Hi, it has been a while since our last post and this is the right moment to receive news from our blog. A few days ago I’ve read in Facebook a text written by Jaime Andres Castro. Who on the occasion of his sister Maria‘s birthday, tells his story and opens, in a masterful way, the debate about why our sport doesn’t grow in the way it should. Where are the new windsurfers?

In today’s post I simply want, after requesting duly authorization from the author, to share with you the complete text that Jaime has written.

Yesterday and today

Between these two photos 34 years have passed. In one I’m giving my first runs on a windsurfer after spending a couple of days convinced that that invention was missing something, that it was impossible to work. Finally I managed to go and return where I wanted. La Caleta (beach in Cadiz, Spain) became small.

I could go from the beach to the lighthouse, have a look at the “Alameda”, and come back dodging the anchored boats.
While I was walking in those rooms, my sister María Andrés was born in a room at the Hospital de Mora. The photo was made from that same room. The second photo is from Maria, 34 years later sailing in Maui.
I wouldn’t know how many miles we’ve sailed together, how much we have enjoyed in family with this invention. In those 34 years we’ve sailed in all forms of windsurfing that have been appearing and disappearing. And I wouldn’t dare to say which of them I have had more fun.

These photos and this more than a third of a century of windsurfing. Allow me to make some reflections on this sport. I have been lucky to live it in all its aspects, initiation, family fun, high competition, training, boards & sails manufacturing and development, shops, importers, manufacturers, schools, high performance centers … and I have come to a conclusion some years ago: this sport stopped earning new adepts in the late 80’s or early 90’s, because the industry behind it continues to work for the same customers.

There are no new windsurfers,

or at least, there are no new surnames. Nobody starts with the sport if it isn’t by family influence. The windsurfing that has been advertised for many years is Hookipa’s, not the one you practice in La Caleta. But Hookipa can only be reached by 0.01% of the people that one time tried to ride on a board.

They’ve forgotten to sell the fun of windsurfing without having to be a superhero. It’s no longer windsurfing if it’s not extreme, if there aren’t at least 25 knots or mast high waves.

Just look at the catalogs, how many pages dedicated to selling gear for a level that nobody has? How many people say that it’s a very expensive sport because they buy gear that they don’t need and that they don’t even know how to use? How many people who don’t start in this sport because they know that they will need. At best, 5 or 6 years to be able to do something similar to what appears in the catalog photo? Why we have forgotten the fun of windsurfing with easier conditions?

In the 80’s the beaches were full of boards,

hundreds of them, because it was possible to sail with easy conditions, sailing was possible every day, with all kind of wind. There were shops everywhere, and boards were sold to sail like that. Now these boards are not manufactured, and some will say: “it has evolved”.
I would rather say that windsurfing 20 years ago have had its legs amputated, it lost its foundation. There is no way to find suitable boards to be able to sail every day. The stores don’t have them, they continue with their customers from the 80’s and 90’s, who in their day evolved to what the market forced them.

Those who did not evolve (because of physical condition, time constraints, or any other reason) abandoned windsurfing. They tried with the kite, the SUP, or any other alternative. Some will say: “there are school boards”, yes, but in the stores nobody is encouraging people to buy that. “You can make a short course in a school and then you can buy a short board, and a few wave sails”. And thus encourage them to spend a bunch of money and being disillusioned in just a few months, fattening the second hand forums, and saturating garages and storerooms of expensive and useless objects.

Always the same ones

Every day I’m more surprised to see the beaches empty of sails with the wind between 6 & 15 knots, we don’t know what we are really missing. Now it seems that the foil will come to put a patch. But is there any potential user of the foil who is not already an advanced windsurfer? We just move them from one place to another, from raceboard to formula, from slalom to waves …, and now, all to the foil. But we are always the same people, with more and more expensive toys.

I think it’s urgent to go back to the roots, to the simple and easy beach sport. The one that you never finish learning, but it is enjoyed from the first day. Make excursions, rigging the sail in the morning and un-rigging it at night without the fear of the sun breaking the mast.

I find very curious the trend of SUP excursions, and I always wonder, why not in windsurf?. And the answer appears fast. There are no boards for that, they were killed by the industry and the windsurf market. And it’s curious but there is more and more demand for old boards, hard and with centerboard. Boards that have survived more than 20 years lying in a storeroom or a roof, and now return to the sea. Let’s recover all the boards we can, enjoying of an easy summer windsurfing.

Let’s fill our beaches with sails again, let’s enjoy our shores. And prove to the windsurfing industry that cheap, hard and easy boards are salable. That they are necessary to promote this sport, and that in a very short time they will improve the sales of the higher ranges.

What about competitions?

As for the competitions, the same thing has happened. If you are not at a stratospheric level and ready to bet your life, better not to sign-in. Even the Sunday regattas are done like this. Some without a fixed date, where you have to be on guard for several weeks to guarantee harsh conditions. And less and less people competing, of course.

Colgate World Cup Sylt 2009 - Philip Koester (GER)The problem is not unique to windsurfing, there is a very marked tendency to radicalize sports, to play your life in each session, with a can of Red Bull in one hand and a Go Pro in the helmet, but windsurfing has been perhaps one of the most serious victims of this trend.
Compared with another industry with many similarities, such as the mountain bike, we realize the opportunities we have lost. They have never stopped making & promoting children’s bicycles or “easy” to use, they took advantage of the boom, while models of € 10,000 were put on the market, they also put other models in stores at incredibly low prices. The industry is nourished equally parts of both segments. With an observation: with no cheap bikes the expensive ones are not sold. They haven’t only focused on making bikes for extreme disciplines.

Why? Because…

Why registrations are sold out for running or bike competitions? Because you don’t have to be top level to enjoy them. Why there is almost no participation in windsurfing competitions? Because they have become ultra-specialized and there isn’t polyvalent material. Why aren’t we able to convey that windsurfing is as fun in “La Caleta” as it is in “Hookipa”? Each one at their level and with the most suitable material for it.

On my side, I can assure you that the day of the pic, August 11, 1983, it has been my best day of windsurfing in these 34 years, and of which I undoubtedly keep the best memory. Because, among other things, without that day would not have been possible all those who came later. And of course because that day was born Maria. Happy birthday little sis!

Thank you very much Jaime, I share your thoughts by 100%. Guys, if you liked the article do not hesitate to leave a comment & share!!!

Best wishes & see you next time!!

Where are the new windsurfers?
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