Monday, June 25, 2012

A Tribute to Jim Drake

"Every time Jim Drake goes windsurfing, he re-writes the history. The reason is simple. No one, anywhere, has been windsurfing longer than Jim Drake."

The Winston-Salem Journal reported: Jim Drake, an aeronautical engineer credited with inventing windsurfing in the late 1960s, died Tuesday (June 19) at his home in Pfafftown, NC. He was 83. Drake died of complications of emphysema, said Holly Fleming, his daughter. Drake accomplished many achievements in his life, Fleming and two friends said Thursday. "He was highly educated, but he could talk to anyone," Fleming said. "He was an excellent father. He had friends all over the world who share his love of outdoor sports and sailing."

Drake developed a workable design for attaching a sail to a surfboard in 1967. He built a prototype. On May 15, 1967, he took it to California's Marina del Rey to test it. Fred Wikner of Bethesda, Md., Drake's friend and colleague, said that Drake designed the technology behind a windsurfing board, including an attached sail that could help control the board...

Bill Mai, who teaches screenwriting and film making at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, said he has known Drake for 45 years. "He led an incredible, incredible life," Mai said. "He was a generous man. He never held a grudge against anyone. We are all going to miss Jim."

Drake is survived by his wife, Sam, his daughter, Holly Fleming, and five other children from his first marriage.

Starboard Windsurfing Academy wrote: The very first thoughts and ideas of the original Windsurfer actually relates back to the early 60's, when Jim Drake discussed the concepts of wind powered water skis and surfboards with his good friend Fred Payne. However, the thought at time was to use kites rather than conventional rigs. Still, nothing really happened until several years later, when Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer got together and actually built a board in Jim's house in California. It was January 1967, but details such as centerboard, fin and the actual universal joint were not even close to finalization. In fact, Drake was still trying to figure out how the sail could be mounted and the board could be controlled. It was months later during one of Drake's commuting drives to his work place at the Norton Air force base in Southern California that he clicked on the idea of a moveable sail.

Jim Drake took his family and the new contraption he called "The Skate" to the beach on May 23rd. 1967. No one on that beach could have known that the grey haired gentleman they had watched rigging was about to make history.

American Windsurfer Magazine (now out of business) 1996 interview: Jim tells his story of the earliest days of windsurfing...the evolution. This is how the interview ended:

AW: The sport has really changed hasn't it?
JD: Yes it has. Oh yes.
AW: How do you feel about that?
JD: I have an optimistic view about the sport. It certainly, at least, has hit a plateau, and I think the reason it has reached this plateau is because there are some natural barriers to participating in the sport. Some are brought on by the media and some are brought on by nature.

The one that's brought on by the media is the picture of the sport as being this athletic circus trick of jumping waves and whirling around this great wide ocean. Well, that's simply not what the sport is. Just not at all. It has much more broad application and pleasures to it. Because people who are athletically inclined but not as superbly coordinated as Robby [Naish] can enjoy the sport in many regards without having to ever get airborne. I think that's a media created problem for the sport. But it's hard not to be more energized first with spectacular photos though than it is for calm lakes and all.

I think that the natural barrier that has come about, which perhaps technically can be breached, is the wind barrier, on the low side. If the sport were able to create a board and sail which allows pleasurable fun for the not very good, in 8 ? 10 knots of wind, two things would happen. First, the number of sailing spots would go up by a factor of ten. And second, the number of people who can do this, or the number of people who can now see themselves as actually participating in the sport would go up by ten thousand. So for notch reduction, and the lower limit of the wind speed for the board, you'll create several factors, wind spots and people. That's just natural. But hey, if I were so smart, I'd be as rich as Hoyle! [Both Laugh]

Eddy and Jim
Eddy Patricelli (former editor of WindSurfing): ...for all the controversy surrounding Jim's role (or non-role) in "inventing" windsurfing, what was lost in the debate were his ongoing contributions to the sport. He was designing boards and fins for Starboard. He was writing articles for me and others. He was out there, at events, on the water, flying to Thailand! He was a member of the windsurfing community. I think everyone can agree he played a role in creating windsurfing, but to what extent shouldn't overshadow his contributions since then, he wasn't that young -- and he was involved! Eddy continues:

My voice trembled the first time I called Jim Drake. I had landed a dream job at WindSurfing Magazine. Only it was more of a nightmare. The editor had quit. I was working alone, under deadline, and in way over my head. And now I was calling Jim Drake, the man who helped invent a sport that had given my life purpose, surrounded me with a tribe of friends, and had me traveling the world.

As the phone rang, I pondered how one starts a conversation with someone their life has been so connected to, so in debt to, but without them knowing. All trepidation vanished in Jim’s “hello.” He sounded humble, friendly, and genuinely happy to be chatting about his, “favorite topic.” Within minutes, he was pitching story ideas. “Don’t pay me,” he insisted. “Let’s just have some fun.” I hung up the phone feeling comforted. The job before me wasn’t so daunting, not with Jim peppering my inbox with articles.

He was passionate about his contributions, yet open to feedback, even when it meant cutting a 200-word intro paragraph that offered – in the first lines – math equations detailing the physics of a planning hull.“Why did you cut it?” he cried over the phone. I told him I cut it to simplify things; to make it easier to get people into the article. Long silence. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” he shrugged. And just like that – poof! “So what are we doing next?”

There was always a “next” with Jim. He hounded me like a teenager when his Starboard Serenity – a 15’ long board – was released. “Well, what’d you think? What can we improve?”

Once he sent me the same email twice over an hour. He was excited to share how he’d used computer software to overlay graphic illustrations onto a photo. Finally, he was able to show the forces at play when a windsurfer planes, minus all the pesky equations. The layout appeared in WindSurfing’s 25th Anniversary issue. It’s one of my favorites, though not for what’s shown on the page. The layout embodies Jim being Jim: driven, focused, relentless in his search for better solutions.

Years later, when I accepted a job on another magazine (Islands), Jim Drake was one of the first people I called. My voice trembled a little. The news I carried meant our collaborations would end. But I had to call him. I was grateful for the sport he helped create, for the help he volunteered to me, but most of all I was grateful for his friendship. I will miss him.

Jim and Svein
Starboard's Svein Rasmussen said:  His spirit was always to include everyone and especially women and kids into windsurfing. Jim and his wife Sam spent years with us in Thailand developing designs and strategies to increase the popularity of windsurfing. He was always optimistic and especially happy to challenge the status quo. His view on “one design” versus free choice of windsurfing gear for the Olympics was well known. His designs, like the Formula 175, the world's most winning race board ever took competitive windsurfing to a new level.

Scott McKercher: It is with great sadness to hear of Jim’s passing and reflect on a life that was truly remarkable. It is no secret that he was a man with incredible intelligence and vision. If it wasn’t for this, my life involving and revolving around windsurfing would never have come about, which is a debt that I and every windsurfer carries. I would not be who I am.

Jim and Sam
I mostly saw Jim at the Starboard offices in Bangkok or dealer meetings. But you could see when he brought his lovely wife Sam was when he was at his best. This is where I saw how much of a lover of life they were, in appreciating simple moments together, thus defining love. I loved the passion put into everything he did, as he took so much time to explain everything with thought. And I remember very fondly the energy and thought that went into making sure the “Vodka martini” was made to perfection, thus to be appreciated at it’s highest level, which I’m pretty sure was a consistency that prevailed through everything he did. Those Vodka Martinis were damn fine. I got to hear the way he spoke about Sam and see the way he would dote after her. Bringing breakfast in the morning like it was the morning after someone had first met and he was trying to impress.

US Patent 3847800
Pete Dekay, Windsport: I only got to meet Jim Drake a couple of times but it was always memorable. On each occasion I would leave our conversation somehow more stoked on windsurfing. I proudly display a framed copy of the “windsurfer” patent on my office wall and it will always bring back all my fond memories of this incredible man. We all need to carry on the windsurfing spirit of Jim Drake—it is what windsurfing really is!

Mac Barnhardt: A few years ago not long after getting that license plate (WNDSRFR), while walking out of a restaurant after a customer lunch meeting, I noticed a torn off piece of paper under my wiper blades. It said “Do you windsurf? Email me at xxxxxx, Jim Drake”.

I’m fairly knowledgeable about windsurfing, so I knew who Jim Drake was. But it couldn’t possibly be him. For those of you reading this who don’t know who Jim Drake is, he is widely considered to be the “father of windsurfing”. He invented windsurfing (with Hoyle Schweitzer) in 1967...

But this had to be a joke. I live in North Carolina. Doesn’t Jim Drake live in California or Hawaii? Whoever it was must have seen my personalized windsurfing license plate. Someone had to be playing a joke on me. I bit however and sent an email to that address. I said something to the effect of “If you’re not the real Jim Drake, stop being cruel and leave me alone. But if you are the real Jim Drake, by all means...please reply.”

I got a response. He claimed to be the real Jim Drake. We corresponded a couple of times via email until I was satisfied it was no joke and we finally decided to meet for lunch, at the same restaurant I found the note. Turns out Jim and his wife had friends who lived in the area and had convinced them to move there from California...

If it had not been for that very personalized license plate that I was agonizing over, I would never have met the father of windsurfing himself. So thank you Kris for the wonderful gift that kept on giving and...thank you Jim for bringing us the best sport in the world. My life has been truly enriched by windsurfing and I know I speak for many people when I say we’re all very grateful. More from Water Turtle.

Clay Feeter, Stand Up Journal: I am so sorry to hear about Jim's passing. I have and often sail the Serenity windsurf board that he designed, and of course we all owe him such a debt of eternal gratitude for teaming up with Hoyle Schweitzer in 1966 to create an accessible universal joint/wishbone system that launched us all on new paths via the sport of WINDSURFING (an industry base that plays such a huge role in today's SUP explosion).

If not for Jim's engineering mind, who knows how many days of flying solo on our windsurf boards across the water we would have missed... or if the great sport of windsurfing would have even happened at all!! But bottom line about Jim Drake: he was such a gentle, caring man who took the time to look you in the eye and communicate what was on his mind.

Our thoughts go out to his family, loved ones and all those touched by his time on this Earth... which is more than even Jim could imagine.

Ellen Faller: In reality, I can't begin to pick ONE remembrance of Jim Drake that would mean anything to anyone other than myself. He was one of the most intelligent, okay...brilliant people I have ever met, with most interesting "take" on life, thoughtful, observant, and amusing. In many ways the most modest but forceful person I've ever met. I am truly grateful to have met him, enjoyed his company, his martinis, his views on windsurfing, and his stories. I have been windsurfing since 1980, and am windsurfing and teaching even now, but it meant so much more after I met him. One little story: on my first day at Starboard HQ, at Lake Taco in 2003, lunch was being served and Jim was across the table from me. I'd been in Thailand all of 12 hours, jet-lagged to the extreme, and hungry. I found him looking at me. Then he said "Ellen, the orange things are NOT carrots and I think you will find them rather hot." I don't eat "hot" food, at all, period, end of story, and was apparently in need of a warning to his observation. Good thing! Jim could eat the hottest food imaginable to me, and loved it. I could not. I don't know how he knew, but I really appreciated the warning. I'd still be up on the ceiling, flames coming out my ears, without his warning.

In all, Jim Drake was a man I will never forget, and will always appreciate in so many ways.

Roger Jackson: How was the "uphaul" invented? Well, Jim had designed the mechanical U joint for his first sail powered surf board (it was not called a Windsurfer yet..... just a sailboard). He sewed up a sail, got a mast that looked about right and made up a wishbone boom. He assembled it all and "tested" in the back yard on the grass... he picked up the sail and stepped up on the problema.... it all works! He and his wife and another couple carted the new board and rig down to the beach in Marina Del Rey Harbor. He set it all up on the sand, and yeah..... everything worked just fine. You pick up the sail that's laying on the sand beside the board and step on the board! Put the board in the water and attached the sail....all is good. His friend picked up the sail and handed it to him as he was standing on the, this is getting better all the time, it's all going to work. He sailed a little ways and went to tack. Somehow he dropped the rig in the water....hmmmmm.... no helpful friend to hand him the rig, also no sand like on the beach or grass like in the yard. It seems there is a problem here. So, he paddles back to shore and has his friend hand the rig to him again and sails around a little more being super careful not to drop the rig. So they pack it all up and head for home. Sometime between when they arrived at Jim's home, and the next day, the "Uphaul" was tried out and officially invented. Jim was always a little embarrassed when he told this story as he felt a man with his ability to design things should have seen the flaw in his original plan.

Karen Marriott, US Windsurfing: I was lucky enough to run into Jim and his wife Sam at a number of windsurfing events over the years. As excited as he was to talk about his latest refinements of windsurfing gear, he was just as excited to talk about (or to) the person who just got into windsurfing and was experiencing the sport for the first time. Over all the years of developing high tech gear and working with the superstars of windsurfing, he never got jaded or lost sight of the fun and freedom that windsurfing brings to the average folks on small bays and lakes around the world. With a twinkle in his eye, he would tell tales of the first times he windsurfed, when there was no one to tell him how to use his new creation! He will be missed.

Allen Parducci: Jim was a remarkably intelligent humorist. I think he had a particular fondness for Mark Twain. He occasionally, for parties, dressed like Mark Twain, and very much looked the part. One incident that I remember was his response when I explained to him why the occasional top speeds one experienced on the windsurfer diminished the sense of speed afforded by the much more common lesser speeds. Without pause for reflection, he responded: "Allen, always carry a bucket on a line when you windsurf; as soon as you feel yourself speeding up, throw the bucket in the water; its drag will act as a governor, keeping you from accelerating!"

Tor Bakke: Jim was a dream to work with at the time of the "scatter gun approach" with ideas and bold designs flying in all directions. Always inspirational and optimistic in his own soft spoken way. He calmed us all down. What I found most remarkable for a guy of his magnitude, was that he had all the time in the world listening to others, including my (at that time) 16 year old son, sweeping the floors in the work shop. Although Svein came up with the idea of a wide board, Jim refined it to perfection, and the Starboard Formula 175 just killed it, as the most successful race board to date. He followed up with the Serenity, which is no doubt the most extreme light wind design around - so from one extreme to another, and with a finger in most of the "between stuff" Jim hugely contributed to Starboards success. "Tor, the speed record will be broken by a kite, and it will probable soon be an Olympic sport." I was politely agreeing. His visions, and his ability to simplify seemingly impossible tasks were unique.

We had to custom make a desk for Jim, because he was always working, standing up - and usually with his trade mark hat on. I was extremely proud when I managed to talk Jim into copying his original and bellowed hat (It meant he had to part from it for a while) to mass produce them as Jim Drake hats. Not sure how many we sold - but heaps.

Starboard was throwing lots of parties at the time, and still is of course, but Jim always distinguished himself from the crowd with those nuclear Dry Martini's. Looks stylish Jim, what's actually in them.? "Go and buy a 100 proof Stolichnaya Vodka, a Tangueray Gin, a Vermouth and some olives - and make sure you have a mixer and those deep Champagne goblets. They are larger, ah - and don't forget to put them in the freezer the day before..Need crushed ice too, and I'll come over and shake some delights."

I knew the shopping list had to be followed to perfection, so it took me one day solid to get it all organized, including getting hold of a proper mixer and the glasses.

Svein came along too, so lets say we were three well travelled gentlemen looking forward to enjoy that sunset delight. After some shaking and measuring going on in the kitchen, Jim came serving the ice cold projectiles. Holy cow,- "well for those of you that like Vermouth" and he just nodded towards the kitchen.

Jim was commuting between the US and Thailand regularly, and asked me one day if he could park his car in my yard while he was away. Sure no problem. When my car broke down one day, I sent him a mail asking to borrow his, for a trip to a windsurfing event some good distance away. "Just use it, put as much mileage on it as you possibly can." In reality he had just given me his car, as long as he could "borrow" it when he was here. Quite novel, and understandably his visits became more scarce as time went by. I later traded the car in for a new one with the blessing from Jim, but as you all know - he will never be using it again. "I'm so happy you and your wife are taking good care of "Charlie" - which was his name for the car.

Glad I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman as he truly was. Controversial, innovative, gracious, generous and extremely talented and influential.

Bruce Matlack, One of the first "dirty dozen" windsurfers-1969, First American and World Windsurfer Champion '72-73: As far as the Windsurfer, Jim Drake had the vision to patent the free sail system and adopt a more appropriate, modern sail rig to a sexy, California surf board platform. Whether or not he was exposed to the prior art of Newman Darby, whom the Smithsonian later credited with the invention, may never be known. The modifications that Drake innovated were definitely the tipping point that spurred the sport on to the "mainline" scene everywhere in the world.The sport took off like wildfire in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the US. A huge textile manufacturer in Holland, Ten Cate, was licensed to manufacture the Windsurfer by Drake's patent partner, Hoyle Schweitzer, and virtually overnight Europeans were "surfing" (that's what they called it) "everywhere there was wind and water" (a marketing phrase of Windsurfing International). During this time period Drake had gone back to working in the engineering, science and/or think-tank industry. Schweitzer on the other hand had decided to ditch his boring past and jump headlong into making a business of this new sailing novelty.

Aside from windsurfing, Drake had amazing soft-sell persuasion skills that I witnessed first hand at a presentation he gave on the grassy knoll known as, "The Event Site" in Hood River, Oregon about 2005. Jim presented his involvement in the history of the sport, framed in relation to the "other inventors" that had recently been exposed. I remembered him for this amazing skill that I call, plausable deniability- a phrase I heard recently on NPR. He left us all spellbound with his oratory. He claimed to be "at best" only the "re-inventor" of windsurfing, giving all others credit before his big epiphany; his "Ah Ha!" moment one day in 1967 while driving on the Santa Monica freeway. Freakin' incredible talent I mumbled to myself. I had a number of questions to ask Jim about his particular innovations, but he disappeared, smartly taking no questions. In that 20 minute speech I had witnessed Jim explain that he was at best, only the 3rd guy to come up with the windsurf idea, yet he accepted the "Father of Windsurfing" moniker just the same. I had just heard him deny himself the role of inventor, yet envisioned the hand clapping crowd picking him up on their collective shoulders and carrying him about town anyway, as the sole, true inventor of their sport. I asked myself, "How did he do that? Did he just hood-wink me as well?" He was or could have been a master statesman. He had that power- a master of plausable deniability.

When I notified Guy Le Roux, one-time editor of WINDSURF Magazine (the original windsurfing magazine owned by Hoyle Schweitzer), of Jim's passing, he wrote the following in a return email to me: "I liked Drake. I met him around 1982 at Cabrillo Beach. At the time he was testing a bizarre slab-sided, triangular planform longboard windsurfer with a centerboard at the tail and a canard up front under the mast base. The board didn't look right or work well in my eye. I thought he was a mad scientist. I was not impressed. Around 2004 (or 05) I had a nice chat with him at South Padre Island. He was exasperated at the time by the ISAF having selected the RS:X over the Formula board for the Olympics. It was visibly eating at him. By this time I had developed a new respect for him after following how his NASA-like expertise had helped Starboard refine the Formula Board concept. I asked him for a tip or two on inventing board stuff. His answer: "Modify something that is sort of like your idea--it's a lot faster and cheaper to prototype." His wisdom has stuck in my head..."

The reason I quote Le Roux's email is because of the Drake quote at the end, "Modify something that is sort of like your idea--it's a lot faster and cheaper to prototype". I believe this may summarize Drake's modus operandi when he "re-invented" the Windsurfer. Refine or add to someone else's ideas. We will never really know if this is what he did, since we don't know what Drake really knew of Darby or the others. But I find the quote interesting given my other impressions.

My view: "Re-inventor?" Definitely. "Father of Windsurfing?" I wouldn't go that far. The man? Incredible statesman, listener, visionary. Really a nice guy who will be missed by all.

More: Jim Drake, The Physics of Windsurfing 2005 (reprinted by Average Joe Windsurfer Blog) ~ The Drake Chronicles ~ Jim Drake Wikipedia  ~ American Windsurfer Holye Schweitzer Interview 1996.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Naish Pistol River Wave Bash Rewind · +H2O

Day One ·  Pete Dekay reported: " The AWT was once again blessed with wind and waves as the 2012 Pistol River Wave Bash presented by Naish got off to a stylish start. The junior heats got underway at 11 am and the conditions just seemed to build, and were truly blasting by the time it came to run the pros!

Morgan Noireaux was ripping from the first heat on as he took the youth single elimination against some stiff competition. Despite challenging wave riding conditions he was still able to get incredibly vertical lip-hits that always impress the judges. Ingrid Larouche was back defending her Women's title from last year and really put on a show, but now she really has to look back over her shoulder with 15-year-old Fiona Wylde charging the way she is. One sailor everyone noticed on the water was Attila Tivadar. This guy was always on the best set waves and making the most of them with "bucket-throwing" slashes and impressive airs. Tivadar took the Amateur single elimination and was narrowly beaten by Brian Caserio and Jeff Albright in the Masters.

The rider of the day in the Pro division has to be Sean Aiken (pictured left). His silky smooth style and plan on where to go to get the best waves have taken him all the way into the final, which will run first thing today. Joining Sean in the Pro final are Levi Siver, Kai Katchadourian and Bernd Roediger... it will be quite a show. Other highlights included Kevin Pritchard's impressive Wave 360 in difficult conditions and Graham Ezzy losing half a tooth (OUCH!) to his boom in a heat! " Chris "Muzza" Murray added:  "Great first day of the contest here at the AWT Pistol River Wave Bash, with loads of action! It’s full power windy with some decent chunky waves, brilliant moves being thrown down including some massive jumps, one footed backies and super big forwards from Levi. KP pulled off a sweet wave 360 in his heat."

Graham Ezzy (photo right) reported: "I’m at the Pistol River Wave Bash in Oregon. In the second round of competition, I started my heat with a big crash and busted up my face. The bones are fine– just some bruises. The flesh, aside from being tender, is a bit cut but nothing requiring stitches. My front teeth, however, were not so lucky– I lost most of my top left front tooth. The blood everywhere and the intermittent pain weren’t so bad, but my vanity took a hit. Unfortunately, I lost my head a bit (not just literally) for the rest of the heat and ended up with neither intact front teeth nor a win. Well, the double elimination is coming up this weekend, and I’ll put in my contest time before attending to fixing my face."

Chris Freeman added: "Pistol River is a wild and rugged place which initially shakes you to the core before you start to warm up and get into the action. Arriving late Tuesday afternoon to calm winds and sun we had to wait until Wednesday for our initiation Pistol style. Being maxed on 4.0m on inhospitable and cold waters really does wake you out of the Ho'okipa dream. This is real windsurfing and reminds me just what I miss while insulated by our tropical cocoon. After day one I must admit I was a little shell shocked, not just the cold but the extreme conditions on tap."

Day 1 Photos: AWT ~ Windsport ~ Windsport Registration Day ~ Individual Heats: Pro ~ Amateur ~ Women ~ Masters ~ Youth

Single Elimination Results:

Day 2 ·  Pete Dekay wrote:  "It was another great day with plenty of wind at the 2012 Pistol River Wave Bash presented by Naish! Due to slightly smaller and less consistent waves the call for most of the day was to run the Amateur and Masters double elimination along with a few more women and youth heats.

Morgan Noireaux continued to dominate the Youth with his huge jumps and smooth riding style. But the rider of the day may have been Zane Schweitzer who Push Looped his way passed Casey Rehrer into second. Both of these guys are sailing insanely well and will likely be putting pressure on Noireaux as the year progresses.  Chris "Muzza" Murray added: "Here in America they are starting them young, standing out in the ladies was Fiona, and in the pro’s Bernd, who are both 15 year old! In the pros single final Bernd narrowly lost to Levi Siver by just a few points pulling a sick one handed backie, beating all the season pros easily to get second place. Fiona was pushing the ladies going for some crazy forwards, brilliant stuff! 

The Women's fleet continued to impress with Ingrid Larouche holding off Fiona Wylde for the lead. These ladies may be serious competitors on the water but it's great to see their camaraderie on the beach as they show how much fun a wavesailing competition can be. The Masters division displayed some amazing sailing from local host Dana Miller who climbed all the way from 10th place to 4th on day two. The final came down to a close heat with Brian Caserio edging out Attila Tivadar, with Jeff Albright bringing up the final podium spot. The events biggest fleet is the Amateurs with 26 entrants. Sailors like Rob Dies, Brett Greene and Dan O'Sullivan made the most of the double elimination to move multiple places up in the standings. The final came down to a battle between Attila Tivadar and Ingrid Larouche with Tivadar getting the final nod for the top podium spot.

By days end the waves improved just enough to run the final of the Pro Single Elimination. There was plenty of wind and shoulder high waves gving these four final competitors plenty of spots to showcase their skills. Bernd Roediger started strong with a stylish one-handed Back Loop right in front of the judges. Sailing slightly upwind for the entire heat was Sean Aiken who also landed and early Back Loop and racked up some nice wave rides. Kai Katchadourian started slowly but heated up as time went on scoring some of the best waves late and also sticking a solid Back Loop. But not to be outdone, Levi Siver (pictured right) took the final with a nice Back Loop and a tweaked-out waveriding style that none of the others could match. But everyone will have another go at these boys with two days left to run the Double Elimination."

Chris Freeman revealed: "Today (Friday) after a slow start the wind turned on but the ankle high waves made heats especially challenging for the riders and the judges. The waves did improve slightly during the day as the doubles ran through and late in the day it was time to defend and attempt to move up. Not much to say but I sailed a bad heat and deservedly lost out and had to settle for third."

Day 2 Photos: AWT ~ Individual Heats: Pro ~ Amateur ~ Women ~ Masters ~ Youth

Double Elimination:

Day 3 · Pete Dekay reported: "After two long days at the beach, head judge Matt Pritchard gave all the competitors a chance to sleep in by calling for a 1 pm skippers meeting on day 3. It was the perfect call with the wind and waves showing up a little later then previously… but it was time to rip into the Pro double elimination. Early heats saw Casey Hauser sailing very well, but our sailor of the day pick goes to Morgan Noireaux. Not only did he win the youth competition but he is still alive with only three riders left in the Pros. Can he take out Bernd Roediger and Levi Siver? We’ll find out on day four of the Pistol River Wave Bash presented by Naish!

The Womens division was decided on day 3 with Ingrid Larouche taking the title. The competition for second place ended up tied so Fiona Wylde and Sam Bittner were sent out for a battle royale. Wylde narrowly defeated Bittner but all were left smiling after a super fun event."

Day 3 Photos: AWT ~ Individual Heats: Pro ~ Amateur ~ Women ~ Masters ~ Youth

Day 4 ·  Pete Dekay reported: "The AWT saved the best for last at the 2012 Pistol River Wave Bash presented by Naish. A west swell hit pumping the waves up to logo high for a day that would showcase the final two heats as well as an expression session for a Chinook Carbon Boom.

The first heat saw Morgan Noireaux taking on Bernd Roediger in clash of two of the worlds top young pros. Noireaux started off strong but it was not enough to take down Roediger who was sailing incredibly well. The final came down to Roediger against Levi Siver and it started seeing both riders hitting some big jumps and solid rides... until Siver landed a perfect Wave 360 right in Roediger's face. The battle was definitely on. Roediger tried to match Siver with a Goiter but crashed. The heat was over and Siver claimed victory. What a final heat!

The final session of the event was the Expression Session for a Chinook Carbon Boom. Competitors took the water to see who could land the biggest and most impressive move for the judges. Russ Faurot stuck a massive Back Loop taking and early lead... until Graham Ezzy's Upwind 360 on the wave gave him the lead... but Kevin Pritchard was not to be denied landing his signature one-handed one-footed Back Loop. It was an all Ezzy team podium for the expression session!"

Levi Siver (photo right) said everyone had a blast. He was stoked with his back to back victories and looks forward to the next stop in Baja.

Day 4 Photos: AWT ~ Individual Heats: Pro ~ Amateur ~ Women ~ Masters ~ Youth

The next AWT event is the US Windsurfing Nationals.
Hood River, Oregon: The Event Site
July 23-26
Slalom, Formula, Freestyle Nationals
Presented by the American Windsurfing Tour
Monday, July 23: Check in and Freestyle Event at Event Site
Tuesday, July 24-July 26th: Racing begins and Freestyle continues

*I will post new material to this report when it's available*

Photos from Oregon Sports Authority

Morgan Noireaux reports

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

North Sails Slalom · Pistol River · The Protest Rolls On

The Maui Race Series had a great start with the North Sails Slalom, their first event of the 5 race series. Jeff Bennett described the conditions: "Great day for racing at Kanaha yesterday. Beautiful sunny blue skies and the ballistic trades winds we’ve seen for the past weeks mellowed to more typical conditions. As often happens with the first race of the season, we got a late season north swell, adding to the challenge for the racers but making for some pretty fun rides for those of us interested in riding the waves vs blasting over them at the start line." Micah Buzianis added "...the turn out was the best it has been in five years. Lots of new racers and lots of old racers we hadn't seen in a while. With the last two weeks being semi nuclear winds in Maui, for me 6.3 full survival mode, it was nice to see a mellower more normal Maui day. Although there was one slightly abnormal thing about the day, a north swell with double overhead sets hitting the upper reef at Kanaha made for some very exciting starts. There were also some 2 foot sets breaking in the middle of the course, and they were sneakers so they would pop up out of no where in front of you so you would have to slow down or do a major course change. Gybing on the outside was also very interesting, timing was everything, getting on that swell was critical."

Chris Freeman reported: "Starting out in the morning with the age groups was as I knew the dose of reality I needed and while a little eager at the start and having to stall on the line unlike others I didn’t go over early, 5th in the first race not bad! Unfortunately others dialing in their starts so no gifts in the next three. The racing in this fleet is so tough...Congrats to fellow Brit Dan Ellis for taking the win in the 18-39 category...I was super happy with starts (well 3 of 4) hitting the line at speed and making it to the first mark in the lead each time. Really need to work on my turns!"

Pro category winner Micah Buzianis recounted: "Seemed like it was going quite well because I finally got on the line at go and took two bullets in the last two races to take the pro division as well. Peter Slate had done enough to take second for the second time of the day with Pieter Bijl rounding out the top three." For complete results and Kim Ball's race day report: Buzianis claims two titles as MRS begins.

Micah and Phil McGain are planning a slalom clinic with a possible date of June 23. Karen Bennett also reported that there were more competitors registered this year than last. Find more news on Maui Race Series Facebook. It's not too late to compete:  Information & Registration Forms. Next event: June 16 ~ DaKine Classic. PhotosJeff Bennett  Tom Cooper.

The Pistol River Wave Bash is the second stop on the 2012 American Windsurfing Tour. This will be the third consecutive year for the southern Oregon wave sailing contest. What's the event like? Local legend Dana Miller shared  his favorite parts from last year: "Watching everybody ripping it up for sure. Seeing all the sweet new gear in one place was excellent. And sharing ideas about photography and fins and moves. Sure I missed most of the parties but hope to catch a few of them this time. Yeah, nothing like having a hundred or so of your friends show up at once and being so busy you don’t get much quality time with any of them.  It’s too bad the event can’t stretch out for a couple weeks. For more time to connect with everybody and better odds of getting the sort of truly sick conditions Pistol is infamous for." Dana adds, "Pistol has a well deserved reputation for some of the gnarliest sailing you are going to find. It blows hard and it blows hard a lot. The scenery is jaw dropingly powerful as well. The local town loves the windsurfers and Pistol has a long and colorful history of delivering the goods at contest time. For sure, Pistol River is the closest you can have to a total guarantee you’ll get wind for an event and this South Coast Shredfest promises to be a monster." This year's Schedule:

Wednesday, June 13 ~ Curry County Fairground ~ 5 -7 pm Competitor Check In ~ 7 - 8 pm Dinner with Music from Pistol River Trio

Thursday, June 14 - Sunday June 17 ~ Daily Skippers meeting on the beach at 10 am unless noted otherwise on the Official Notice Board ~ Competition will run all day if conditions allow ~ Dinner and Awards at the Curry County Fairgrounds, June 17, 8 pm.

Two time SUP World Champion, Kai Lenny, pumps it up for the Pistol River Wave Bash:

Remember the 2011 event? Have a look at last year's recap. AWT Website.
For the latest news and developments, AWT Facebook and Twitter:

The protest movement to reinstate windsurfing as an Olympic sailing sport continues to gain a groundswell of support. Even though the volume of protest grows and obvious solutions abound, the ISAF has not responded and most likely will not. We will wait for the annual meeting in November and take in stride what may be windsurfing's last Olympic hurrah, the London Games. Meanwhile, the Petition continues to add names. Rory Ramsden posted to RS:X website another plan to raise awareness: "We are working hard in the back ground to build momentum within the general sailing community to redress this decision. Whilst we appreciate that there is a general feeling that kite should be in the Olympic sailing family, we believe that there is an equally strong belief that windsurfing should be there too..." He offered 4 things that you can do to keep the campaign for Rio 2016 in the forefront of people's minds... Also, an American based grassroots campaign was proposed by Ned Crossley: "USA Windsurfers need to organize and voice their opinions. Can windsurfers pressure the US Sailing and ISAF to reverse the vote in November ISAF meeting? This affects every windsurfer directly and indirectly on all fronts nationally now and in the future."

U.S. Olympian and ISAF Chairmen of the Athletes Commission, Ben Barger, laid out a rationale that refutes the correctness of the process by which the ISAF Council based their decision to replace windsurfing at the 2016 Rio Games. In part he concludes: "ISAF assumed they were the same event. Windsurfing and Kiting were the only events put together like this and clearly shows the lack of understanding by ISAF of those two much different events. They don’t know what types of sports they have in their own Olympic program.

Any equipment evaluations must be done by uninterested parties and published to council for approval prior to the evaluation. The evaluation that did occur for kiting actually selected a new event, and equipment and format all simultaneously. This should have been through a process spanning 2 years under selecting a new event.

There's a lot more to his thoughtful analysis: reprinted here.

Olympic bound, U.S. RSXer Bob Willis offered this reminder: "Windsurfing is the 2nd most popular Olympic sailing class in terms of individual participants and country participants. There are clearly some logistical and safety issues that the inclusion of kiteboarding brings to the table; however, the most concerning issue is that the vote completely contradicts the values in which ISAF is entitled to represent. Three of ISAF’s primary objectives are to: a) increase participants b) increase country participants and c) increase women’s participation. Below is a chart indicating the disparity between the participation in the most recent Olympic windsurfing World Championships (2012) and the most recent Kiteboarding World Championships (2011)."

*note: there would have been more participants in both the men and women’s categories of the 2012 RSX WCs; however, the entries are limited to 120 for men, 80 for female

International Youth Kite Racing, it seems, will need more time to develop. The ISAF announced that the Techno 293 windsurfer and the Byte CII dinghy have been chosen as equipment for the four sailing events at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

What once was touted as the feeder class for the RS:X, the T- 293 Class estimates they have 7000 to 8000 youth and junior sailors represented across 50 countries on 6 continents. The Class and Bic Sports were both surprised and disappointed at the ISAF decision to replace windsurfing at the 2016 Olympics.

ISAF Head of Competitions, Alastair Fox, said: "The Byte CII and the Techno 293 are fantastic choices for the Youth Olympic Games. The equipment is modern, visually exciting and extremely well suited for the 15/16 age category for the sailing events. ISAF will be working closely with the Classes, the Chinese Yachting Association and the Nanjing Organising Committee to deliver a successful sailing competition on Lake Jinniu during the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games."

Craig Leweck of Scuttlebutt reflected, "Interestingly, the ISAF regulations (23.1.8) require the events and equipment choices for the ISAF Youth World Championships, and for the Youth Olympic Games, be reviewed following any change of Olympic Events or Equipment, to ensure that there remains a clear, pathway from youth sailing to the Olympics. Maybe ISAF still thinks that windsurfing and kiteboarding are the same event. Knock, knock... they are not."

"Former Olympic campaigner and Boardseeker founder, Adrian Jones and former Olympic class racer, Richard Potter, have differing views on what it all means for windsurfing. Raising a few points you may not have thought of and reigning in the debate, is another former Olympic campaigner Ben Proffitt..."

The next 2 links were found on the Athletes Commission FB. Thanks again Ben Barger for your continuing effort to educate us on the ISAF: The Olympic Commission Draft Report to the ISAF Executive Committee (May 2010) and appendices.  Ben explained, "It took a few years to develop this and was created by some of the brightest minds of ISAF. I know it will take time to implement some of these changes, but at least it's been approved and some large and some small steps have been made in accomplishing these changes."

Minutes from the recently completed May 2012 Mid Year Meeting.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

"The swell of the wave you've been waiting for just before it breaks. The thrill of exploring uncharted territory. The energy of whipping wind catching your sail. Nautica Aqua Rush embodies the spirit of nautical adventure—the anticipation, exhilaration and triumph that comes with taking to the high seas and going full speed ahead.

Nautica's latest fragrance for him, Aqua Rush, captures the nautical heritage of the iconic brand, immersing the wearer in the exhilarating experience of braving the waves. Bold, masculine and powerful, the fragrance evokes the steadfast character of the classic seafarer. At once spicy and fresh, crisp and woody, Aqua Rush epitomizes what it means to be a man without limits."

Oy vey...I guess it's better to be remembered than forgotten...Do you put this stuff on before or after a forward loop?