Barbara Kendall 

Barbara Kendall is the best known and most successful windsurfer in New Zealand history having competed in her fifth Olympics this year.

It’s incredible that she’s still competing, at top international level, when most of her competitors are in their 20s. It’s a harsh environment, and a gruelling physical challenge.

Her years of experience in racing, tactics, knowledge about wind and tide conditions,equipment and board handling skills play a big part in her success. But the most important factor of all is her desire to win.

Managing the psychology of winning has been the most challenging aspect of staying at the top. A campaign for an Olympic Games takes Barbara at least three years.

She keeps her fitness up by running, swimming, yoga,working out at the gym and windsurfing every day she can.She competes in numerous windsurfing events to keep her world ranking up as well as maintaining a media presence for her sponsors.

She now has two young children to care for as well. Barbara travels around the country to give motivational speaking presentations to earn a living,works for her sponsors,or heads back overseas to meet with the Athlete’s Commission of the International Olympic Committee for a few days.

As soon as windsurfing became an Olympic sport for women, Barbara took the opportunity to join her gold medallist brother, Bruce, by winning the gold in Barcelona in 1992, making her the first woman in NZ to do so in 40 years.

She went on to win silver at Atlanta in 1996, bronze at Sydney in 2000 and was New Zealand’s best in Athens in 2004 with a fifth placing.She won NZ Sportswoman of the year in 1996, 1998 and 1999; Yachtsperson of the year in 1992 and 1998;and has been awarded a MBE in 1992 for services to windsurfing.

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Follow The Winds 

The Follow The Winds Project introduces to the public especially aimed at kids and youth the amazing value of the windsurfing lifestyle. Top Formula Windsurfing riders such as: Arnon Dagan from Israel, Dennis Littel from the Netherlands, Jesper Vesterstrøm from Denmark, Ross Williams from Great Britain, Steve Allen from Australia and Wojtek Brzozowski from Poland will go into the World Media to talk about the educational and inspiring side of their lives.

Through media activity and the website this project shows the value of sport, intercultural learning and understanding as well as the cool and colorful lifestyles of the riders; lifestyles full of funny stories, beaches, sun, water, wind, traveling and meeting new and amazing people.

The website is going to follow the activities of six top professional riders by documenting their travels and lifestyles as well as video interviews to further explain their lifestyle choices, with articles written in a simplistic and easy format to show both youth and young children new and interesting places around the world.

A sport such as windsurfing can teach them about the meaning of international friendships, tolerance to other cultures, positive thinking and enthusiasm as well as about courage, hard work and the determination to chase their dreams. The riders are definite individuals with strong personalities which can make their lifestyles a positive ideal to be followed. Through the next International Events, Formula Windsurfing is going to encourage youth and kids to look more closely at this sport and learn from this untypical and positive type of living.

The project is going to have an international scope. Firstly it will be taken to Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland with the hope to be taken further into other countries around the world where Formula Windsurfing takes place. The website will be launched in the English language but will be translated into more European languages very shortly.

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RS:X Class

At this weeks ISAF meeting amongst the agenda items is a proposal to switch windsurfing boards for the 2012 London Olympic Games from the existing Neil Pryde RS:X to a new Starboard built Formula board. While a lighter planing board would be welcomed by many athletes, it seems there are a lot of factors to consider.

Neil Pryde explains ‘The RS: X board was designed and built to parameters set by the International Sailing Federation. (ISAF). The reality of Olympic windsurfing is it’s in the Olympics as part of yacht racing. It has to operate on a fixed time table with events taking place everyday, the television is organized, the press coverage. The Event organiser don’t have the luxury of saying dayafter day 'oh there’s less than 10 knots of wind today so we won’t race. They have to race.

‘So ISAF required a board that would sail on three knots of wind. Normally windsurfers don’t even go on the water unless it’s more than 10-12 knots, so the Olympic board is not like a windsurfer in the normal sense of the word.

‘To build a board which can be sailed upwind at three knots we had to put a dagger board in it. That added a lot of weight because you have to have the whole structure to support the dagger board.

'Going forward, we all hope that Olympic regattas are not sailed in venues that requires races to be run in very light conditions again, but practical considerations come even before and after racing.'

As one multiple Olympic sailor, who campaigns all around the world commented this week ‘One of the problems from a practical point of view of wind surfing boards with no dagger boards is that steerage, leaving or coming into harbours is very difficult without a support boat. May not be much of an issue for the big teams but it’s a problem that adds costs at all levels.'

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