WINDSURFING; A BLAGGERS GUIDE – PART 1
Windsurfing (trying to stand on a board with a sail attached) was invented in 1958 by 12 year old Hayling Island resident Peter Chilvers, because he was fed up with getting his bum wet in a dinghy. It could be said that his innovation had a profound effect on all our lives and started a worldwide phenomenon. Without it, we would never have had witty T shirts and car stickers proclaiming “Windsurfers do it standing up.” Windsurfers originally used long, heavy, cumbersome boards that literally anyone could ride, but now most windsurfers ride short, light boards. These are a great step forward and allow even the advanced rider a much greater degree of submersion. The correct technical term for long boards is ‘long boards.’ By contrast, the new short boards are known as ‘short boards.’
WINDSURFING is defined as a surface watersport. While that is a laugh for a start (see ‘degree of immersion’ above) a true blagger must appreciate that there is much more to this captivating sport. For example, at an amateur level, windsurfing involves driving sometimes hundreds of miles to reach a body of water. Once there, the windsurfer spends many happy hours rubbing their chin and wondering what sail size to rig. The windsurfer begins by getting their kit ready on the shore; first, they will approach total strangers and ask how big theirs is. This is not deemed inappropriate in windsurfing circles; it is the accepted method of determining the correct sail size, even if the bloke you are asking is twice your size. (Tip: make sure that the bloke who is twice your size is a windsurfer prior to asking how big his is.)
Choosing the correct sail size for your weight, ability and the conditions can make or break a session. Once determined by the above method of questioning random strangers, the windsurfer takes board and sail to the water’s edge. They then launch gracefully across the shore to ask about sail sizes again, in case anyone has actually been out to try theirs yet, which of course they haven’t. The windsurfer will then rig and re-rig different sizes of sail at least 3 times before going to the pub without getting wet because a. the wind has dropped b. the tide has gone out c. darkness has fallen or d. all three. It is a little known fact that the word ‘rig-marole’ has its origin in windsurfing.
Being a weather-dependent sport reliant on low pressure systems in the UK, British windsurfers actually spend the majority of their windsurfing time (when they are not deciding on sail sizes) sitting in vans in the rain, saying “It will get up soon…” This is why the collective noun for a group of windsurfers is “An Optimism.”
At a professional level, windsurfing is a tough and competitive sport. It involves getting paid to jet around the world to exotic beach destinations. Once there, the Team Rider is expected to push the limits of the sport in near-perfect conditions by trashing the latest, brand-new kit, before having a beach BBQ. The role of the Pro rider is to get photographed grinning and wearing a beanie. Pro windsurfers still do it standing up, just better and more often.
Windsurfing has developed into several different disciplines. These are defined below;
Freestyle – showing off on flat water with a tiny fin
Wave – showing off on waves with tiny boards, weeny sails and many microscopic fins
Formula – showing off in light wind with HUGE kit and LOOK AT THE SIZE OF MINE (fin)
Slalom – showing off at high speed, with turns
Speed Sailing – showing off at higher speed, with no turns and only half a boom
RS:X or Olympic – showing off by pumping round a course in no wind on an antique
Super X – show jumping
Freeride – trying to show off by pretending that you excel at one, if not all of the above
Well that brings you up to speed with the history and definition of windsurfing and highlights the importance of blagging, since as we have seen, most amateur windsurfers never actually get on the water. It is important to note that a proper windsurfer is an uber-cool, bronzed beach bum, so next time, we will look at how to look and sound the part while showing off this new-found windsurfing knowledge.