Refreshing

Ridge Lenny at home in Maui

This year I have been pleasantly surprised every time I have sailed at a new venue.

With seemingly constant whining coming from some (not all) industry players about this doom or that gloom – mainly stemming from poor performing sales of equipment – it’s refreshing to note that in each of these spots windsurfing is thriving with plenty of sailors getting wet.

Girl power

What’s encouraging is the number of younger riders taking up the sport – especially teenage girls, which in my opinion is one of the hardest groups of society to firstly attract, and secondly, keep.

From my experience (which is limited, I agree) adolescent females would rather be pruning, grooming, texting, tweeting or Facebooking  – certainly not having their hair and make-up ruined by hanging around on wet, cold and windswept beaches.

And God forbid actually getting in the sea!

Witnessing the next generation pushing through the ranks gives a real buzz and a sense of optimism.

Windsurfing will of course survive, whatever some critics say. I personally have never doubted it. But it’s fantastic to see the next generation leading the charge first hand.

This situation needs to be embraced and encouraged.

It’s out there

One problem with certain people involved with windsurfing is that they’ve become so disheartened with the whole sport that they’ve given up on getting ‘out there’.

It’s a tried and tested formula but one such way to get a handle on your market is organise a demo day.

Demo’s are not only a great way to get a brands kit into the hands of your target audience it’s also a way to get a snapshot of what’s going on at grass roots level and therefore understand your market better.

I appreciate that demo events can be a pain to organise and staff but they shouldn’t be neglected as I believe they do work.

Give up on this and all you’re left with are your own foreboding thoughts, paranoia and negativity born of spending too much time within the confines of your same four walls.

The future

This is not a rant about the state of the windsurfing industry though. Take it as a positive.

Kids are the future and some windsurfers in the UK have been actively promoting our lifestyle to their offspring and it looks like it’s been rubbing off.

If you’re a keen windy, have kids, or know someone else who does, get them on board. Introduce them to an active and healthy lifestyle. Do your bit and give back something to a sport that readily gives to you.

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About Tez Plavenieks

Content creator - writer - editor - social media manager Windsurf - SUP - snowboard - surf - kayak - drums - art
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2 Responses to Refreshing

  1. stan wheeler says:

    Tez,whole heartedly agree but should we not take a leaf out of HISC,s book where on a thursday for instance they offer the use of sailing equipement ( dinghy,s etc) to youngsters free of charge to train up and enjoy the wind and water. The industry seems hell bent on self destruction where kids ( and their parents) cant afford the high tech kit and have to rely on the old school equipement which we all know is not the easiest to learn on.
    A network of clubs might just be enough to to put out some pressure to get some assistance in funding ( which ever formula you choose) and help maintain and encourage growth in this terrific sport and ultimatley reintroduce windsufing back into the Olympics at some future date,if we stand still and only watch then terminal sickness will strike at an alarming rate for sure.
    Stan

  2. tezwoz says:

    Hi Stan

    I agree with your point regarding kit. Equipment is indeed way over priced – and not just windsurf kit either!

    Getting kids involved through clubs is also a great way to introduce them to the sport. The difficulty is finding such a club that supports windsurfing. Not all do and those that are pro the sport are few and far between meaning you would only get the opportunity to become part of the scene if you lived in close proximity.

    It’s a difficult one…

    There must be a solution to significantly increase participation levels again and hooking in kids is the the way forward.

    The RYA’s Team 15 initiative has been successful, but only for those with a passion for competition. Now the RS:X Olympic class has been kicked into touch that may well disappear because ultimately, as with everything in life, it comes down to money and funding.

    As Team 15 was a direct feeder onto the Olympic pathway investors won’t see any benefit to pump money into the scheme – which is a shame.

    I think if windsurfing is to grow once again then it would require the major players to all sit at the same table, leaving their politics at the door, and come up with a plan to help collectively push things forward.

    Whatever was decided would need to be implemented on an international scale, not just in the UK.

    I’m happy to chair the meeting if anyone reading this thinks that idea is feasible!

    For now though, parents introducing their offspring to windsurfing will have to suffice as the industry is not going to change over night.

    We should just be thankful that kids and newbies still find windsurfing attractive enough to participate in.

    See you at the beach!

    Tez

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