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Why isn't windsurfing more popular?

Posted by Benson 
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
10 June '10 | 4:13pm
Interesting James that you mentioned Kona 10.5/tanker, and new J.P. Perhaps the issue is belatedly being addressed, though as you say, the high prices are a turn off. I hesitated to mention the Konas in case it's thought I have some connection with them, but some Americans swear by the 11.5 for surfing and freeride in their predominantly lighter wind areas.

Some of us have just been out today - N. wind, North Sea, N.E. coast - in the first solid blow for ages and biggish messy surf at our favourite lagoon, with reef break further out to play in.The thing was that everyone, about a dozen or so, was on 90 litre-ish boards instead of our usual 75 litre wave boards. There does seem to be a general shift in our area away from low volume boards. Modern 90+ litre boards do seem to produce the thrills, judging by the huge grins on faces as everyone belted along those reef break walls. I certainly prefer my 94 Exo cross now to my Evo 74, even if it isn't a 'proper' waveboard.
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
24 June '10 | 11:01pm
Are S.U.P. board sales now outstripping Windsurf board sales? Is it another nail in our coffin?

More and more people are enthusing about them, and of course they say it's only for days when the wind isn't blowing. But will it stay that way?

Some of us first took up windsurfing as an alternative to surfing or kayaking when conditions didn't please us, and the rest was history. Is the same process happening again, but in favour of S.U.P.'s?
Billyboy
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
25 June '10 | 9:03am
GURGLETROUSERS Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Are S.U.P. board sales now outstripping Windsurf
> board sales? Is it another nail in our coffin?
>
> More and more people are enthusing about them,
> and of course they say it's only for days when the
> wind isn't blowing. But will it stay that way?
>
> Some of us first took up windsurfing as an
> alternative to surfing or kayaking when conditions
> didn't please us, and the rest was history. Is
> the same process happening again, but in favour of
> S.U.P.'s?

No, I don't think so. At least not in locations without consistent waves. SUP on flat water is just an endurance sport like running or cycling, there's no excitement/adreneline like windsurfing. It's also utter rubbish in F3+, noone would do it for fun when the wind picks up so its no threat to windsurfing. In fact I got a bonus windsurf session in yesterday BECAUSE I own a SUP, stick a 5.3m on it in an F3-4 and its great fun for a spot of freestyle on a sunny afternoon. Perfect to keep your eye in during windless spells.

If SUP does take off with the masses (and it hasn't yet) it could ultimately benefit windsurfing as frustrated SUP'ers wonder what to do when the wind picks up. Well, they already have a board....
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
25 June '10 | 9:30am
Thanks for the comment Billyboy, and I hope you are right. I can't imagine a world without windsurfing! I'm glad some of us still care.
Geezer in Oz
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
6 July '10 | 9:17am
Excellent words and i agree, although i dont really mind who does the magazines as im just happy to read about windsurfing. Im from the uk ut moved to Aus a couple of years ago. compared to the uk our sport is really quiet here although there is a great commuity of windsurfers in all states ( maybe with the exception of NT ) . Id love to see this sport on tv, im jealous of kitesurfing, the mags, the tv the attention but it appeals much more to young people ( not that im old ) plus sexy women.which is always good for advertising. johnny crash Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I must say, I don't know what made windsurfing so
> popular in the 80's, but as someone who loves and
> observes the sport, i'd say
>
> the press coverage is terrible right now.
> windsurfing rarely gets on tv, and if it does,
> then if we are lucky it is bryony shaw at the
> olympics (which is good) but more often it is a
> presenter falling off a longboard which is a
> DREADFUL advertisment for the sport. for things to
> look cool, we need the most exciting stuff on tv,
> jumping, or superfast slalom. kids need to pick up
> the sport, and kids like the cool stuff. and even
> on stuff like MPORA, which is an extreme sports
> video site, there is not much windsurfing. this
> HAS to change.
>
> it is very hard to learn and can seem expensive /
> hard work to get started in. compare it to
> surfing, it is a LOT of effort.
>
> the pwa doesn't market itself well. the site is
> ok, they do what they can, but WHO markets the
> sport. who is out there telling people it is cool?
> who is getting the press coverage? I can only
> think that in the 80's, windsurfing had a better
> image and was more aspirational. the actual sport
> exists now, better then ever, but it needs to be
> marketed. what happened to SSM? did they go bust??
> weren't they pushing the sport a bit?
>
> kids, it is all about kids. we need more, support
> them, support the parents. but keep the kids
> interested. make it look cool, put kauli out
> there, and kai lenny, kids need to see them.
>
> and no offense, and i really mean no offense here,
> but please, to the magazines, PLEASE stop having
> articles with Dave White and the guys from a
> different era. We need kids, and we need a
> youthful approach, get John Skye writing articles,
> get Kai / Ricardo telling how to jump, get bryony
> talking about racing. MOVE ON. move with the
> times!!!
N178EZ
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
23 February '11 | 10:46pm
This is a very interesting topic that I've been pondering alot lately. I basically left the sport about 10years ago when it seemed like it was at it's prime. I got busy, wasn't progressing and found other interests. Because of a recent trip to Tobago I'm back with a vengeance.

Several observations. I've been reading back through my old mags and it seems windsurfing was peaking about 10-15years ago. The following comments are with respect to then vs now.
1. The rigs were definately heavier. Dacron and fabrics that got waterlogged when the rig hit the water coupled with standard dia glass masts and big dia AL booms made sailing big sails cumbersome. For me that level was about 6.5. Above that I just didn't find it fun even if i could plane and tear across the water.
2. The boards & industry seemed geared toward the higher winds. I've recently been reading through my old 98, 99 mags and there was a definate change around that time toward earlier planing (lower wind) boards that weren't the huge plastic mistral and Tiga daggerboard begginer variety.
3. Windsurfing moved more and more high tech and forgot about a few key markets: Women, kids & beginners. There was just a hint around 98-99 that they were starting to realize this with the mistral Windglider, women & kid specific gear. My 2cents was "too little too late".
4. Kiteboarding came along and sealed the deal. it was easier, gear was lighter, it was easier to learn (initially) and it could support the performance market as well as the rest of the populus at other skill levels & strengths.

In Tobago these things were driven home in what would have been "very light winds" by standards of 10 years ago. I rode 144 & 133 L starboards that were light & what would have been considered "short boards" by old standards. They maneuvered well planed early and were fun to sail. The sail technology has also drastically improved. The beach however was covered with kiters of all varieties, young, old, men, women. It seemed to offer something for everyone.

Another comment that I can't confirm cause I dont' kite. Cost. Even today all of my comments about the rigs aren't entirely fiar. The equipment I sailed in Tobago & the equipment I currently own is advanced, but it's expensive. Sure, you can get llight air rigs that are light, maneuverable and easier to handle than a 10 year old 5.5. This is made possible by better materials like carbon RDM masts & bases, booms and plastic & composite sail materials. However buying a good 7.0-8.0 light rig is very pricy. I suspect another nail was that kite rigs are just much simpler and cheaper than there light wind windsurfing counterparts.

All of this is only intersting. The sport is what is is and it will always be that way. Those of us that enjoy the challenge it poses will fight through the issues. I for one am just glad to be back and really looking forward to getting good again whether its the "cool thing" to do or not.
Matt
Jan
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
24 February '11 | 10:10pm
[jonase40.blogspot.com]

Seems to me like windsurfing industry is shooting it's own knees...

Come on, guys like Jonas are those who make many people think "OMG it's fantastic!!! I want to do the same!".

If they are not supported the way they should they will not promote the sport properly.

What You guys said is also true- the industry forgot about women and kids. That's so sad. What happened to starboard pro kids??? why most of the companies has the smallest begginer boards in size of 165 litres that weigh about 20 kilos?

I teach for many years and see how kids react for heavy boards- when turning in low wind usually nothing happens when 4-5 year old tries to tack or jibe, nothing happens because 20 kg board is WAY too heavy for a 15kg child...
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
26 February '11 | 8:28am
It occurred to me that in the early days of windsurfing, everyone was teaching their friends. When everyone owned a big unbreakable board it was a lot easier to let a beginner / friend have a go. Unlike today where we all seem to sail with relatively fragile and expensive equipment. Visualising someone bashing about on your beautiful carbon board with the slick sail etc, is not very appealing. Aside from this many of us sail high performance kit which is only good for high performance sailors, definitely not beginners. A kind of built in obsolescence perhaps?
holmstrom
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
15 March '11 | 6:36pm
Planing.... at first windsurfing was sailing. Sailing is relatively easy. Also in the 70's-80's outdoor sports were the rage. Everyone wanted to be outside like the surfers, the climbers, the cyclists. Equipment was bursting out on the scene thanks to material development and manufacturers took over for the do-it-yourselfers. Then the addiction to planing started. Short boards, slalom boards, wave boards. Manf's forgot about just sailing. Those who didn't make the jump to short boards quit. Few new started because the long boards were broke and disappearing. The nintendo and cable TV were the nail in the coffin for many outdoor sports along with Jet skis and kayaks (hit the 'easy' button).
Windsurfing is still my favorite sport but I'm a weirdo, liberal, hippie, healthnut (in exile in Corpus Christi)
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
16 March '11 | 10:36am
Modern kayaking is NOT the easy option, very far from it, ... you are thinking only of of plastic sit ons for casual users.

It is an extreme sport in its own right, as practised by those who challenge technical white water, large waterfalls, big surf, and long sea journeys. It is no wonder that kayaking is growing, as against windsurfing shrinking, when you take into account the greater variety of challenges. In that respect it is like mountain biking, another flourishing sport.

Windsurfing is in a hole, an expensive one...... planing in and out, back and forth for most. Kayaking and mountain biking offer much more. And believe me, that isn't just my view. Sales figures confirm that!
holmstrom
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
25 March '11 | 6:33pm
Kayaking is easy. if you kayak for a while or are really intense, you can tackle some extreme stuff. But it's easy. Sea kayaking goes in the same category with golf. Mountain biking is easy. Sure it takes a little more fitness to ride offroad. I consider my self pretty skilled/fast on an MTB but thats after 15 yrs of riding. The first day was easy.
Both sports, case in point. Anyone can get on a kayak and paddle it. Anyone can get on an MTB and peddle it. (both sports offer room to grow into fairly extreme pursuits) But I've yet to see any beginner pull up the sail on a sinking board and plane out and away. Wider boards are a move back in the right direction but still require planing to get much satisfaction. Longer thin boards aren't 'as easy' because they're narrow but damn, THAT GLIDE FEELS GOOD! And it's almost easy.
Those older dinosaur boards built a wide base of participants from which the sport grew to great heights.

Just to be clear, current crop of boards = kickass fun, kayaking good, MTbing great fun. But for windsurfing ranks to swell like days of old, cheap, easy, fun board sailing is required. I'm very happy about the whole SUP w/ a mast step thing. Not cheap but when they start selling used...
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 10:20am
Holmstrom .... Appreciate your 'stoke' about windsurfing, but your comments about kayaking (easy, like golf) are silly!

I, and all my kayaking friends, have been far nearer loosing our lives both at sea, and in white water, than in windsurfing. Sports have an easy end, and a top end, with the norm being somewhere between the two.

Any fool can paddle a kayak on a flat sea just as any fool can balance on a big wide windsurf board in a force two. (Or ride a pushbike, whatever it's fancy name.) But if you think sea kayaking so easy perhaps you'd like to accompany me on a camping journey in challenging conditions. Cape Wrath to Pentland Firth say, dealing with all of the tide races such as Men o Mey etc. Or a Channel crossing perhaps in a force four blow. I used to do that every year till the E.U. made it illegal in 1979. Easy NOT!!! I once got engulfed in a fog bank over the Varne, in a nasty breaking sea and no clear view ahead.

No sir! All extreme sports have their different challenges and dangers, and kayaking is up there with them.
fly free
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 11:34am
having just spent the winter at my local break sailing every available windy day, i'm quite glad windsurfing isn't that popular. we have had many classic days from november till now with at most ten others out, sometimes only one or two. blissful days of wave chasing without having to look see who's about to snake my wave or who's bearing down on me from one direction or the next. the cold keeps them away and thanks the lord for the cold. soon as it warms up a bit they'll be back charging around, getting in the way - essentially making things dangerous for the rest of us. i used to look forwards to the summer, now i feel a slight dread as the nesh weekenders come to ruin the fun.
TallJames
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 1:20pm
GURGLETROUSERS Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Holmstrom .... Appreciate your 'stoke' about
> windsurfing, but your comments about kayaking
> (easy, like golf) are silly!
>
> I, and all my kayaking friends, have been far
> nearer loosing our lives both at sea, and in white
> water, than in windsurfing. Sports have an easy
> end, and a top end, with the norm being somewhere
> between the two.
>
> Any fool can paddle a kayak on a flat sea just
> as any fool can balance on a big wide windsurf
> board in a force two. (Or ride a pushbike,
> whatever it's fancy name.) But if you think sea
> kayaking so easy perhaps you'd like to accompany
> me on a camping journey in challenging conditions.
> Cape Wrath to Pentland Firth say, dealing with all
> of the tide races such as Men o Mey etc. Or a
> Channel crossing perhaps in a force four blow. I
> used to do that every year till the E.U. made it
> illegal in 1979. Easy NOT!!! I once got engulfed
> in a fog bank over the Varne, in a nasty breaking
> sea and no clear view ahead.
>
> No sir! All extreme sports have their different
> challenges and dangers, and kayaking is up there
> with them.


There's a difference between dangerous and difficult, and physically demanding and technically difficult. I think everyone on here would accept your chance of dieing or getting seriously injured on a river or when a long way off shore is a lot higher goat boating than if windsurfing, even somewhere with proper waves. BUT i'd agree with Holmstom that kayaking is a lot easier to pick up. 2 days paddling will give you the skills to get down a grade 2-3, you'll probably swim a bit, but you've immeadialty accessed white water and got an adrenaline fix. 2 days windsurfing and you'll just about be able to sail round a triangle in F2 and be no where near planing or sailing anywhere you'll get the same buzz as a kayaker could get.
spaceman
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 2:52pm
The problem is the human race is turning Ghey, must be something in the water or some kind of radiation damage.. perhaps we're all going to evolve into Goat boaters who think that an eskimo roll is rad and padling for hours on end is extreme, certainly seem to be heading that way..
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 6:19pm
I agree James, Solo sea kayaking is mainly technical in that on a multi day journey around exposed coastlines you must take whatever the sea and weather throws at you. On long cliff sections there are often no escape places to bolt to. That is where the danger lies. Screw up and you drown, because nobody knows you're there! It does happen.

Last time I was through the Gulf of Corrywreckan the lifeboat was searching for a kayaker who had come to grief, by entering too close to the main whirlpool. There are many such exciting places around the British coastline. That's what draws sea kayakers. A fierce tide race, a swell, and standing waves and breaks and that adrenalin will be flowing.

Any sport can be as safe or dangerous as we choose to make it, but isn't that the way people work? We learn to do something, we get better at it and become expert, then we 'push the envelope' to find our limits.

Perhaps you've read The Adventure Alternative by Colin Mortlock. He specifies four categories of challenge. 1) too easy. 2) well within your skill level, and good fun. 3) Pushing and probing into the 'not sure about this' type of going, which gets the adrenalin flowing. 4) Over doing it and either coming to grief, or surviving by luck and good fortune.

My worst kayaking stage 4 was on a houney around Cape Wrath in a strenthening wind and rising sea. ( 20 miles of big cliffs from Kinlochbervie to Durness with nowhere safe to land.) As Colin so aptly describes in his book, far from feeling elated at making it you fall into a deep depression because you know the situation was out of control, and luck was on your side.

Anyway James, I'm sure you've had bad experiences of your own, and can see my point. The good thing is we are both still here!
I really should have better things to do
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
28 March '11 | 7:41pm
I agree, Solo walking is mainly technical in that on a multi day journey around exposed hills you must take whatever the weather throws at you. On long cliff sections there are often no escape places to bolt to. That is where the danger lies. Screw up and you fall off, because nobody knows you're there! It does happen.

Last time I was wandering through the hill of Codswallop the dwarf was searching for a walker who had come to grief, by entering too close to the main train line. There are many such exciting places around the British hills. That's what draws solo walkers. A rail way line, quick sand, big drops and crevaces and that adrenalin will be flowing.

Any sport can be as safe or dangerous as we choose to make it, (lawn bowls in afghanistan is particularly good) but isn't that the way lemmings work? We learn to do something, we get better at it and become expert, then we 'push the envelope' to find our limits and die

Perhaps you've read The common sense Alternative by Colin Mortlock. He specifies four categories of stupidity. 1) not stupid. 2) well within your skill level or that of your nan, and good fun, not really stupid 3) Pushing and probing into the 'not sure about this' type of going, maybe quite stupid, perhaps not something your mum would like, which gets the adrenalin flowing. 4) Over doing it and either coming to grief, or surviving by luck and good fortune, completely f***ing stupid.

My worst walking stage 4 was on a jouney around the M25 in a strengthening and increasing flow of traffic. As Colin so aptly describes in his book, far from feeling elated at making it you fall into a deep depression because you know the situation was out of control, and luck was on your side. That truck missed me by inches in the middle lane, now I'm feeling like a complete melon.

Anyway James, I'm sure you've had bad experiences of your own, maybe a really bad knock on the head and can see my point. The good thing is we are both still here!
a115
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
29 March '11 | 7:27am
Interesting discussion and it could go on forever. It can be expensive but over the years I have accumulated some really cheap gear, it's a great community for a great sport. Let's not worry about being popular - being cool isn't the same as popular.

I'm going to start work early today to save up for a new wave board.
holmstrom
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
1 April '11 | 3:18pm
I'll second a115. As long as the sport supports enough manf's to supply nice gear and a second hand market. As long as launch spots stay availible. As long as there's a handful of bro's to sail with. The sport seems to be in a good spot right now and headed the right direction.
Re: Why isn't windsurfing more popular?
1 April '11 | 8:50pm
Young folks learn kiting as an alternative as it is much quicker to get to the fun level, cheaper, less kit to lug around, less changing during sessions due to greater range. etc P.S. I'm a windsurfer
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