The legendary life of Arnaud de Rosnay, the dandy windsurfer

Arnaud de Rosnay: a passionate windsurfer

On November 24, 1984, a French adventurer went missing in the Strait of Taiwan while trying to windsurf between China and Taiwan. His name was Arnaud de Rosnay.

What a bold life. The windsurfer born on March 9, 1946, in Paris lived 38 years full of unconventional motivations and desires.

At only 18, Arnaud de Rosnay was already photographing top models for Vogue and traveling the world chasing diamond mines and precious stones.

When he discovered surfing, he instantly got in love with the sport.

But he would not stop there.

Arnaud helped to introduce windsurfing in France and co-organized the first national championships with his brother Joel.

Arnaud de Rosnay: he wanted to cross the straits of contention

A Restless Spirit

Arnaud was never quiet.

While enjoying the pleasures of life, the Parisian found time to develop land windsurfing, also known as terrasailing, a blend between skateboarding and windsurfing.

In April 1979, Arnaud "sails" for 1380 kilometers between Nouadhibou (Mauritania) and Dakar (Senegal).

In the meantime, he meets Jenna Severson, the daughter of John Severson, founder of Surfer Magazine.

They would marry, complete multiple sailing adventures, and stay together until the end. Jenna continued her career as an accomplished speed windsurfer.

Arnaud and Jenna: in love with each other and crazy about windsurfing

Consecutive Achievements

The 1.85-meter tall French aristocrat kept breaking barriers.

In 1980, he set sail on a solo journey from the Marquesa Islands (Nuku Hiva), to the Ahe atoll, in French Polynesia. Rosnay spent ten nights at sea and sailed 750 nautical miles for 11 days.

One year later, Arnaud fails to cross the English Channel.

But, in 1984, he successfully connects Key West and Havana, Cuba, in six hours and 55 minutes.

Arnaud and Jenna: always sporty, always fit

The Ultimate Dream

Baron Arnaud de Rosnay always lived a comfortable life, but he never lost touch with real life and real people.

He loved to share his passion for water sports with anyone he met.

Rosnay had bigger plans, though.

He wanted to cross "the straits of contention" to raise awareness of the fact that millions of people still live on isolated islands, apart from the rest of the world.

Arnaud de Rosnay: sailing with the Chinese flag

The Tragic Adventure

But his plans were tragically cut short.

"My opinion is quite simple - he just fell from the board," explained Pierre Perrin, photographer and close friend of Arnaud de Rosnay.

"But many people have other opinions. Some think he was shot by either Taiwanese or Chinese, but also by pirates. Anything could have happened."

"It was dangerous for Chinese people - even from Hong Kong - to stay because we had no permission, so as soon as we found the spot, the interpreter went back to Hong Kong."

"China and Taiwan didn't give the authorization, so we had to stay hidden for about ten days, waiting for the good moment."

There were no rescue operations - China and Taiwan didn't care.

Joel de Rosnay, Arnaud's brother, contacted both governments to try to understand what happened, but he never got satisfactory answers.

Because Rosnay was sailing with the Chinese flag on his sail, Pierre Perrin can't find any reason for the military to shoot him and the windsurfer.

A legend had just fallen; a new star was shining in the sky.

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