Profiles in Nudity & a Windmaker’s Brilliance

Part of the joy of putting together American Windsurfer, is the sure chance of stumbling on to interesting contributors. Rodney Walden was just a name that Mariel Devesa, a sponsored windsurfer, mentioned one day on the phone. Six months later, his brilliant vision dazzles and electrifies the pages of this issue.

An architect by profession, Rodney Walden loves windsurfing. Yet, those windless days made him think that there must be a better way. Walden began working on his PC computer and talking to his engineer friends. The result is seen here, for the first time, is a truly remarkable piece. It’s so real and so well executed that one feels ready to go sailing tonight. We won’t ruin the experience. (Back issues are available, see sidebar).

The process of bringing Walden’s vision to these pages was not easy. The technological challenge was immense. The aesthetic hurdles were equally challenging, but they were nothing in comparison to the problems of trying to transfer endless amounts of computer data from LA to NH, from PC to Macintosh.

Each rendering took hours and hours of computer time. Right up to our deadline day, the possibility of success was not guaranteed.

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Since we had a very short time to put this issue together, much of the burden fell on the performance of Aurora Graphics, our pre-press house. They scan our photos and output the negatives for the printer to burn their press plates. Time was so tight, that we installed our own computer in their Portsmouth, NH office and literally designed and refined the pages, moments before setting it to cellophane.

Contributions come from many circles, and certainly this includes our subjects. Take the nude cover of Michael Plank, the president of North Sails Windsurfing as an example. This story is a good study of how things get done around here.

While interviewing Michael Plank in Germany, he suggested that he pose nude for the upcoming cover and poke fun at Neil Pryde‘s neoprene ads, which have two versions, one with a nude woman, the other with a nude man.

Initially, the idea was rejected by publisher John Chao because the ad scheduled to run was the nude woman. He thought it would spoil the campaign for Neil Pryde , unless Pryde could be persuaded to use the male version instead. Then, the whole idea would make perfect sense!

Simple task, you might think. But the problems again were formidable.

When the idea was first conceived and the photos taken the following morning on the beaches of Lake Garda, there were less than ten days before the magazine’s deadline. A lot had to be set in motion even before seeing the photographs. On top of the list was that of persuading Neil Pryde. “What if Neil Pryde rejects the idea and refuses to switch the ads?” “What if everyone agrees and the pictures look terrible?”

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The uncertainties of what follows shows that you don’t only have to be good, you have to be extremely lucky. Of the 120 or so pictures taken of the nude president, only one captured the spirit and satisfied our requirements for the cover. A few short hours after the plane returned to Boston, a rough cover prototype was produced and faxed over to Germany.

In the meantime, a fax arrived from Hong Kong. Neil Pryde approved the switch. According to James McAlley, “Neil Pryde (the man) would much rather see Michael Plank naked on the cover than himself! Everything seemed to be right on track. The cover was designed, produced and shipped to the printer in a matter of days. It was too good to be true.

Suddenly, a call from Germany told us that the people in the North company were very concerned with the controversial photo, and requested that we reconsider using the nude cover picture.

What followed was a two day telephone marathon between Germany, NH and Hood River, home of Dave Johnson, the president of the U.S. distribution for North Sails. He played a big role on the final decision. “After all,” said Michael Plank, “it is his market.”

It was a 50/50 call; half of of the North staff loved it, the other half had reservations. It came down to a decision by Michael Plank and Dave Johnson. Both favored the cover, but had to weigh the decision from a corporate perspective, as well as making their decisions from a rough, faxed, miniature copy of the cover.

In the end, it was their courage and trust that won out. It came down to the wire, but humor prevailed.

Likewise, the magazine placed trust in the subject. Even though we had the bird in hand (ahem) the magazine would not have printed the cover without consent. By giving us their blessings, Michael Plank, the North Team, and Neil Pryde became great contributors.

Sometimes contributors break into our pages with sheer determination. The case of Frank Saccente, a school teacher from New Jersey. Saccente would call frequently and send manuscripts to us. Knowing that American Windsurfer gets many inquiries Saccente did things differently. He would FedEx letters marked “Confidential: to the Editor” and then follow the letters with another FedEX letter to see if we received it. When told that his piece would appear in Romancing the Wind, Saccente was ecstatic. He asked for the precise date so that a party could be planned. He also offered to purchase several magazines to be given to friends at the party.

This magazine is indeed at the mercy of the elements, like windsurfers are at the mercy of nature. Sometimes, you just don’t know until you get there. Yet, when you get there, the amount of fun you are going to have is dependent on the amount of fun you decide you’re going to have.

Our coverage of the Mistral Worlds in Gimli, Manitoba, shows how two writers can perceive a single event differently. Caroll-Ann Alie is a three time World Champion, and the most highly regarded female windsurfing figure in Canada. She represented Canada in the Barcelona Olympics and will be fighting for the 1996 event.

Her exuberance about a tiny town in the middle of Canada rallying together to achieve an impossible task, convinced American Windsurfer to cover the event. Like a hostess in her own house, wanting to please her guests, Alie became quite sensitive to the imperfections of the event. Her article entitled Northern Exposure goes behind-the-scenes and defines the lessons learned.

The same time that Alie pitched the story, Tinho Dornellas, a Floridian Master Instructor and owner of Calema Boardsailing, called hoping that American Windsurfer would assign him the task of covering the race. We took the chance, and suggested that he also take a few pictures. To our pleasant surprise, Dornellas’ pictures captured the event and delivered a participant’s point of view, entitled Southern Jibe.

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In every issue of American Windsurfer, the contributors are not only the writers and photographers, but they include the likes of Norm?, Bill, Kerry, Will, Tracy, and Andrea at Aurora Graphics. Of George Mathias and Steve Stinehour and Stinehour Press who print our covers with impeccable quality and integrity. And the remarkable Rich Kubik of Mack Printing who died five times to help print the past five issues. These are the behind-the-scene contributors who deliver each issue with their talents and professional care. As we complete our first five issues to be boutnd in a collector’s item book, these people are in the forefront of our gratitude.

One last contributor to be mentioned is the cosmic Maui Meyer whose Whispers have been in every issue of American Windsurfer . With each issue, Meyer’s whispering subjects have become louder. His article on Peter Cabrinha spans six pages, and his job fills us all with envy. Meyer’s next two assignments take him to the water and into the air.

By the time you recieve this issue, Meyer will have been to San Diego covering the America’s Cup all-woman team, as well as, completing a story on the home-built (Rhutan) airplanes made by windsurfers who learned the process by building their own boards.

Stay tuned for a whole new adventure in the issue ahead.

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