The thrilling story of the Original Windsurfer
- 03 July 2015 | Windsurfing
The Original Windsurfer was born in the 1960s. One day in January 1967, at a cocktail party in Pacific Palisades, sailor Jim Drake and surfer Hoyle Schweitzer started talking about combining sailing and surfing. After hearing them for a while, Diane - Hoyle's wife - challenged both brains to act and do something.
Eight months later, Diane set up an official launch party to discuss the new prototype, which included a boom, five boards, fittings, a daggerboard, and a mast. But Jim and Hoyle had already tested it. It failed. But the party was a success.
Apparently, and with a mast was fixed to the board, it was difficult to get on and sail away. When the board was flat, the sail was standing. It was quite clear that there was something missing.
In 1968, the initial problems had been solved. Their mutual friend Allen Parducci, an UCLA professor, came up with the idea of a "a rope to connect the rig to the board". The second prototype was called "SK8". Hoyle took it to the water and it worked.
But the name "SK8" was already taken, so they renamed it to "Baja Board." Bert Salisbury, a Public Relations from Seattle, was one of the first people to see it in action. He got so excited with the new sailing craft that he bought the first model. And suggested a new name for the new sport: "Windsurfing".
In February 1969, the board was baptized "The Windsurfer," and in the following months several dealers had already signed distribution contracts with the founders. The first production board is manufactured in March 1970, and by the end of the year a total of 22 windsurf kits were already sailing out in the water.
"The Windsurfer" explodes. After hitting Hawaii, and California, the new sailing craft becomes a huge success in Europe. Several windsurfing competitions got underway, and the media started talking about it. Windsurfing had been successfully established.
"The Windsurfer One Design is a classic in many aspects. It was the board that launched the sport back in the 1970s and 1980s, and it went on to become the largest One Design Sailing Class of boats in the world," underlines Ted Schweitzer, Hoyle and Diane's son, in the official Original Windsurfer website.
"Most modern sailboards are designed for speed, so they need strong winds or large sails to generate enough power to get them onto a plane. They are boat-shaped boards. The Original Windsurfer is different in concept."
"The surfboard-inspired design has a flat planing hull, so in light air it can carve efficiently through the water and build up planing speed without the power of a massive rig. This allows the One Design to perform with a small and lightweight sail."
The Original Windsurfer is very much alive in the 21st century. The iconic boards made of cross-link polyethylene with a polyurethane core, and the mylar/dacron sails are still in use today. And the feeling of riding the Original Windsurfer is similar to driving a Talbot 105.
Windsurfing is all about the Original Windsurfer. It's the original thrill ride. Want to know more about the origins of the sport? Discover the invention of windsurfing in 22 minutes and 35 seconds.