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70 and Unstoppable!

As the weather gets a little colder we’re all in need of some windsurfing inspiration, and today it’s coming from 70-year-old reader and windsurf addict Teena Gustafsson. We catch up with Teena to find out if anything will ever stop her windsurfing…

Teena Gustafsson

Date of Birth – 12th May 1944. My twin is older by 10 minutes.

It was my husband who started windsurfing first, way back in 1984 when our two boys were little. It p…….. me off because he was having all this free time enjoying himself with me left with the kids; I insisted on having a go, so it must have been in 1985. My husband was also rather concerned because I’m not really a swimmer, I only learned to swim a length when I was an adult! I had very limited time on the water because then he had to do the babysitting, but I persevered, and the first board was a ‘Wayler Gipsy’.

Teena on the water!

One of my funniest memories windsurfing was when we were in Egypt (Port Safaga) on a windsurfing holiday in the 90’s, and I went out for a sail and went a long way out to an island (just can’t remember the name of it, but it’s just offshore). Anyway, as I approached on my board, I could see this group of people and as I landed on the shore they all came rushing up to me. It was a big group of Egyptian men, (apparently a local football team practising), and they all wanted to help and talk to me. They made me feel like a princess and I felt very special. They then were all solicitous and eager to help me get back on my board to sail away and watched as I left.

We have had some wonderful holidays sailing in France, we were in Carnac, but one of the worst places we went to was Marguerita in Venezuela. It was Christmas time, and the beach was crowded with holiday makers and they didn’t seem to understand they needed to get out of the way (or maybe it was us, getting in their way).

But of course, sailing at Marazion here in Cornwall has been some of my happiest memories. It is my favourite Cornish beach, it feels so safe and that’s what I love too. We have sailed in the Falmouth Carrick Roads, and it’s very funny because at low tide right out in the middle you can stand with the sea only up to your waist, though you’re standing on the oyster beds.

Nothing will stop me from windsurfing apart from infirmity. So I lie to myself and tell myself I’m ten years younger than I really am, and that works! I’ve got to admit I love sailing at our local reservoir, Stithians, because it is fresh water and hot showers and changing rooms afterwards and they are a great crowd of people who run it with a fantastic coffee shop and cakes there. Also we we have a great crowd of windsurfing friends, many of them older in age like me as well as the lovely younger boys and girls there.

Teena at her home spot!

I try to sail as often as I can, but being a wife, grandmother (with babysitting duties), a twin, with a twin sister I have to see or talk to every day, my time is limited. But if it’s windy then I’m up for it. I like it best around Force 5 -6 or even 7, as then I can sail on my short board which is very very ancient, being a Mistral ‘Ecstasy’ !! and only 85 litres. But I can waterstart it easy and it’s good in chop. With that board I use my 4.7 ‘Demon’ sail or my 5.4 North sail. I usually sail as often as I can right up to Christmas, but January and February are a little bit too cold for me, but spring comes early in Cornwall so it’s not too long to wait.

We’ve used the locally made ‘Demon’ sails for many years, and they are so hardwearing and well made. When it’s less windy I use my JP board, 130 litres and use a 5.4 North sail. I love that board too as it’s so much easier for gybing. I don’t like using really big sails as I’m only 50 kgs, and just hate uphauling!

As for what others think when I tell them I windsurf, I think very often people don’t believe me, so I try not to go around saying too much about it. I think people think I’m a bit funny but they know I do a lot of cycling, yoga, workouts too, so maybe they think it’s just something I do on holiday. I know I get a bemused look on faces when I mention it, but then I don’t mention how old I am anyway, as people tend to think I’m younger than I really am! It’s only been my twin sister’s daughter (my dearest niece) who has been going on about it and got in touch with you that has started this whole thing off !! (ha ha).

Five reasons why I love to windsurf

First of all, you need to be fit to do it, and so it is a wonderful incentive to get and stay fit. I always thought if I’m not fit I won’t be able to windsurf, so it made me go out cycling in horrible weather and up the hills in Falmouth, and attend the hard keep-fit classes and yoga and do the weight-training (we have our own multi-gym in the garage), when I didn’t feel like doing anything but sit and watch telly.

Next, it’s the sheer magic of going fast on a board and being a bit scared and challenging yourself and telling yourself you can do it. Also, it’s such a wonderful way to be outdoors and in the fresh air, it makes you feel so well. Another thing is the nice toned muscles I’ve got, which I want to keep, especially in my upper arms and pecs. Also, it’s such a special sport and the people who do it are so fantastic. Everyone you meet doing windsurfing are exceptional, friendly people and I love meeting them. Another thing is that you can go out and really enjoy yourself in the horrible English weather (which we often get specially here in Cornwall). You don’t need a warm sunny day to enjoy the outdoors. And lastly, it’s the one thing that really gives me an appetite. I always feel wonderfully hungry and thirsty after a good windsurfing session, and I love that feeling – (not being a big eater, though I eat very healthily), so then I’ll cook something which makes my husband happy!!

One more thing I have thought of is that both our sons windsurf, and they are good, and it was natural for them to take it up as we did it, so they are keep fit fanatics too. The eldest son Adam, speed sails, and goes very fast, up to 44 knots, and the younger son, Thor, wave sails, jumps, loops etc. when he’s got some kit. Trouble is he breaks gear often and worries me to death, but I have to live with that.

The reason others should windsurf is that it is the most fun way to keep healthy, active and happy into our mature years and that’s what the government is trying to get everyone to do, isn’t it?

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