Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winds of Re-Discovery

I'd like to say THANK YOU to all of you who have shared your WINDSURFER STORY by emailing me or on FaceBook. All the stories have been unique and it's wonderful to read how people discovered windsurfing and the impact it's had on their time on this planet. I believe the Original Windsurfer website has reminded people of their "AH-HA" moments and reconnected them with what's important in windsurfing. I also think there's some "re-discovering" of the sport going on as sailors re-evaluate what they want from the sport and for themselves.

I just got back from a Windsurfer Regatta! The Windsurfer One Design American National Championships (aka: the DINO races) were last weekend and I can report that the spirit of Windsurfing is alive and strong just outside Houston, Texas. You can read more about the event below. What made this a unique regatta was that the friendly folks who hosted the event asked sailors to bring their own Windsurfers, but if you didn't own one or were new to racing, they tried to provide one for you. Because there were more competitors than boards, we all rotated boards each race, this made for a very level playing field. And a strange thing happened: I surprised myself on the 3rd race because I was assigned what looked like a very, shall we say, a very "well-loved" Wally but she didn't let me down --I placed better than the previous race! And I was reminded that it isn't about the equipment, it was about ability. We met a lot of genuinely nice people and had a really fun weekend, and I got to go windsurfing! After all these years of sailing solo, I still (kinda) got it on the race course, I placed 2nd in my class (that is the over 40 with a beer gut class in case you were wondering).

And this isn't the only Windsurfer One Design event happening. I just got word of a Freestyle Jam that took place the week before last in Kingston, Canada. To read about that visit

Upcoming events are the Australian Championships Jan 24-26 in Port Stephens (north of Sydney); Windsurfer Revival Event on the island of Sardinia in Italy May 2-8; To find our more about upcoming events visit the "Downloads" page at the Original Windsurfer website for Notices of Race in the "Current" section (once I receive a Notice of Race I'll post it). Or email me and I'll try and help you get the info you're looking for.

I've also been asked to get a temperature on the level of interest in a U.S. Windsurfer One Design event in late April/early May on South Padre Island. Do you want to come? Do you have a board? Do you need a board? email me at

There's also been some noise generated about a Windsurfer event in the Fall of 2010 in the U.S. that may be a World Windsurfer Celebration event, maybe a kinda Windsurfing Woodstock to celebrate the sports 40th + years, more to come on that as this comes together. Again, let me know what you think.

Check out the Original Windsurfer FaceBook page! Share a picture, declare your love for the sport or just have an Original Windsurfer moment.

By the way, there's a few links at the bottom of the "Quotes and Stories" page on the Original Windsurfer website that has a few Windsurfing links to check out.

Here is the story on the American "Dino" Championships:

Windsurfer One Design American National Championships (aka: The 12th Annual DINO Race) September 26th, 2009

This grass roots event was organized by the fleet of Windsurfer One Design enthusiasts outside of Houston, Texas and attracted 30 sailors, it took place at Clear Lake Park.

Six races were held in light to moderate winds. The 30 sailors were divided into three classes. Starts were alternated and sailors rotated boards each race so each competitor sailed a different board in each race because there were more sailors than boards. A tight start line, a subtle ebb tidal current and slight wind shifts made for tactical sailing conditions for seasoned competitors and pleasurable conditions for the beginner racers.

The mood of the event was casual and fun, no protests were made. A party barge anchored off the windward mark and stocked with “refreshments” provided front row seats and shade to sailors that were waiting for their next race, and friends and family to heckle at competitors on the racecourse.

Also known as the Dinosaur (DINO) Races because the sailors have maintained their Windsurfer One Design races and their original equipment; these enthusiasts have preserved the fun and social aspect of the Windsurfer One Design Class events of the 1970s & 1980s. All the photos on this posting are from the Nationals, photos taken by: Susan Taylor, Hauk Wahl, Chuck Taylor and Brad Bickle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

La Dolce Vita and Redneck SUP (stand up paddling)

Summer has finally arrived and my sister and her daughter, Kira, arrived in Northern Michigan for a summer visit with me in Traverse City. To celebrate July 4th we gathered with friends who treated us to a day out on their boat with lamb tacos and wine. We dropped anchor off Power Island and enjoyed the great weather, being together and the freedoms we are so fortunate to enjoy. Later we headed back to the beach to launch our One Design and play some Bocci Ball. There wasn't much wind but I managed to get a little "session" in. Two gal friends were interested in learning to windsurf, so I took them out "tandem" and gave them a taste of what it's all about. They loved it and I think there'll be more lessons this summer. Sharing food, wine and windsurfing with friends, la dolce vita.

A few days later Tara, Kira and I loaded ourselves into our van and drove further into the Great Lakes to visit our folks on Lake Huron. Their place is on an island so they have a small sailboat (called a "JY"), a few old One Designs and a kayak. I've been reading a lot about Stand Up Paddling (SUP) and thought this would be the perfect time and place to try it. The Island is remote and there's no place to rent a SUP. Yesterday it was beautiful & calm so I brought a One Design down to the shoreline and took a paddle from the kayak to do my own Redneck Stand Up Paddle (RSUP) version of SUP. It was a blast! I paddled around Cowen's Island, and because I was standing up I could see the rocks on the bottom and navigate around any shallows. I had the centerboard all the way down so the board was very stable and used my weight to help turn the board. Tara then joined me for a RSUP, this time we went down the Serpent Channel, and we returned later with great full body tans! Kira could tell how much fun we were having so she swam out, knocked me into the water and RSUP'd over to the next island to show the other kids and her friends her new toy. We watched as three young teenagers entertained themselves for hours with one Windsurfer board and a kayak paddle. As the dog ran by chasing squirrels, and hearing the laughter from the kids on the water, it was evident that we were enjoying summer.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Telling a Windsurfing tale

by Ted Schweitzer

So I've been recording the history of Windsurfing's first decade.  Hoyle & Diane (my folks) didn't want to "look-back" at what they had done, they said that they prefer to live in the "present".  And I admire that perspective.  But there's also much I don't know about how it all started.  I was there and I lived through the history, but as a youth and I wasn't tuned into everything that was going on around me at that time in life. I had questions. And Tara & Matt (my older sister & brother) were no help, they were just as thin on the details as I was.

I guess us 3 kids assumed Diane would write the story because she started the Windsurfer Association, and the association newsletter which eventually turned into WINDSURFING magazine, that then became WINDSURF magazine.  She was an english major and has always had a fine way with words.  This I thought was her calling, her destiny.  Well, apparently she felt she had already fulfilled her destiny.  A few years back, she declared one evening that she wasn't going to write the story and asked us to stop harassing her about it already. At that moment, you could have heard a pin drop. Wha...wha...what? Not going to tell the story of windsurfing? How they started something completely new, from the ground up.  What does she mean that she's not going to share their story on the original Windsurfer, the One Design racing class and the business of manufacturing them throughout the world.  This is the history of windsurfing and the story of following your passions, standing firm on what you believe in, while being at the center of the sport. It's also about business, the politics of the Olympics, and yes, patent law/litigation. Not to mention the personal journey of a husband and wife team reflecting on the good, the bad, the ups and the downs.  There are experiences, stories and lessons that need to be passed along to future generations. 

And as I reflected about this, I began to realize that maybe I was wrapped up in the windsurfing years more than they were.  Or maybe, I just didn't have all the information to piece together what it all meant. I had bits and pieces. I wanted more, I wanted the entire picture with all the details.  I wanted to know everything about the one thing that dominated my life, and our family for some 20 years and beyond.

I knew Hoyle & Diane hadn't purged the windsurfing years from their systems. Far from it, I believe they live with it everyday, and that their lives have been hugely defined by those years. In speaking with them about windsurfing, the emotions are detectable, and thoughtfulness is deep. I've often sensed that they've had a hard time forgetting the battles and remembering the victories, but I don't draw judgement. 

As a percentage, more of my life has revolved around windsurfing and the Original Windsurfer years than my parents.  Hoyle and Diane had years of accomplishments before they started to direct their efforts towards windsurfing. They had a life before windsurfing.  The same wasn't true for me. From as far back as I can remember, our family life revolved around windsurfing,  life was nothing but windsurfing. Everything in my world, and I expect my sister & brother's world too, revolved around windsurfing. That is what was important, dear to my heart, and our family. I never thought our family would revolve around anything else. 

Now some 40 years later, I believe it is important to get all the pieces of the early days of windsurfing put together.  To know in more detail and document how windsurfing came together, and to share this history of  windsurfing.  Also to know our family heritage, especially because I enjoy windsurfing today but it's no longer a symbiotic relationship to our family. And to correct the misinformation that currently exists. I don't believe the story has been told.

I should be finishing some of the story in the next few weeks, it will be at and there will be old photos, historical archives, stories and even some Original Windsurfer gear. There are other parts of the story that I haven't finished or even yet started, those will be posted in an on-going basis.