Mini Windsurfers: Interviews

The babies of the Baby Boom Generation are trying windsurfing. I took time off to observe the adventures of a few mini-windsurfers. It reminded me of the early joys of my own windsurfing experience. The process of learning to windsurf is the same for everyone. Difficult and demanding. But the spirit of learning could not be better expressed than by the innocence of kids. They represent a part of us that should not be lost.

American Windsurfer: You look like you’ve been having a lot of fun out there… how long have you been sailing?

Dustin Murray: Since last July.

AW: How’d you get into it?

DM: Well, because my mom and dad  sail, and I wanted to sail too.

AW: So you asked…

DM: Well, see, they knew I wanted to sail, and so they were looking around for a rig for me, almost all the time, and they finally found this rig, and then they bought it for me.

AW: You look like you were able to do a beach start there… and you can uphaul it pretty easily?

DM: Uh-huh, I was practicing waterstarting, too, see, I’m just learning to waterstart.

AW: What do you think of windsurfing?

DM: Well, it’s sorta’ hard… Well, it’s sorta’ between hard and easy. I mean… medium.


AW: Medium, huh? Is your little brother going to try it when he gets older?

DM: Uh-huh. My sister already knows how to, but she can’t sail in these conditions. My brother hasn’t…he might try it this year or something’, maybe next year.

AW: How old are they?

DM:  Ah… she’s seven and he’s five.

AW:  And you’re nine… what are their names?

DM:  Her name’s Devon, and he’s Dennis.

AW:  Devon and Dennis, right… So tell me about your equipment.

DM: Well, do you mean how easy it is to rig? Well, that one right there, it isn’t like a real sail. It’s much easier to rig.

AW: And your board?

DM: Well the board… see we were thinking’ about taking the centerboard off, you know it’s got like a dolphin fin in the centerboard, and it was hard when I took it off, having that little fin there, I wasn’t ready for that.

AW: What was it like the first time you tried?

DM: Pretty hard.

AW: Like how was it hard?

DM: Well, trying to uphaul, and getting the sail up, and even just moving about ten minutes… I mean it was hard.

AW: Were you pretty discouraged?

DM: Yeah, but I always like to try again, see? That’s why I was out there today, I got hurt so many times, but I just didn’t want to come in.

AW: Why not?

DM: Because… I just didn’t want to. I just wanted to keep on sailing.

AW: Were you having fun, or were you just determined to make it… to do it right?

DM: Well, I was having fun, doing things I haven’t done before…

AW: Like what?

DM: Like those beach starts I was doing… and then once I was just speeding so fast; I was going fast, and then this wave came up, and I jumped the wave!

AW: Whoa! How high did you get?

DM: I don’t know, just the top of the wave and over it.

AW: That was pretty exciting, huh? So you want to be a wave rider?

DM: Well, I’m not sure… but I like… my dad sails, and he sails out in the big waves, and he jumps… I’d like to be like him some day.

AW: So your mother windsurfs, too…

DM: Uh-huh, she’s walking up.

AW: So what else can I ask you… What size is your sail?

DM: I think it’s like a one-seven. No. it’s a one-seven, definitely.

AAW: And the size of your board?

DM: I’m not sure, it’s a small board…

AW: Uh-huh… cool.

DM: I mean just me and her (sister) can sink it, so…

AW: Have you ever sailed together?

DM: No, because we’ve only got one rig. We both have to share it.

AW: lemme’ see… do you think you’ll be sailing for a long time? Do you want to keep sailing, or is this something you’re doing because your parents are doing it?

DM: No, I wonna’ sail when I get older, too.

AW: So do you know how your parents got into windsurfing?

DM: Well, my dad took a lesson, ten or eleven years ago, while he was in college, and my mom and dad didn’t have enough money to buy equipment, so then last year, the year before last, they started buying equipment, and dad taught mom, mom took two lessons, and that’s how I got into it.

AW: Here comes your mother… Hi  there!

MOM: Hi.

AW: I’m interviewing your son…

MOM: Oh yeah?

AW: I shot a bunch of pictures of him out there…

MOM: Oh wow, cool!

AW: That’s the magazine we’re gonna put him in.

MOM: Oh yeah… really? you’re kidding… let me dry my hands off… Wow!

AW: So he’s been telling me the whole history about how you guys got into windsurfing…

MOM: Oh yeah? Wow, I wonder what history he told you… that’s a neat magazine, is that a new magazine?

AW: Yup, it’s brand new… i talked to your husband earlier, I told him I’d drop by a magazine, and I realized we should interview Dustin.

MOM: Yeah, great!

AW: You’re from Eugene Oregon… I guess all of your kids windsurf?

MOM: Well, she’s been trying… she’s seven… where we live there’s a reservoir called Fern Ridge, and it has a real quiet lagoon; it’s a great place to learn. She gets up and goes back and forth and almost tacked a couple of times, but this [wind] is too hard for her, unless it dies down. She did sail up at Riverfront Park a couple days ago, it was calm and she did pretty well.

AW: It looks like there’s a couple other kids out there that sail, huh?

DM: That guy… he’s nine.

MOM: Yeah, he’s from New York, here for the summer, he’s been sailing now for two months, he told me.

DM: Oh yeah that’s the guy… the other kid around here… he’s eight…

MOM: He’s eight also. He’s much bigger than you, he’s probably a whole head higher.

DM:  That’s why he has a regular harness, that fits him…

MOM: Wow, this is neat… beautiful pictures…

AW: So Dustin, do you have any other kids that go windsurfing with you? Or pretty much just your sister and brother…

DM:  Just me and my sister.

MOM: He’s the youngest sailor out in the lake where we live by.

SISTER: Noooooo!

MOM: Well, yes, but I mean who really sails…

AW: So you can pretty much go out and just sail around?

DM:  I don’t go out that far, because if you go too far out from this lagoon, you get lots more wind, I mean just out beyond this little point here, there’s a lot more wind. And it’s hard for me to hold the sail up in that much wind.

AW: So did your parents tell you not to go out, or did you figure it out for yourself?

DM: No, I just did it myself.

MOM: I tell him… I say “You can go out a little further…” and he says “No mom, I know how far…”

DM: Actually mom, all I was doing really today, was practicing my waterstarts, my waist-deep waterstarts…

AW: So once you get your waterstarts, what are you goanna’ do next?

DM: Mmmmm, I don’t know…

MOM: Practice your jibes, probably…

DM: Yeah, practice my jibes. I can jibe, but not in heavy wind.

AW: What’s your favorite maneuver?

DM: Probably just moving real fast, planning… having half the board out of the water.

AW: Can you actually plane on that little board?

DM: Uh-huh… having half the board out of the water.

MOM: He’s just about a little bit past the mast track out of the water.

AW: Now that you tried windsurfing, what do you think of it?

DM: I really like it a lot.


American Windsurfer:  Hi, what is your name?

MICHIKO DenHARTOG: My name is Michiko.

AM: That is a beautiful name! How long have you been windsurfing?

MD: [Silence]

MICHIKO MOTHER:  She doesn’t speak very good English.

MICHIKO FATHER:  [Translates]

AM: Do you like Windsurfing?


AM: Have you been doing it for a long time?

MICHIKO: Yes [holds two fingers]

AM: Two month?

MICHIKO:   [Nods]

AM: Wow! Can you tell me how old you are?


AM: Were you born in Aruba?

MICHIKO: No, Holland.

AM: And how long have you lived in Aruba?

MICHIKO: One year.

AM: Well you are a lucky girl!

MICHIKO:   [Smiles]

FATHER: Well, actually we came to Aruba in July, last year. And for their birthday they got a sailing board and a sail. So we took it over here to Fisherman’s Hut and then there was an opportunity to take lessons at Sailboard Vacations. So they started.

AM: So you bought her a little Mini-Bic for her birthday. [to Michiko] Were you surprised when you opened it?

AM: What did you do when you opened it?

FATHER: Actually we bought the sailing board and they had to ship it down here. So we went to different places where they sell sailing boards and we asked questions and they saw it and knew what they were going to get.

MOTHER: First we bought a big one and then we saw a small one and bought that for her.

AM: Do you both windsurf?


MOTHER: Not yet!

FATHER: When they get through with their lessons we have to get them because we will have to keep up with them. We  are going to learn.

MOTHER: We lived in Saint Martin and there I tried it once and like it. We then knew when we got to Aruba we have to buy them.

Father: And they like the idea of getting a board for their birthday.

AM: [addressing the brother] What’s your name and how old are you?

JASON: Jason, I am twelve years old.

MOTHER: He has a concussion and that is why he wasn’t in the lesson.

AM: From windsurfing?!

MOTHER:  No.No he fell off a wall.

AM: So are you better than your sister?

JASON:  A little bit.

[all laughs]

AM: But she may be catching up to you if you’re not out there doing it.

MOTHER: Next week he will be alright. . . They like it! They like it!

AM: You use the same equipment as she does?


AM: It’s not too small for you? You can turn and comeback?

MOTHER: He thought he would like the big one but when he came here, he can’t pull the sail up and he likes to help his sister with the small one. They are together on the water practicing.

AW: How often do you go windsurfing?

MICHIKO: Once a week.

AM: Only on Saturdays…

FATHER: They are getting their holidays at the end of June. So they’ll have six weeks for practice.

AM: [to Michiko] I bet next time we come back to Aruba you are going to be a very good windsurfer.

MICHIKO:  [Big Smile]

article and photos by John Chao

Publisher / Editor is a former photojournalist for GEO, National Geographic and Time-Life Magazines.