The sport

Windsurfing or boardsailing is a sport that combines sailing and surfing and uses a one-person craft called a sailboard. The basic sailboard is composed of a board and a rig.

The history

In 1948, twenty-year old Newman Darby first conceived of using a handheld sail and rig mounted on a universal joint, to control a small catamaran. Darby did not file for a patent for his design, however, he is regonized as the inventor of the first sailboard.

Californians Jim Drake (a sailor and engineer) and Hoyle Schweitzer (a surfer and skier) received the very first patent for a sailboard. They called their design a Windsurfer. The early Windsurfer boards measured 12 feet (3.5 m) long and weighed 60 pounds (27 kg).

Later in the 1980s, Newman Darby did file for and receive a design patent for a one-person sailboat, the Darby 8 SS sidestep hull.

According to Newman & Naomi Darby in their article The Birth of Windsurfing: “Newman Darby found he could steer a conventional 3 meter sailboat by tipping it fore and aft enough to make turns even without a rudder. This is when (late 1940s) Newman got interested in steering a boat without a rudder. Several sailboats and 2 1/2 decades later (1964) he designed the first universal joint to go along with a flat bottom sailing scow. This sailboard was fitted with a universal joint mast, a centerboard, tail fin and kite shaped free sail and thus windsurfing was born.”


Windsurfing is a highly diversified sport, and several competition disciplines have materialized throughout the years. It all started with one-design course racing on the original windsurfer, but freestyle and (parallel) slalom were soon invented. As soon as footstraps were introduced, Wave competitions quickly developed, as well as high wind course racing. The new combination- discipline, the SuperX was introduced in 2003. Being very media friendly with compulsory freestyle moves built into a slalom type of course, it calls for spectacular racing.