Comeback of the Windsurfer?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Doug Lord, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    From Scuttlebutt and featuring Matt Schweitzer-son of Hoyle Schweitzer-father of the Windsurfer:

  2. lenm
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    lenm Junior Member

    Thanks for sharing the link.

    With the popularity of SUP these days - it's strange windsurfing isn't getting more attention?

    Its got everything going for it, eco friendly, core fitness benefits, combines sailing and surfing.

    Kitesurfing has stolen much of the limelight, however, Windsurfing is a completely different sensation.
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  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Thanks for putting up the link, Doug.

    Len, it's pretty well accepted among the windsurfing industry that windsurfing almost killed itself by getting too complex and too much into high- and medium-wind performance in open water. As one windsurfer turned kiter famously said "in the beginning everyone could windsurf. In the end, nobody could". The industry that grew when it was the world's fastest-growing sport sadly became obsessed with the "extreme" image and said that high performance was "the future of the sport". They actually managed to make practical all-wind boards so unpopular that even famous pros were publicly heckled when they took a longboard out. A few times about a decade ago, longboard windsurfers were so hated by some odd people that they said on forums that anyone using one should be beaten up. The hysteria got so odd that when the RSX came out, journalists who followed the "shortboards and high speed are the future of the sport" mantra wrote that they needed help to carry the RSX because it was "so heavy". The board actually weighs about 20kg. The fact that grown men were effectively bragging about being unable to lift 20kg shows how silly it can all become. The extreme image, and the increasing cost and complexity of the gear, just turned the average person off the sport.

    The odd thing was that some of the top names in the sport and the industry would say, quietly, that the sport was going down the wrong path but the "extreme sailing is the future" concept was so strong that it took years to start to turn it around.

    Hopefully, the Windsurfer LT can become the starting point for a rebirth in sailing altogether. Windsurfing was the first part of the sport that swallowed the "faster is better" rubbish, and it dropped to less than 10% of its former popularity. Dinghy sailing arguably going down the same death end a dozen years later, but as a more mature market sector it didn't go as far and now companies like RS are showing where the real future lies.
  4. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    I've seen more kite surfers the last several years than wind surfers. Perhaps the reason is they really fly fast and you can go airborne a good distance.

  5. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    The speed and jumps are one part, but lots of the people I know who switched to kites from windsurfing did so because they only sailed shortboard windsurfers, which needed 12 knots of wind or more. "High performance" windsurfing also often involves a few boards, a few different masts and lots of sails, and that takes a lot of space. If extreme performance is your thing, kites may just be the logical answer.

    Kiting is in a different area when it comes to speed and height, though. It's one thing that makes me wonder whether the era of popular high-performance dinghies is coming to an end. There's been a long term shift away from performance dinghies in places like England. Kites can go so much faster that if speed is what you want they are the logical choice. Meanwhile, dinghies that chase extreme high performance often become limited in some ways and lose some of their appeal.

    Apparently the kites recently hit 51 knots during a race. That means that for all the "revolution" in foiling cats, we are in some ways back where we were decades ago, in the situation where an AC boat is slower than a "beach toy". Strange times!
  6. lenm
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    lenm Junior Member

    CT249 - Some good point there re windsurfing and dinghy decline.
    It doesn't help matters that generation Z kids have their face buried in their iPad's for much of the day - rather than getting outdoors..

    As you kind of mentioned - I think things just have to be 'easy' to be appealing in these modern times.
    I've always wanted a fast skiff for example, however, put off by the rigging time,complexity, ropes everywhere, trailer requirements etc
    Too much hassle to go out for a quick sail.
    If there was something light, car-toppable, minimal components, and realistically priced - I'd be opening my wallet.

  7. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    When I drive on the freeway, I see a lot of kayaks on car tops. I believe the reason for this is that the kayaks are both relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Most of the ones I see are not the optimum length or beam for performance. They are made of roto-molded plastic and are usually eight to ten foot long. I think there is something we in the sailing community can learn from this. I take the major lesson to be that low cost and convenience must trump performance if the boat is to be frequently used. Older school windsurfers seemed to fit this bill, as they replaced board boats which also did.
    lenm likes this.
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