Steve, I kept out of the discussion partly to avoid getting back on my rant box and partly to avoid being seen as attacking the industry - until there was a reference to how old bad gear supposedly was. Then I thought I should pose a counter view.
There is a vast amount of evidence that the consumer's choice is very heavily influenced by an industry and advertising. Hell, even economists are realising that people are not particularly rational consumers. I'm not saying that I don't suffer from this as much as anyone else and I probably go too far the other way, but all I'm saying is that it is a very important factor that we cannot just ignore in our consideration of the future of the sport.
More importantly, it's in the industry's short-term interest to ignore the benefits of older gear so the consumer doesn't get to hear about it - which is a balance that some of us are trying to redress.
I certainly don't see much gear for really light winds out there; the Serenity is the only board I can find and it must be hard finding people who are interested in it in this environment. As a mag editor recently admitted, it's almost impossible to find windusrfers who haven't bought into the whole "windsurfing is planing" idea.
The Konas etc are slower than original Windsurfers in light winds in the testing we've done. The long Raceboards (Warp X 380 etc) are developed from a class originally intended to race in winds of 12 knots or more, and which has rules that prevent a Serenity type from being made. In the biggest class (admittedly, not the pro class) in the biggest UK event last year, an original Windsurfer with horrible old floppy dacron 6m finished second, ahead of about 180 modern boards. In what other sport could the original product beat all the high tech stuff in fairly average conditions?
And seeing the crashes that other industries have suffered, I can't accept that the windusrfing industry MUST be right. There were a lot of very smart guys making not-so-great decisions in the US and UK car industries and just before the tech wreck, too.
Phillip, you are 100% right, of course, there is a lot of terrible old gear out there. One thing I do find amazing is the incredibly low quality of the cloth on those old sails, when even in those days there was good stuff. But as you say, some of it was well designed and with some updating (ie better rigs, although not necessarily typical current gear IMHO) it can perform very well. I just don't think the gear that created the boomtime can be blamed for the crash that followed when OTHER gear was then promoted.