Reader, “Reality” of “Really”, Facts!

Readers React to Volume 7: Issue 2

Honest Test
I have been following the Maui test reports with immense interest and delight. Finally an effort for an honest test by the people that matter: the customers. Well done, AW for making this happen!!!

However, the real reason for this letter is the issue of North Sports test boards, or rather, the lack of. I just can’t help it but have to reply regarding this matter. To put it bluntly, I can’t just sit by and watch this arrogance and stupidity by one of the so–called market leaders in the windsurf industry.

I was the Managing Director of the company that manufactured the Mistral boards in Germany and Malaysia, and therefore, I believe, qualified to make some observations.

I can’t say I am surprised by the behavior of North Sports, which as you may know, is a subsidiary of the Mistral Sports Group. During the time that I was responsible for the production of Mistral boards, on a number of occasions, Mistral requested “special” boards to be produced for the German surf magazine tests. These boards even had to be air–freighted (at great expense!) to reach the test locations on time.

When I now read that North Sports requires payment for the provision of test boards for the Maui test session with real people and not world cup riders, this just blows my top. Perhaps “special boards” couldn’t be done on time??? Or maybe the American market is not important enough? How North Sports can so blatantly disregard such an important marketing opportunity is hard to understand. Do they really think, that because they have almost 50% of the world market share (Mistral, Fanatic, F2), they don’t need customer feedback anymore??

But upon reflecting on this issue, there is some benefit to this development, as it will give you an opportunity to test the products of the more innovative and customer–oriented brands, such as Starboards, RRD etc. that are probably more deserving anyway. Keep up the good work.
Dr. Kurt Svrcula

We flew to Malaysia and talked with this mysterious Dr. Kurt. What we uncovered was not only sobering, but also inspiring. (See The Insider on page 42). The decision to charge for equipment was made by the US importer and not from the international parent company. In the past the Euros have been very supportive of AW. No response came from the US office.


Inveterate Reader
I needed to write to you with my reaction to the equipment tests in the last issue. I am an inveterate reader of tests and collect them from magazines in England, France, Germany, Canada, and the US. The Germans who have Surf, do their “scientific” thing with lots of numbers. The French magazines don’t seem to care about numbers and run a more casual approach. The Brits who have Boards, focus on intended use and Windsurf rates with a variety of vague bar charts. You are familiar with the US and Canadian versions. I actually devour all of them.

I had a couple of thoughts as I read your reviews: First—Wow! This is fun! Second—It’s nice to get to read a little more prose! Your combination of candor, humor, and data really hit the spot. You’ll get criticized for a number of things, I am sure. (This is an indication that you matter.) But the goal in windsurfing is to enjoy yourself. The tests reminded me of that. I think the manufacturers that didn’t participate are already regretting their decision. Keep it up!
Sid Roberts
Dennison, Minnesota


Get your facts straight. In your review on Bump and Jump sails, you have me as the guy doing their R and D. I have absolutely nothing to do with Bump and Jump, and I have never even tried one of their sails. I would appreciate a correction seeing as how the sails got tanked.
Best Regards,
Pat LeMehaute

Sorry Pat, our bad.


“Reality” of “Really”
Great job on the 2000 test issue! Loved the way you analyzed the equipment for this year!! Went out and bought myself a “reality” high wind board….a Bic Saxo 264….after reading this year’s tests and lasts year’s tests….and coming to the reality that I really don’t get that much of a chance to sail in really high wind. Since I have my 3–and 5–year old boys full–time by myself, I looked at what was offered, tried a few and found the Bic to be right on. You were right! I can see how in the mud of this year’s high wind offerings, this board would be overlooked.

But for the amount we sail in really high wind and the time required to “really” get a board wired….we need to look at what will work “quickly” for us, so we can almost immediately sail. Well, for me the Bic had all those features. Tried the F2’s, the JP’s, the Mistrals….all great boards….but I found that the weight thing does make a difference for us non-pros. More precisely, a bit more weight is good in high wind. It gives us better stability, control—might need a bit more wind to plane off—but if you know how to pump….you’re golden.

Also learned that the major factor in getting these boards to work is the fin selection. Loved your comment on what you thought the appropriate fin might be for that board (Saxo264…). I totally agree! Am using a 10.5 wave blade,and it works so-o-o much better than that thing they give you with the board. I even tried a 12.5” wave blade with my 5.8 Volcano. Found myself planing while pumping around 15 kts……not to shabby for a 18.5 lb, 85 liter board. (I weigh between 170-175 lbs before the beer.)

So in conclusion…. Right on with your analysis of all the analysis! The key here is try before you buy, and if possible, USE DIFFERENT FINS!

I know my opinion isn’t probably worth much. but I’ve been sailing for over 20 years and have tried and bought enough equipment to buy a small house on the beach…just my observations on all the equipment tests…..again great job!!!
Dr. Jerry Tartaro

Are you on the payroll of Bic? You should be if you’re not.


Swayed by Reviews
Part of the reason I subscribed is to support your efforts in pursuing your new review philosophy. I’m a relatively new windsurfer (2 years) and have been swayed by the reviews probably much more than I should have been. I’m only beginning to get a clue about board and sail performance. I applaud your bold initiative. Thank you.
Dave Poinsett


Web Updates
Love the TAWR2000 web updates. . . I look forward to them daily. . . keep up the good work in keeping the info coming. It really distinguishes this site from the other windsurfing mag site that has not had anything new in months.

I also found the equipment reviews interesting, in that you laid it all out and told it as it was. You made the best of what happened… continue to be honest and people will respect it. That’s all for now.
Matt Kusak recorded the highest hits during the TAWR event. In a seven day period, over 248,000 was recorded.


The Other Mag Is a Joke
Refreshing to see some honest equipment reviews!! The other magazine is a joke with all their smiley faces. :-). . .One comment; my brother and I both subscribe to both magazines. . . We prefer getting more magazines in the winter months when we are starving for a windsurfing fix than in the summer!! We love equipment reviews and sailing tips!!
John J. Deibel



Closer to History
Hiho. I study sports at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany. I’d like to finish my study next year and do an examination: I’d like to choose the subject “History of Windsurfing.” So I’ve heard that the American Windsurfer published an article titled “Origins of Windsurfing Exclusive New Evidence Newman & Naomi Darby”. . . Here in Germany it is not very easy to get any background information or really good literature, so maybe there is a way you can help me to come closer to this history?!?!?!
Katrin Albers

You can find all the “Origins of Windsurfing articles on-line at


Shrinking Volume
As a subscriber, I enjoy all your editions, but the March 2000 was particularly helpful in my recent purchase of a board, an RRD Twin Tip Max 265. My question: On page 77 you have its volume listed as 118 liters, yet on page 76 it’s shrunk to 108 liters. Which one do I read as correct?

I have tried RRD via email twice with no success, so hope you can help me. By the way, the board is everything you stated in your review . . . and more!
Mark DeFriest
Perth, Australia

Oops . . . 108 liters is the correct one.


Show Me Americans
Sorry the Trans Atlantic Race suffered such a “blow.” I think the whole thing sounded weak from the get–go. I liked the idea of using the Russian icebreaker in ‘98. I know that you guys wanted to improve on that method, but I don’t think that happened. I understand that this is a very complex and unpredictable event, but I don’t see it improving the image of the sport when things go bad.

I would like to complete my bashing of the event by asking why there is only one “American” on the team? If you are going to have a US team, why not get some more US sailors? I just thought that point to be totally ridiculous when I first read it in your great magazine. The “US” victories are a little hollow considering who was actually sailing. Aside from my disappointment of this event, I want to congratulate you on a very fine publication. To the sailors of TAWR2000, I wish you the best and to remain out of harms way.
Darby Marriott

We actually had four US citizens. Only one was born in the US and possesses American Indian blood at that. But you’re right on the money with your observations. The event could have been organized much better. Unlike the Brazilian team, the US team suffered from lack of sponsors but still managed to win practically every race. The postponement will give the team more time to raise funds and hopefully fly over some real American racers. Perhaps a follow–up comment from you would be interesting after this issue. By the way. What’s wrong with having a melting pot team? Isn’t that the spirit of America?


Tell It Like It Is!
I loved your 2000 equipment test, the best tell–it–like–it–is article on equipment I have read. I am an equipment junkie; I read all of the articles and tests that I can get my hands on but I still have to test the stuff myself to find what I need. Even then I have made a lot of expensive mistakes. Keep up the good work; I would read your well-written articles even without the tests, but it’s nice to dream of the ultimate gear.
Keith M. Fredrickson


Rumbling Pryde
Thank you for the new AW, we enjoyed it. I would like to make a comment or two on the “Back to the Future” series of articles. A concern we have is the continued absence in the media of teenage and young people, a few who have emerged with a degree of success in the sport and many more who are making attempts.

Last year Maui Ocean Academy students examined the major windsurfing magazines to create a list of those they thought were effective in reporting directly about their interest and concerns. For the record, the American magazines came up last on their list.

In reports and in writing about the future and not involving the young seems to be a consistent problem with the American media in the student’s estimation.

The talented young sailors, and there are many, are matching up very well in competitions but they struggle for attention compared to most other sports in coverage by the media.

This has and will continue to create a logjam which in our humble opinion has contributed to the single greatest problem in windsurfing, slow growth with the new generation in the sport.

Along with the sports maturity should come the revelation to brand managers and marketing folks, team managers, and the media of their poor performance concerning youth but our leadership seems to always dance around real progress with short term thinking and a legendary near-sighted business decision–making process that may have caused more damage than sold products.

In the interview with Neil Pryde a correlation is made of resorts and rentals as “leading to regeneration of growth and enthusiasm” and snowboarding is mentioned. Is there any evidence that new resorts or rentals had anything to do with the success in snowboarding?

Another comment that was made regarding windsurfing in the Olympics and being watched by kids. Is there evidence of board sports being showcased in the Olympics that has brought any significant numbers of youthful participants to any sport?

We have spoken with hundreds of parents and kids around the world about windsurfing and it always points to the secret, that is helping kids, providing programs for student athletes and parents, making them successful and celebrating that success. Windsurfing needs to look at these other sports and understand how the youth have brought them success and that knowledge will unlock the secret for the success of windsurfing.

Another comment about Mistral purchasing other brands. I recently visited the Mistral offices in Penzburg and met with their top management. What I found was a breath of fresh air and new ideas. I cannot speak for Mr. Jacobs but I can speak about what I heard with my own ears and have seen with my own eyes.

These people are serious about the sport and building it. They spoke about helping the new talents and findings ways to bring the sport to the youth. During the visit an agreement was initiated to provide equipment sponsorship to each visiting MOA student along with a scholarship program and a training program within their network of manufacturing and distributorships for students after returning to their home countries. This is a example of regeneration and growth we can all appreciate.
Also the statement that “historically mergers, acquisitions, and monopolies seldom succeed” is misleading.

Historically monopolies have been given a term of free reign by the US government to be later determined that in fact they have provided a more fertile marketplace for new companies along with other benefits. Without getting into the history too much, there has been only an instance or two where agencies have moved to break up these so called monopolies. The most recent could be the Microsoft situation, which is very unique because of emcriptions and codes exclusivety within contractual commitments.

Actually, there is a more famous monopoly and what we see as having more direct negative consequences to the windsurfing world and that is, searching, supporting and making new champions.
Tim Siver
The Maui Ocean Academy

It should be fair to mention that your sons have recently traded Neil Pryde sponsorship for the Mistral group, so this letter might not be so impartial. It is also fair to say that Neil Pryde now owns JP boards as well as the rights to Simmer Sails. They are also aggressively looking to secure other brands. In the meantime, the top managers of the North/Mistral Group you mentioned have all resigned. There is also talk that ART brand is no longer alive. I’m sure all this is distressing news but isn’t Monopoly a fun game?


Hot Rod Gearhead
When my windsurfing habit got too bad to cartop I decided I needed a trailer. Being a confirmed hot rod gearhead, I needed something more than most of the unsanitary junk that is found at most windsurfing launches. In Michigan the rule is bring it all to the beach, you might need it. So, I built the 4’ x 5’ x 12’ unit shown in the attached jpgs.

It holds five boards, twelve sails, six booms and all the other stuff I need when the wind doesn’t blow. When packed for travel I can squeeze in two mountain bikes and camping gear. Lights and pressure water for cleaning my giz of course. Also featuring a hanging locker for wet rubber and plenty of wine. One of these days I’ll try it for top end with my ‘69 vette. Plans available.

Your mag is great. However, don’t go too far in being the “People” magazine of windsurfing. The equipment tests were the most honest I have seen. There aren’t many boards that aren’t very good with the right fin and sail. And there aren’t too many bad sails out there especially when the manufacturer can pick the one you end up testing.
Keep up the great windsurf journalism, Aloha
Ed Timm


Believe it or Not
Wednesday, March 29, 2000 looked windy when I woke up. I decided to go windsurfing. So I strapped my board and mast to the top of my van and headed off.

As I was heading south, approaching the Loop Parkway Bridge I noticed white caps on the bay, a good sign. I put two hands on the wheel to get ready for the west wind that blasts over the bridge. I’m going around sixty miles per hour and I get hit with about a 30mph gust.

I heard a “boing” and “rumble” and “loud smack”………..”What the hell was that?” “Oh shit!” I realized it was the sound of a bungee cord releasing its grip on the roof rack. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my mast dangling from the side of the van held only by the rear strap. I immediately pulled over and ran around the side of the van. The mast had been dragged on the pavement for only a short while and didn’t seem too damaged. As I picked up the end of the mast to put it back on the roof rack, my jaw dropped!

I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I had to look again to make sure………..My board’s gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I looked back down the parkway, I don’t see anything. I screamed “Where the f#*k is my board?” I start running down the parkway, frantically and searching the perimeter.

I got back in the van and backed up to the bridge. I parked and started running around searching. It couldn’t be hard to find a yellow board for crying out loud! Maybe it went over to the other side? If it did, I’ll probably find only pieces. The prospects of finding my board intact were grim.

Finally. I saw a speck of yellow, across the parkway on the northbound side of the bridge. Peering across the bridge, it looked like the nose end of my board was jammed into the guard rail. I look around for other pieces of my board and shrapnel and saw nothing. I waited for traffic to clear and jumped concrete divider to cross the bridge.

When I finally got to the board, I was surprised to see that it appeared to be in one piece. At first I didn’t want to touch the board, as it was precariously balanced in the guard rail, with most of the board hanging over the water! I briefly contemplated taking a picture because no one would believe this and to describe the position the board was in.

Let me try to explain: picture the middle of the bridge, right hand lane north bound side. The guard rail has a top rail and middle rail. The board was hanging off the end off the bridge with the nose seesawed between the top and middle rail. The nose was facing west. The tail was facing east and was hanging over the water, deck side up.

How it got there I’ll never know! I am very grateful that it didn’t kill or maim anyone. It must have been traveling around 70 m.p.h!

Now here’s the weird part. I pulled the board out of the railing and turned it over, fully expecting the fin box to be ripped out or a gaping hole or some kind of damage. It is relatively un-damaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can find only a small scratch on the bottom!!!!!!!!

I start yelling at the top of my lungs. “Holy f*#king shit, I can’t f*#king believe it” I put the board “inside”my van and continued on towards Gilgo beach. What are the odds of that? Can you believe it? When I get to Gilgo it was victory­–at–sea conditions. No one at the beach. I had a funny feeling about going in alone, so I headed to Cedar……No one.

So I go to the town of Islip Beach and was getting sand blasted! 4.2 conditions rapidly increased to 3.7. Got a few nice jumps in, warmish water, no gloves. Can you freaking believe it? Do good to others and good things will happen to you, is that how karma works? Words to live by!……..Adios!
Mike DaBaker


Believe It or Not II
It was during a brief stopover on a tiny windswept island in the Irish Sea that I made a surprising discovery. The handful of coins I had been given as change included the one you see here.

The island, the Isle Of Man, is located just off-shore from Great Britain. It is not actually part of the United Kingdom, yet it shares the same pound-sterling currency. This coin is legal tender and in common circulation throughout the island. In case you doubt the validity I’ve included a picture of the “head” of the coin containing the image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The coin’s value is 5-new pence (pennies), about 7.5 cents US.


Please remove my classified add. It is listed as follows: 1997 F2 Xantos 295II with Visual Speed board bag & (2) fins (Concrete Wave 15.8” & 13.4”). Board is in good shape no dents of soft spots and has no repairs. Re-decked last year in the beginning of the season. $500 o.b.o.
Joel Eckmann Hartford, WI USA

Wednesday April 19, 2000 at 15:09:11 (EDT)
Thank you!! Your classifieds work GREAT! I sold it!
Joel Eckmann

Question for the Team
This is a question for the Test2000 team. Can you get the experts to talk about the relationship of board liters to sailer weight? We all know that when the wind is cranking grab the smallest board within reach, but as the wind lessens is their a formula to tell us which board will be best to ride. As example, for a 170 lb (77kg) sailor in 15 knot winds a 95 liter float board is optimum? Also, how has the new wider tailed boards like the Axxis 261 or 267 changed the formula? My assumption is that we all want to be on the smallest board possible, to maximize control, without being ankle deep in water in the lulls.

I know this information maybe not interesting enough for readers of the magazine, but I hope you will include it in the online reports..