It wasn't a death match between 2 business rivals or even a corporate play to gain market dominance. The end came to WindSurfing, one of the two North American windsurfing magazines, simply because they threw in the towel. Editor Pete Dekay says, "Windsport is actually North America's longest running windsurfing publication starting in 1981 but as a Canadian magazine. Around 1998 the focus was broadened to become “North America’s windsurfing magazine” and that has been the focus ever since with roughly 85 percent of our copies being delivered to the US. Windsport is based in both the Gorge (White Salmon, WA and Hood River, OR) and Toronto, ON, which allows us to cover all of North America quite nicely." The 40 year old Dekay added, "This year marks the beginning of my sixth year as editor. Before that I enjoyed the title of Instructional Editor while I was teaching for ABK Boardsports -- for about nine years touring around the country full time and living in a van. Wow... 15 years in the windsurfing business!" A few questions for Pete:
In their official statement about the closing of WindSurfing, Bonnier Corp stated: "...Due to a continual decline and consolidation in the windsurfing and kiteboarding markets the magazines have been placed on hiatus..." How do you see the sport? Are we growing or declining? Or perhaps we're in neutral?
|Pete mid vulcan|
I think windsurfing in the US has been in “neutral” for the past few years. Most shops that I’ve talked to have had a mix of good and bad years over the past few. We need to support the shops, as they are the key part of our sport’s growth. There are a lot of positives going on with the sport today. Most of the windsurfing schools I’ve talked to have been doing very well over the past few years. Classes are full, so people out there want to learn to windsurf. We just need more schools all around the country. Plus, growth could come about as all the new SUPers realize how much fun it is to stick a sail on their new board when it gets windy. Another great thing right now is that we have one of the best ever national competition tours going on: the American Windsurfing Tour.
I was surprised that they saw the sport in consolidation. The industry certainly isn't buying each other out. While we have lost some, every time I turn around there seems to be a new sail or board company. What do you think?
There are plenty of brands out there making awesome gear. I think that as long as windsurfers support their “local” shop and join (or start) a regional club then “brand consolidation” isn’t something that the average Joe needs to worry about. I’ve put a listing of shops and clubs on the main menu bar of Windsport and I’d appreciate hearing from anyone about additions I can make to these lists.
How would Windsport change if you suddenly gain a lot of subscribers from the closing of Windsurfing Magazine?
It’s always cool to gain subscribers and I hope people that only got Windsurfing Mag in the past do check us out. We are looking at it as being a huge responsibility to be the only non-regional windsurfing publication left in North America. I’m happy with what we’ve been doing but will look at everything we can do to get even better. I want to hear from all windsurfers out there. E-mail me at email@example.com and tell me what you want to see in Windsport.
British based Boards is about to refocus their enterprise from print to digital. All print businesses are going through changes because of the Internet. What's your vision for the future of print?
Print magazines definitely have to adapt and get involved in different mediums to survive today, but Boards announcement was definitely a shock. A magazine’s website is now very important and we try to use windsport.com as an extension of the magazine with fresh content added every day. Subscribers to Windsport will benefit of having the best of all worlds: a constantly updated website and an eye-popping print mag.
What does Windsport have to say to the newly orphaned WindSurfing readers?
You’ll always have a home at Windsport. As North America’s only remaining windsurfing publication I want you, the reader, to be involved. Send me your comments, opinions, stories, photos, ideas, etc. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you on the water!
Diversity is the new business plan for water sports retailers. To succeed, retailers have broadened their product lines to broaden their appeal. In today's shop, more product equals more customers. For us in windsurfing, a new retailer is nothing but good vibrations for the health of our sport. Enter David Wells, chief bottle washer for Waterhound.
"The new shop in San Rafael, CA is a dream realized. My business partner is 2 time windsurfing world champion Cort Larned. We are doing SUP, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, kayaking, and surfing. The core of the business is SUP but it was a priority to put a proper windsurfing shop in place and SUP makes that possible. About 30% of our SUP's have windsurfing mast tracks. We are going to carry JP, Neil Pryde, Epic Gear, Aerotech, and Starboard. The shop opened 11-11-11 at 11:11:11 am. We do plan a second store and hopefully a 3rd and a 4th. The next one will be in San Francisco. The build out took 43 days and we really pushed hard to make it a special place. We are right on the water but it's strictly a longboard windsurfing, Kayak, and SUP launch. No shortboarding." The new store's new website.
Still 5 months away, the American Windsurfing Tour is excited about 2012. A tentative schedule is set with all the same 5 stops from last year. Check the website for event dates. From their Facebook page, the latest news:
Prize Money - The Expert division will now be called Professional with prize money on the line at each stop.
Live Casting of US Events - Competitions will be broadcast live on the internet so the action can be followed all over the world.
Grand Masters Division Added - Windsurfers over the age of 55 will now have their own time on the water.
New AWT Website coming soon - a new-look site with all the info you need to know about the AWT.
Facebook Fan Page - Be sure to follow this link and click 'LIKE'
Postcript · Pete Dekay said in the interview, "I’ve put a listing of shops and clubs on the main menu bar of Windsport and I’d appreciate hearing from anyone about additions I can make to these lists." My suggestion to Pete and everyone else is to take a look at the Community section in the Learners guide... My shameless plug is please look at all of the material in the guide. Don't be shy, tell anyone with an interest in anything windsurfing: wannabe wave sailors - friends who just wanna see what it's like (Inside the brain...) - a racer who is deep in the fleet - aspiring freestyler - first time loopers. Share the link with anyone who has an interest to learn.
Kai Lenny: "
Dana Miller catching a January sesh on the Oregon coast. Photo by Tigi