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Willy’s Ways – Embrace the Revolution

Will Rogers, a force on the UK Freestyle scene and the UK’s ultimate weekend-warrior, will be joining us as our monthly columnist; to give motivation to those that need it, insights to those that want it and inspiration to everyone…

“Embrace the Revolution”

There’s a cage, with a table in the middle of it and on that table is a lovely ripe banana.  You, the monkey keeper puts 5 monkeys in the cage and locks the door.  Very quickly after having a look around their new surroundings all the monkeys see the banana and all make a bee line for it. However, before the monkeys get their you spray all the monkeys with water from a great big hose pipe – these monkeys really hate getting wet so they decide they will just leave the delicious looking banana on the table.  A while later the monkey keeper removes one of the monkeys, and puts a brand new one in.  The new monkey immediately see’s the banana and goes for it, however, before he gets very far the original monkeys pounce on the new monkey preventing the dreaded hose pipe attack again.  Every hour you take one of the original monkeys out of the cage and a put a new one in, until none of the original monkeys who experienced the drenching remain in the cage.  But still none of the monkeys go for the banana….

But Why?  The answer is simply, its because that’s the way its always been done.

Hang on you might say -This is a windsurfing magazine not a monkey behavior academic paper, so why am I ranting on about it?  The truth is, the way in which the monkeys behaved is a very common way for us to behave, we get into the routine of doing things a certain way and often never question what were doing and why we are doing it that way. It’s a dangerous routine to get into and as well as having a big affect on business success it can have large effect on our sporting ability.  Change is good, and it applies to windsurfing as much as it does anything else.

Social networking is the future

Time and technology move on and certainly one of the biggest changes to the way we live our lives these days is birth of social networking.  Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and everything else are almost a necessity in order to not become a social outcast these days.  There are endless benefits to what we can achieve with social networking and its ability to create a viral style spread of information.  I believe that windsurfing has experienced a great resurgence over the past few years, but there is still plenty of scope for a load more growth.  The sport can indeed be complex and daunting, and a tool such as social networking has the potential to go a long way in helping sell more gear, get new blood into the sport, develop sponsors and a load more exciting stuff. If I could have has a pound for every grumble about social networking since facebook was introduced over 5 years ago, I would probably be living in front of Hookipa, with a truck bigger than Robby Naish’s.  But one of the most positive changes I have seen in windsurfing this year has been enabled by the power of social networking.

Robby Naish and his small toy

Windsurf Plymouth (www.windsurfplymouth.org.uk) was originally set up as a pilot project by the RYA to try and help local windsurfers connect, it has challenged the traditional structure of windsurfing, and very positively brought windsurfing into the 21st century in the target area. Initially set up as a website with a forum and news pages, quickly the Facebook page attached to the site took over and is now the primary virtual club for its members (www.facebook.com/groups/143925268980292/).

Traditionally the RYA gives a great windsurfing structure to youngsters through Team 15, and the SWA provides an organization for student windsurfers to belong to, but outside these brackets windsurfing suddenly can become a much more lonely pass time. More an more of your friends move away, get married, have kids, take up tea bagging and all of a sudden your on your own at the beach and because you have such bad hot aches or you need to get back to work or to the family, you never really get the chance to meet new local windsurfers. Lets be honest, its not the most social of sports.  Next, you move to a new area and you don’t know anyone who windsurfs in that area and as a result you never go to the right beach, get the tides wrong and windsurfing time is halved, again!  Windsurf Plymouth bridges that huge gap in windsurfing by creating a virtual windsurfing club based around social networking sites.  It has connected hundreds of local windsurfers, connected the local shop with its customers, helped newcomers into the sport, encouraged sailors to try new spots and push up their level.  One of the best things I’ve found is that its connected me with hundreds of live eyeball reports that I can trust all over the area.  If anyone is lucky enough to have spent some time in Maui or warmer climates like Tarifa, windsurfing tends to be a much more social pass time, chilling in the sun before or after a session overlooking the break.  In the UK’s chilly climate, we don’t always have that luxury, so approaching it differently is key.

RYA pushing windsurfing

The virtual club concept required someone to question the way it’s always been done, think outside the box, approach the way in which we connect to go windsurfing in a completely different way but the project is a hugely positive result of the power of social networking, the story will continue with the development of the RYA’s Project Windsurf (www.projectwindsurfuk.org.uk) which will connect the localized clubs all over the UK.  But it’s clear that windsurfing is only just scratching the surface of the realm of this virtual socialising phenomenon; just imagine the possibility of what it could do for windsurfing…

Like an increasing number of people I often use my Twitter or Facebook feeds to trawl for interesting videos or online content.  It’s a great way for the industry to market windsurfing products to the world but also a fantastic method of making what windsurfing is all about visible to the world. So get out there, talk about windsurfing, ‘Like’ the articles on boards.co.uk, market windsurfing and bore everyone stupid until they see how brilliant it is, don’t be embarrassed to become a slave to social networking, embrace the change, its going to transform windsurfing!

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