I have continued to think about this because I think it is an interesting topic...
I agree, windsurfing as a sport has declined in part
because, in the 80's and 90's, people became wind snobs (me included). I'm finding I still enjoy my Windsurfer Classic. I imagine I would also enjoy a newer longboard option too. I am very excited to see how the sport evolves when more people start to realize they can have fun in light winds.
I have been thinking about the other sports I enjoy and how they compare, in my mind, to windsurfing..
Waterskiing - I only ski at 5-7am when in Maine. I'll pull out my wakeboard or go barefoot during the day if the conditions are good, but usually I get enough AM ski time to last me the whole day. I go to a ski school in North Carolina to ski after work a couple times each week during the Spring and Fall. Weather only plays a small role in my decision to ski -- when it rains, I sit it out. From April into October, I expect to ski a considerable amount. No matter where I waterski, I need to be able to find others to go with me -- this is where I get frustrated... seeing good water but not having a driver. While my wife can't drive a skiboat, she does enjoy going out and skiing, so it becomes a family affair.
Volleyball - I only play when I can find a good group that is in a decent league. When this happens, I play once per week for 10-12 weeks. Weather plays no role, but I never expect to play more than once per week and never for the entire year. (I haven't played in years, but might try to find a team for the fun of it because of this discussion.)
Swimming - purely done for exercise. I find very little enjoyment in the act of swimming but do enjoy the results (more energy, ready to go out windsurfing in the Spring).
Snowboarding - this is a sport based on opportunity alone. I rarely actually go on a trip to snowboard (or snowski). I find it difficult to pay hundreds of dollars to ski a few days, so I rarely go. I'd rather put the money into more windsurfing gear or a new waterski. ;-)
Windsurfing - I watch the weather forecast looking for a good opportunity to sail. When in North Carolina, I can massage my calendar to give me an hour or two on an epic day during the week 50% of the time. On a weekend, I'll go sailing with my wife when light winds are forecast (longboard day for me). Being in North Carolina, I can sail in the winter (5 times so far in 2007). I've been able to get out enough to keep my stoke. When in Maine, in the summers, again, because of my work flexibility, I can manage to get a 30 minute to 1-hour sail in between conference calls. And, of course, I can sail after work.
Photography - more something that I do when the opportunity arises because I don't prioritize it over my family, waterskiing or windsurfing. But when I am out waterskiing or windsurfing, I tend to take a lot of pictures... http://bradstreet.us/waterski
Windsurfing is the sport that is the most enjoyable for me and is the most flexible. I have very little dependency on other people (no kids) or the weather. Sure, I enjoy planing more than playing around on a longboard, but I do enjoy both for different reasons. But what this (lengthy) response has highlighted for me is that I actually think windsurfing is more flexible of a sport for me.
But, others' mileage will vary. I live 20-25 minutes from the lake in NC and am on the water in Maine. My trailer is always ready to be hooked up, so I never have to 'pack the rack.' This makes a big difference. And on top of that, I have flexibility at work.
SteveC, I guess I'm supporting your statement that the people who stick with windsurfing are the ones who can work it into their lives. ;-) Another reason people stick with it is family involvement. I learned because my parents both windsurfed (on Windsurfer Classics). I kept at it because I liked it but also because my father and I would go for roadtrips to sail together.
This has been an interesting exercise for me. I'd be curious to see what goes through others' minds when they think about the different sports/hobbies they do. I hope I didn't hijack the thread too much.