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Posted by on Mar 3, 2011 in Windsurfing News |

The History Of Windsurfing

With the revival of windsurfing over the last few years, lets take a look back to where it all began.

In 1968, Jim Drake, an aeronautical engineer and Hoyle Schweitzer, a surfer, filed the very first windsurfing patent, which was granted by the USPTO in 1970. Later, Drake accepts in retrospect that although he can be credited with invention, he was “probably no better than third,” behind Englishman Peter Chilvers and mid-west based Newman Darby, who both had similar inventions.

Drake & Hoyle manufactured the first windsurf boards in their garage, out of foam and hand crafted parts in teak. The first international shipment of a container of boards went to Sweden and early customers also included Lufthansa pilots who had read about the board, picking one up on their return journey from Los Angeles International Airport & including them as hand luggage! (try getting away with that nowadays!!).

To keep the quality of the product and to handle marketing, in 1968 Hoyle and Diana Schweitzer founded the company Windsurfing International in Southern California to manufacture, promote and license a windsurfer design. The company registered the term “windsurfer” as a trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1973, launching the craft as a one-design class.

Having gained licensing from Schweitzer In 1979, Tabur Marine (now BIC Sports) lawyers found prior art, in a local English newspaper which had published a story with a picture about Peter Chilvers, who as a young boy on Hayling Island on the south coast of England, assembled his first board combined with a sail, in 1958. This Board used a universal joint,one of key parts of the Windsurfing International patent. They also found stories published about the 1964 invention of the Darby Sailboard by Newman Darby in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

After fighting and losing patent court cases in the UK & Canada, Schweitzer had to reapply for a patent under severely limited terms, and finally it expired in 1987. Shortly thereafter, having lost its license royalty income, Windsurfing International ceased operations.

Windsurfing equipment has been progressing in development throughout the 80’s, 90’s and now within the last 10 years the advancements in windsurfing technology & growing understanding of how to maximise what can be done on a windsurf board has really pushed the sport forward into the world of extreme sports!

Waves that were thought un-ridable are now ridable, a whole new discipline of high speed, planing windsurfing freestyle has been created & learning the sport is much, much more accessible to all.

Happy Windsurfing!

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