As the first attempt at a Windsurfing Hall of Fame (WHoF) by the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) crashed out in 2007, the need for someone to pick the ball up and get it rolling again was calling.
Having been involved in the sport as both a windsurfer and creative journalist for 50 years, I decided to pick it up as a side project.
How much work could it be? Certainly not as much as writing my book, "Maui Glory Days."
Or could it? It could.
How was the inaugural Windsurfing Hall of Fame class of 2021 selected?
Preliminary polling was conducted in an open Facebook group named "Windsurfing Hall of Fame."
But the idea was just for fun - merely a seed - a kernel of the project.
And so I posted a different poll for each segment and discipline of the wind sport: fame, racing, freestyle, speed, Olympics, adventurer, shaper, sailmaker, media, and eventually, the plan grew.
I wanted these polls to figure out what weight each category carried by counting how many voted and who to get on the ballot.
Not a Popularity Contest
The initial design proved to be fruitful - and a bit sour, too - as, in some cases, we ended up having a popularity contest.
Soon, I discovered that a few candidates were benefiting from email campaigns.
Actually, one completely internationally unknown Italian had more votes than Robby Naish.
I investigated and contacted the people to let them know that there would perhaps be a locals-only hall of fame one day.
So, some of them were left off the official ballot - this is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Friends. Nice try, though.
I eventually sent out an online poll to a hand-selected voting body. There were write-in votes. I was one of them.
I then got more serious and created another closed Facebook group - the Windsurfing Hall of Fame Voting Body (WHoFVB) - inviting a geographical and gender-diverse group of knowledgeable and well-wrinkled folks.
A few invitees invited a few others.
Though we ended up with well more than the 100 I had hoped for, only about 100 of those voting on the online survey ballot.
The ballot indeed was US-Hawaii heavy because it was where the sport began and blossomed, and Hawaii then became the arena, the Mecca, the proving ground.
But, there were indeed some people that I tossed in myself, having a bit of memory left in the bank, and tried my best to give representation to countries ill-represented.
The three major criteria for voting were achievement, longevity, and character.
The rider had to be over 50 years of age - sorry, Antoine Albeau - and garnished at least 60 percent of the vote from the voting body of 100.
The results are pretty much what you see on the website, so the WHoFVB did a pretty good job.
However, a few big names were forgotten, and a few right on the border.
So, just to make sure nobody critical was left out, the captain of the lonely ship, along with Selection Committee (SC) Chair Scott O'Connor, formed a selection committee that was at least geographically diverse.
We have Australians, Europeans, Americans, and even two editors from Germany's Surf magazine on board.
The SC deliberated on those who rode the borderline on votes, with some committee members voicing themselves louder than others.
All arguments came to a stalemate, and a closed ballot for the SC was created for those on the 40-50 percent border.
Four more made it in: two men and two women.
The founder-president used his one trump vote to select one final candidate and, hopefully to his credit, a woman.
Certainly, a host of other legends can be argued, and the private messages are coming in where the votes were for Jurgen Honscheid, Bep Thijs, Arnaud de Rosnay, Cesare Cantagalli, Mike Eskimo, Nathalie Lelievre, Eric Thieme, Robert Teriitehau, etc.
The list goes on.
So, why not this person or that? And the stock answer is, "There's always next year, and a stronger class it will be."
Congratulations again to those who made it in, and thanks again to those who participated in the voting process.
The next task for the Selection Committee is to lay down the bylaws for next year's voting process.
There will most likely be no more than 12 inductees each year.
We will also have a vote for officers every two years, in which I will gladly hand over the Presidential Seal to some poor sap and a webmaster with nothing else to do with their time.
There are also irons in the fire with some major world sailing organizations about verification and taking the reigns.
I'm happy to have just been the instigator, and maybe when I pass the baton, I can get in here and eat some chili myself one day.
Just to be fair, yours truly was voted in, but who would put themselves in a Hall of Fame they created? Don't answer that.
Share and Support
One person has not acknowledged his induction at the time of writing - Stephan van den Berg.
I believe he's just shy.
One more peripheral inductee wanted nothing to do with it, but everyone else was all in, including Naish, Dunkerbeck, and Schweitzer.
As for a concrete WHoF, that is something well beyond my scope of fundraising. But, with pandemics and sailors from all over the world, where would it live?
It's a good question for the future, but not for now. It has been a fun ride herding some cool cats.
If anyone wants to forego their cup of Starbucks and donate five bucks, hit the website's support tab at windsurfinghalloffame.com.
You'll get a free eBook with pretty pictures of windsurfing and a bit of history. All proceeds from "Maui Glory Days" go to the WHoF.
These things don't exist on the web of their own accord, so if you want to see it keep going, forego that cup of joe.
Cliff Webb Takes Over
In 2023, Cliff Webb is coming on board and taking the reins as executive director.
I will remain as President for the time being, helping Cliff transition the WHOF to what should be an era of growth and international recognition.
Cliff will also oversee web content/editorial.
He has been involved with the sport for over 40 years as both an avid windsurfer and a journalist serving in varied roles.
Webb started his career as a photojournalist.
While covering the first events in the formative year of the professional windsurfing world tour, he was then appointed official Tour photographer, producing reports and photos of the events for magazines and newspapers globally.
Cliff was invited to take the role of Media Director when PBA International was created, evolving this for over five years before establishing his own TV production company.
This diversified into many different sports while operating worldwide, together with sports event management operations, founding the PBA British Windsurf World Cup in the UK, and creating the national windsurf exhibition there, which ran for six years.
He was also involved in helping form the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) in 1996, which took over from the PBA.
His present production company, 1080 Media TV, was established fifteen years ago and is renowned for water sports and other coverage worldwide.
He's again supporting PWA events with live online news and highlights coverage.
"Let me begin by thanking Jonathan for the incredible work he has done in founding the WHOF, with his enthusiasm, energy, and the countless hours it has taken to establish and operate in these early years," stated Cliff Webb.
"It is an outstanding achievement for the sport to recognize the pioneers and the early stars of windsurfing."
"This parallels with all of the major sports, giving fans worldwide the opportunity to celebrate their legends from the past with fittingly nostalgic admiration and appreciation."
"Having windsurfed most of my life and been lucky enough to have worked with many of the superstars in the sport around the world over the years, I hope I can now help evolve and develop the WHOF further."
"However, we need support from the windsurfing community and beyond to help expand on the ideas and plans if we are to establish this as a long-term tribute to the sport for future generations."
"This will take some time and commitment from a lot of people, but we are now planning Phase 2, as it were, of the Windsurfing Hall of Fame and considering how we can build and expand."
"Ideas are welcome, collaborations too, and let's see what we can achieve by working together."
Class of 2023
Hugues de Turckheim
Tamotsu "Taki" Takiguchi
The Swatek Sisters
Class of 2022
Arnaud De Rosnay
Mike "Thor" Horgan
Class of 2021
The Windsurfing Hall of Fame's Class of 2021 was inducted by a 100-person voting body and the Selection Committee.
They are as follows:
Diane & Hoyle Schweitzer
Jenna De Rosnay
Kelby Anno Bruno
Rhonda Smith Sanchez
Spanier & Bourne
Stephan van den Berg
Jonathan Weston | Founder and President of the Windsurfing Hall of Fame