Harnessing Spirit: Images & Legends

Readers Respond to Issue 4.5

(Go to Volume 4: Issue 5)



Windsurfing’s Spirit
I don’t usually correspond to strangers, but since my first AW I feel more at home within those pages than with any other mag. It is tough to stretch out the articles and pictures to last more than just the first day. This also makes the wait for the next issue tough. My wife and I really enjoy your magazine and I have let all four of my other subscriptions lapse. None of the others seem to carry the spirit of Windsurfing like you guys (and gals) do. Thanks again for the added inspiration and information.
Kurt and Tricia Huffman
Jonesborough, TN

PS: The pics from Holland, esp the young sailor #186 brought a tear to my eye.

Image Building
A subtle note with my AW..THIS IS YOUR LAST ISSUE.. caught my attention, so I am enclosing my subscription renewal. Sorry the plan for the April 5th failed to materialize. It happens. Sometimes vast enterprises turn out to be only half-vast. You are on the right track though. It will take exposure to mass mainstream media to attract large numbers of potential windsurfers. A novel, unless made into a movie, wouldn’t do much. A TV action drama series on the Baywatch models would pull in droves of candidates.

Individual boardheads can do P.R. in organizations they belong to and where they work (some actually have real jobs!) Use can be made of local newspapers, community cable TV stations and radio to publicize events and promote the sport. On the other side of the ledger, they can avoid being a nuisance in shipping lanes, getting rescued by the Coast Guard in extreme conditions and cluttering up public beaches with equipment not in use.

And, what does the Allegra commercial and our own depictions suggest to the public? That our sport is only for risk taking, wind and water borne acrobats? Perception is important in seeking new participants. Keep the good stuff coming!
Gordon Barnard Jr.
Goffstown, NH


Waterstart Legends
As a certified windsurfing instructor, I was amused to view your photo sequences of the very first windsurfer (Issue 4.4) trying to teach himself how to boardsail. Mr. Drake was committing the most common beginner mistake and the leading cause of the sore back and shoulders by bending over instead of arching his back. So many students comment that learning to jibe and tack is difficult and confusing that one can only wonder how Drake and his friends invented these techniques.

By the way, do you know how the waterstart was invented? A kid named Ike got wiped out doing freestyle in strong winds on a huge primitive sailboard. He lifted his rig up and was going to throw it over the board into the uphaul position when it just accidentally passed through the perfect waterstart configuration as he held the boom. A gust of wind then unexpectedly blew him up on his board! What was that? That’s what he told us anyway.
Steve Omer
Maui, HI

AW Helps Out
Local kids in Brattleboro have been raising funds to buy books for an impoverished school in the Dominican Republic. When I found out the name of the town, Cabarete, I was shocked. That’s the school that has NO books, NO paper, nothing on the walls, no electricity, no water. The total list of supplies is one pencil per student.

A shipment of books and paper has gone out from Vermont, but don’t you think that with all the windsurf operations, condos, etc., in Cabarete that someone there can step forward and see that at least the bare minimum is provided to these kids? If I read that American Windsurfer talked to someone who got the situation straightened out I would not be surprised. Thanks a lot.
Tom Burns
Westminster, VT


We found two contacts in Cabarete that would be willing to serve as a windsurfing liason to dispense goods to school children. American Wayne Manuel was the winner of the 1995 Kodak Shootout Contest and has lived in Cabarete for over 10 years since his retirement. He can be reached at 809-571-0782 or fax, 809-571-3346. Also Argentina Jimenez, a professional windsurfer who works at the local shop, Surf and Sport, will be of service. She can be contacted at 809-571-0606 or fax, 809-571-0607. Those windsurfers traveling to Cabarete can bring care packages of books, paper, clothes and even used windsurfing gear to be donated to the children of the town. You can leave them with Manuel and Jimenez or ask them to direct you to the source of need. ED

Palm Springs Aid
We need help! We live in the very windy city of Palm Springs, CA. We’ve been trying to open the most famous Ponds or a lake, but speaking to the local officials is getting us nowhere. Maybe if we could get some big name companies or a big name windsurfer to help push the issue, we could get the job done. We have over a dozen large ponds which our water district has closed due to the bad crowd of jet skiers and beer drinkers who just didn’t care. At the time they were open, there were no rules to follow. Anyway, I believe we would have the hottest windsurfing spot in the nation, not to mention the great weather! The wind averages 25-30 mph 10 months out of the year and the big plus is, “who would need a wet suit?” Temperatures are around 80-115 degrees year round! Our local economy could really use a boost and if we could show them how it could be done, it just might work! One more thing, we are a growing city with lots of teens with nothing to do in the desert. Having windsurfing in their backyard could help.
Jackie and Brian Stem
Cathedral City, CA

We’ve set up a contact point for those who want to join the effort. Write to: OPEN PONDS 42335 Washington St. #355 Palm Desert, CA 92211. ED

Sponsored Links

Kodak Moments
I was thrilled with the honorable mention my photos received. The winning photos are as interesting as they are varied. The Sea Turtle shots are wonderful. But could you please explain to Lori that my comments were edited for space? And that, of course, I used more than one sentence to describe our photo.
Patrick Devitt
Dennisport, MA

P.S. How about a small article on the people who created the Funsaver camera? I’ll bet some of them are windsurfers!

One of our editors met a windsurfer 5 years ago testing the Funsaver. He worked in the developmental division of Kodak. ED

Finding Stephenson
I just read my first issue of your great mag! The nude Stephenson gear ad was a real find! I had seen those ads in The Whole Earth Catalog over 20 years ago and have long wondered what happened to them! Thanks for your story with Jack Stephenson! Great editorial! I want to move to Maui and take up windsurfing! And check out the huge surf at jaws!! Amazing ! Keep up the good work!
Michael Shields

A Creative Combo
Thanks for the wonderful article and interviews with Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer. Drake’s creativity and Schweitzer’s business sense was one of those rare synergistic combos that we all gained from. I remember reading a Popular Mechanics or Popular Science magazine article about their invention in 1971 or so. I wrote Hoyle a letter after reading the article and asked him if he’d sell me a set of plans. He wrote back and told me he was trying to make money, and offered to sell me a board. Wish I’d kept the letter. Wish I’d bought my first board back then.

I appreciate your putting Jim Drake’s original paper on the web. How about a few .jpgs of some of the drawings like “Figure 2”? If Jim doesn’t object, I’d like to frame a good print of it. Thanks for a wonderful magazine. You do our sport proud.
Mike Jones
Boise, Idaho


Drake’s Benefactors
Thank you for sending me a copy of American Windsurfer (vol 4,issue 5). And although what I’m sure you meant by the “original windsurfing family” included the Drakes alongside the Schweitzers, I found your coverage of your reader responses to the history of Windsurfing very refreshing. I was especially glad to see Matt on the cover after so many years. As many people probably remember, both he and Mike Waltz had single-handedly transformed the sport from its flat water roots by introducing the Windsurfer to wave riding back in the early ‘70s. And although Hoyle could not have conceived of windsurfing on his own, the idea would never have left my father’s garage without Hoyle’s or Diane’s encouragement, marketing, or tenacity. They had good Christmas parties, too.

This Darby/Drake thing is to me very amusing as well. Not to defend one over the other, but people should realize that the concept of windsurfing began because my father enjoyed sailing, but not all the rigging, the weight and especially the towed trailer that goes along with it. His idea about using a universal joint came quite by accident from an innate desire to discover a better way (or perhaps a more elegant way) to solve an engineering problem. Whether it’s with windsurfing, WaterSpyder, the “Third Way”, or even PowerFin, his methodology for inventing or improving on water sport equipment has remained focused for over 30 years. It’s his way. And we are its benefactors.
Matt Drake

Check out the Newman Darby interview in this issue. You should note that your father said in the interview that he was not the “inventor, but the re-inventor.” ED


Ignoring Responsibility
I am returning all of our unsolicited copies of American Windsurfer. I’m aware that it is your intention to produce an artistic and esoteric magazine about windsurfing, and I think that you have succeeded in that effort. However, as the Editor/Publisher, I believe it is your inherent responsibility to insure that the content in your magazine is accurate and truthful. To ignore that responsibility is a journalistic cop-out. I refer to the letter you published maligning Keith Notary. Your stand that you will print anything that is sent to you regardless of its truthfulness or accuracy is indefensible, particularly when the material is viciously directed at an individual whose ethics are beyond reproach. If this is what you need to resort to in an effort to sell your magazine, then count me out.
Steve Gates
Big Winds Hood River, OR 97031

We do have a contract requesting magazines from your shop and checks paying for the copies. But you are right about our inherent responsibility for our editorial content. In the case of our previous Air Mail, our desire to provide our reader an open and unedited forum failed, and unjustly maligned the reputation of another subscriber. We erred by not looking into the accuracy of the content of a letter before publication. It was only after the letter appeared that our fact finding revealed a considerably different story.

At first we invited Keith Notary to respond, but after further thought, we felt in this case, it was not Notary’s responsibility to defend himself but our responsibility to set the record straight. The letter that Bill Watford wrote and Air Mailed in Issue 4.5 describing the legal problems between Keith Notary and Bob Scott and the consequential jailing of Scott was unintentionally misleading and one sided. It did not take into account the unstoppable forces that were at work when the assistant district attorney decided to make a legal issue out of the breach of contract.

The letter also painted Notary as the “rich” bad guy and the culprit which sent Scott to jail. In reality, Scott went to jail because of his unwillingness to accommodate the legal directives passed down by the district attorney’s office concerning proprietary information contract and a confidentiality agreement relative to Notary’s molding technology. Scott’s failure to resolve the situation with the District Attorney provoked his incarceration after a subpoena was served and ignored. Notary advised him that the District Attorney would take action if he didn’t take the directives seriously. Unfortunately for Scott, his failure to adhere to his contractual obligations and respond to the District Attorney’s subpoena landed him in jail for a brief visit.

We have long learned that things are not often what they seem to be and to describe actions as they appear on the surface could easily mislead the real story. In this case, we want to set straight an accounting that unjustly defamed Keith Notary and to acknowledge our failure to catch the mistake in time. ED.


Unyielding Surfaces
“What the hell did you think would happen to you when you go jumping around with wheels strapped to your feet,” said my dad while we were in the emergency room. I sat there in another world with my upper front teeth freshly shattered, and waiting to get 8 stitches in my chin from an encounter with the pavement. If only my family lived where we can sail year round so I would have been windsurfing instead of “Aggressive In-line Skating,” on that one day. What I’m trying to say is what I’m trying to tell you, but I don’t know what I’m trying to say so I will tell you you’re damn right pavement is harder than water. Keepin’ it Real!
Guy Fielding


Warranty Woes
Almost by definition windsurfing is a sport that is rough on the equipment we splurge hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on. Manufacturers no doubt do their best to produce gear that will stand up to the rigors of normal use and they supply purchasers with a warranty to reassure us that the product is in fact good for the job it was sold for. So far so good.

So what is to be done when the product fails? The retailer will advise contacting the manufacturer’s representative in this country who will make a unilateral decision as to whether the visible damage was caused by a defect in their own product or “misuse” by the customer. Now this is where a leap of faith is required by the customer, for the rep has no first-hand knowledge of how the damage occurred and when he or she says that “misuse” is the problem, and that “this is not covered by the warranty,” it is tempting to wonder how impartial that decision is and to question what exactly is covered.
An example to illustrate the issue. I purchased a Mistral Screamer II CHS and was delighted with its looks and performance….for precisely two outings on flat water. Sadly, however a crack appeared right across the bow on the underside, with no other damage whatsoever on the board. After a few phone calls and e-mails, I sent, as requested, photographs to the Mistral warranty folk at North Sports. The rep, Carol Friend, advised me that she has had several similar complaints from customers and added that the crack appears just where the stringers end. Indeed, she said, another customer reported a similar problem after just one outing on flat water! With this introduction I was expecting a positive response…but no…the Mistral company line, I was told, is that all such problems are caused by “misuse.”

Now I could, of course, be lying and maybe I really smashed the board on a hard object, and maybe the other customers with a similar problem are all liars as well. I think not. My opinion, and it is only an opinion, is that even the great manufacturers like Mistral are naturally reluctant to admit to their own mistakes.

But the real problem is this…how is a purchaser to know what will or will not be covered by a warranty, when it is the manufacturer, or his representative, that will make the decision when the time comes? In this case the manufacturer admits to several customers reporting that the equipment has failed during normal use, but unsurprisingly they chose to disbelieve all such reports. I would appreciate hearing from others who have experienced similar responses from warranty claims.
Nicholas C M Renny


Profiler Response
We just received the new issue and it was a most timely arrival. As Profiler models, we have received much attention, starting with a party my son and I attended this weekend without Sharon. But thanks to American Windsurfer we had her in full color glossy to show all our friends. They were most impressed. I informed everyone I had a new career as a male model. They would look at me and then look at the pictures in “Profiles of a Windsurfer” and compared the two almost in disbelief. Despite a very spirited party I managed to make it home with the magazine sustaining minimal damage, lest a little vegetable dip smudges here and there!

The balloon window descriptions were great. The Gluteus “Fanny” Flagger was my favorite. It was a most enlightening insight into the history of fashion. I might add, however, that my oversized cerebrum all started as a result of having to spend hours helping Sharon with her homework in college. The Profiles were especially meaningful for us since we had the pleasure of getting to know everyone during our vacation. The Profile of a Windwearer section was fantastic. You really pulled off an excellent shoot. Maybe I am a little biased toward the model but I think it is a very hot ad. It definitely does it for me!

Congratulations on winning Publish Magazine’s Design Contest. By having the pleasure of knowing the editor, it is easy to see why the magazine is so successful. AW is the only magazine that opens the window into the soul of a beautiful sport and its participants. Thanks for the very special memories. Those who windsurf , windsurf! Those who can’t… jet ski!
Paul, Sharon & Tyler Curlee
Hampstead, SC


Harnessing Friends
When my friends King and Leigh Sorensen announced a trip to Aruba to take their windsurfing to the next level, I was thrilled. It was on King’s old Windsurfer Classic that I had learned to sail many years ago and, while I had kept at it, King and Leigh pursued their own life’s agenda which unfortunately didn’t include getting hooked on windsurfing.

I pointed out to King that the next “level” meant harness, lines and footstraps. King’s response was, “I never use ‘em.” Fearing that over-zealousness on my part would cool them on what they had to do, I was delighted to read Chris Cowan’s Letter to the Editor in your 4.4 issue. Cowen’s assessment of what it takes to move from windsurfing-as-work, to windsurfing-as-fun, to windsurfing as religion was all I needed to pass on to my friends.

For the week we were there, the wind meter at Roger’s Windsurfing Place was topping out at 30 plus knots every day. In fact, the chalkboard at Roger’s was keeping count. The last day we sailed was the 16th day of “too much wind.” Leigh and King took it in stride. Thirty knots or not, they made major progress for two mid-fifties types who had never used harness lines or sailed in their footstraps before. Their celebratory wind dance is recorded here.
Michael Weymouth
Boston, Ma


Extreme Beginner
I have never been windsurfing before but I am very interested in learning as I live in a shoreline town in CT and consider myself to be somewhat of an extrovert. As an avid rock climber, water skier, and mountain biker I am always looking for a new thrill to entertain myself with especially those which include the risk of injury. Although I have never been windsurfing before, I am sure that I will enjoy it and that I will learn quickly. Can you suggest a windsurfer that is reasonably priced and will perform well once I have learned the basics? By the way, I am not interested in becoming a world class windsurfer, but I may want to get a little radical.
Jeffrey Cretella

Check out our previous issue, #4.5, for the 1997 Learn to Windsurf Beginner’s Guide for lots of info on equipment and lessons. ED.


News from France
Salut!! Bon jour! I’m French, living in Paris, and would like to know where can I can buy the earlier SPECIAL BUYER’S GUIDE here in Paris, and if you have a special Retail Shop, or a distributor by this side of Atlantic?. By the way, congratulations for your site! It’s quite simple and easy to navigate, without all those frames everywhere and fool animations.
Antonio Marrara Leite Tostes

AW is available in all the NeilPryde and Bic outlets in France. ED.


Heaven’s Gate
O.K., here we go again……it’s my annual, “Promote The Gorge (for free) Essay.” I just can’t help it! This place is just so incredible! I love it! Especially if you are a windsurfer! ( A “real” windsurfer that is!) Been out a couple of times this season on my slalom gear but this Sunday morning was the first in 25+ mph winds. I’ll tell you…..this place is windsurfing heaven! And more! Yesterday I skied for hours in a T-shirt on Mt. Hood where they still have over 200 inches of snow……and today I was shreddin’ up the Columbia with my buddies and my girlfriend until I could hang on no more! Heaven I tell you!

What’s more, it was all accompanied by some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen! It never gets old! The Cascades are still snow covered on top and this time of year the desert east of Hood River is green with abundant wildflowers. Beautiful, warm and sunny conditions east of Hood River and an impending storm system pushing at the Cascades, leaked strong westerlies through The Gorge in the 25-30 mph range yesterday.

Met with some friends in Hood River for coffee (Bart was there having a cup)…listened to his wind report on the local radio station…had a bagel…and was on the water by 11:00am…overpowered on a 4.5 and spankin’ some nice ramps! Water temps in the 40’s, (easily conquered with a 5 mil wetsuit) and extremely strong currents keep the swells free for only those who truly love the sport, (or those who truly wish to learn. Hats off to my girlfriend Marianne who was practicing her waterstarts in 43 degree water!) Where else can you do all this? Have all this? See all this? Experience all this? Live all this? Be all this? Nowhere that is! So if you’re burnt out on the Gorge….or are sick of hearing about it…or think it’s getting too crowded…fine! Go somewhere else! But if you love the Gorge like I do….stay…have fun…keep it clean…speak out against those who would threaten it, or seek to unscrupulously exploit it…and share it with those you trust will protect it! If you’re coming to visit…remember…there’s a lot of people who “live” here. Act like a guest. If you “live” here… remember…people “dream” of making the trip to The Gorge for good reason…It truly is, “Windsurfing Heaven!” See you sailin!

Kudos to Fiberspar
I would like to thank and commend Fiberspar for helping the growth of the sport in a truly meaningful way. I have been teaching since 1978 and have encountered along the way just about every possible challenge. I witnessed numerous changes in equipment, new gadgets that supposedly let the sailor do this and that so much better. Yet, the core problem facing the new student and the instructor has always remained unchanged. Schools need light, inexpensive masts that are also soft enough that give proper shape to a school sail. A really light mast is really expensive, as far as schools go. That is a fact. For several years, I have begged manufacturers to address this problem. Talking with Nevin Sayre of Fiberspar, I felt that he was willing to try the impossible. Well, they did it. Fiberspar not only met the challenge, they were generous enough to provide it to certified schools at manufacturing cost. We should all be proud of a company that not only produces the leading edge in equipment but also for having the courage to make happen what others spend time only talking about.
By the way, the mast is called “The Breeze.”
Tinho Dornellas
Calema Boardsailing Merritt Island, Fl

Sport Support
Please accept my order renewal for two years. I want to thank the editors of American Windsurfer for your high visibility support at the “Women’s Weekend” held on May 3rd and 4th at Lake Isabella, CA. I support those who support me in my sport!! Thank you and keep up the good work and to Paul and the guys at Wind ’n Wave in Santa Monica as well for putting together and running a great event!
Glynda Smith
Long Beach, CA

Aruba Bound
Thanks a lot for publishing my photo in your recent issue. It was a welcome surprise to also receive the footstraps and extra mags. Later this week, I’ll be heading to Aruba and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to try out my MK11 version of a modified Funsaver camera. I’ll be looking forward to next year’s contest.
Anthony Paul
Alameda, CA

AirMail is a forum for the readers of American Windsurfer. Letters and viewpoints published does not reflect the editorial opinion of the magazine. ED.