MAY 21st 2007: HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY WINDSURFING!
On the occasion of 40 years since man first went Windsurfing, Starboard introduce to you a scan of the original drawings of the first windsurfing board by Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer and a precious video footage of Man's first step on board. 40 years later, Jim designs the Mercury, his latest extra-ordinary hybrid concept.The shape is a melding or joining of two board concepts. One is a low wind longboard with generous rocker; the other is a freeride board similar to iSonic 135 modified to fair out its otherwise blunt tail in order to smooth the flow of water when non planing. These two shapes are positioned relative to each other so that a single fin serves as a center board for the long board when sub planing and as the usual fin at the tail of the freeride board when planing. The freeride shape is angled down -- about 4 degrees -- to allow the long board shape to ride above the wake of the freeride shape when planing. This concept also allows the sailor to stay pretty much at the same longitudinal position whether planing or nonplaning. What advantages does it offer? The main purpose is to have a fast board no matter what the wind. It should move silently and fast in light winds; it should plane early and accelerate quickly to high speed when winds pipe up. The sailor does not have to move fore and aft to adjust to fluky winds. Adjustable mast tracks and retractable centerboards are not required which reduces weight, cost and complexity. Any disadvantages? Mercury is most unlikely to be as quick and silent as Serenity in low winds or as responsive and quick as iSonic, Apollo or Formula in planing conditions. It may require some retraining, like Serenity, to get the best out of it. And, of course there may be other disadvantages discovered in the process of testing but so far results are encouraging. Do you believe people will windsurf in nonplaning conditions once again? I'm not the slightest bit doubtful about that. The response to Serenity by professionals and distributors is very encouraging in that regard. This in addition to the fact that the other low wind watersport -- kayaking --far out strips the popularity of windsurfing as it is today by factors of ten and more suggests there is indeed a vast untapped market. Jim