The history of windsurfing if full of hidden secrets, untold tales, controversial debates, and unique testimonials. The truth behind the invention of the sport itself is not absolutely clear, but a few names are inevitably linked to windsurfing.
Diane and Hoyle Schweitzer, S. Newman Darby, Jim Drake, Peter Chilvers, Arnaud de Rosnay and Richard Eastaugh are some of the characters deeply connected to the birth of the wind sport.
In "Wind & Water - The Invention of Windsurfing," director Bill Weir gathered historical footage and relevant information about the origins of the outdoor activity. Weir succumbed to brain cancer (1963-2009) but he left a paramount documentary.
His work is pretty impressive. Bill talks with Woody Brown, a pioneer surfer and sail designer, who reveals how, back in the 1930s, wave riders used to roll out portable sails to get back to the beach with the power of the wind.
American surf writer Drew Kampion also shares relevant data regarding the invention of windsurfing. For example, did you know that Tom Blake designed the first modern sailboard?
However, the first proper windsurfing model only comes in 1964. S. Newman Darby introduced his invention to a surf magazine, but the editors told him "that was not surfing." And so his article ended up being published in the August 1965 edition of Popular Science.
A few years later, Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer added the mechanical system that allows sails to rotate, control power and board direction. However, the universal joint had been previously introduced by Darby. The dispute over the "ownership" of the pivoting system would continue for decades, in Cold War fashion.
Anyway, the duo filed the patent for the "Wind-Propelled Apparatus" on the 27th March, 1968. It was Patent US3487800 A. But their project had to get in the water first. On May 3rd, 1967, at Marina del Rey, in California, the windsurfer model got tested.
The sport struggled to find its market but, in the end, windsurfing became one of the most popular water sports in the planet. In the 1990s, Jim Drake considered he was the "re-inventor" of the universal joint used in windsurf boards, alongside Newman Darby. But the peace pipe was never smoked.
In 22 minutes and 25 seconds, you'll learn a lot about windsurfing. The evolution of the gear, the innovative changes in the equipment, the challenges of wave sailing, the lifestyle and the first stars of the sport. Bill Weir did a great job, although he could not finish it completely. All windsurfers should thank him for this.