Imagine standing on a board and holding the wind into your hands.
What is Windsurfing?
What is it that makes windsurfing addictive and draws millions of people to lakes, harbors, and coastlines around the word whenever the wind is up? For some, it’s the sensation of sailing solely under the power of the wind, the exhilaration of high speed, the battle with the elements and the challenge of relying on personal technique and stamina.
For others is the simple accessibility of the sport it is really quite easy to learn. For many more, it is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to have fun in the water be it at some exotic location or on your home territory.
In terms of components, windsurfing is essentially a simple sport, the main parts being a board and a rig (the collective term for the sail, mast boom, and a mast base that connects to the board).
Improved materials and modern designs and mean that boards are more stable, while rigs are lighter and easier to handle, making learning considerably quicker and easier to learn that when the sport was first developed. Be warned that at every level surfing is active. It will make you stronger and fitter- although it’s up to you how gentle or demanding you want it to be. There is no age requirement and windsurfing is not about strength, Olympian fitness or having a technical mind.
How did it all start?
Windsurfing also is known as sailboarding has murky beginnings. What is clear is that modern windsurfing is defined by two things. First, the invention of the articulated universal joint allowing one to stand up and steer the craft by tilting the sail. Second, the use of a wishbone boom with a triangular shape turret mounted on a board one could turn.
In 1967 a new sailboat design was born from the collaboration of an aeronautical engineer Jim Drake skilled at designing aircraft and aircraft components and the entrepreneurial Schweitzer family who poured their savings and kick-started the culture of one design windsurfing. It slowly grew from a family-friendly pastime activity to a subculture and then to a sport.
The golden era of windsurfing
The one design windsurfing was introduced to Europe via Germany and The Netherlands. By the late 1970 windsurfing fever had Europe firmly in its grasp. The early 80ties brought tremendous growth for windsurfing, the participation was an all-time high, in ’83 the professional world cup was born, and the sport was awarded Olympic status in the ’84 games in Hawaii.
These were the golden days of the windsurfing sport, it was promising and growing. When it turned pro, there was even greater interest from Europe, and there were significant sponsorships being signed.
To those lucky to have lived it, it was the golden era of windsurfing. Riders were taking the sport to new levels and equipment developed at a feverish pitch. In Europe places like Lago di Garda became hotbeds for the sport. Windsurfing events were brought indoors in France. The windsurfing industry was producing new designs of boards, sails, equipment people were eager to buy and test out. Professionals were looking for gear that was going to provide a new technical edge and efficiency.
As the culture grew, the windsurfing crowd was becoming more and more extreme. Windsurfing became airborne, people were doing flips and double flips in the air and looking for the next breaking barrier in speed.
Nowadays windsurfing is one of the most accessible yachting sports and there are versatile different disciplines of windsurfing that are recognized: RS:X, Slalom, Freeride, Freestyle, Freemove, Raceboard, Speed, Wave, Formula, and the up and coming Hydrofoil or foil surfing.
The top of the windsurfing world today: RS:X Olympic Windsurfing class
The RS:X came about as a result of a successful bid by NeilPryde Windsurfing to supply one design windsurfing equipment for the 2008 Olympic Games in China. The RS:X was designed in 2004 and went into production in 2005.
The RS:X design features a high technology rig, with carbon mast, boom, and fin, a ‘wide-style’ board that merges modern windsurf board design with a centerboard, thus enabling competitions to be held in virtually any condition from 3 to 30 knots. This means that the RS:X is always a dynamic, versatile class to observe, and racing is always close, exciting and visually appealing.
The top of the windsurfing world at the moment includes 4 Champions
Lilian De Geus (NED) 2018 RS:X World Champion
Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) 2018 RS:X World Champion
Fabien Pianazza (FRA) 2018 RS:X Youth World Champion
Giorgia Speciale (ITA) 2018 RS:X Youth World Champion