…There’s a Rumbling in the Sky

Trying to get to the top before the door closes seems to be the game these days…

Bob Dylan might have been watching a few of us in the windsurfing  world when he wrote the beginning lyrics to his song, Trying to Get to Heaven.  The song from his Time Out of Mind album begins with this verse The air is getting hotter, there’s a rumbling in the skies, I been wading through the high muddy water with the heat rising in my eyes. Everyday your memory goes dimmer. It doesn’t haunt me like it did before. I’ve been walking through the miracle world. Trying to get to heaven before they close the door.

Trying to get to the top before the door closes seems to be the game these days—at least in the World Cup. The racing circuit that has been dominated by Bjorn Dunkerbeck, Neil Pryde and F2 have indeed been sailing through several miracle years. Finally, as a few talented American boys get close  to taking over the reigns of World Cup Racing, the door seems to close a little.

Word came that Neil Pryde, the sail company who has dominated the World Cup Racing, chose not to continue to sponsor Kevin Pritchard the talented upcoming star. Pritchard came to within half a point of winning the over-all title this past year. It was clear that Pryde choose not to sign the young Pritchard because he came with a formidable and costly team. This team which includes Kevin’s equally talented brother Matt, their Australian mentor and president of the PAW, Phil McGain, another talented sailor from New Zealand Scott Fenton and  the sail designer who has kept Dunkerbeck at the top, Barry Spanier.

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The Team”, as they have come to call themselves have worked together for the past few years and with impressive results. They hold four of the top five ranking positions in the World Cup and anyone on the team has the potential to dethrone Dunkerbeck. But still, it was a package that Neil Pryde walked away from and consequentially, the Team formed an “Alliance” with Gaastra and surprisingly, Fiberspar.

Gaastra was the natural pick as they are the very company that Dunkerbeck/Neil Pryde took away their market dominance when Bjorn defeated Robby Naish eleven years ago. But the Fiberspar alliance seemed out of place as the carbon-fiber mast and boom company seemed to enjoy a nice relationship with all other sail manufacturers.  But the alliance does seem to be a partnership deal, as there are just no other big players who could afford to entertain a team that even Neil Pryde couldn’t afford. 

From the press release received recently, it was evident that this requires a three way  partnership to make things happen. With the present trend away from racing and the PWA World Tour not having a title sponsor yet for ’99. The alliance of the three parties might be just what is needed to pry open heaven’s door just a little longer.

Knocking on heaven’s door might just be what Louie Hubbard (the race director of the PWA and organizer of the TAWR98) and the publisher of American Windsurfer are doing. Coming off the success of the first TransAtlantic Windsurf Race, plans are already in place to launch the next TAWR in March of 2000. Originally the event was from Portugal to the Gran Canaries and then to Brazil to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil. But, you know what? That just sounds too easy.

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So for the new TAWR2000, the event will consist of three legs. Starting from NYC, the first leg will see 10 teams of 4 sailors per team race to Portugal. Then from Portugal, new teams will board the race and sail to the Gran Canaries off the tip of Africa. From there the last leg launch and race to the finish line in Fortaleza, the capital of the Ceara state in Brazil. The event is sponsored by the Ceara region which will use the finishing of the TAWR2000 as the launch of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary and the unveiling of an icon taller than the Eiffel Tower. While the year 2000 might sound far away, preparations for this logistical nightmare are already well underway. Already several national teams have signed up including Brazil and Spain. One possibly two team membership positions have been allocated to the US by the TAWR. (see pages 3 for more detail) If you missed the airing of the TAWR98 on television and American Windsurfer’s 20 plus page report on the event, call 1-603-293-2721 for a back issue or the TAWR video tape.

Speaking of video, ever heard of IMax®. Yes that jumbo screen movie theater that’s popping up everywhere across the country.  Well, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, surfing and windsurfing are all about to hit the huge screen like never before. EXTREME is a new film that premiers in IMAX® theaters worldwide in March of 1999.

With some exclusive footage, the EXTREME crew has captured JAWS in some of the biggest waves ever filmed. See Josh Stone philosophies about windsurfing and see him sail with Bjorn Dunkerbeck like you’ve never seen before. Also in the film you will find Robby Naish and Jason Polakow do major aerials for the big film. It’s hugggggge!

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