THE BEST AND The worst! It was described by some as the best equipment guide ever and the worst by others. Our first equipment review issue with Technical Editor Ken Winner had the makings of a landmark issue but unfortunately a single and profound flaw slipped through our editorial watch. A photograph that showed the content of a pornographic magazine slipped into print and prompted many objections and hate letters. For the most part, readers objected and expressed their offense with grace and forgiveness. With the exception of one shop, and one former contributor, not one single subscriber has cancelled their subscription. While this does not give us a license to offend, it does speak highly of our readership and the majestic nature of the sport. To err is human. To forgive is divine.
New Levels of LOW
The photo on page 88/89 (“Accidental Tourist”) is an appalling essay on the level of garbage you are circulating through your medium of the magazine. It is offensive to women who windsurf, to women who don’t windsurf, and to any male with class. You have hit new levels of LOW in a “family” sport and magazine. If you are only looking for reactions, I’m sure you are successful through this, which to all who have seen it, is “pornographic material”. You must be hitting new levels of desperation in media if you need such material to gain reactions and reader responses. If you are not looking for reactions, but find nothing wrong with such photos in your family/action-sports publication, you will need to reassess your editing and your values. What ARE you thinking???? Are you targeting your magazine to the 20-something degenerate male market? If so, American Windsurfer than belongs in the porno section of the newsstand, well below Playboy (which at least exhibits some restraint and taste).
If I had a subscription, I would cancel it immediately. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I haven’t one to cancel. What a contrast in principles that I am dealing, through coaching, with young “professionally minded” men and women who pursue an Olympic sport with heart and diligence, whilst their sport is portrayed in such a light. It’s shameful.
Bunch of Losers
While scanning your latest edition, I glanced at the “The Accidental Tourist” article. In one photo, the guys are beaming in front of some soft porn shots. My immediate thought was “What a bunch of losers. Probably spend too much time on the water to develop relationships with anything but paper dolls.” Then the hard-core porn subject in the foreground became apparent. My stomach turned. I couldn’t believe the picture in the magazine that I regularly drag around to show all my friends and family! Now, I won’t be cancelling my subscription over this. I assume it was a mistake. However, whatever occurs between a person with impaired ability to form attachments with real people and their consenting print medium is their business and (should be) private. I hope the devaluation of women displayed by this crew is an anomaly, but I am less enthusiastic about encouraging females to take up windsurfing at the moment. Editors should take the responsibility to proof content and offer a prompt apology to their readership. A reprint sans the sexy photo would be welcome.
Ranks of a Howard Stern
I would like to start out by saying that I usually enjoy the creative content of your magazine. The pictures and editorial content by far blow away any other windsurfing related publications out there. I was slightly shocked several issues ago when you did an article entitled “The French Connection.” You pictured the bottom half of a naked women walking down the beach. Although shocked at your choice of displaying a naked crotch I endured on enjoying your magazine. Now you have really crossed the line! Your center photo on the “Accidental Tourist” article was out of control. It’s bad enough that young men degrade women by viewing naked pictures of them. But for you to publish that spread, (and I mean spread) brings your publication equal to the ranks of a Howard Stern! Keep up the good work and F Jackie! Thank you,
I’m sure this isn’t the only communication like this you’ve received, but I feel compelled to add my voice–especially since I find your magazine to generally be not only well-written and interesting, but to reflect a point of view on larger issues that I support. I am extremely unhappy with your decision to publish in your most recent issue the photograph of PWA sailors viewing and touching pornographic pictures.
The usual caveat: I support your first amendment right to publish whatever the hell you want, and I have no objection to (and have in fact enjoyed a variety of) artistic representations of nudity. I object to what appeared in your magazine because:
1. The images of women were an extreme representation of the objectification of women. There was no trace of humanity or eroticism, only the degradation of both the women and their viewers to a view of women as a soulless sexual commodity.
2. There is no redeeming content or purpose against which to balance point “1” above. The only possible reason for inclusion I can figure out is to make a point about the kind of life the individuals in the photograph were leading. Given the context of the article, it was certainly not the intention of the author or editor to argue that PWA sailors led pathetic existences in which they found value and entertainment in handling low-grade pornography. The only thing added to the article is a profoundly negative spin on what being a world-class windsurfer is like. Given American Windsurfer’s consistent editorial viewpoint that windsurfing is a sport which provides positive karma to its participants, and generally attracts participants which share and give back this positive energy, I am actually mystified by the logical process which led you to include it.
3. I know from your previous issue that you have children likely to thumb through windsurfing magazines. So do I-my daughters are only 6 and 9, but have long been riding on my boards and looking at my magazines for years. It is extraordinarily irresponsible to put images like the one in your latest issue where they might be viewed by young children without, at the very least, a warning that the magazine contains content that requires parental discretion. Fortunately, I saw it first. There is no certainty that this would be the case, and in some households I am sure it was not.
My inclination (strongly urged by my windsurfing spouse) was to cancel my subscription. I am delaying that decision to see if there is some plausible reason (like an editorial oversight) for this decision, and to see if an abject apology to your readers is on the way. I am only delaying because of my very positive impression of your outlook, and your commitment to the sport, demonstrated by the last several years of your magazine.
Again, it is certainly your right to publish whatever you think is good editorial content. I can assure you that if this is in any way a normal output of your editorial process, my cancellation will follow shortly. Good wind.
Associate Professor Dept. of Agricultural and Applied Economics
The University of Georgia
We have always welcomed constructive criticism and this letter certainly exemplifies the values for such a treasure. Your spirit of graciousness and eloquence are felt and appreciated. As embarrassing as it may be, the simple fact was that we did not see the center photo in the image until after it was printed. We saw all the surrounding photos and thought they were suitable for the publication. Unfortunately, the demeaning image in the middle of the photograph slipped through the of sight everyone who worked on the issue even in the pre-press stages. I can assure you publishing this revealing photo was not a conscious decision to provoke valued readers such as you. After catching the blunder, we attempted to alert subscribers by printing a warning note on the shipping label. While this does not erase our mistake, your letter and willingness to await explanations, exemplifies the patience of many offended readers. Such a nurturing grace gives us much joy in the making of this publication. Thank you for the opportunity to put it into perspective. We are very proud to find your letter in this issue. ED
Exceeded My Grasp
I have NO problem with a little nudity in American Windsurfer, especially since it’s usually been presented in a playful or artistic manner. But. (You could tell a “BUT” was coming, right?)
The crotch-shot in the latest issue, was, in my opinion a poor choice. I was not personally offended by the picture of the young guy holding up a pornographic magazine picture, but I can’t promise that my daughter (mom, father-in-law, neighbor, etc.) would have the same view. How would I explain this to her/them? (Why should I be forced to?) How would this color her/their opinion of your magazine…of windsurfing and windsurfers, in general…of me(!). I usually like to leave AW lying around on the coffee table (your intention, oui?). I felt a little Calvinistic tearing out the offending page so that I could leave it in the living room without having to defend everything from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (read: The Constitution) to Larry Flint to Kramer, (“I’m OUT!”).
I think that you like to push the limits and that’s one of the things I like about your magazine. Never the less, in this instance, your reach exceeded my grasp.
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
I’m sure you’re expecting this. Last weekend you came to our place and checked our new facility, then left your magazine at my shop. Only later did I realize that inside that issue you let “slip” another Porno page just for the controversy of it. I wonder why didn’t you do the same on the previous issue, with Dave Johnson’s (president of North Sports) kids as well as yours in the middle. It might have stirred an even better “response”. I have children and don’t appreciate you leaving porno trash under the mask of windsurfing at their reach. I have heard that you told someone who you only noticed it after it was printed. In that case, you are either a lousy editor, or if you were responsible and concerned you would have removed that page from each issue. Please remove us from your magazine list, as well as advertising. I want nothing to do with that image.
Enjoy Being Offended
There has been a lot of controversy about your last issue on-line about the nude magazine being shown in such clarity in the article about the PWA Tour. I personally could care less and found it quite humorous. I guess some people were offended, although, some people enjoy being offended. I enjoyed seeing the tour from a wave sailors perspective. Your magazine has always had an eclectic mix of people and events from the various corners of windsurfing. I have not always agreed with everything you print, but diversity is what makes life interesting. Keep up the good work.
USWA Northeast Regional Director
President, Cape Cod Windsurfing Association
Newfie Makes Cover
I received my issue, I was particularly stoked to see the full-page shot on pg 30! I can still remember that jump believe it or not. I read the test issue of Windsurfing magazine two weeks prior and thought what minimal exposure they gave the testers. Your coverage really gave everyone involved something to show their friends. I still don’t know how you managed to say that I lived in St john’s however, you must have been thinking about the Trans Atlantic Race. One of the girls at work phoned the local newspaper and the sports guy came up to my clinic for a snap and a story. I can just see the headline now “NEWFIE MAKES THE COVER OF AMERICAN WINDSURFER MAG” I’ll send you the clip if they don’t screw it up too badly. Hang loose
Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, Canada
Something Smells Fishy
I couldn’t help noticing the high percentage of models you had among your female board testers. I guess Ken Winner wasn’t kidding about being picky with who made the tester list! On the serious side though, I do have some questions about the recommended sail sizes for some of the boards. Is it really possible that the Mistral 260, which is 21 liters smaller, 7” shorter and nearly 1” narrower than the Mistral 276 can’t handle a smaller sail? The tests that Mr. Winner headed last year recommended a 4.0 to 6.5 sail for the screamer 260. What gives? I’m also curious about the Naish 8’5”. Is it really that corky? I can hardly imagine anyone shaping an 8’2” wave board that couldn’t handle 4.5 conditions. The much larger Naish 8’6” is rated for a smaller sail. What gives?
To end on a positive note, I loved the article on wave riding and the accompanying photographs. I got a shot of adrenaline just reading it. I even learned something. The only tricks to waterstarting in the impact zone that I knew of were to move fast and pray like hell. Thanks.
San Leandro, CA
The 260 is a pretty quick, lively and powerful board that attracts advanced to expert riders. It can certainly be sailed with smaller than a 5.0, but most riders at that level are more comfortable going to a smaller board in 4.0 to 4.5 conditions. The 276, on the other hand, offers a tamer, more comfortable, controllable ride and is more likely to be used by intermediates as well as experts. Intermediates tend to ride smaller sails and I didn’t want them to think the 276 wouldn’t handle a moderately-powered 5.0. I, personally, wouldn’t use smaller than a 5.5 on it. It’s a very subjective issue that involves a lot of different considerations. We tend to think of a board and what recommendations we would make about it to a friend—then write those down. The Naish 8’5” really is a corky board. The reason we didn’t rate it for a 4.5 is that a smaller board truly is the call for a high-end sailor when the wind gets to be that strong. As for the Naish 8’6”, you got me there. It probably should be 5.5 to 6.5. —Ken Winner
As a windsurf retailer in Vancouver, Canada, I have had quite a few customers questioning the accuracy of Ken Winner’s board volume measuring. Could some typos have happened, particular with the Naish line?
Pacific Boarder, Vancouver, BC
To answer your question about board volume: I test board volume very carefully and with an accurate and repeatable method. I’ve checked my method another method and found it to be accurate plus or minus a liter. The fact is that not all manufacturers measure the volume of boards as they come out of the factory and are therefore not exactly sure what the volumes are. In particular, the boards that come out of the Cobra factory in Thailand (e.g., the Naish boards and most other sandwich boards) are not carefully checked for volume. Star Board was claiming 225 liters for the Go until I showed that it had a volume of only 176 liters. When your customers see a discrepancy between what the manufacturer claims for volume and what my test shows, the chances are very good that my number is very close to the truth.—Ken Winner
I’d like to add to the very long list of windsurfers who will appreciate the unequaled quality of your 1999 Maui test results. I have never seen as complete an assessment, both objective and subjective. Conspicuous by their absence, no doubt temporary, were the ultra-wide boards which, in my opinion, are the future of windsurfing for mere mortals like me and those that see windsurfing as a participation sport.
Keep up the good work. Aloha
Santa Monica, CA
Read your article about wave sailing and thought it was very helpful, except that I would be left out on the water at the end of the session, since the biggest problem I have with the shorebreak is getting back in without completely drowning my rig with sand and water! I have tried to figure out how sailors manage somehow to jump off their boards, and end up holding their sails and boards out of the water with the waves crashing around their legs, but so far, no luck…
Generalizations are always dangerous because of exceptions to the statement… that’s why stereotyping is so volatile. More than likely the statement will promote biases towards a group.
Re: Patrick McFeeley/National Geographic… you mentioned “the delicate social balance of Maui’s ego driven photo community”. If it implies that photographers on Maui are jealous of Patrick’s success with his Jaws book, you may be correct, but not everyone feels this way. I think he should have placed his name on the book. As a self-promotional piece, it is working for him and I think it’s great!
In the business of photography (and it is a business), there are many ways to make a living; stock, commercial, fine arts, editorial, etc. I am an advertising photographer with commercial accounts in the windsurfing/ surf industry. I am not in competition with Patrick who shoots stock and travel industry advertising. I know I could not publish a book like Jaws because of commitments to my commercial work. It’s a huge undertaking to self-publish a book… more than likely you will not make your money back… and as a “Pake” (Chinese/Hawaiian), I’m in the business to make money.
I’m witness to the “delicate social balance of Maui’s ego driven photo community” and my opinion is… “it’s competition stupid!”… nothing else… there’s no bad mouthing, no back stabbing, no stink eyes. All it is, is friendly competition. I think this “feeling” you have about “egotistical Maui photographers” is brought about from the attitude of outsiders being arrogant and insensitive to the local people they deal with. It’s the typical (and historical) scenario of mainlanders and foreigners not understanding and respecting the Hawaiian community. Working hard and establishing yourself is fine, but assertive behavior should be tempered with a bit of humility.
“Hey, slow down, no go so frikin’ fast… cool your jets, what do you think this is… automation?”… Rap Reiplinger; Hawaiian satirist. Aloha.
It was an accurate description of McFeely’s experience and his rational for not putting his name in the book. It was not intended nor did it reflect our “feelings” about Maui based photographers. Especially when it comes to you—having first hand knowledge of your gentle ways. We do share your observation of a historical attitude of arrogance and insensitivity from many outsiders against natives. But we respectfully deny that such arrogance is found in our editorial pages or that it is a characteristic that motivates this magazine. But then, if you were to accuse this magazine as an “ego driven publication,” how could we possibly deny that? We often ask ourselves, what isn’t? You’re reading too much into our words. Please read it again.
“But for photographer McFeeley, his success is shared and envied by many. He did not put his own name in his JAWS book because of his concern for the delicate social balance of Maui’s ego driven photo community and not wanting to take the attention away from ‘the greatest group of people I’ve ever seen.’ Well the cover of National Geographic blew that thought out of the water.”ED
Much has been said about your magazine reflecting the soul of windsurfing. I agree completely. However, just when I needed a fix badly, my “soul” seems to have been lost. I received the AW board review issue and read it immediately. I was distraught to learn through the letters to the editor that the one that preceded it talked about the Transatlantic race among other things. I didn’t get that one. Please help me find my soul. I have generously loaned the latest issue to a friend and I feel incomplete without all the AW’s that are out there. Please, please, help me find my soul.
Michael B Hoffman
You Guys Rule!
I just got the new edition of American Windsurfer. I have to say that its phatt. I just wanted to tell you that I just tried out the new Hi-Fly 245. Overall its a great board but the foot straps are a little sketchy.
Thanks so much for a great MAG! YOU GUYS RULE!!!!!!
Received my Skimbat for the weekend. By sunday, we had new black ice and 20-20 kt winds on Lake Champlain. A bit on the windy side for learning, but in 2 hours I was passing seasoned Freeskate enthusiasts. I sailed on skis on the ice. They worked reasonably well except on the gybes. I finally figured out not to ski through the turns, but to do an aerodynamic turn. You can really crank a turn at full throttle. The faster the better. I am sure a lot of interest was generated. We have a significant windsurfing community here. A number of us have moved to the Champlain Islands to take advantage of the magical high winds here. Lots of ice sailors have come up with all different kinds of snow and ice rigs. For the first time, I am looking forward to some snow cover on the ice. I am also interested in building some skates that would work well. My hockey skates are very unstable at speed. Do you know of any suggested designs?
Thanks. Your article in Vol. 6, issue 1 is what got me interested.
South Heto, VT
Try a pair of speed skates or have your skate sharpener take some rocker out of your hockey skates so that there is about a three to four inches of flat blade.ED
Expensive Board Test
The Maui Board test week turned out to be very expensive for me: Both my son Andrew and I each now own a JP 255 and a Naish 8’11”. These cover most of the range for us, and we’ve sold off all the old slalom gear! We have used up to a 6.5 on the Naishes, but the JP really surprised us when we found it can really rip with a 5.6!
I’ve been experimenting with shear head sail designs, and we reckon there are real advantages for recreational sailors – us anyway. They tend to give a smoother ride through heavy chop, give nothing away at the low-end, perform really well at the top end, and are sensational broad reaching. It all seems to come down to tuning the taper ratio of the sail and luff curve with the twist profile. You have to do this with any sail design, but with the shear top there’s a really sweet combination which makes the sail really come alive. So far I’ve got it right on a 5.6, but still experimenting above and below that size: the right blend is size dependent.
Enough techno-bull! Could you please let me know if it is necessary to reserve a spot on the 2000 test just yet. I’m not sure exactly when I can get there, but I need to know if there’s any pressure on places at this stage!
Hope all is going well. I thought the Maui test issue was great, even allowing for my being less than totally objective about it! Looking forward to the next one: I think we need a big AVS to cover the sub 12 knot range, so I’m very interested in the Aruba tests!
Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia
Unfortunately there were many more letters that received no ink. We thank everyone for their contribution. ED