It's summer in Germany. Walter S., 56 is an architect and father of three children. He is sitting in his office, looking out of the window and watching the swaying tree tops in his neighbour's garden. It was a long time ago, when Walter had last been interested in the wind. In his past this was completely different.
Part of an extraordinary Movement
Walter was one of the many enthusiastic windsurfers in the 80s. It was such crazy, furious fun to glide over the glittery water surface under the hot sun, feeling his wet hair swirling in the wind. He was addicted to it. What Rock’ n’ Roll meant for music, windsurfing was for sports. It was more than just any sport – it was a new way of life. Values like individual independence and the personal liberty in doing ones sport, could now be lived out. This was quite uncommon for the established systems of the sports clubs. Walter was part of this development.
Back on Board with the Kids
He gave up windsurfing because he hadn't enough time any more, he had to care for his family. His growing children drew him back on board only recently. They asked him to teach them the basic skills. By this he rediscovered his great old passion. Today, with a glimpse in his eyes, he reports about the great emotions on board that have returned at once, although he was abstinent for such a long time: "Windsurfing is like cycling – you don’t unlearn it!”
Comeback of a Sport
Every sport has it’s time. This was the common opinion when skiing was detached by snowboarding. Until the new carving ski brought many former skiers back on the slope. Similar things happen on the water. More and more surf cracks of the old days return to the lakes and beaches. Windsurfing has continued developing. Big, heavy boards and wobbly rigs belong to the past. The new light weight equipment makes windsurfing as easy as never before– for adults and children alike. The windsurf sport which seemed to be reserved to fearless guys is nowadays a sport for the whole family.
Once there comes the Day when they will return
“There is something going on ”, says Falko W., 65. He is a leading member of the surf club in southern Germany and notices a change. "Some years ago, there were several windsurfers on the lake on windy conditions. But these days the beach becomes really crowded again, almost like in the 80s. And there are not only youngsters but also former windsurfers, who I last saw windsurfing ten to 15 years ago. More and more return!” That is what the data of the well known market research institute IfD Allensbach records, too. The decrease of active surfers stopped in 2006. Since then the numbers are constantly rising, and the amount of 40 and also 50+ years old windsurfers increases, too.
The right Time
What is the reason for that development? Many former windsurfers have children who are at the perfect age to learn windsurfing. So many are brought back on their boards, as the example of Walter S. shows. Many former windsurfers are in a period of life where they have more leisure time again. Most of them are established in the job, are married and have children. Some perhaps own a house. Now there is more time again for hobbies, and compared to the time when they were students, they have the necessary petty cash for it.
More comfortable than ever before
The access to windsurfing is more comfortable than ever before. Several windsurfing centres have adapted to the customers' needs: individual activities for example. Very few people concentrate only on one hobby. And for as possessing the equipment for more sporting activities is very expensive, a lot of people prefer renting to buying. Centres start to pay much more attention to that with their offers.
Well organized and equipped surf schools offer the latest equipment at a moderate price. Thus the equipment transport and rigging omits. Simultaneously the possibility of renting the equipment gives people with sparse leisure time the chance to be on the water within a couple of minutes. Besides, one can test the material to find out which equipment fits best.
Looking for some Surf Buddies
Although windsurfing is an individual sport many are tempted by its special kind of community: chatting with like-minded people, talking about the next windsurfing vacations, reminiscing about the last great windsurfing session and having a great time together on the water. If you are looking for a windsurfing partner you normally find many like-minded people in surf schools or at typical surf spots.
Windsurfing even with old Age
Windsurfing schools offer different classes at any level, and teach and refresh unlearned techniques, also for windsurfers of the first generation. Even older people rediscover the windsurf sport like Irene D., 73 from Hamburg. Windsurfing is not an extreme sport for “young guns” only. Having a surf session in the evening sun might be more relaxing than a massage could ever be.
Many people have learned by experience and know that sport is a fountain for fitness and health. Windsurfing offers the possibility to keep adults agile. No other sport combines so many unique qualities. It conveys ones self-development, provokes extraordinary emotions and lets the surfer merge with nature. It activates the equilibrium and important muscles. “Being infected once by the windsurfing virus, you won’t get rid of it any more”, says Irene with a big grin.
It looks as if more and more people will have a look at the tree tops again, because you never unlearn windsurfing and you never get rid of its virus!
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(English version is in preparation)