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Old 27th August 2008, 03:36 PM   #11
C 249
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Steve, I think it's a bit over the top to say "the longboard advocates here are a testy group". Look at the IWA decision that spurred this thread; they have supported a decision that seems to state incorrect facts and was made apparently without widespread consultation. Were we to just bend over and take it?

I'm sure you're wrong if you think that it's just longboarders who think it's easier to blame others. You, for example, have repeatedly said that most people lack the stick-to-it you need for windsurfing, which seems to be blaming the vast majority of people today in a way. Look through any of the "why is windsurfing smaller" threads and you'll see people blaming things they cannot fix....jetskis, computer games, SUVs etc.

We, on the other hand, may believe that WE, the sport, took a wrong turn and that WE, the sport, can fix it. That is much less of a victim mentality, surely?

Plenty of us are out there, doing things like running clubs, classes, training, kid's classes, regattas, websites, etc. That is not the behaviour of people who are sitting back and blaming others. We ourselves did wrong in the past - we didn't state our case well enough. We have had enough of that mistake.

But the main point is that the quote "windsurfing declined much more than most new sports "BECAUSE ALL MANUFACTURERS FOCUSED SOLELY ON THE PERFORMANCE END OF THE MARKET, ABANDONING LONGBOARDS AND THE SIMPLE FUN OF BEING ON THE WATER..." comes from Pono Bill's report of a talk by Svein, the head honco of the biggest windsurfer builder in the world. See

http://www.kenalu.com/2008/08/17/sta...eting-general/

It's not a bunch of stuck in the mud old one-eyed longboarders who are having their say on the source of the problem - it's the man who sells more boards than anyone else.


Kip, about the fact that "the vast majority of windsurfers are not particularly interested in formula or longboards, and likely never will be."

What we call "the vast majority" of windsurfers is tiny compared to the number of past and potential windsurfers (ie, the number is 8% to 20% what it was, depending on which well-placed source you hear) and therefore their preferences of the remaining minority may not be a good guide to the future.

20 years ago it would have been true to say "the vast majority of surfers are not interested at all in longboards and most likely never will be" and yet now longboards make up the majority of the surfing market. Twenty years ago you could have said "the vast majority of US and Australian large car buyers are not interested at all in 4wds/SUPs" and yet now SUPs and 4WDs make up the majority of privately-bought large vehicles.

About "if the lack of longboards on the market is the reason why windsurfing is failing, then how come virtually every major brand has long boards on the market and yet they aren't outselling shortboards 10 to 1 already; the Kona has been on the market for 3 years or more now".

The Kona claims (without contradiction I've seen) to be the #1 selling board in the world; the fact that longboards are the fastest-growing type seems to indicate that they are in fact selling. But there may be a lot of inertia from the 25 year old "windsurfing = planing" thing. ng newbies that way..

And

"how come so often people go out on these boards and don't just buy them?"

'Maybe 'cause the people who are still in the sport (who are the minority) who have good reasons to prefer just a shortboard? Or maybe for the same reason that I hop onto FW and freestyle and new freeride boards, have fun, and then hand them back.....I've already got gear that's good for what I do.

Hell, shortboards are fantastic. Ain't none of us ever said they aren't. The more people love them, the better....it's just not all of the sport.
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Old 27th August 2008, 05:11 PM   #12
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A few short questions to Kip, just for sake of argument

You say:
"AFAIK the online shops in USA longboards aren't massively outselling shortboards. The local resorts here ALL have longboards for rent; they sit there unused except on the really light days and some beginner/intermediates like them.

I've sailed them. My GF have sailed sailed them. All my friends have sailed them that sail where I sail as they are available for rent. And most consider it as a fun thing, but not on par with a shortboard in planing conditions."

In order not to mix old oranges and new apples it would be nice to know what models of longboards are available at these local resorts. What generation do they represent?

You stated
"Actually, to be honest I tried a star board race board that I think was very similar to the raceboard they used in the raceboard worlds, that was the only longboard that I got excited about; that thing was FUN to sail. The rest were, heavy fairly unexciting when planing, but yes, they all went upwind ok which I guess is the point."

If the Starboard Race 380 was FUN to sail, shouldn't it be possible to make slightly more recreational boards with similar attributes? Would that be exiting?

And also:
"If so concerned, why don't you guys ask to distribute longboards direct until volumes build up?"
I have actually done exactly that for a few years. But I can see that it isn't everyone's cup of tea (or even coffee). It requires a relationship to the brand importer, significant risk capital (in the range of 1500 Euro per complete set), significant risk in marketing and publicity, lots of time to promote, demonstrate, show, sell, etc. It does in fact mean running a windsurfing shop (in my case virtual).
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Old 27th August 2008, 06:51 PM   #13
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Not sure how this thread went into the planing and longboard thing, but fact is. Yes planing is fun to do and super-easy to achieve on modern gear, gliding about, long reaches and all that. No, it's not a crowd pleaser, since everyone does it at the local beach. It's not for bystanders, it's not even a crowd pleaser amongst windsurfers !!

Nobody will line up the shores at the Olympics to watch racing just because it has early planing fancy boards flavour-of-the-month. ("Serenity now" - Seinfeld show)

The goal of the Olympics and ISAF is probably not uniquely to please recreational windsurfers per se, though it's only my opinion and I could be wrong on that.
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Old 28th August 2008, 12:19 AM   #14
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C249, you have to admit that the majority of your posts pertaining to the longboard theme almost always include a degree of finger pointing at the industry, media and shortboarders for the overall decline of windsurfing. It's been a very consistent theme over time.

Now you're right that I have in the past highlighted the fact many folks lack the dedication over time to stick with windsurfing. There are a myriad of reasons for that, but I must emphasize that I'm not blaming those that fade from or abandon the sport. Admittedly, it's a bit disheartening to see folks leave the sport, but it does take quite an investment in time and energy to maintain over the long haul. Also, nature doesn't always cooperate with our schedules, so windsurfing requires a significant degree of patience on one hand, and conversely, strong persistence on the other hand. As you know from your past surfing background, there's not always a swell to rely on, so one has to be able to float it through the flat times when you want to surf but it's just not there. Perhaps being seasoned by this type environment gives us the strength of purpose to participate over time. Not everybody can do this, and those that can't find other activities that better suit their personality and disposition.

Getting back to the FOD idea, I think it would be great to have an Olympic event that's focused on the planing side of things. I know your disappointed with this kind of direction, because you would prefer that the Olympics reverted back to classic longboard choice. So now, Starboard is being targeted for blame because they elected to pursue a campaign without holding an election amoungst the racers of the world. While Starboard does manufacture a number of longboards, and they could have promoted them for the next Olympic cycle, they didn't. It seems quite clear that the direction chosen coincides with the thoughts of folks like myself. It will be interesting to see how things play out.
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Old 28th August 2008, 03:22 AM   #15
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Sure, Steve, i have often pointed the finger at the industry's excessive focus on one (wonderful) part of the sport; and now the head of Starboard has come out and apparently said the same thing.

My ideal for the Games isn't just a longboard, but a longboard and a shortboard; the setup may still be cheaper than the RSX and would show our sport in all its fantastic width, unlike ANY one-board class.

Just for me, I would much rather see the FOD class in the Games than the RSX, but there's a big difference between what we want as individuals and what is good for the sport. Given experience in three or four similar situations, you'd also have to worry about FW's future if the FOD concept took off. We've created Olympic OD classes from open classes before, and the open class has ALWAYS suffered. Why hurt FW?

I'm not targeting Starboard for blame for not holding an election. I never said that, or anything like it. Starboard's FOD campaign does say things that are arguably untrue (they claim that most racers want a "planing board"; where is the evidence? If that is true, why do most racers sail hybrids or longboards?) but my concern is with the fact that the IWA apparently chose to back the bid without asking its constituents, or warning them. They have also backed a bid that puts words in the mouths of racing sailors (words that are contradicted by what many or most racing sailors choose to sail) and that may not be a great thing.
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Old 28th August 2008, 09:46 AM   #16
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C249,

My apologies about the Starboard/IWA thing, as I apparently misunderstood that part of the drift. So, as I understand it now, you're really at odds with the IWA, and not necessarily with Starboard's responsive proposal. That's an important difference in the overall scheme of things.

When it really comes down to it, I'm truly supportive of the two board approach to the problem of racing. This initially came up in an earlier thread where the introduction of the Serenity, along with Starboard's FOD concept, would make the perfect combination for literally almost any condition possible. I really liked this suggestion, and said so at the time. Not only would it be relatively inexpensive, it would create a well rounded sailor/athlete that was well prepared for almost any outcome, even those where wind was very light. Rather than creat a single board that doesn't do anything really well because it's trying to cover to many bases, the two board approach really leverages off the strategies that so many windsurfers depend on. Each design sophisticates it's design focus and is clearly unencumbered by added weight and compromise required by the single approach concept. I carry a 6 board quiver (and that doesn't include the Serenity I'm trying add to the mix) to meet my needs, so the conditions rarely leave me without some alternatives.
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Old 28th August 2008, 12:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PG View Post
A few short questions to Kip, just for sake of argument
In order not to mix old oranges and new apples it would be nice to know what models of longboards are available at these local resorts. What generation do they represent?

If the Starboard Race 380 was FUN to sail, shouldn't it be possible to make slightly more recreational boards with similar attributes? Would that be exiting?

[re selling longboards]...significant risk capital (in the range of 1500 Euro per complete set), significant risk in marketing and publicity, lots of time to promote, demonstrate, show, sell, etc. It does in fact mean running a windsurfing shop (in my case virtual).
I've sailed The Kona, the smaller Kona, the larger Manolo, about 3 versions of the starboard raceboard. There are no raceboards of the older generation here available to rent/trial. The IMCOs belong to the Thai windsurf assocation.

The starboard 380 that I liked was not liked as much by the majority of people who tried it, they preferred something slightly shorter and wider; which to me start to get back to that barge feeling; I think the preferred one for most people was that 320 one. And no, it was not more exciting (for me), it felt like sailing a starboard start board vs. a formula board. I guess my point is that longboards excel for racing, but I cannot ever see the majority of shortboarders wanting to race at all, and I certainly can't see them all wanting to race on a longboard.

The Kona, incidentally, is not popular really here in Thailand at all. Most people still prefer to sail a shortboard, and if the wind is light....go do something else. The guys who raced in the Kona worlds, I think a few of them actually sail the Kona for freestyle and mucking around in the light; it is a very nice board. Of course, has all the same issues as formula because mostly everyone then cannot afford to run multiple rigs, and ends up finding the biggest possible rig to get planing in the lowest possible winds.... sail area is king in light winds, that is why rig improvement is key to improving the sport.

C249
I am still not convinced we can compare the majority of a small market today with the massive market of 20 years ago then draw any meaningful conclusions. At the end of the day..... times change. We don't see flares, ford escorts, telegraphs, mobile phone bricks, houses built with real timber floors etc much these days either - not saying in any way that longboards are a fad on par with flares but just saying that each of these products were huge at one time and a variety of reasons cause them not to be huge now; it isn't just that 'ford escorts were boxy and they sold really well, modern fords are quite curvy and don't sell as well, so let's make fords boxy again, as we sold 20,000,000 ford escorts back then'.

I for one am not convinced that no matter HOW hard you push longboards or any other gear, that you will EVER see windsurfing as big as it was in the 1980s. Like other fads, including carving snowboards (which used to be something like 80% of the market in Europe and was a significant proportion of the early 90s market in USA and is now less than 1% of the entire industry) windsurfing was a big hit, it reached popular culture, people bought the gear, and then discovered..... it is not nearly as easy as it looks and the gear is heavy and cumbersome.

Hell, the entire reason why I tried windsurfing once and swore I never would waste another day on the the sport was the heavy, hard to sail board (presumably a WOD or similar) that I tried once in the mid 80s as a kid. How many people do you think were similarly affected, and as a result how many boards do you think are lying around the world rotting? There used to be a lake in Bangkok where in the 80s people would go and sail around and around in the light winds and we are talking hundreds and hundred of people...actually this is the lake where starboard is based now. The gear is still there to be used...but maybe a couple of times a week you see a person showing up to sail. Now the lake is dominated by a cable ski with rap music blasting as the new generation of water sports people show up to do something that requires not much gear, not much skill to start and is not reliant on wind.

The learner gear is here now, both quality longboards and wideboards, but that has almost no relevance to the olympic market we are talking about now. As SteveC says, this is asking for people to have patience, to dedicate time and to invest money when there are so many other choices now available to spend recreational time.

You claim most racers sail hybrid or longboards? Is there some stat for this relative to slalom/formula/etc? Certainly here in Thailand it would be close between formula and longboards, but once you include slalom racing the shortboard scene would be bigger.

And how much of that is the result of sports authorities i.e. not individuals choosing a board and then getting the teams to race them e.g. our authority has team IMCO boards for training and RSXs for the olympic team hopefuls.

Take those two out, and I would say that there are less than 10 longboard sailors in all of Thailand who own race boards....if really pushed...I cannot think of a single person but there is probably some. By comparison...... at least 20-30 formula racers, 20-30 slalom racers and all on their own gear. And if you compare who races to who just comes to sail, then you can expand the shortboards by another few hundred percent...but longboards would increase by maybe....3-10 (of which almost all are, interestingly, serenity boards I would guess).

For Olympics.....
I too think a way to go is 2 boards. But I think even better is a single board per olympic cycle based on conditions....a formula type board for the UK is probably the best solution. A longboard would have been ahead of time the best solution for CHina, Greece, LA and the various other light wind loations. And let's face it, windsurfing on the RSX was so painful to watch in the ultra light, it is going to look like that on anything other than a longboard and even then you are not going to be able to stop pumping unless you go laser anti kinetics style and have protests continuously. A formula board can be forced to sail around a course; it will suck but then can slog their way around.

This avoids obsolesence and is the closest fit with what real windsurfing is about - a 4 year cycle to prepare - a match and reflection that no olympic board has ever been able to last more than a cycle of. It is cost controlled and it means that each 4 years, the same manufacturer changes the molds to be updated.

To me, the biggest innovations are likely to be in the rigs, not the boards anyhow.

I would expect one of the best people to ask would be Tom Ashley, since he just won. Note that almost all the IMCO athletes had little trouble to adapt to the RSX. There is no way around the fact that there is an ideal favoured body type for every race situation. Not all of us will ever have the skills of someone like Ainsley.

The other alternative is to make olympics totally not linked to the recreational sport (the F1 slash Amcup approach) and just create a racer's board.

The thing is the objectives are so overreaching, I am not sure any one solution stands out as the optimum for olympic racing. However, at least in NZ, one coach has been able to take winners to the podium on Div 2, IMCO, RSX. So perhaps the sports are not as far apart as we think.....
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Old 28th August 2008, 01:44 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by C 249 View Post
The Kona claims (without contradiction I've seen) to be the #1 selling board in the world; the fact that longboards are the fastest-growing type seems to indicate that they are in fact selling. But there may be a lot of inertia from the 25 year old "windsurfing = planing" thing. ng newbies that way..

Hell, shortboards are fantastic. Ain't none of us ever said they aren't. The more people love them, the better....it's just not all of the sport.
Care to back that up with a quote?

I just asked one of the people who makes boards, and he was like what the....who says??

I am fairly sure this is simply impossible to claim except as marketing fluff.

As for longboards being the fastest growing, if that includes SUP then sure. After all, we are talking formula 2001/2002 type growth i.e. the category basically didn't exist, and now it is starting again.

I doubt the actual numbers of boards is high, which would explain why we see relatively few boards on the water and also the reticence of the industry to sell them/stock them through the supply chain.

Even taking into account the massive numbers of boards being purchased by sailing authorities, I still think you will find the total size of the hybrid/raceboard market to be pretty niche. SUP market would be bigger, at a guess, than the entire hybrid/raceboard category.

I probably cannot reveal direct sources, but you know where all the boards get made right?

You also claim:
'20 years ago it would have been true to say "the vast majority of surfers are not interested at all in longboards and most likely never will be" and yet now longboards make up the majority of the surfing market. Twenty years ago you could have said "the vast majority of US and Australian large car buyers are not interested at all in 4wds/SUPs" and yet now SUPs and 4WDs make up the majority of privately-bought large vehicles.'

I surfed 20 years ago, and longboarding was reasonably popular as a minority sport back then; still seems to me to be minority of boards on the water but I don't surf much; you could well be right because like the wideboards, the longboards are great for the beginner/rental market as well as the older people, but even then I am simply not sure that the majority of surfers are long boarders, my guess is the majority of surfers might even be lidders! (bodyboarders).

I think what you mean is longboards represent the majority of retail sales in certain markets as claimed by people like Longbreak (longboarder magazine) but when you consider that a longboard is 2-3X times the cost of a shortboard and when you consider the huge 2nd hand shortboard market, then it is a bit hard to confirm whether in fact longboarding is indeed the more popular form of surfing even if the sales say it is (conversion rates, number of boards per person etc etc). At university I surfed sometimes 5 days a week; most longboarders if I am to believe the demographics claimed are affluent middle aged family men who probably surf like 1 days a week or something at the most (ref. Longbreak re stats of the types of people who longboard).

The longboard, anyway, is still surfing, so they are not so different, despite the claims of a bunch of surfers ;-)
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Old 28th August 2008, 07:39 PM   #19
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Steve, BTW the two board concept is old; it was used from '85 on in the "Amateur Funboard World Cup" and then Formula 42. It was also used, with Lechners and slalom boards, for the '80s Tour de France.

Kip, you're probably right, windsurfing won't be as big as it was. That may be a good thing, but maybe it would be nice if it was bigger than it is. Sure, going "back" is not a recipe for success, but neither is ignoring the past and continuing on a course that has not done brilliantly.

Sure, Escorts don't sell.....but newer cars that are practical sell. The car market didn't move en masse to faster cars you can only use in certain conditions, as the windsurfer market did. And the problems of the UK and USA car industries prove that even the biggest industries can make dumb moves. If GM could blow it, why not windsurfer builders?

I know you feel longboards are heavy, but isn't that all comparative? Not too long ago, we were calling a 17kg King Cobra incredibly light. Some people think a 6.5m boat that weighs 330kg is "light", but to a sailor from the 6m 110kg Sharpie class it's 3 times too heavy! http://www.star-board.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif . Of course your boat is incredibly light, compared to other sportsboats, but it's still all relative.

About the number of racers; see . I have NEVER claimed those to be perfect figures, and asked for help to improve them. However, the fleets in the US Nationals, Aussie nationals, UK series, French rankings, German rankings, and world titles all added up certainly point to a predominance of boards with centreboards. Yes, as I mentioned a coouple of times in other places, this leaves out many countries (esp Poland and Asia) but it includes many of the biggest. In others, the info I can find indicates no massive shortboard fleets racing regularly; once or twice a year in La Defi or Ledge to Lancelin is different; as is GPS speedsailing.

The numbers total;

1329 junior hybrid sailors (Techno 293, + a guessed 300 T15 kids on hybrids)
625 junior Longboard sailors (assuming 500 of the 800 T-15 sailors are on longboards)
556 Kona One/Windsurfer One sailors (many Kona sailors probably on borrowed boards).
405 FW sailors (an underestimate, one assumes, although the class does not list more than 100 sailors in any country in the ISAF report)
320 adult Raceboard sailors (not counting the French Raceboard sailors as they may be RSX sailors, but assuming 50% of all "US Open" sailors are raceboarders which is probably an underestimate given that they count FW separately)
195 adult hybrid sailors (not counting the French RSX/Raceboard sailors)
100 Youth Hybrid sailors (perhaps an underestimate as some of the national rankings are not broken down)
68 FW Youth/Junior
41 FE Youth/Junior (assuming all US FE sailors are Juniors or Youth)

As I said, very, very rubbery figures but better than just looking at our own backyards - mine would show 99% longboards which is definitely wrong!


It's hard to see how a board designed for "Olympic conditions" would work. For one, what are they? The RSXs had three windy days in China, which is normally deadly light; other classes had very little wind. Athens was also atypical; light for some classes, survival conditions for those that raced other days. This year, at the time of year when the 2012 games will be one, the site had 3 days of well over 30 knots (as the Moth worlds did at the same place) yet that isn't typical. Korea was going to be a light-wind Olympics but it blew like stink. We didn't get a single big westerly in Sydney.

And what of the other Olympic circuit regattas? Hyeres (?), Kiel, SIRS, Melbourne, Princess Sofia, Palma....the class has to work there as well, which is why the Aussie FW champ raises concerns.


Unregistered, the Kona claim comes from Kona, who are obviously biased; that's why I specifically referred to it as a claim rather than as a fact. However, I've never seen a figure to back the claim that the Go or Start was the top-selling board, either.

Longboard sales; I can't find the industy mags i got a lot of the info from. But here's some, indicating the rebound;

Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sydney, 1999; "World wide they now account for 60% of surfboard sales, less than 10 years ago it was just 5% and it's just not the grey haired getting back onto them."

"By 2002, longboarders made up an estimated 40% of surfers worldwide"; "The Encyclopedia of Surfing".

"shortboards accounting for 45 percent of the total, longboards 33 percent and hybrids 22 percent. " US Surf Industy Manufacturer's Association survey 2006.

"Bill Coward of Maroochydores Bad Company Surf Shop said longboards outsell their shorter versions in his shop three to one and females were really taking to the new cut down mals." The Daily, 2006

Same seems to be happening in skating; http://www.boardsports.com/the-longboard-sect.html
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Old 28th August 2008, 07:51 PM   #20
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By the way, to repeat something said earlier (unless Svein's speech was mis-reported) it's not just me and the rest of the alleged longboard diehards who think that the sport dropped off (and by much more than usual drop off of new sports) and that a less focussed view of the sport is best - it is in fact Svein's belief as well.
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