Beginner Magic: A Different Story

Readers Respond to Issue 4.4

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Beginner Gear
Just received the new issue today. Great! Terrific interviews with many insights and glimpses into the origins of our sport.

Also of interest is the reaction of the manufacturers to the proposal to introduce beginner gear: i.e., “If I get beginners into the sport they may end up buying a board from someone else later on!?” How clueless can they get? Keep up the outstanding work and there may be hope yet!
Alan Sandoval
wtrplnet@ix.netcom.com


Jim Drake’s Magic
Christmas is over and we’re in to ‘97. Finally, I’ve gotten around to my American Windsurfer. My only reaction is WOW! What a wonderful look at the history of our sport. I particularly loved the original drawing and explanation of how “the thing” works. Jim Drake truly created the “magic” Yeh, Yeh, Yeh!

Wonderful cover and wonderful free style of Matt! We also had a brush with melanoma about 15 years ago, hence we changed our life: and wind fishing, Wow again! Keep up the good work. We hope our “Keeper of the Flame” comes next!
Mike & Ann Adair
Merritt Is, Fl

Windsurfing’s Roots
I was really impressed by your last issue with our sport’s co-inventor interviews. I think Mr. Drake hit it on the button about the sport needing a rebirth with equipment that works in 8-10 knots-that is far more common than 15-25 knots. I think a lot of “old-timers” such as myself, feel the same way. But talk is cheap! Perhaps, of it’s own accord, windsurfing will gradually come around again, but how long will it take for people to realize that radical wave jumping in Hawaii can only be enjoyed by a very tiny percentage of the windsurfing population?

I’ve just begun to get into wave sailing for the first time and feel like I’m learning all over again. It’s great. But I still enjoy cruising on my one-design. In fact, I had an exhilarating day of sailing on San Francisco Bay last summer, checking out the beaches outside the Gate and coming back in around Angel Island and Alcatraz. The longboard possesses the potential for broadening the horizons for all windsurfers of all skill levels.

As of late, I have been promoting the upcoming World Windsurfing Tour which not only promotes the elite wave sailing events, but a longboard series as well. It is our idea that this Tour helps to initiate a movement back to “our roots”. Sounds corny, but we hope to bring back the social, family and fun atmosphere back to windsurfing. As the editor of American Windsurfer, you are also one of the sports shapers. Perhaps we could do something in that vein to start us down the right path.
Ted Huang
teddyhuang@oal.com


Wind Via Wire
Just logged on to your site and there is wind of some sort via the phone wire! Every issue is definitely a glossy keeper. Love the write-ups and all the photo layouts!!! I support our local magazine vendor here in Spokane, WA, and always support the winds of Coer d’Alene Lake, ID. Although I miss the ‘ole Cabrillo Beach’s Hurricane Gulch, the Gorge is a mere days drive from here. Again, love the work all you guys do for our sport!!!
Erle Furbeyre
furbeyre@earthlink.net


Gone WindFishing
I really liked the windfishing article. What a great way to put dinner on the table! Keep up the great work! From a future windfisherman.
Justin Corrado
Washington, D.C.

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Tales from Margarita
Enclosed is our renewal for American Windsurfer. Keep up the good work, we really enjoy the magazine.
We just returned from Margarita. Everyone is getting ready for the windy season.  We spent a lot of time with Miquel at Caribe Winds and his son Miquelito. Enclosed are some pictures of his first birthday. Miquelito was thrilled with the American Windsurfer hat! (I think Dad was more thrilled with the hat, he was always wearing it!) That kid is a real character, I was laughing so hard, I could hardly take the picture!
We love our American Windsurfer Windware shirts. We got lots of compliments on them in Margarita. Happy sailing!
Lois & Jim Stufflebeam
Cardiff by the Sea, CA


Landboats Arrive
In the spirit of fun with windsurfer sails, I would like to present to you and your fine magazine the Landboat. This is a 12 year project that is now ready for the marketplace. Your magazine is a key to the introduction of the Landboat. Your readers have half of the necessary components to use and enjoy our product.

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We believe by introducing a land option to windsurfing, we will greatly expand the use of these sails, due to the safety of sailing on land. Our research indicates a higher degree of interest by females of all ages, this being due, I believe, to the safety and the fact that Landboats do not require the rider to be physically strong. They have been ridden and enjoyed by children as young as 3 and seniors as young as 80. People who are physically challenged have successfully sailed a Landboat, all facts I am very proud of.

Parents who wouldn’t consider letting their children enter the surf have no objections to letting them sail on the beach. I believe that as these parents recognize their children’s skill in using a Landboat, they will have less objections to letting them try the water version. This should, in time enlarge your market.

Your readers would of course look at this as more fun with their sails, and to this end, I promise you the Landboat will deliver. When you sail one someday on one of the world’s beaches, you will experience a breathtakingly beautiful new view of the surf. Until that day, I can only invite you to use your imagination for your first Landboat adventure.
Gary Pire
Landboat
La Jolla, CA

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Winning Magazine
Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you are a winner in the 9th Annual Publish  Design Contest.  Your entry, American Windsurfer Vol. 4 Issue 2, was judged the best in the Magazine/Journal category.  Be sure  to watch for our May, 1997, issue, which will feature an article on all the winning projects, including yours.

Thank you for making this year’s contest one of our most successful in recent years.  Our panel of judges sifted through  almost 800 entries from around the world to determine the winners. Congratulations again from the entire staff of Publish.
Best regards,
Jake Widman
Editor, Publish Magazine
San Francisco, CA


News from Brazil
I am a windsurfer in Brazil and a big fan of American Windsurfer magazine. How do I go about getting a subscription sent to Brazil and paid for by an international credit card? Also, is it possible to acquire any former editions of the magazine? Thanks.
Florian Bartunek
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

You may subscribe by faxing (603-293-2723) your address and Visa or MC card number with expiration date. The special international subscription rate is now $50.00 for one year and $95.00 for two years–Canada is down to $35. Back issues are available for $8.00, plus shipping of $6.00 each. We also have three bound books which include all the past issues. Their cost is $39.95 each, plus $21.00 airmail international shipping. Ed.


The Whole Story
As is the case with many journalists, you only got half the story concerning your write up of the commercial that was made by Yvette Jackson and Carter Skemp. That’s right, all the looping and stunt work was done by Carter Skemp in Maui who was hired to do all the stand in “tough stuff” for Yvette. I am surprised that she did not tell you since it is the looping that makes this commercial so exciting. Carter spent four days with the Industrial Light and Magic crew to get it right and has received his share of the commercial residuals.
Next time, how about the whole story?
Eric Skemp
HiFly Jefferson, OR

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From Mrs. Skemp
I was incredibly disappointed in reading your article, “Making Waves of Amber Grain,” in the most recent issue of American Windsurfer. Whoever wrote the article apparently did not thoroughly research it as there was no mention of Carter Skemp (yes, he’s my son) as being a significant part of the TV commercial for the new allergy medicine ALLEGRA.

You wrote that Yvette Jackson is “looping and jibing through a wheat field,” when it is actually Carter who is looping and jibing. Carter was hired at the last minute to perform aerial stunts that most women have been unable to do in the conditions in which the commercial was filmed on the north shore of Maui. Carter, a professional windsurfer living on Maui, shaved his legs and the make-up crew French braided his hair so he could “do the stunts” in place of Yvette for the two days of the photo shoot on Maui. So, those loops over the wheat, those dips behind the wheat need to be credited to Carter. It’s not as if he did one loop…ALL those loops and about 3/4 of those jibes are his.
Dory Skemp
dskemp@ccsmtp.risd.edu

I guess you can’t call us male chauvinist pigs or couch potatoes. Yvette caught our associate editor’s fancy and the article was focused on her rather than the “whole” behind the scene story.  She certainly apologizes for failing to mention Carter’s contribution, as we never asked the question. Perhaps you  both might find consolation in seeing this 1/3  page acknowledgement rather than a sentence or a paragraph that would have been incorporated into the previous one page write up. ED


Darby vs Drake
Thank you for sending me your magazine. I would like to respond to Jim Drake’s article. In Drake’s writing, he sounds like he knows all about me. But neither he nor Schweitzer know me. Neither has ever interviewed me about the history of my first sailboard. Yet for years they are behind all kinds of stories about me, many of which are not true.

Drake does not even know what part of the country I lived in. I never lived in the mid-west. When I got involved in the first sailboard business, I had lived all my life in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Last spring,the boys in our windsurfing club brought me a copy of a speech by Drake off the Internet stating that I never had a universal joint. I knew that he knew from the court cases. Now in your magazine, he says I did have a universal joint. I believe that this kind of reporting is very careless. Now he writes that my first sailboard didn’t work well. You can see that he is wrong if you just look at the enclosed video.

During 1965, my friends and I would sail for hours on end. As we got good at it, we rarely fell. Also we could always tack upwind to get back. The first hull I designed had a very efficient displacement and it moved very easy in a light wind. The same hull would also plane. During the summer of 1965, I had on my drawing board designs of faster sloop sail rigs and designed the 12’ surfboard-like faster hull. I made two scale models of the new sailboard designs and painted them blue.

These models were displayed in my store and shown to anyone interested. I clearly remember a man coming in my store who thought I was a customer. We talked about sailboards for a long time and as he left he told me two men were going to patent my sailboard. I told him it was against the law and asked who they were. He said they lived far away and left.

Here are a few corrections to the article that Drake wrote about me: Drake said I advertised my sailboard in Popular Mechanics. In truth, I wrote a four page article on how to build and sail a sailboard in the August, 1965, Popular Science magazine. It was the Loma Sailboards that were advertised in the July 1966 issue of Popular Mechanics.

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Drake indicated that I was not technically oriented and didn’t appreciate how important streamlining was. In fact, I was designing and building streamline boat hulls for over 20 years when I built my first sailboard. About 8 years before, I was hired by a college football coach to design and build a fast cruising rowboat that could beat the local racing kayaks and canoes, and I did this. I also designed four streamlined catamarans, one of which was featured in a six page article in the February 1961 issue of Popular Science magazine. I have also been contracted and paid by a Japanese kayak factory to design three different design hulls. They believed some of my streamline hull designs were better and faster. They approached me because of my reputation.

Drake said that it happened unfortunately for me that my concept of how to go about this was hopelessly inefficient. My first sailboard was a test to see if it was humanly possible to sail such a craft and it did just that. Mistral years later built a kite sail rig that I designed and told me it was more efficient in all but high winds than the wishbone boom sail rigs done before 1980. Mr. John Wise of Long Island built a kite sail and he told me the same thing.

The basic scow hull designs were well known as the world’s fastest mono-hull sailboats  because they were efficient on flat water. Dollar for dollar, the kite sail rig may still be the most efficient for a sailboard. One of the main purposes of the first sailboard was to come up with an inexpensive but exciting sailing sport that people living on a close budget could afford.

Many other companies started in the sailboard business not long after my article came out in Popular Science. Naturally each company added their own modifications.

This was a young but enthusiastic industry, and it was all going before 1967. Pictures and articles about the sport were in tens of millions of homes and businesses. Yet, Drake and Schweitzer claim to have not known anything about the already–going sailboard industry for years while they were in the business.

The untrue stories published about me are bad for my reputation as a boat designer. Yes, I still design experimental boats. I would be happy if American Windsurfer would print my side of the history with equal coverage.
S.Newman Darby
Jacksonville, FL


On Darby’s Rig
It was in the summer ‘84 or ‘85 in Lake Garda, Italy. The phone rang. Eckard Wagner from North Sails was on the line and said: “Hey,  listen, I’ve something very interesting for you to test, do you have time this afternoon?”. When I went down to the place I saw it for the first time in person. Until now I had seen it only as primitive sketches in magazines. I took it from the ground. Darby’s rig seemed very lightweight and kind of small. I couldn’t believe that it would move me around. Close to the beach the wind was about 15 mph, but farther outside it was blowing 25-30. I doubted that the leeches would hold, because I had a lot of experience in sailing clew first. In heavy winds it’s  kind of difficult, because the power point in the sail is fast moving up and down the boom. But Eckard said it was no problem if I wouldn’t come back. They would get me with the boat. So I started.

I must say I loved it from the first try. The uphauling was so easy. It was if I had a sail for children in my hands. The reason is, the mast is in the middle, so the distance to the leeches of the sail are very short compared to a regular sail.

Jibing was pure fun and extremely easy. You don’t have to shift the sail! You’ll go full power into a jibe and keep the power and the speed all through the turn! There’s not a fraction of a second where you’re out of power. Going to weather was easy too, but the sail couldn’t get as close to 45º as a regular sail, but who cares about angles anyway! The quality was enough to point.

Tacking is different from normal sails. The easiest way is a kind of power tack. When the nose of the board is in the wind, you push the sail 180º through the wind and then continue sailing. You can do an ordinary tack too, but that’s more difficult. The Darby rig is about on the same level as a tack with a normal sail. The mast track had to be at the farthest backward position because of the unique placement of the power point in the sail.

Then I tried it harder. I went to freestyle moves like helicopter, rail riding, 360º, sailing backward on the leeward side and so on. Until then I had forgotten that I had a sail construction in my hands that I never used before. I wondered why, that even in strong winds, the leeches didn’t flatter at all. Then I realized that it was due to the flat mast slightly curved to windward. When the winds became stronger, the sail force bends the mast backwards and the straight distance between the mast tip and the mast foot became longer. That automatically produced more tension to the leeches.

After two hours I came back to the beach and said to Eckhard that I ‘d order right now, here on the beach, 20 of these rigs for my windsurfing school for the next season, and I told him about all those features in performance. He looked at me, scratched his earlobes and shook his head. He was afraid that the rig was too easy to sail, that all the beginners would buy one. And then he would have competition with his own sail company that had thousands of normal sails, masts and booms in stock. There will always be some guys whose only intention is being faster than others. For them, an ordinary sail might be better. But I knew that most of the customers wanted to have fun, and doing an easy, smooth and fast jibe without falling into the water is a main part of that cake!

The power in that small sail, said Eckard Wagner, comes from an outline which is closest to the ideal sail shape, a kind of oval. If you want to know more about it just look up at what Marchaij has written about it in his “sailing-bible” (The aero and hydrodynamics of sailing).

But even the slight disadvantage in top speed should not be compared to ordinary sail shapes, if one takes in to consideration the decades of research and development done for the modern sails. If only 1% of that research would be done for the Darby-sail, who knows what improvements could be make. One thing stands out for sure. With that sail shape, nearly everyone learns a jibe immediately as soon as she or he is able to sail a straight line. And sailors who have had some difficulties in carving a speed jibe like a water ski would do it on the first try.
Annabella Hofmann
Lake Garda, Italy

Not to pound the subject to death, we are planning to rig an article on Newman Darby in the coming issues. Darby’s historical archives can’t be denied and demand equal time on the editorial sea. Ed.


A Troubling Story
Is this where the new technology of windsurfing is heading to? This is a true story about a friend of mine, an owner of a small boardmaking shop in Port Canaveral, FL. All Bob Scott wanted to do was make a few windsurf boards for his friends and sail as much as possible. Let’s start at the beginning.

A few years ago, Bob Scott worked for Keith Notary of Clam Sandwich in Merritt Island, FL, helping Keith build boards. Keith would shape them off his flexible mold and Bob would do the rest–lay the glass, do the sanding, install the tracks, straps, etc.. After a couple of seasons working for Keith, Bob felt he could make a better board. So, after a few disagreements with Keith, Bob left to go out on his own. After a year or so, Bob, with a little money and some help from his windsurfing buddies, started making Scott epoxy sandwich boards at his little shop at the port. I guess Keith didn’t like that, so he sued Bob for violation of his noncompetitive agreement and theft of trade secrets. Keith Notary is well connected and his father owns a lot of property on Merritt Island. Bob Scott, on the other side, lives in his van (a true windsurfer) and does automotive body work to survive. Bob had no money for a lawyer. Keith wins the civil suit on theft of trade secrets and slaps a judgement on Bob. A few months later, Keith and a few cops and lawyers swoop down on Bob’s shop and take his van, tools…everything. They haul Bob to jail on a criminal charge of theft of trade secrets. All of this is legal according to our legal system. One week before  Christmas, Bob, now with a lawyer, loses his criminal case and goes back to jail. Out on bond and at the time of this writing, he is awaiting his sentencing.

Is this what windsurfing has gone to? Has it gotten so petty that rich man goes after poor man? Bob may have made 25 or so boards for the locals. He ends up in jail just because he came up with the similar idea of a flexible mold that his old employer had but he made it better. Isn’t one supposed to make it better than the last one? Handed down from one to the next so we, the consumers, can benefit from the new technology? Didn’t Keith Notary of Clam Sandwich learn his tricks from Gary Efferding of Hyper-Tech? From Hyper-Tech to Clam to Scott to…the logical progression of one to another to make better boards for you and me to go faster…to fly higher? What do you think? What can you do to help?
Bill Watford
Merritt Island, FL


Southern Streetsailors
“Hey AW, How y’all are? I hope to told you, dat’s a great story!”
I’m referring to your very captivating and informative article about the concrete sailors. That Gonzales guy must be a real character!
Street sailing looks and sounds like a lot of fun and I’d love to get into it since the wind is usually much better for that here in Louisiana. Do you think they make a “swamp pirogue” version? Although the UltraNectar web site had a few more pictures to show, there wasn’t any info on Street sailing. I called the number in your article and found out that there is another web site, www.slip.net/~jrathle. Just thought you’d like to know in case you get more calls about street sailing.
Pierre et Raymond Rathle
fleurdelys@CajunNet.com


Bargain Gear
I was looking at purchasing the NeilPryde shock and was wondering if your magazine is going to, or already did, run a test on it. For me this system makes great sense! All I have to do is get another mast to go along with the system, use an extra boom and mast base that I have and VOILA!!! Two completely brand new  rigs!

Now the question remains…what do I do with my old gear? I hear there’s a place in California that you can donate stuff to. Is that true? And if so, who pays for the shipping? The sails I have are at least 6 years old and in rough shape. The booms are usable but both are aluminum. I have one flex top carbon mast and one Fiberglass mast. All of this stuff was hand me downs from friends or bought at a swap meet.

Here’s an example of costs for some people that might want to get into the sport.

I bought from friends: $300 for an F2 Cobra(about 140 liters), 15” blade fin, 6.0 Aerotech, fiberglass mast, mast base and alum extension (just enough to get me on the water!) $100 for a Calvert custom 7.2 Aerotech race sail. $50 for a 4.5 wave sail, 5.5 Hatteras Product. $150 for a Bruce Jones custom glass bump and jump board(approx. 8’8”, maybe 95 liters). $100 for a carbon mast to fit 7.2 race sail.

I bought from a store:$100 for a Rainbow 12.5” fin, $85-90 for a Chinook mast extension and base. Won at swap meet and sold: $300 for a “95 Mistral Energy (9” 105 liters)

So, I spent approximately $890 and sold one board for $300. That comes out to approximately $590 for two boards, four sails, two masts, two fins, two extensions and two mast bases! Talk about bargain shopping! Now it’s time to do the budget upgrade on the sails and the shock looks like the best deal for the money. But how do they perform? Thanks for the input.
Adam Hamblett
Fairfax, VA
aham@orbital.com


Helmets Requested
I’d like to nominate that piece on concrete sailing for a hairy eyeball. What set me off were the photos of the guys blasting around without headgear. They all had sunglasses on, but hardly a helmet in the bunch. It’s bad enough that it’s so uncool to wear ‘em on the water, but while flying across asphalt and concrete? In a crowd? Sure, it’s supposed to be a free country, but cannot the case be made that featuring photos of unsafe sailing sets a poor example for the kids?
I too love this skateboardsailing. I got about ninety sessions in last year and I never fall, unless of course I’m showing off. Even though I shred and even though I hate to hassle with the lid as much as anyone, I wear it. Always!  And no one tries my stuff without putting one on first. Nor would I let any photos go out of anyone landsailing if they weren’t wearing. Besides, the new bike lid designs are so light and comfortable, there can be no argument that they’re hot and heavy. Or is it the other cool factor?

For what it’s worth, a lot of the worst falls happen when you’re going slow. So even though I might feel totally comfortable at an ultra clean venue in light air, I still wear. It’s all for keeping the discipline and offering an example.

I was stoked to see landsailing get recognition as the unreal x-training environment and the crew at Crissy is putting on a great show. More freedom to them and I hope to share in a few sessions there this summer. But I’m begging then to wear those helmets!
Dana Miller
Waves NC
gross@ncccs.cc.nc.us


Late Night Thoughts
This is a question of interest(or maybe not). Will there come a time for the average wage earner when he or she can stroll into a retail store (windsurfing specialty) and purchase a board, three sails, a mast, a boom and walk away knowing the following:

1. He or she will not have to make payments on their Visa for the next three years!

2. He or she will not be purchasing an extra fin to go with one of the two other sails!

3. He or she will not be sitting on the beach because they are under powered or overpowered and too low a volume or too high volume board(buy an additional board, do not stop at GO, proceed to VISA for an additional two years in the payment house!)

4. He or she will not spend a half a day rigging the sail, adjusting the boom and battening down the hatches.

5. He or she will not be subjected to a sales person looking out the window for wind, while giving testimony of mast high wave sailing and why you should buy the board they ride. (He or she is just now hitting a jibe or two in succession, major accomplishment DuoooDE!)

A person could read a lot between the preceding lines. Does the staff of American Windsurfer think it a tad idealistic? It’s late night here, in the sometimes windy city. I really enjoy this publication. God bless all of you!
Stan Pulsipher
Pyramid Snowboards, Inc.
Seattle, WA


Birthday Celebration
Something so wonderful happened to me that I want to share it with you. At 65 a great many birthdays have whizzed by me and I hardly remember them, but this last one was absolutely memorable, chiseled in stone.  I went to Caberette to windsurf.

Caberette is a dream come true.  The waves looked mast high, but they were all so gentle;  great,sweet gentle giants that just rolled along and didn’t want to drown me.  I was flying from one to the other like a crazy jet humming bird.  I was having the best time of my life and I couldn’t stop.  I would come to the end, jibe and fly out again back and forth on a diagonal.  I never imagined it could be so good.  The waves just kept coming and coming.  There were great waves, but the wind, well you cannot have everything and every so often a big one would crash down on top of me.  I learned to dive deep and let the next wave wash me to my equipment and do a quick water start and off.  When I was young ,I was not looking forward to being 65. No one ever told me that it could be so much fun, no job or children worries, just me and those waves.

I must say that the people from the Vela resort were really wonderful to be with.  The equipment was all new Mistral and the sails well rigged.  Jon  Svendson from Vela was celebrating his birthday, the same day as mine.  So we  all celebrated together, a very international windsurfing family, with African wine.

The 2nd best sport in Caberette, after those windsurfing, friendly waves was mountain biking.   We rented bikes from Iguana Mama and the mountain bikes were new and their attitude went with the bikes, friendly and reliable.  The trails for mountain biking were for everyone, straight up a mountain or along  sandy roads through villages with beautiful brown skin girls staying home and minding light skinned babies.  Rolling green gentle hills with royal palms growing wild and cattle grazing is what we bicycled around, very easy on the eyes with a few roosters thrown in.  The sad thing was no natural wild life, no iguanas, only a few egrets.

Many days we would go for a 6 or 8 mile walk along the beautiful coast, early in the morning, but no sea birds were flying around or running along the beach looking for little crabs and no fish in the ocean.  Out of the immediate tourist area the beaches were filled with plastic cups and bottles and all the rubbish the third world countries love to give to the sea.  Later on in the morning the Germans would arrive with their beach chairs and lie down soaking up the sun with their mountains of oiled bellies staring at the sky with an oversized navel button eye.

Crossing the main road was fun as these Latin lovers on their motor bikes and cars seemed to think of themselves as El Toro and we tourists as the matadors.  Brave matadors ready and able to leap or go down on bended knee as the bikes speed by leaving their dust on our arms…Bravo, Bravo!
Sali Snell
St. Thomas, VI


Keep those great letters coming! -ED

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