Working Joe’s, Warning Wows!

Readers Respond to Volume 5: Issue 3/4

Thank you for printing (in Country Profile) the photos I sent you of my favorite windsurfing sites. I can also report that I am no longer looking for work, as I am now practicing law in my favorite sailing city—Kingston, Ontario —also known to dinghy sailors as the Fresh Water Sailing Capital of the World. As an ex-national team sailor who has sailed all over the world, I assure you that this is no exaggeration.

I also wanted to set the record straight on the Canadian Coast Guard’s PFD (Personal Floatation Device) policy, as it relates to windsurfing. In a dramatic reversal, the Canadian Coast Guard has rejected our proposal to make PFD use optional. We had proposed that the safety regulations provide a choice to windsurfers between wearing some form of “rubberwear” (shorty, full wetsuit, steamer, drysuit) or a Canadian approved PFD. We had nearly achieved getting this recommendation passed into the Canada-wide Small Vessel Safety Regulations when the Coast Guard person with whom we were dealing was promoted and the person who replaced her began to back track.

The first thing this new person did was hire an “expert in windsurfing” (his words) who did consulting with US authorities and enforcement authorities across Canada. This expert recommended that “rubberwear” would not be an appropriate substitution for a Canadian Approved PFD. The reasoning was explained to me as follows:

1. There is no practical way to have “rubberwear” certified in the way a PFD is tested and certified. (They seemed to be missing our point about how the value of rubberwear is primarily in its ability to protect the wearer from the cold and its added enhancement of swimming ability when trying to swim back to one’s board as opposed to our archaic Canadian PFD standards which only allow approval of PFD’s which are next to impossible to swim in, let alone use with a harness.)

2. Enforcement of a “rubberwear” option was deemed to be impractical, because there are no recognized government standards for the construction or materials used in manufacturing “rubberwear.” I think that the enforcement people were also concerned with how to determine what was “appropriate” rubberwear. (They seemed to be forgetting the fact that the RCMP representative who was consulted initially said that a standard could be easily enforced by having enforcement people use diagrams of acceptable “rubberwear”and by enforcing a thickness requirement.)

3. Finally the Coast Guard felt that all our concerns about the regulation that will make wearing a PFD mandatory—and there were many—could be solved by allowing the use of inflatables. This seemed to work well for them, because they were also introducing regulations that would make Canadian-approved inflatables meet the PFD carriage requirements for the Small Vessel Safety Regulations.

This final rationale was a great surprise to me, as we had discussed the fact that the safety of using inflatables in windsurfing is an unknown—at least to me—and that for this reason it should not be added to the regulations before sufficient testing of this use has been done. Perhaps some of your readers have information on this issue. I’m sure one could design a manually inflatable PFD that would be appropriate for windsurfing. The problem is $$$. First it would cost lots to design and manufacture and then it would cost an astronomical amount to have it approved in Canada. This high cost of the testing required to be a Canadian Approved PFD, combined with our small market in Canada, is the chief reason why the Canadian approved PFD’s are so out of date and impractical for sailing.


Does anyone have any ideas?

On a more cheerful note, I want to say what an absolutely terrific magazine AW is. It unites the world of windsurfers in a way that truly expresses the spirit of the people who participate in this wonderful activity/sport. Keep up the good work!
John Curtis
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Working Joe’s
My husband and I (Mike King and Jennifer Cockrall-King) were extremely excited to see our photos and letter published in your inaugural “Country Profile” section. The magazine gets better every issue. We especially appreciate the mix between the professional windsurfing community and those “working Joe’s” like us, who go to our local pond and slog around on old equipment in temperamental winds.
Jennifer Cockrall-King
Alberta, Canada

Wow! Now let me say it again, WOW! You absolutely blew me away with your dramatic presentation of the windsurfing lifestyle and the people who live it (Vol 5 Issue 3/4). Finally someone has successfully combined quality journalism with excellent windsurfing photography. Finally someone has shifted the focus away from technology and onto the people who make up this weird and wonderful community. At last somebody has had the vision, courage and creativity to reinvent the printed page and offer the windsurfing addict the ultimate printed fix !

As a wind-starved Aussie wave-sailor on assignment in Singapore, I devour magazines and videos constantly to help maintain that positive attitude so well described in the introduction to the last issue. AW is head and harness-hook above the rest.

This two-year “wind-fast” (what a lovely contradiction) has given me a new perspective on our marvelous sport and heightened my hunger for the freedom and exhilaration that only high wind and surf can provide. Please send me all the latest videos and a subscription to AW as soon as humanly possible !

Congratulations and I wish you every success for the future (of which, incidentally, I caught a glimpse in the last issue – the “Skimbat” sent my imagination reeling!
Andrew Forsyth

Might Interest You!
Awesome! Talk about a picture issue. It was overwhelming browsing through the pages. As always, the photography was impressive.

We commend your magazine’s ability to involve the beginner, the eternal intermediate (that we have all been at one point) as well as the expert and pro all in one package. This different approach toward windsurfing, as shown by the variety of people you interview, is what has kept us as subscribers since your magazine’s inception. Your upcoming John Kerry interview is an example of such variety. Having a windsurfing school and rental in a metropolitan area, we have provided our services to everyone from rock stars to politicians and have noticed how little, if any, these public figures mention their love of the sport. More exposure to these hidden windsurfing celebrities is needed for windsurfing to blossom in this country.

Each individual is an ambassador of our sport. Whether a celebrity or an anonymous instructor on the beach, we all carry the responsibility of introducing others to this healthy addiction. Keep up the good work. We look forward to your upcoming issues.
Ovidio DeLeon
Sailboards Miami, Inc.Key Biscayne, FL

Windsurfing Mecca?
Vol 5, Issue 3/4? Where the hell have I been? I just received your latest issue of American Windsurfer and have to tell you how impressed I am with both its content and incredible photography. Heck, even the ads look good. I have been a devoted reader to one of those other windsurfing magazines, but as of today I am an American Windsurfer subscriber. The quality of this publication is amazing, and I only regret I didn’t find you sooner. I do have one question however. What are you doing in the windsurf mecca of Gilford, New Hampshire?
Rozz McDowell
Bequia, West Indies

That question is often asked. Gilford, New Hampshire is the big secret of this magazine’s success. We get our work done because there is absolutely no distractions up here. It’s centrally located between Europe, Maui and the Caribbean. It’s where they filmed “On Golden Pond”. It might be Golden but it seldom blows on Lake Winnipesaukee. However, when it does, it’s an awesome place to sail. 

Been Meaning to Write
Love the format of your magazine, the way you do feature articles on people involved in our favorite sport! The personalities are interesting, sometimes controversial (That’s OK. We all are, sometimes, aren’t we?), and show the wide range of people who love the feel of the wind in their sails.

I have been meaning to write for a couple of years to tell you about a super group of sailors who live in Sarasota, Florida, who I think, could be the makings of a great feature article for your mag. They are super ambassadors of the sport, helpful with all sorts of useful info, from rigging tips to safety on the water, to watching for the sailor in trouble when out in winds higher than his/her skill level. I will tell you a little about some of them.

Laurel Robertson is the owner of Island Style Windsurfing. She gives lessons by the causeway, sells equipment, and will do almost anything to further your windsurfing experience.  She is a great racer, having won a number of races around Florida.  She also races kayaks and wins! Laurel is honest, helpful, and gives reliable information. Her great strength is her teaching skill with all levels of sailors, from kids to older people.  She is willing to help when a sailor is in a bind. Example: I needed an expensive sail repaired on short notice, as we were going home to Pennsylvania the next day.  She called a sailmaker friend and got an appointment for me immediately.

Brain Ball is a local sailor who travels with about six boards and all sorts of gear, accessories, and parts. Truly an ambassador of windsurfing, Brain will help any sailor with repairs, advice, a ride across town, if needed. He is the only person locally who repairs boards and makes needed accessories, and will charge, but not enough to make much. As he says, “I just want to keep as many people on the water as possible.” His knowledge of current gear on the market is amazing, like a walking encyclopedia!  He is also honest and reliable.

Some other colorful personalities from the Sarasota area who are also helpful and friendly are:

George Geiger, a seventy-something guy originally from Pennsylvania who does a mean helicopter tack (which I am trying to learn!)

Willie, who once did a high-flying act for the circus and now teaches hand-balancing acts. He has had two hip replacements but is still an excellent sailor out in high winds.

Phyllis, who has a car full of every windsurfing accessory known to man and does great water-starts.

Eddie, who was born in Paraguay and is a top sailor.

Vince, transplanted from California, who loves to sail and helps anyone with problems.

Chris, also a very good sailor.

Suellen, who is still learning (aren’t we all?) and does great, considering the older equipment she sails with. Suellen is beating the whole bunch!

Tony and Jan, who spend six months in Florida and six months on Shelter Island off of Long Island, have the best of both worlds and sail year-round. Tony is one of the best sailors I have ever seen, and they are both so friendly and helpful.

Other helpful, friendly locals are Rob, Frank, Patricia, Kim. There are many others we don’t know, I am sure, as we spend only a few months there every year.

They are young and not-so young, a very interesting cross-section of our windsurfing world.  Each has a unique story, and each will give up a lot to be on the water every day there is wind. Each one will help strangers and watch for problems out on the water. In short, we take care of each other, or try to.

I have wanted to put my love of windsurfing into words for a long time, but it is hard to put my thoughts on paper. Your magazine typifies all of the feelings: the pictures, the incredible color, the activity of waves, the camaraderie of fellow sailors, the picture on pages 42-3 with the rainbow over Ho’okipa and the guy rigging (volume 5,issue 3-4), the different personalities. Like Vincent van Gogh, I have the gift of seeing color in nature more intensely than some people. A Florida day out on the water (or a Pennsylvania day in the summer) is so exquisitely colorful with the blue-green water, sailboats, windsurfers, shimmering waves, blue sky, clouds, sun; it is so intense and passionate that the color almost hurts your eyes. I would give up anything to sail any where, and every ocean in the world, to drink up the color and try my skills on my board, silently (no motor), gliding over manatees, dolphins and skates, with ospreys overhead. Thanks for the great illustrations and stories.
Pat Sharp
Edinboro, PA


15 Minutes of Fame x2
I just read the letter entitled “15 minutes of Fame” about Steve Colby of Sound Sailboards on Cape Cod. As a resident of Boston, I feel the same way about the store in question, as do many of my sailing friends. The arrogance and “I am a better sailor than thou” attitude displayed by employees of this Boston shop only distract from the camaraderie and enjoyment that windsurfing offers. Steve has lent me boards when I have needed them, bases when I have forgotten mine in Boston, and he has given advice on rigging my new sails. I always enjoy going into his shop, even when I have no intention of purchasing anything—just to say “hi” and shoot the breeze. Thanks for printing the letter that has been a long-time coming about Boston.
Tyler Hoffman

I’m interested in getting started windsurfing…I used to surf when I was younger, and race Laser’s…So the natural evolution is windsurfing, right?…Well, I am stuck in Idaho, and have not found any place that sells or knows windsurfing…Can you give me some idea of how/where I should start? I can kick myself now, since I used to live in Melbourne FL when I was younger, where there was a great windsurfing clan, but then I only waved…Now approaching my middle–age crisis, I need some thrills…Anyway, any help would be appreciated!
Todd S. Jones


American Windsurfer magazine continues to improve with each issue, or maybe my knowledge and sailing ability continues to improve, so I enjoy your magazine all the more. I own a bread wagon that holds all my stuff. It is covered with stickers but is lacking in an American Windsurfer sticker. I saw one of your stickers on a car in San Francisco last week and wrote this letter instead of taking his. Please let me know where to acquire one of your stickers. A very cool logo indeed.
Kaye Whitney

Very refreshing perspective! Ya know, had they taken care of Darby with royalties somehow, and built some variations on his designs (easy to use first time out, can’t fall) this sport would have never lost momentum. That was a good read.
D. Robert Duncan
San Diego, CA

I am looking for some designs and help on various landsurfers. I’d like to make my own, but am having trouble finding a method of extending the trucks on a standard skateboard set of wheels or a decent design for the suspension. Someone I met this weekend said you had an article or ad in the last issue that showed a system built on an aluminum tube with springs built in. I don’t have any idea how that would work. Could you tell me which issue or how to get plans for such a fun training device? The guy I talked to was sailing a home-made rig made from plywood, and 3” abs plastic pipe with two toilet flange ends….very original—and was having trouble getting it to return to “zero” or level. Very interesting, though. Any help will be appreciated.
Bob Wood
Bequia, West Indies