Driving Me Significatly Crazy

Readers Respond to Volume 8: Issue 2

Significant Others Adrift
I am a freelance writer who regularly reports for several local papers in the Boston area. More importantly, I am the significant other of a windsurfing fanatic. I am writing to you to propose a unique story idea for your readers.

Today, a monumental shift has occurred. As a Valentine’s Day gift, my boyfriend invited me to participate in his annual trek to Cabarete for fourteen days of wind and surf. For the past few years, I have dropped him off at Logan, taken care of his cats, and politely perused photos upon his return. This year, I’m in.

By way of background, the closest I’ve come to catching some air is hopping up and down after I stubbed my toe on his board after he left it in the middle of our Boston apartment. Will I take lessons and discover my hidden affinity for windsurfing? Will other recreational and tourist attractions amuse me? Will I meet up with other non-windsurfing significant others and commiserate, sucking down umbrella rum drinks and dancing merengue? What happens when one partner isn’t “on board”?

In all seriousness, this is a new angle on the extensively covered destination of Cabarete. I’d love to discuss story angles with you to see if I might develop a feature article of interest to American Windsurfer. I’ll send a hard copy of my query with published clips for your reference.
Elizabeth Horton

Driving Me Crazy!
So many times over the years I have wanted to write, usually to complain about something driving me crazy, or occasionally, to compliment things I enjoyed. I have composed numerous “letters to the editor” in my head but have never spent the time to write my thoughts and send them mostly because I would rather be doing other, more fun, things. This time, though, I made an exception because the subject impacts me personally and I can’t just let it slide.

What are you thinking with the picture of the damn airplane on the cover?! I am certainly not an airplane/jet enthusiast, Air Force, or other metal contraption fan, and I doubt that many of your readers are. I do, on the other hand, love windsurfing and my life’s ventures often revolve around the sport. I doubt that there is any correlation between windsurfers and plane lovers as there is between skiing/snowboarding and windsurfing. For example, your cover with Chad Fleischer skiing and windsurfing was brilliant. I’m sure I speak for many of your readers when I say I was very disappointed with your choice of cover picture for the last issue.

What makes things worse is that this is the second cover with blasted airplanes! Who cares if they are really cool fighter jets? They’re not cool to me; windsurfing is cool to me. That’s why I subscribe to your magazine and not “Fighter Pilot Monthly”. I was really pissed off at that first one too. It was pure torture having to look at it every time I picked up the magazine.

Here’s the part that gets personal: Chuck Hardin is a really good friend of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed his article, “Saved by Windsurfing” in AW issue 8.2. We met and sailed for three years while I had my Emergency Medicine Residency training at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Having had to transplant from the Gorge, (I lived nearby in Portland), I was skeptical about the amount and quality of sailing I would get living in Augusta. Fortunately, Chuck is right on with his praise and windy description of Clark Hill Lake. I had numerous very excellent sessions on that lake, which was only fifteen minutes away from my apartment. I also got to meet many wonderful windsurfing enthusiasts of all levels, from beginner to expert, when we came together on windy days, who truly embody the camaraderie and spirit of windsurfing with Chuck leading the way, as does your magazine.

Chuck and I have shared many interesting discussions about such topics as the joys of skiing versus snowboarding, and, of course, windsurfing. I was thrilled when he told me about the article he wrote for your magazine, and even more thrilled that he submitted a picture of me windsurfing, which was published on page 39, but not captioned.
He snapped that picture of me dialed in, initiating a jibe, on an epic, steady 35 mph day, sailing my favorite set-up—a custom Windance 7’11’’ and a 4.2 meter NP wave sail. (I know it’s old school but it still rips when conditions are right.) It’s every recreational sailor’s dream to have a picture of himself published in a major windsurfing magazine, so I was really stoked. Even if it wasn’t captioned, I knew who it was in the picture and so would my friends. It sounds silly, but little things like that are exciting for big kids who refuse to grow up.

But just one little snag and one huge bummer: that magazine will be sitting on my coffee table for a long time to come and I’ll have to endure the pure agony of having to look at such a lame cover. That, in a major way, detracts from “my shining moment”. I know there’s nothing you can do about the damage already done; we’ll just have to live with it. But, for the love of God, in the future, could you please put awesome pictures of windsurfing on your covers for us to enjoy? My favorite is the one with Naish flying into the stratosphere with a helicopter below.

I love your magazine but could definitely do with less of that “LIFESOURCE” and other existentialism mumbo jumbo crap that you keep putting in more and more (and yes that “LIFESOURCE” cover sucked too but, at least, there was some water in that picture). The downsizing of your magazine’s dimensions was also a big disappointment. I guess I’m making up for all of those letters I meant to send that are embedded somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Ending on a complimentary note, your photography is great, “Forecasts” are inspiring, and the editorial style, at large, is magnificent.
Bill Cimikoski, MD
Carnival Cruise Lines Southern Caribbean

We love hearing from our readers and take delight over their views. We do get criticism about covers that have nothing to do with windsurfing. While we try to get as many covers as possible with a windsurfing photo, i.e. this issue, our primary objective with American Windsurfer is to reach out to a larger audience.

It has been our mission since we started publishing AW seven years ago to expand the sport, to share with as many people as possible the joy, the wonders, and the camaraderie which you refer to so eloquently. This is predominantly the reason we have, at times, covered subjects that have nothing to do with windsurfing.

We want a pilot or a skier or a politician, for example, who would never pick up a magazine with a windsurfing image on its cover, to pick up American Windsurfer. To provoke wide interest, we use our covers as bait. In fact, our strategy is to relate to a broad band of readers and use cover subjects as an ambassador for the sport. We want a pilot to pick up AW from a newsstand and read about the test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, which interests him, and consequently be introduced to the thrill of windsurfing.

Though criticized for doing this, we are committed to the sport’s growth and sometimes that proves to be very unpopular. Preaching to the choir is certainly easier, but with our sport and for its future, it would be in my estimation, an effort with diminishing returns. ED

PS. What’s the deal on Carnival Cruise Lines?



Chapter II
Your points are well taken regarding attempts at expanding your reader base with different covers and sparking interest in the sport. I really love your magazine and although I was very strong about some criticisms regarding the covers and a few other things, overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I know I was over the top at times. But, I also know that you guys are very good sports about such things and freely take it all in without any hard feelings. I have to say I have been a big admirer of yours, through your writings and compassion for others, and your mag since I first was introduced to AW around the time of its third or fourth issue when I was at the Can-Am Windsurfing Expo in Cape Cod. Robby Naish was there, and so was Bjorn. I picked up some complimentary issues there and got Robby to autograph the one with him and his wife on the cover. It sits on the wall in my bedroom, framed. Ever since I’ve subscribed to American Windsurfer.

When I finished my Emergency Medicine Residency, I took some time off to ski and snowboard all winter in Utah and windsurf in the Gorge all summer until my credit cards and loans got a little out of hand and it was time to get a job.

I have been a ski/windsurfing bum for years and have always taken the time to get as much of them as possible. I spent two years of medical school in St. Lucia where I learned to windsurf from ‘87 to ‘89 and have been hooked ever since. I lived in a beach cottage right on the water at the windiest spot on the island and windsurfed all the time. I transferred stateside for my last two years of medical school and did my winter rotations at Colorado University so I could ski and my summer rotations at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland so that I could windsurf.

Last June, after taking almost a full year off after completing my residency, I was thinking that it would be fun to work on a cruise line as a ship physician. I gave Carnival Cruise Lines a call because they have the reputation of being fun with a younger single crowd. They love having Emergency Medicine trained docs, especially from the U.S., so they said, “Can you start in two weeks? We need someone right away.” I thought it over for about a day then told them, “Sure, I’ll try it for a month, and if I like it, and don’t get sea sick, then I’ll sign on for a longer contract of six more months.” The clincher was the itinerary of the island ports that the ship visits: San Juan, Puerto Rico (home port), St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Aruba one week alternating with St. Thomas, Antigua, Curacao, and Aruba the next week. I don’t need to tell you that these are the Caribbean’s windiest islands.

I have been having a blast working there and windsurf all the time. I windsurf out of Vela on Aruba and have made a lot of friends there. I have met many excellent people and made great contacts on the islands. They are very good to me and in exchange, I give them as many referrals as I can from the ship. I also recently started kitesurfing and have been doing a lot of that as well. Whenever there isn’t a lot of wind on the islands, there is almost always enough for kitesurfing, and I do it every chance I get.

The other nice thing is that my kite and kitesurfing board fit easily in my cabin and I don’t have to worry about renting or finding equipment. So, I really enjoy working on Destiny, the largest ship in the fleet. Life is very easy and there aren’t too many serious emergencies. Typically, contracts run for about six months and then I take three or four months off. I finished my last contract in February and headed to Utah to ski and snowboard for the rest of the winter. Now that winter is winding down here, I’ll head to the Gorge for a few weeks and plan to return to Carnival in June. Basically, I tell them when I’m ready to come back, and they get me a position. I’ll do this for a while until I either get tired of it or find a good woman to settle down with and start a family. Thanks again. This is a privilege.
Bill Cimikoski, MD

The privilege is ours as well as the pleasure, especially if we can get a “Love Boat” story out of this. We can even have the boat on the cover…huh huh (half kidding). Ed


Chapter III
I’m really flattered. As a matter of fact, the ship I was on and the run I was doing is absolutely excellent for windsurfers. It’s really tailor made for windsurfers due to the excellent islands we visit for windsurfing. They are also very beautiful islands even if you’re not into windsurfing. I have to admit that the job I have on the ship is really a blast and quite interesting. Fortunately, due to the size of the ship (3500 passenger capacity and 1200 crew), there are two physicians on board. That makes it nice because we are able to share the workload and work every other day and take every other day off. On the days we do work, we have three hours of clinic in the morning from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. and three hours in the afternoon 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. So, we have plenty of time off and the work isn’t too hard most of the time. We are on “call” for any emergencies, as well, every other day (on the days we are working).

Things are really easy on the ship. We have unlimited excellent food without having to worry about shopping, cooking, doing the dishes, etc. A cabin steward cleans and makes my bed every day and a laundry service does my laundry daily. There are 14 bars/lounges on the ship and lots of talented musicians to listen to in various different types of bands or ensembles. All you have to do is walk out of your cabin and you’re there. No worrying about driving to locations, searching for parking, waiting in lines, or driving home drunk.

I think that life aboard the ship and specifically the itinerary of the Destiny would make a very good article for your magazine. It’s a pretty unique set up and lifestyle for a windsurfing bum like myself. I had planned on working/living six months of the year in Portland, Oregon in the summers (to windsurf) and six months of the year in SLC, UT (to ski/snowboard) until the cruise line opportunity came around. Now, I can still get my windsurfing fix in, for most of the year, while in the Caribbean, and still take a lot of time off in the winter to hit the slopes in Utah. I would be more than happy to help you (or a member of your staff) arrange to come aboard for a week or two.

An article about life aboard a cruise ship, and specifically one that is perfect for windsurfing enthusiasts, would be something that I think your readers would really find interesting; especially, since St. Lucia, Antigua, Curacao, Guadeloupe, and Aruba are incredible windsurfing destinations on their own, without the cruise ship tying them all together. I would be more than happy to share my experiences aboard the Destiny with you and, of course, am very flattered by the whole idea of you being interested in doing it.
Bill Cimikoski, MD
Carnival Cruise Lines

That’s why we have “er” behind windsurf and is what American Windsurfer is all about. ED


Nymphs Don’t Fart!
I must congratulate you on yet another issue of AW. Once again, I regret to note the absolutely beautiful, inspiring photography taking up space in issue 8.2. I also regret to notice the thought-provoking, full-of-care words holding great value. And, as usual, my senses, my heart and soul, and my mind are taxed and fulfilled by your work and those collaborating with you.

The letters to the editor are also again well supplied and well taken care of. I’m glad you expose both the narrow-minded and the wider understanders and appreciators. You also expose all their typos right in the body of their letters. Aren’t many of them often the ones who notice and criticize typos within the pages of AW? I guess they don’t have anything better to do than to contact you about them. Did you write searing letters to them pointing out their no-no’s?

Maybe we all need more time on the water.

I also support your inclusion of non-windsurfing subjects and always have. Although windsurfing is in a world of itself, it is connected, related, and tied to much else in this world. The sport, as its enthusiasts, can only grow and improve by including other related subjects within its realm. We are all, for the most part, terribly and faithfully addicted but can taste something related to add some spice to life and improve our windsurfing experience.

What I don’t understand is how do some readers recklessly, carelessly, lash out, throwing their words at AW when this is a magazine that shares the sport all its readers love? I’m just wondering, are they all writers, desktop publishers, editors, and magazine publishers, or do they just know so much? I must keep in mind that AW has many gracious admirers who are infinitely inspired by each magazine and add it to their total windsurfing experience, in one way or another. However, those critical ones seem to disregard the fact that AW has expert staff, professional and well-seasoned, putting each issue together. Did AW ever think of about handing over the magazine to one of your critics for a month? Maybe they could come up with the exact product that they and every other windsurfer wants to the “T”. (Oh, bless the fate of American Windsurfer!)
I am still soaking up the photos, and the words, of course, of 8.1 and 8.2 as I look forward to 8.3
Deb Martin
Darien, CT


Steve Mulder, M. D., from last month’s “Air Mail” pages needs to open his mind to the likelihood that we, as humans, are alone on this planet to fend for ourselves and no imaginary father is going to intervene when we screw it up.

The scientific findings of recent years have revealed compelling evidence that life evolved from ultimately simple forms four billion years ago. Dr. Charles Pellegrino, who is better informed on the matter, says it best:
“Biology is the production of order from chaos; and it seems that the carbon atom, impelled by just a little energy, is a most splendid organizer. We are the result of the most likely chemical reactions undergone by some of the most abundant elements in this part of the universe.

So here we stand, you and I: symphonies of chemical activity written on DNA and performed by protein. As such, every cell in our bodies is a living, breathing museum, for by all accounts, the composer in our lives was the earth itself, in whose waters carbon and volcanic dust came together to produce something new. Pulsing with life’s surge, the very fluid in which our mitochondria, flagella, and other cell organelles thrive is almost an exact replica of seawater. The concentrations of sodium and zinc, cesium and cobalt in our tissues are no different from those found on the high seas.

When some of our remotest forebearers liberated themselves from the oceans, they apparently took the oceans with them onto the plains and into the mountains, stubbornly adhering to the chemistry of their origins, as if to trap the Pacific in our veins, like a living fossil, until the end of time, and in each of those miniature Pacifics that live inside us, cell nuclei and mitochondria carry the seeds of the evolutionary process, as did the most competitive proto-cells (and later the bacteria) more than three billion years ago. Every form of animal life on earth—cat and flea, elephant and intestinal amoeboid—shares a common ancestry, somewhere very low down the evolutionary tree, with every other creature. We know this because the cells of mice and men, cockroaches and lobsters (and what is a lobster but a giant seagoing cockroach?) are filled with and powered by the same organelles: mitochondria.”

Mark Suhre
Wheeling IL

[Quotation from page 67 of Return to Sodom and Gomorrah, Charles Pellegrino, Avon Books, 1994]



Where is Everybody!?
My lifestyle changed about ten years ago, and I was no longer afforded the time to windsurf and I lived on the beach. I can now devote time to the sport, but what happened? Where is everybody. Has everyone lost interest, is there anyone still out there who is in love with Windsurfing? Can anyone tell me the condition of the sport? Is it healthy, growing or has everyone traded in their boards for sea going canoes? I don’t know what the rules and laws are that govern Windsurfing in every state but I was on the West Coast for a week in March of this year and every day I was on some beach while I was there from San Diego to LA and not a sail in sight. Prior to that I was in Savannah, Georgia during the peak sailing season, Nothing! Yesterday I stood on the bank of some waterway in Virginia and watched sailboats slip by but not one energetic, high spirited, fun loving Windsurfer; what gives. I don’t mind being the Lone Rider, but I was never that good and I am afraid there will be no one around for me to learn from. Thank you for letting me have this opportunity and maybe someone there can answer a few of my questions (like where is everybody).
Doug Douglas

Please see Forecast on page 8.


Feeling Good
My wife worked this weekend so I could buy a sail, mast, and extension from a friend. I felt nervous about the $ — what about saving it, using it to buy my wife a gift (lame idea), giving it to charity, etc? Then I found myself writing a note to my friend. I wished him good luck with his girl, and other stuff about how I’d be tearin’ it up with his old sail.

Then I kidded myself about how maybe, just maybe, I’m buying the sail just so my friend will get the message in my note. No, not the part about me, the part about good luck with the girl. Then I felt better.
Thanks for a great mag.
Annapolis, MD