ISAF made "a big mistake evaluating kite against windsurf"

November 13, 2012 | Windsurfing
Pete Davis: passion to perform

Pete Davis is the president of the International Windsurfing Association (IWA), the world governing body for all official windsurfing classes. He was born in 1959 and started windsurfing in 1986.

In an exclusive interview to, the man behind international windsurfing says ISAF made a "big mistake evaluating kite against windsurf" and that both sports should be in the Olympic Games. Davis is married with Zara, one of the fastest female windsurfers in the world.

Despite the global economic crisis, Pete believes the future of windsurfing is bright. For example, what about windSUP?

How would you describe the present state of windsurfing?

Windsurfing is going through a tough time at the moment but taking into consideration the global economic situation it is fairing bester than most.

However the green shoots of growth are there, youth windsurfing for example is increasing in popularity. With windsurfing making up the biggest fleet in record numbers attending the 2012 Youth Worlds in Medemblik, Netherlands.

Also some countries windsurfing market is growing rapidly like Turkey and the emerging markets in eastern Europe.

How many recreational windsurfers are there in the world, according to IWA numbers? What are the continents and countries with the most riders?

IWA represents windsurfing classes - its members are involved in competition windsurfing and therefore a minority of all windsurfers. But we have seen class activity increase. For example, the Techno T293 is the fastest growing class in the sport and the others holding up well.

Pete Davis and Zara Davis: speed windsurfers

How many companies are currently working in the windsurfing industry?

If you are talking about board and sail manufacturers, then there are more than 20 sail manufacturers and 20 board manufacturers worldwide.

How important are the 2016 Olympic Games to the sport of windsurfing?

To the non-windsurfing public, I think it is very important for awareness. Most people's perception is "if it's not in the Olympics, then it's not an important sport". Windsurfing is back in for 2016 and I believe we can capitalize on the success of London 2012, with increased global popularity achieved by its exciting windsurfing coverage.

What changes are planned to get windsurfing a successful Olympic sport?

As above. Thanks to, in no small way, to the passion of the windsurfing team in the IWA, especially Ceri Williams, we have succeeded getting windsurfing back where it belongs, in the Olympic Games.

Do you think kiteboarding should join windsurfing in the Olympic Games?

The IWA position has been for some time that kiteboarding should be in the Olympics. Kiteboarding is modern and interests the general public, but not at the expense of windsurfing. ISAF made a big mistake in only evaluating kite against windsurf and not taking into consideration the whole medal slate.

What has been made to improve windsurfing, in the last years?

More user friendly and lighter equipment has made the sport much easier. Windsurfing instruction has improved also and combined with modern equipment it is possible to get a beginner windsurfing competently within a few hours.

Where is windsurfing heading to, when it comes to the evolution of the sport?

As I have said, the sport has evolved into a much more user-friendly one, that will continue. The future beyond... That is a difficult one, as it will be consumer lead.

The possible opportunities are the growing SUP market evolving into more windSUP use. The other is the use of different construction methods to bring the entry cost into the sport down and, ultimately, a wider market.

Course racing, Freestyle, Speed, Wave. What are the IWA priorities for the future of windsurfing?

The IWA promotes all disciplines of windsurfing worldwide. We are always looking for new ways to take the sport to new areas of the world, in whatever format suits the venue.

  • Dutch environmental activist and windsurfer Merijn Tinga, also known as the "Plastic Soup Surfer," has made an audacious journey from Oslo to London, braving the North Sea's currents and winds, to call attention to the pervasive problem of plastic pollution.