How to be true windsurfer and improve the community

January 25, 2016 |
Oresund: a Swedish windsurf town | Photo: Visit Skane

A group of Swedish windsurfers is showing the way forward in how to support fellow sailors, get more money into the windsurfing business and increase the social capital within the community.

From where we stand, it is merely a seven-hour drive to the Arctic Circle. In the horizon, you can clearly spot snowy mountains that are perfect for skiing. It's about 8°C, the water temperature is of 9 °C, and the gods of wind have delivered a northerly breeze of 14 meters per second. Welcome to Ostersund, Sweden - people actually windsurf here.

There are at least four windsurfing spots in Lake Storsjon, near Ostersund. The best place for waves is called "Vastbyviken," and it's where the military do their training.

Rumor has it that there are old mines in the bottom of this bay. The beach consists mostly of small-to-medium-sized stones and, in between the pine trees, there's a small area suitable for rigging. You need the right community connections to sail this spot, as you need a key to get through the gate and to the rigging area.

Time and experience told us that higher-skilled windsurfers spend more money on equipment and more time sailing than lesser-skilled windsurfers and that social constraints and social support may be crucial for sports participation and performance.

"What do this unique windsurfing spot and its sailors have to teach us?" asks Henrik Beyer, author of "Health & Fitness for Windsurfing."

This challenging spot and its sailors can give us an insight on how we can get even more people into windsurfing, and potentially more money into the business as well.

Lake Storsjon: there are enthusiastic windsurfers here | Photo: BigStockPhoto

Ostersund has a small community of windsurfers, and they have a natural and pleasant way of spreading the stoke. They have formed an online community to share their experiences and to effectively communicate among themselves.

They love sharing their windsurfing knowledge with newcomers, they regularly get noticed by local media and have talked about reaching out to the local sailing club to offer windsurfing classes.

These enthusiasts are not only willing to share their passion, but also their equipment and they look out for each other in the water. Occasionally, they organize events for watching windsurfing films, and some of their families even go on holidays together.

Since windsurfing demands a great deal of skill, time, effort and resources, a supporting camaraderie between sailors may well be the critical factor that gets sailors in the water.

"It is also difficult to see any increase in the numbers of newcomers to the sport of windsurfing without understanding the importance of a collaborative community," adds Beyer.

"In fact, the windsurfers in Ostersund have identified an effective way of increasing the social capital in the community. Increasing social capital within a community is crucial aspects of building a healthy community."

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