United we StandWindsurfing Clubs
Recent chatter regarding the rising tide of surf rage around the nation has again reinforced my belief that we all need to work together if windsurfing is to thrive (let alone survive) in these increasingly fractious and litigious times in which we live.
I mean even the so-called Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (with all of their entrenched rivalries) have formed an uneasy alliance (and established a peak body of sorts) in an attempt to deal with the politics of their current "predicament" following a spate of very public, and very bloody, incidents.
Now I'm certainly not here to legitimise, or justify, anyone's behaviour, however, I can't help but feel there are certain parallels that can be drawn between the experience of the OMG's and us as windsurfers.
Both are inherently individual pursuits (and I myself am well and truly a lone wolf) yet some of our most memorable moments are those that are shared with others. Indeed, we humans are by nature social animals and experience has proven time and again that 'united we stand, divided we fall'.
And from the sounds of things it seems I'm not the only one who's feeling this way right now...
Windsurfing Clubs, Get on Board...
Funny thing windsurfing is. Here we are living in a country that does not necessarily offer up the best conditions in the world (well at least here in QLD), here we are in a country that has so much to offer and so many ways for us to part with our leisure dollar, yet we all share a common bond and that is to windsurf. No matter what those that participate in any number of other sports say about windsurfing we are all still passionate about what we do and enjoy every minute of it. So if that is the case and we all know how good windsurfing is, then why is the sport not growing? Well the answer to that one might come at about the same time we work out "how long is a piece of string". There are many varied reasons and it best not to dwell on each of them too much, rather look at what we can do to enhance the sport and ensure those that do give it a go stick around.
I recently had a work colleague ask me about windsurfing and how he might get into it. I set him on a path to a shop where I knew he would get good service and insisted he get a lesson or two before parting with any of his hard-earned. Consequently he is now a fully-fledged beginner, with his own gear and loving it. Next step..."Operation Sustain the Stoke". You see this showed me that windsurfing is as vibrant and enticing as ever, but it's the loss of these beginners to other sports which ensures little growth.
Support your local club, become a member, get on board (pun alert). Don't have a club that meets your needs, start one. Now I know some people see clubs as a political nightmare that they would walk on broken glass to avoid, but the reality is that many of the most successful sports undertaken in our communities are underpinned by clubs. Next excuse is always the cost of windsurfing gear, well motor racing at a club level is huge, and there is no denying the cost involved in that particular past time. Karting for instance costs many thousands of dollars to compete each season, yet many events attract a huge number of entries from junior to senior ranks. What the successful clubs all have in common is support. They support their members, they support the businesses that support them, and they support the community and general public. Simply they ensure the clubs are for everyone, not just the best of the best.
Okay so it is pretty clear to see that my focus is on developing clubs to aid in developing the sport as whole. But it is then up to the members and committee of the clubs to make it happen. I have been to a number of club events for many different types of sports in the past where I as a new comer was hardly spoken to, and left feeling very much akin an outsider. Learn from that I say, simply don't let an opportunity to share how much fun this sport is with others pass you buy. It is after all merely a case of human nature at work. You see a group of people having fun and wonder if you could get involved in that fun too. So it's simple, share the stoke, spread the love, and before you know it you've got several new mates to sail with.
Now you may well ask, what's in it for me? Well the big one in just being a member of a club is the insurance, check the AWA web site for details on the insurance policy that is part of the membership of many clubs. That alone is a valuable enough reason to join, let alone the camaraderie, the bbq's, and of course the ubiquitous t-shirt. Plus you also get to spend time with groups of like minded people as well as making make your day of windsurfing about more than just turning up, hitting the water and leaving.
So I say get to know those guys you have a few words with in passing every now and again. You never know you could make life long friendships. Next other people may see you having all this fun and decide to take up the sport too, and slowly it grows. That growth supports more shops, so you might now be able to get that job in the sport you love. The extra shops sell more gear supporting larger wholesale operations, with lower costs. That increase in people could actually reduce the cost of the sport, or at the very least increase the availability of gear. It also increases the profile of windsurfing, making it viable for sponsors to inject money into staging events in Australia. Can you see a snowball effect happening here?
Now these are just my thoughts, while sitting in my office avoiding work for the day, you can take them or leave them the choice is yours. But do take away that we all have an opportunity to grow our sport if we want to see the benefits that more people windsurfing might bring. And most of all have fun and try to share that fun where you can.
Jamie Miller (AUS301)