SWA media manager, Duncan Dumbreck, joins Boards for his first instalment of the SWA monthly where he pays tribute to all those who have helped him progress through windsurfing.
In the grand scheme of things I haven’t been windsurfing for very long. The sport is nearly fifty years old and with the sad loss of the great pioneer, Jim Drake makes me realise we have many people to credit with getting the sport to where it is today.
I originally tried windsurfing on holiday with my family, my dad tried to teach me. However his own windsurfing wasn’t really up to much, so the combination of that and unsuitable kit meant I had an awful time and wrote windsurfing off as something I would just not get on with.
Instead, I took to sailing a lot better and became an instructor aged 18. On my second season aged 19 I was sailing around merrily teaching when a friend planed past me on some windsurfing kit. Of what I estimated had to be 40 guests on the water he was the person who was clearly having the most fun.
It was at that moment I realised I wanted to be good at windsurfing. That person was Hamish Stone (no relation to Josh Stone as far as I am aware) who I still keep in occasional touch with. The thing is I doubt he knows (until now) that he is the reason that I windsurf.
Thinking this way lead me to consider all the people who have played their part in my windsurfing journey. This article is dedicated to them, and to anyone who has ever helped me as a way of saying thanks, my unsung personal heroes!
Second on my jou rney of gratitude is James Wheeldon, although you may know him as Sid! He was the senior windsurfing instructor in the resort I worked in. He tolerated my incessant questions and taught me most of the steps from uphauling to water starting. I remember him cruising alongside me in a powerboat as I first edged onto the plane in a lunch break. Without his instruction I am sure I would not have learned any where near as much in those first 4 months and may not have continued after that season. It is good to know that he is still instructing these days.
Gemma Lewis is next. She was also a windsurfing instructor in the resort, and had just finished Uni. One piece of advice she gave me shaped most of my time at university leading me to start the windsurf club at my Uni and be such a keen SWA member. She said:
“If there is anything you do in your time at Uni go to Aussie Kiss!”
…or something along those lines. Without that advice a few of the steps later in this article would certainly not have happened.
When I arrived at Uni four months later I had spent every spare penny I had on windsurfing kit. The only problem I had was that I had no way of getting to the beach. Not knowing any windsurfers at Uni as there was no club, and I was new to the area, so I could see no way round the problem.
This is where Dave Buckland, who you may know him as the owner of Funsport in Rhosneigr, stepped in. Dave offered to pick my kit up from my halls, take it to his shop and look after it there for me so that all I had to do was get down to the beach on my bicycle. This allowed me to get out on the water any time it was windy without me having any form of motorised transport.
One man who really sticks out is Ken Morton, I first met Ken when he gave me a lift from Bangor to Rhosneigr for a session. Back in those days I was still cycling to and from the beach (25miles each way). All the cycling often led to cramp when water starting and so I tried to get lifts any time I could. Ken was the first to offer me a lift, I remember that was my first ever session at Rhosneigr in waves. It was 3.7 weather and I was scared senseless. I remember feeling way out of my depth. Ken encouraged me to go out and I got an absolute rinsing. Without him I would have probably stayed within my comfort zone on the lake behind the village and never gone out in waves. I don’t think I have ever heard Ken say he has had a bad session. I still occasionally see him at Rhosneigr and I always have a better session whenever he is around.
The last person I will mention here is Taffy Osborne, the students among you will know him as the reason for the Taff Osborne Award For Outrageous Behavior. My first contact with Taffy was when I emailed the SWA about Aussie Kiss as I wanted to go in my second year. There was no windsurf club in Bangor at the time and I was the one and only windsurfing member of the surf club. In the reply Taffy recounted tails of former glory of Bangor club, with the most emphatic detail and told me about the excitement among the SWA committee that the club was starting up again. (I hadn’t ever said I was starting a club at that point Taffy!!) He persuaded me to come along to the SWA president’s training weekend and by the end of the weekend not only was I starting a club but also hosting a wave competition!
I will never have enough space to thank everyone that I should or could thank. More lately these people have made me think more about the little things I do for people. At the time the things each of these people did for me may have seemed trivial to them. But to me these acts really stick out as something that led me to where I am today. So however small what they did for me may seem to them, I will always remember it and be grateful for it.
The moral of this story is that if you do something for someone it may seem trivial to you, like showing them how to rig properly or giving them a lift occasionally, but to them that experience may stick in their mind. In life this is a good general principal that some follow, but in windsurfing we have a community that loves to help out and get involved, in that is why I love windsurfing.
Check out the other columns and news from the SWA here on Boards.