Words Finn Mullen // Photo Tam Mullen
The word ‘journey’ has two meanings, the physical act of travelling from one place to another and the process of change and development; windsurfing combines both elements. Whatever level of the sport you engage in, there has been a start point that has taken you to your current state and there’s an unknown end that we are travelling to. The fact there is no actual final destination doesn’t stop us however and may help us to understand a deeper appreciation of the simple fulfilment of the act. The journey is the destination. A struggling writer once remarked that on achieving peer recognition, awards and a lucrative career, she realized that although her long standing goal had been achieved, her happiness was found not in the success as she expected, but in all the adversity she had overcome and life lessons she had gained to bring to her that point. The journey was the reward, not the best selling book.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T. S. Eliot
In the melee of modern life, windsurfing is escapism. Our minds can flick to another state with the first hook in of the harness and pleasing movement of the board under our feet. Short term, we focus on the journey immediately in front of us – the shoreline, the chop, waves or buttery smooth flat water. It’s instant pleasure. Long term, there’s a greater gain. Focusing on whether we get successfully to the other side of the lake, over the chop, land the move or break 40 knots misses the enjoyment of the moments of endeavour that take us there. We learn to try harder, motivate ourselves to break down physical and mental barriers but most importantly realize that every session contributes to a love of the sport that can be continually replayed through memories of the people we meet, places we travel to and experiences we create windsurfing. It’s rich resources for our physical and mental health. It won’t create us wealth in our wallet directly, but it keeps our lives on a positive track.
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome. Not everyone can be Number 1.” Arthur Ashe.
As an experience in windsurfing, few things get closer to our sport’s core values than a road trip. We look in this issue at shores near and far to share stories. Eschewing the comforts of home for an adventure in Madagascar, ever exploring French windsurfer and photographer Gilles Calvet notes the lesson that “No one will remember all the aerials I did. But one will always remember the unexpected accidents that happened along the trip.” Timo Mullen agrees as he reflects on a mission to NW Ireland, “The trips I enjoy the most are the ones where anything could happen.” Travelling with him was south coast of England sailor James Cox who enthuses that, “The perfect road trip has to include friends… Escaping away with the boys makes you realise that you just have to do it more often .. It strengthens me, plus I get some stories to tell the kids when I get back home!” In Western Australia, Dieter Van Der Eyken inspires us further to enrich travelling with the company of mates – “What’ s the use of finding a new spot when you can’t share the joy with anybody else?” Sometimes the real gain of travel though can come in an unexpected appreciation for home and a fresh perspective to the many merits of UK windsurfing. We look this month at West Wales where local sailor Alfie Hart moved back to after travelling and “realising what an amazing place it is to live.” Jim Brooks-Dowsett concurs, “Having travelled the world and lived in some great places for wave sailing, I can honestly say that I love all the stunning beaches and reef breaks that we have here…I love the wild mountainous scenery..it’s an amazing place to explore and even more special to call it home!”
Staying at grassroots level, Peter Hart continues to share his knowledge on the rite of windsurfing passage that is the forward loop and profiles the journeys of everyday sailors who completed his ‘Operation Rotation’ and how they eventually conquered the ‘forward demon’. At what point in our windsurfing we find the key to completing a move or a wider enlightenment will be personal to us all, but what is important is to keep on the glorious path that windsurfing takes us with the lessons and experiences that help make our lives richer in every vein, journey well!
PHOTO “In windsurfing there’s always a bigger picture to see. Finn Mullen on a small wave in the grand vistas of West Donegal.” Picture by Tam Mullen.