favorite boardsailing harbors. They are:

* Long Beach, Calif.: "It's very nice. It has a pretty consistent wind. There is a big breakwater, and you can sail inside or out. You get wavy conditions or flat water. Generally, I like sailing on waves, but it could get rough out there."

* Martha's Vineyard, Mass.: "I like the atmosphere; you know you are on an island. At Vineyard Haven, there are not a lot of boats, so there's not much traffic, except for a few ferries. You get a good wind in summer. The water's cool, but it's also refreshing."

* Helsinki: Steele raced in a European championship race in the Gulf of Finland in July, placing "in the middle of a fleet of 125. It was really tough competition," evidence, he says, that the 3-year-old U.S. team has a lot of work ahead of it to match the endurance of the Europeans. Nevertheless, Helsinki was a delight. "We had unusually warm weather. The skies were sunny and beautiful, and we had a nice wind. In the gulf, there are all these islands everywhere. Anytime you want to take a rest, you could go up to a beautiful island. And I really liked the town; it was very interesting."

Guadeloupe Island, Lesser Anitilles: So far, Steele only knows this island by word-of-mouth from fellow boardsailors, but their stories have convinced him it offers prime sailing conditions. On one part of the island, "the winds whistle around the mountain, or you can go farther away and have lighter winds. You can pick what you want."

Deer Creek Lake, Utah: Not all boardsailing is done in salt water, and Steele was impressed by this 4-mile-long, 1-mile-wide lake near Provo. "There are mountains and ski areas all around. The lake is windy and beautiful."