Editor’s Note: 6.3/4

Now, please don’t take this as a complaint. I am not whining. You could say, I am a big fan of flaws.

31212_422628654275_7801213_n-1“WE LIVE IN AN IMPERFECT WORLD.” This is something I constantly say to myself. Some would argue that there is no perfection nor are there imperfections. Only “judgements.” Well, I certainly can’t argue with that.

But you can’t hide the fact that from the moment we take our first breath, our bodies begin to build anti-bodies and quickly establish an immune system. As we grow, we expand our worlds with experiences and encounters. Whether good or bad, positive or negative, elations or disappointments—how we process these experiences are the marks of our legacy.

So where am I going with this and what does this have to do with this issue? Well, it could be that I am already making excuses for whatever imperfections you might find on this, the second of our new equipment reviews. Or—you might have figured out, I’m feeling a bit defensive over the last issue where a major blunder slipped onto our printed page.

We have always taken pride in being a lifestyle publication. You would think that many technical hawk eyes would be watching us, ready to pounce on our first venture into the open field of equipment review. But paradoxically it was one “lifestyle” article with a picture which slipped through our guards that stole the show.

Whatever great effort or display that we made on the equipment review, was clearly and overwhelmingly overshadowed by reactions to our editorial flaw. (See AirMail starting on page 14) It was clear. Our mistake got attention. We made a mistake and did something we didn’t mean to do. For that one mistake, we got more attention than all the right things we’ve done.

Now, please don’t take this as a complaint. I am not whining. You could say, I am a big fan of flaws. In my book, they are powerful tools. I am a student of failure. I think mistakes, misfortunes, and imperfections are all building blocks of our existence. They are the anti-bodies of our experience. They are the windless days that serve to fuel our windsurfing desire. They give us hope to improve ourselves and provide us with a foundation for redemption—forgiveness. They are “the spice of life.”


Imagine living in a perfect world. There would, of course, be 20-25 mph of wind every day. Perfectly behaving water with not a cloud in the sky, plenty of ozone and just the right temperature to go skinny dipping. Ooops, did I mention skinny dipping? Ahh, I forgot: How could I possibly notice our nakedness?

Every day we go windsurfing, we rig up the same perfect sail. It’s the same sail because…well, it’s perfect. And that goes for the board too. Everything is just perfect for the perfect day.

We go and make a perfect jibe and start to come back in. Another perfect jibe and we start to think, “Well, if I go out again, I’ll just make more perfect jibes so OK! It’s a perfect time to stop.”

We arrive back at the house at the perfect time and say “Honey, I’m home!” Our perfect spouses naturally run out and ask us, “How was your sailing?” Of course, we would tell them, “It was just swell dear!” (Did I mention that this was a sequel to Pleasantville but a little color got in the way?) So what’s my point?

I think my point is that I love this sport of windsurfing because it is so very imperfect. Everything about it is difficult and challenging. How many times did each one of us fall off the board when we first started? How many times do we still fall off? How many times have we driven to the beach or flown to far–away destinations only to find the winds are not blowing? How many times have we rigged up to find that the sail is too large or too small? How many times have we failed to do a jibe?

There are people who can’t take the imperfections of life. Especially when exhibited outside of themselves. I think we’re all like that at one time or another. But some of us have the good fortune to discover something bigger than ourselves—something so powerful and fun that it makes us come back time and time again. Each time we come back, we are graciously reminded of just how imperfect we are.

John Chao

by John Chao

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