Windsurfing really began on a bright spring day 43 years ago in a stretch of water called Jamaica Bay, part of a huge yacht anchorage near Venice Beach, California. That was the day and the place that the board, the sail, the mast, the fin and the twin "wishbone" booms all came together.



The 12 ft board was shaped by Gary Seamans, son of a famous multihull designer, patterned after the "long board" then favored by tandem surfers. The 56 sq ft sail was a collaborative effort between me and Bob Broussard, a local sail maker. The mast was "liberated" from a small dingy. The rest of the parts came out of my work shop. We named the assemblage "Old Yeller" after the two bright yellow panels of Dacron on the sail - thanks to Mr. Broussard.

Looking back on it, it's not surprising that the birthplace of windsurfing was Southern California. Guys like Gary's dad, Hobie Alter, Rennie Yeader and other creative watermen were inspired by the ocean, the surf, the weather and all the rest. The difference was that the creators of windsurfing, myself and Hoyle Schweitzer, were not just laid back surfer dudes. Both of us had other well paying professions and both of us had large and growing families that shared a love not only the Pacific Ocean but also the nearby deserts including, especially, Baja California. Windsurfing added a new dimension to both our families' recreation. Later, thanks to Hoyle and Diane, it spread throughout the world first as a family sport, then later as basis for competitive local and international events.

Humble beginnings, to be sure, that expanded in multiple directions: course racing, slalom, wave riding, freestyle and arguably kitesurfing. Ample description and discussion of these disciplines and the equipment peculiar to them can be found, dear reader, in great abundance on all continents except Antarctica. But I'm more interested in where it's going. Welcome to Windsurfing.


Jim Drake

'Jim Drake became the co-creator of windsurfing when he designed, built and sailed the first windsurfer back in 1967. He was also the first man to design an airplane on a computer in 1960, including the X-15. This X 15 design set the world speed record for airplanes in 1967 and 43 years later, still holds the world speed record for any airplane, manned or unmanned.'

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