Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Death of Windsurfing (Magazine)

This is old news now, but apparently Windsurfing Magazine has published it's last issue, ever. There is a long discussion about this sad ending in the iwindsurf forum. For my part, I'm bummed. I had enjoyed reading and learning from the mag since getting seriously hooked on the sport in 2003. It was more or less the only thing I looked forward to finding in my mailbox. I especially liked the magazine's technical advice and gear tests. I was such a glutton for windsurfing info that I actually read through a two-foot-high stack of back-issues just to see what I'd missed before I started subscribing! One can still find plenty of windsurfing information and entertainment on the Internet, but it's widely scattered among blogs, manufacturers' websites, and opinion forums, and it's just not the same as what you'd get in the magazine.

"Eh, sonny, I remember back when windsurfing had a magazine, made out of PAPER, back when we still had TREES! cough cough..."

Besides the loss of the magazine itself being a bummer, there's a concern that the event might be associated in some way with a serious decline in the sport of windsurfing. It's well known that windsurfing went through an enormous drop in popularity after it's 1980's heyday, but the general wisdom is that the number of windsurfers has since stabilized at a lower level. We can't blame kiteboarding, either, because the big corporate parent of Windsurfing Magazine just cancelled Kiteboarding Magazine, as well. The best explanation I've heard so far is that magazine readership in general is down, so the big publishers are getting rid of all their small market mags to economize. Dang. A decline in windsurfing might not have caused the loss of the mag, but worryingly, the reverse might happen now that there's not a regular magazine keeping coffee tables warm and sailors stoked. More than ever our sport is going to depend on grass-roots community kind of stuff to keep it alive. Here's what I'm going to do:

1. Keep a steadily unsteady flow of windsurfing-related material coming out at James' Blog.
2. Start subscribing to the "other" North American windsurfing magazine: Canada's "Windsport"
3. Appreciate the tiny "New England Windsurfing Journal" a lot more
4. Ask and answer windsurfing questions on the iwindsurf forums
5. Teach at least one new person to windsurf this year
6. Let folks know that even though windsurfing isn't as popular as it was in the 1980s, it's just as addictively fun as it's ever been.

What are you going to do?