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What Windsurfing Can Do

Published on November 21st, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I can’t think of another type of sailing that teaches more than windsurfing. How rig rake affects steering. Reacting to sail pressure. The impact of body movement. It all must be done quickly, fluidly, and through feel. These lessons are the foundation for how to sail every type of boat.

But with the great emphasis on school sailing in the USA, windsurfing has gotten lost in the shuffle. Its activity is limited to pockets where the conditions are ideal (warm and/or windy), or to where there has been a vision beyond the cookie-cutter youth options.

The road to the top of the mountain begins at its base, so it’s no surprise that windsurfing was the only class of boat where North America failed to make the Medal Race at the Rio Olympics. Canada had no windsurfing representatives. Mexico finished 13th and 20th in the Womens and Mens events, respectively, while USA finished 16th and 28th.

Looking at the climb up the mountain, the pecking order among these countries isn’t likely to change.

The Techno 293 is the dominant youth windsurfer, with its 2016 World Championship in Italy attracting 474 sailors from 33 nations. The tally from North America: Canada – 0, Mexico – 12, USA – 6. The top placing finisher was Mexican Mariana Aguilar who finished third in her age division.

But success at the Olympics is an accumulation of success at every step toward the Games, and for North America, making further progress toward the Medal Race might be a challenge.

The next step beyond the Techno 293 is the RS:X Youth World Championship for sailors under 19 years, with the 2016 event being held November 21 through 25 on the island of Cyprus. A total of 98 sailors are registered from 19 countries and 5 continents, but none from North America. This is where the climb up the mountain has stopped.

There was a time when windsurfing fleets dotted the continent. When it comes to a fun, affordable, and easily accessible form of sailing, windsurfing leads the way. With good racing classes available, windsurfing offers the opportunity to both grow the sport, and if the desire exists, climb the mountain too.

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