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SWA Monthly - The Windsurfing Industry

13:46 21st March 2012 by Adam Sims
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Will Jones reports this month about some home-truths on the state of the windsurfing industry and muses over possible solutions and what the student population is actually doing to power on through…

SWA Media Rep - Will Jones

The current state of the UK windsurf industry is perhaps not like it was in its glory days. Kit prices have been increasing and just affording the fuel to get to the ideal spot is beginning to have its impact. Unfortunately to some people the sport is becoming less and less accessible. It’s a problem but there are some hidden glimmers of a shinning light.

Firstly, there are still plenty of people who want to go windsurfing. I know I’m far from alone in finding myself having a quick break from work most days to check the weather forecast for the coming weekend. Whereas in the past I would have spent the week looking for the best forecast in the country, then come Friday packed the car up and disappeared off for the weekend. Now more often I will just settle for a slightly less full on session at my local spot.

It’s not just us long time windsurfers who have to feed our addiction. There are plenty of people who have never tried the sport that would love to have a go. I get asked fairly regularly by my non-windsurf friends if I could give them a lesson some time. I would love to be able to do this. Of course, they don’t understand that it would be fairly tricky to try and teach them on my gear. It would be a small miracle if a complete newbie to windsurfing managed to uphaul on my wave board and I definitely don’t have the spare cash to buy a set of beginner kit to teach them on.

So what are the options for people who want to give the sport a go: Well, if you can afford it, I would guess the best option is book yourself a holiday somewhere hot and sunny, with racks of windsurfing kit on the beach and plenty of fit tanned instructors to teach you. The next best option is a course in the UK. These can be found for a reasonable price. If you live local to a course that is running it can even be done to a reasonable budget. If you don’t have one nearby then you have to include the price of getting there and accommodation and suddenly the cost of going abroad don’t seem as so far fetched. I think, however, that by far the cheapest and one of the most enjoyable ways to windsurf has to be to get involved with a club.

The solution to using the latest kit fo free - SWA Clubs and Events

Clubs seem to have a pretty simple formula. You pay a small fee to join, say £25 for the year. The club organises regular sessions to go along to with tuition from other club members. You all meet up, go windsurfing and make lots of new friends doing it. The club provides some kit which it pays for through the membership fees and probably some sort of sponsorship or discount they negotiate from a local shop in return for their business. It’s a great way to learn and enjoy windsurfing at an affordable price. Unfortunately clubs like this seem to be in short supply. Perhaps due to the ever increasing cost of windsurfing this formula doesn’t seem to work as well as it might have done in the past.

So, just last week I met Will Rycroft who despite all the challenges facing him is determined to start a windsurfing club in Northumbria where he has just started University. I caught up with him to find out more about his plans for the club.

Will Rycroft

Q: How will you attract people to get involved club?
Will: Today with the help of things like facebook you can reach a big audience without too much difficulty. I set up a new page on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Northumbria-University-Windsurfing-Club/280186572041652) explaining that I was trying to start up a windsurfing club and invited people to get involved. I posted loads of videos on it to show people what windsurfing was about. I’ve been posting the page on all the different Northumbria Uni groups I can find. On top of that I put up loads of posters in all the different departments around the Uni and on the sports societies notice boards in the Union. After that it’s just word of mouth, hopefully as we get up and running people will have a good time and tell their friends about it and encourage them to come along to.

Q: Do you think a new windsurf club can grow and thrive whilst the UK Windsurfing industry is having its belt tightened?
Will: Yes, I definitely think there is a place for a new windsurf club. There are still lots of people who want to windsurf. If you go to the beach round here on a windy day you will always see people out on the water. Often if I chat to anyone at uni about windsurfing they tell me they would like to give it a try. As soon as I created the facebook page it got loads of likes and straight away people posted questions asking about how they can get involved, so there is definitely interest.

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  1. Graham Churchill

    Good articule Will and made me think i have a small centre in cornwall and did try to set up a club before but not enough people seemed interested, but im more than happy to give it a go again get intouch if interested and il put a new post on my site

  2. Jim Pura Vida

    Great article Will…..local clubs, student clubs and windsurf centres like Hove Lagoon and OTC to name a few are a great option! You can get memberships with kit use included at a lot of places now and with the added option of SUP which we enjoyed at West Wittering on a windless student event it’s possibly never been better!?!

    SWA scene is buzzing so there could be a great future ahead for the sport!

  3. studentfish

    Completely agree, student clubs are the way forwards. Really nice feature and good to bring up and discuss topics like this.

  4. Tim Cross

    If you are looking for a club near you visit http://www.projectwindsurfuk.org.uk for details on 60 clubs in the UK. Plus lots of useful info on how to set up your club and details on how to source funding.

  5. SamWilder

    Wholeheartedly agree with you there Will, there are many sailing clubs in the country with windsurfing kit – it’s not amazing kit, but it will take someone through to intermediate level without them having to purchase anything themselves. Loads of clubs are less than £100p/a, I personally learnt at North Lincs Sailing club over a decade ago on their club kit and even back then it was perfectly adequate for the task in hand.

    Bath uni windsurf club got me back into it many years later. Clubs are working – funding and help is available, it just requires effort from a few driven individuals.

    I personally think it should be the aim of every windsurfer to introduce at least one other person into the sport – clubs will help this cause….

  6. wavepanther

    Great article will!

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