Hi guys, what an interesting discussion. Here my experience and what I know as I have done a complete marketing research of all water sports this year as a need for a company that asked me for this.
Well, dont know about sales numbers in the world, except that I hear from factories they are increasing production and marketing studies that show interesting growth in windsurfing again.
I did numbers after checking it and found an interesting growth in North America of people that windsurfed during a year and found that numbers done by the biggest company of sports reasearch in the USA said a growth in windsurfing of 28% from 2004 to 2005, an 109% from 2005 to 2006 and the comparison 2004-2006 was of 167% growth.
This are real numbers, not talking just of any invented numbers. Others sports growing but at a lower speed are wakeboarding (30% in the last year) and kayac lower.
Kiting does not appear, the issue is that windsurfing have about 25 million people in the world and that is a representative number to measure in a sport. Kiting have a population of 1/100 than windsurfing in the world what is not yet an important number to measure, yes, they are growing but we are talking about sizes of market. In the USA there is an estimate of 1.1 million windsurfers. This is real numbers.
In my personal experience and the work we are doing here:
In my country, for sure Kiting is growing, but windsurfing is growing too. Lots of people is sailing, this year more than the others. I owe THE WIND ADVENTURE, a company dedicated to distribute sails and boards and sales have grown at least 50% this year and 20% last year. I see windsurfing here growing fast. faster than any other sailing sport. Its incredible but true.
The reason, windsurfing is attractive in light winds - say 3-8 knots - the answer is YES, its attractive as we are pushing flotable boards of 100cm wide for light wind freestyle and this looks nice, is fun and no need of planning to have fun. By the other side...longboards are coming back and center fins too...and they are fun. I tried one of this boards last year and said: oh! I forgot this sensation (having fun gliding in a board effortlessly in 6 knots)...in that wind, slalom guys, kite guys and sailing guys dont have fun...and surfers and wakeboarders and skieers hate that 5-8 knots as is not good for flat water or clean waves...
The other reason, Formula. Once the wind is 9 knots you can get in a Formula and big sail and have fun, and dont need to worry about if the wind drops or not, have fun, cruise everywhere: have you promote this light wind planning cruising adventures? do it..
Well, in the 9 knots sailing becomes better but not as fun as planning full speed. Then kiting...could be from 12, but kiting in light winds 9-13 knots is not as fun as planning full speed. Realistically, its not that wow that people say, not really. And if wind drops a bit, then its not fun, not floaty. Formula is easy, and if wind drops you still can have fun...or go back home. Then, still we can promote windsurfing in those light wind spots.
Go over 16 knots, got planning? we are promoting those thrilling slalom recreational championships, we are promoting some freestyling and some long distance.In this winds you can choose whatever you want to sail, windsurf, kite or whatever...anyway, its about having fun not about choosing one or the other. One day can be windsurfing, other kiting and other sailing in a boat.
But be clear, most clubs, spots and nice places to go to the beach have 3-10 knots...in that wind, light wind freestyle, learning windsurfing in a school or using a lonboard...is the best choice you can have.
1) light wind spots : best place to do some light wind freestyle (maximum exposure) and learn windsurf (easy and fun for a begginer). If you have not seen how cool look this...go to the post in the forum: spectacular light wind freestyle
2) longboards: best way to have fun and dont worry about the wind. Why not go back to the 80s...?
3) after that: shortboard is fun, formula is fun, but this are choices that windsurfers must find and they will. If they found them...go slalom, go freestyle and go long distance. And dont forget, Formula is the easier way to have fun for an average person leaving in a place 9-14 knots.
I was in bonaire last year and could understand why .... Got impressed, is a nice wind spot but there are days of no wind (for a shortboard) as in any place in the world...but those days, is lot of people learning and freestyling in the beach.
We are following their example in some way. DONT NEED WIND to promote windsurfing, need to HAVE FUN in a breeze. Then, windsurfers come to windy days and to the sport.
THE WIND ADVENTURE