(PHOTO – Finn Mullen sails under a rare North Atlantic vision. Photo by Roo McCrudden.)
Our editor, Finn Mullen, offers his opinion of windsurfing’s place in a pandemic, in a preview of the editorial from our May 2020 issue, out today.
‘Where there is no vision, there is no hope.’ George Washington Carver.
It’s a quirk of magazines that they represent a particular epoch in time and the zeitgeist of whatever niche they represent. Pick up a windsurf magazine from a few decades ago and it’s easy to laugh at the board and sail designs of the era; and let’s not even mention the ‘neon’ phase of the 80s! Yet there’s always a romanticized lust for a bygone time. Hindsight is a cruel judge and nostalgia a generous eulogizer. When this issue is picked up and poured over again in a corner of a room, the table of a beachside café or sofa in a windsurf shop, what will it say of its time? Will it be a record of the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world? Yes, but not a very good one, because this is a windsurfing magazine and as sports journalists struggle to find relevancy and meaning in a world where most sports have been temporarily cancelled, I am happy to report that windsurfing is where it always has been. To paraphrase, windsurfing is not life and death; it is much less serious than that. And whatever is written here will be inconsequential to the seriousness of these times, will not convey the debt of gratitude owed to those who saw us through it or be succour to the pain and loss that will be faced. But during this ‘storm’ and when it has passed, our interests, hobbies and sports will play a part in maintaining and rebuilding our lives. They are our escape, our relief, a generous contributor to our health – our real wealth.
My wife, a windsurfer, a mother, a frontline doctor in this crisis, will windsurf again, we will all windsurf again, we will all travel again, and what sessions and adventures they will be! Because as windsurfers we know that the future is always uncertain in our sport; when will the wind blow again, when will our next sail be, what will it be like? We never let these questions consume us because there has to be a most basic understanding in our sport that there is a lot of stuff that is ‘in the wind’. A recent session reinforced this for me. The forecast was one of those ultra rare days – a huge swell and strong winds from the optimum direction for a seldom sailed spot. It was lining up for the perfect day, for some. For me, commitments meant I had 3 hours sleep in the previous 24 hours and not much more in the 24 before that, I was running on fumes but at least I was running. Come the day I got some waves, but coming back in I was running low on fuel, not carbohydrates, protein or H20, but the most important fuel as a windsurfer – wind. On a small sail and smallish board, every drop in knots felt like another arrow through my sail. I had a long way to get back in, and the time it would take would be even longer off the plane. What to do? Selecting board and sail size is always a leap of faith, but experience gives you the ability for a best decision. I’d factored in such a situation, I knew I could make it in, it just needed another injection of faith. It wasn’t easy, but that never means it can’t be done, and as I walked my gear back to the van later I reflected on how next time I’d try to get more sleep and more waves… with a bit more luck! There’s nothing in our sport that doesn’t require the ability to see beyond our current state, windsurfing demands and cultivates vision and where there is vision, hope prevails.
We feature this issue some visionaries of our sport, from athletes at the cutting edge of performance, and those with fresh ideas and thinking, to industry figures who design and innovate the equipment that shapes windsurfing’s future. What that future will be is speculation, but we know already that current global events our helping to show our society’s ability and need to reset to a kinder world and that should filter into our sport being more accommodating of our differences within. We are all windsurfers whatever discipline we choose and we should be appreciative about any aspect of our sport. Our next decade is kicking off with the adoption of windsurfing’s most recent radical innovation, foiling, into the 2024 Olympics, an exciting, modern and welcoming vision to have for our sport. There is much to be positive about.
Marie Curie said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” And as we seek answers in the coming weeks and months ahead, rest assured windsurfing is still where it always has been – our happy place.