A Brief History of Windsurfer One Design
Windsurfer One Designs were raced at their first international regatta in France in 1974. The class was introduced to Australia in 1976 by Greg Kelly and Roger Dulhunty and took off in a huge way. Sailboards were a new sport at the time and were inspiring a huge amount of interest, particularly from people who were already sailing skiffs and dinghies. The convenience of a sailing craft that could be carried on roof-racks, easily stored, quickly rigged and that was fun for the whole family made the Windsurfer One Designs incredibly popular. Racing regattas were organised almost immediately and the Windsurfer Class Association of Australia was formed the following year.
The first Australian National Championships were held in Belmont (NSW) in 1977, with 85 entrants. During the same year a sizeable contingent of Australians travelled to the World Championships to join 450 competitors from 30 countries on the sunny waters of Baia, Sardinia,and Italy.
Competitors were assigned into different divisions according to their weight and gender which made the fleet sizes more manageable and kept the competition fair for heavier sailors. Modern day Windsurfer One Design regattas are still scored in weight divisions, allowing sailors to compare their results against others of a similar weight, which is rare within one design sailing sports and remains an important contributor to the popularity of Windsurfer One Design.
The sport of sailboarding was accepted as an Olympic yachting class in the early 1980s and the 1984 Olympics included the Windglider sailboard division as well as demonstration events on Windsurfer One Designs. At the end of the same year, the Windsurfer One Design World Championships were held in Perth, Western Australia, with over 450 entrants.
Sailboarding was undergoing massive developments in the early and mid 1980s, with new materials, new board shapes and whole new styles of sailing being developed and refined. In 1985, Windsurfer One Designs were redesigned to take advantage of the progress that had been made in technology and sail design. The new Windsurfer One Design included a pivoting centreboard, a shorter boom and a sail with head battens. The design remains the same to this day.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Australia continued to play a dominant role in Windsurfer One Design regattas internationally, hosting the World Championships in 1989/90 and 1990/91 in Belmont (NSW) and Adelaide (SA). Each of those regattas had over 300 competitors, with Australians dominating the field in all divisions.
The University World Championships in sailboarding were competed on Windsurfer One Designs for many years and proved to be a fantastic introduction to the sport of sailing for hundreds of students. Australia hosted the University World Championships in Wollongong (NSW) in 1993, and the event was combined with the (open) World Championships the following week.
In 1997 Windsurfer One Design was one of the sailing classes represented at the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) World Championships in Fremantle, Western Australia and at the Windsurfing World Cup in Zhangjiang, China. At the time, the Chinese Olympic Sailing team was using the Windsurfer One Design as a training board for their Olympic sailing program.
Windsurfer One Design remains popular to this day with fleets in Italy, USA, South Africa and Australia. The first European Championships will be held in Italy in 2014.