Jim Drake-co-inventor of "Windsurfer" dies

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Doug Lord, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    from Scuttlebutt tonight:


    Jim Drake, the co-inventor of the "Windsurfer" and father of modern
    windsurfing, has passed away at the age of 83. Drake, a North American
    aeronautics engineer, had improved an earlier design by Peter Chilvers and
    Newman Darby.

    In the 1970s, Jim Drake and his partner Hoyle Schweitzer submitted the
    patent for their "Windsurfer" design, based on the Newman Darby's
    techniques. They credited him for their version of the sailboard.

    Jim Drake learned from Darby's developments and upgraded the board and rig
    layout, as well as the universal joint which stands modern and used all
    over the world.

    Drake was born in California in 1929. Thirty five years later, he was
    trying to develop a kite powered surfboard that would allow him to sail
    down the Potomac River.

    Later, he meets Hoyle Schweitzer - a keen surfer - and they decide to build
    and test their first models in Marina del Rey. After falling several times,
    he knew he had to introduce the uphaul. Watch an historical video
    documenting these water tests, here: http://youtu.be/TqkMRkcGXiY

    By 1967, they had already named it "Baja Board" but, interestingly, it was
    a Public Relations professional who found the perfect word for their
    sailing concept. "I have the perfect name for it! The Windsurfer!", the PR
    yelled. Name accepted.

    In 1973, Jim Drake sells his half of the patent to Windsurfing
    International, owned by Hoyle Schweitzer, for $36,000. The windsurfing
    business grows and is very popular in Europe during the 1980s.

    The US courts decide that the "Windsurfer" is strongly inspired in Peter
    Chilvers and Newman Darby's prototypes and Schweitzer closes his
    Windsurfing International. Jim Drake's contribution to the sport of
    windsurfing is decisive.

    "I have an optimistic view about the sport (...) The one that's brought on
    by the media is the picture of the sport as being this athletic circus
    trick of jumping waves and whirling around this great wide ocean", Drake
    once told.

    "Well, that's simply not what the sport is. Just not at all. It has much
    more broad application and pleasures to it. Because people who are
    athletically inclined but not as superbly coordinated as Robby [Naish] can
    enjoy the sport in many regards without having to ever get airborne".
    Surfer Today, http://tinyurl.com/ST-062112
    1 person likes this.
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