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Winfreak's interview question answered

 
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13778

PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 6:53 pm    Post subject: Winfreak's interview question answered Reply with quote

winfreak wrote:
Isobars, do you feel you have had an impact in any way on innovation in windsurfing? Have you tested any products that have yet to make it to market and/or were unsuccessful? What is your vision of the future of the sport?

Innovation? Not much; there’s so much good stuff on the market and I have such average ability that I just ride what I like and have fun. Other than product design tweaks such as Promotion’s assembly technique to reduce back-zipper snagging, the closest thing to a large scale innovation might be magazine test results RELATIVELY free of advertiser-influenced bias. Some manufacturers got FURIOUS at our refusal to LET THEM DICTATE MAGAZINE REVIEWS (as some mags have done cover to cover).

My current and previous brands of Gorge-built sails have incorporated several of my small ideas and personal test results into their lineup. (I’m submitting another idea to Promotion soon.)

I hope I’ve opened many inland sailors’ eyes to the readily available prospects and techniques of adding more dimensions to their sailing style besides cruising back and forth, if they wish. Too many coast junkies propagate the myth that one must have ocean waves in order to play in three or four dimensions. And to hear this crowd type, we must buy what we’re told each year, sail in certain proscribed ways, and stop progressing beyond the step jibe, FFF, loooong harness lines, cams, big boards, unhook to play, and many more unnecessary constraints. Myths busted, for readers with open minds. Obviously, none of those are my innovations, but I’ve pushed them harder than any other source I’ve seen, so people are more aware that there are many ways to skin most cats. I'm also very enthused about the torso armor I introduced to high-impact water sports; it has saved my ribs many times. I've also designed and built some dedicated WSing vehicles and related accessories that have drawn extensive attention, including a Best In Show award, from Hood River to Europe.

Some products we rejected in the mag went nowhere. Examples include:
• Some molded footstraps I ripped apart with my bare hands.
• A boom I placed one foot on and, with one hand, raised the other side over my head. We rejected it at that point rather than burden testers or readers with it. A few products each year saw that fate.
• I raised hell about Bic’s slippery decks and some Bare wetsuits that fell apart in one session. Both were soon improved.
• AHD deck integrity improved, somewhat, after I criticized them for collapsing in one session.
• Many individual pieces of gear … boards, booms, sails, fins … pretty much evaporated after failing our testing. A classic example was a board billed as a high-wind board but which proved unsailable on anything but absolutely glassy water. But things like that were not so much “failures” as ideas and prototypes intended as learning experiences; we were sent many items with that intent.

My WSing prognosis is continued decline, simply because it’s a very challenging sport and there’s no dealer or instruction infrastructure at the grass roots level. However, my “vision” of the sport is about as credible/valid/meaningful/researched/nuanced/thorough as that of Homer Simpson. It’s not something I think about much, partly because my favored sites are getting more crowded every year on and off the water. I sometimes have to drive the evening before it blows, often at least before dawn, just to get parking. I want more room, not bigger crowds.
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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 785
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Innovation isn't dead, just risky. Here's a photo of the custom board I designed, being built by the BEST, Mark Nelson, a man not afraid to innovate. I'll have a performance report when I get it, probably in a month or so.


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Spennie the Wind Junkie
www.WindJunkie.net
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winfreak



Joined: 26 Apr 2001
Posts: 41
Location: Oregon Coast

PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:17 pm    Post subject: Prognosis Reply with quote

Thanks Isobars for the thorough replies to my questions.
I think that the sport of windsurfing has a real chance of a surprising recovery if key players come to realize that there is a huge profit opportunity in new growth and that achieving that new growth is quite possible. It all comes down to changing the perceived cost/ benefit ratio for potential participants, which favors kiteboarding at the present time.
Cost: cost to purchase, repair, replace, store, transport and use equipment. Ease of learning, cost of lessons, set up, take down, injury rate, time commitment, beach access fees, etc..
Benefit: FUN, thrills, excitement, coolness, social aspects, proficiency satisfaction, opportunities to participate, cardiovascular and muscle exercise, etc..
Awareness of lower cost benefit ratio draws participants.
The gap between windsurfing and kiteboarding is narrowing in a number of ways.
The bottom line, and the most important thing I am going to say: innovation, marketing, and infrastructure can tip the balance back towards windsurfing. This change of focus can be drastic if driven by disruptive innovation from lead users in the sport. I am aware of such innovation and that's all I can say about that aspect right now. I also have bold ideas for marketing and infrastructure (including access) that I will also keep quiet about for now. Game changing change is never easy for all, but evolution is a key part of survival.
So keep the faith, windsurfing could come back and in a very big way!
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