Rivals partner in windsurfing rebirth

Published on October 15th, 2019

Mistral is one of the iconic windsurfing brands, riding the evolution wave since its start in 1976. Among its models was the Mistral One Design, launched in 1989 and selected as the equipment for the Olympic discipline in 3 successions: 1996, 2000 and 2004.

But in 2002 when the windsurfing industry went into decline, Mistral shifted toward other avenues, but in 2020 the company returns to one design windsurfing in a revolutionary way. They will partner with a competing brand from the beginning of time… Windsurfer®.

The merging of stand-up paddleboards and old school windsurfing has brought back the original board from 1968, but with significant upgrades. Called the Windsurfer LT, the kit has been reinvented and reborn as a lighter, updated craft, with improved rig, sail and retractable daggerboard.

The Windsurfer Class racing is again firing on all cylinders, having hosted its first World Championship this year. Scuttlebutt HQ has acquired two of these boards, and now Mistral is involved too.

When windsurfing got its start, Mistral, with its European origins wanted to create its own interpretation of the Windsurfer® which it did so in 1978, with the evolution of the Mistral Competition which triggered the establishment of the International Mistral Class Organization.

But that was then, and this is now, which will have in 2020 Mistral marketing branded Windsurfer LT boards in celebration of days gone by with the view for the future in growing the sport. Here’s why Mistral has chosen to get back into the game:

It could be contested and indeed the question is being asked, “Why did Mistral not re-release the Mistral Competition rather than brand a Windsurfer LT Mistral?” This is an important question for which we have some important answers.

If we re-released the Mistral Competition, it would rekindle the old days of being in competition with the original Windsurfer® One Design and at this point of the sports history, it is our position, it is more important to nurture and grow grass roots Windsurfing, than it is to re-release an alternative choice of board that would serve to dilute the potential to grow a singular Class of board.

With the Kona board in recent times having built up a loyal following and with the release of the Windsurfer LT, Mistral’s production of the Mistral Competition, could be seen as disingenuous, when we and the world recognize Hoyle Schweitzer’s original Windsurfer® as the seminal foundation board of the sport and the impact it can have through its own re-birth.

Not insignificantly, in economic terms this is not 80s when the sport was so big and growth so vertical, investments were justifiable; whereas today, it makes commercial sense to support an in-situ opportunity for a symbiotic expression of support for an iconic product that is ‘tooled-up’ for production, ready to go and being offered unilaterally between brands.

Mistral’s iconic status is not without influence and it is our belief that our support, investment and absorption of the Mistral Windsurfer LT into our inventory, will assist in the growth of the sport that we and so many thousands of participants worldwide are wanting. This is not the time for rivalries, but consolidation in the interest of the big picture.

Mistral’s embrace of the Mistral Windsurfer LT is an endorsement and open hearted genuine wish for old school windsurfing skills and ideologies to be nurtured once again, a board which, just like the Mistral Competition, suits young and old and everyone in-between; a board for learning, recreational fun or racing – a board truly for the masses.

No two board designs could be recognized more for their contribution to the global popularity of the sport, in respect of entry level, recreation through to racing. Ironically, both the Windsurfer® and Mistral Competition were to fall victim to the eventual decline of the sport as it over-shot the market with over focus on the high end extremes of niche interests.

Today in response to an overwhelming out pouring of nostalgia, passion and love of the sport, the Mistral Windsurfer LT marks the rebirth of old school, original long board Windsurfing, in which Mistral has embraced in the spirit of supporting the growth of this original One Design icon. New ventures, new beginnings!


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