Interview: Windsurfing UK
Pics: Andy Stallman, Bill Hillier, Pete Davis, Tancy Douglas and Duncan Adam
Duncan Adam is a familiar face to many. A long time windsurfer, who started his career back at the in the 80s, Duncan has been around a bit, seen plenty and has some good insight. Continuing our grass roots level windsurfing character spotlight we caught up with Dunc for a natter.
Where and when did you decide to put a boom in your hands and become a windsurfer?
It was early September 1986 and I had been learning jet skiing at Cotswold Water Park but it was proving expensive. Across the road was a small windsurf lake, so decided to give that a try. The minute I started, I felt I had to get better, so persevered through that winter with hire kit until I could buy some of my own by the summer of 1987.
Did you think it looked cool from the off or was it a slow burn relationship?
I probably thought I looked cool and one day would be as good as Robby Naish – doesn’t hurt to dream.
How long before you considered yourself fully fledged and bug bitten?
Probably by the summer of 1987, where I was already thinking ahead to when I could get a smaller board.
Was there any specific part of the sport which appealed the most? If so, what and why?
While windsurfing the mind switches off from other things in your life. Which is great to be able to do (from time to time).
Tell us about your local windsurfing haunt. Where is it and was does it offer sailors? What conditions are windies to expect?
I live in Wiltshire so my nearest ‘local’ spot is Weston-super-Mare. You park on a sandy beach and have a slot of 2-2 ½ hours before and after high tide to sail in. If you tell the ticket man you’re a windsurfer you only pay a pound for the day. Conditions are wind driven waves, so if it’s been blowing all night the swell can get quite big. Waves can appear from out of nowhere in front of you. Due to the silt in the Seven the water always appears brown but this doesn’t take away from the sailing. Generally port tack jumping and backside wave riding and it can be really fun.
Where’s your fave UK spot to sail and why do you love it so much?
I’m more a flat water sailor and love blasting in Portland Harbour at Weymouth. Generally you can sail in any wind direction, though northerlies are a bit gusty. There is the ferry bridge car park or the sailing academy car park that you can use, depending on which end suits the wind direction. The academy has the advantage of showers, toilets, restaurant and the Official Test Centre, so everything covered. The windsurfing is safe and if you got into difficulty there are enough people around (usually) to help you. As Portland is quite exposed it always seems to get that extra knot of wind over other locations, which helps on light wind days.
I would have to say Tenerife and El Medano – consistently windy and with hire centres letting you chop and change gear it makes everything much more efficient and enjoyable.
Got any travel plans during the next few months? Any particular location you yearning to hit?
No plans at this moment but would like to try Prasonisi, Rhodes, at some point. It’s combo of flat water and wave conditions look great.
How often do you get out these days? Are you on it every chance you can get or as and when?
At the moment I am getting out as much as I can and mixing up between flat water and wave/bump & jump sessions. I fear work will soon be getting in the way.
Tell us about your current set up. What are you packing in your quiver and why did you choose this gear?
A big list! Starting with waves: Witchcraft Chakra 105 and Shaman 96, with high wind Fanatic Tri Wave 81 to accompany. The Shaman is my main go to ride with a bit more carveability on the wave than a freestyle wave board. The Chakra is my light wind board, when it’s more bump and jump. My Tri Wave came up at a good second hand price and I needed a board for full on conditions with 4.2m/3.7m sails – this is it.
Sails wise I have a Hot Sails Maui KS3 6.1m, then Superfreaks in 5.8m, 5.3m, 4.7m & 4.2m sizes, followed by an Ezzy Panther 3.7m. My style of sailing prefers the gradual power that the Superfreaks provide with the short middle battens. I don’t mind the strong forward pull of the KS3 in light winds though.
On the slalom/speed front my boards start with a Starboard Futura 131, Fanatic Falcon 100, Exocet Warp 80, Starboard Speed 49 (65ltrs) and Fanatic Speed 44 (54ltrs). The main board I use is the Futura which covers 9.3m to 6.4m conditions, with various fin changes. I did not want a full on slalom machine for my big board as I didn’t think I would get the most out of it. The Futura is a bit more comfortable to sail flat out than a slalom. My Falcon 100 is a full slalom though and needs to be driven hard to make it work. But it’s enjoyable to sail. The Exocet 80 came along at the right time and price and doubles as a light wind speed board. Both speed boards are for West Kirby and The Ray days and need to be well powered up. I have yet to use the Speed 44, as the right forecast hasn’t coincided with me being available.
Sails start with a custom Demon C4 Slalom 9.3m for light wind, Gaastra Phantom’s in 8.5m, 7.8m & 7.1m, then Tushingham X15’s in 6.4m, 5.8m, 5.2m & 4.6m. The 9.3m is for force 3 touching force 4 wind – once you pump the board onto the plane it stays there. My GA Phantom sails give enough power with two cams and are easier to handle than full on slalom sails. The X15’s may not be as powerful but are nice in the hands and stronger winds.
Just to top it off I have two SUP’s: a Fanatic Fly Air Race 12’6” and Fly Air 9’8”. As you can see I have most bases covered (not half! – ed).
What’s your all time piece of windsurfing equipment and why was it so good?
Looking back a few years I had a Mistral Screamer 268 which did it all from flat water blasting to waves, with a little bump & jump chucked in. I was a bit lighter then and the 93L seemed to be spot on for me. You didn’t need to think too much about it, the board did what you directed it to do.
And your opinion on today’s kit? Is it too expensive, technical or do you feel it’s pretty much right?
There is probably too much range available, so that’s fine if you know what you prefer but harder if you’re still deciding what style of sailing you want to do. Also the prices of new kit are so high that you don’t want to make the wrong purchase, only to trade it later.
For those entering the sport for the first time what do you see as the biggest hurdles?
Not enough visibility of the places to go and learn. Self-teaching generally makes things slower, making some give up before they really get into it. Also some of the rubbish sold on eBay as ‘good for beginners gear’ is complete tat.
Is there anything as regular participants we can do to help beginners with?
Don’t be afraid to offer on the spot advice to someone you can see is doing something wrong -rigging wise or on the water. Most people don’t mind.
Do you think windsurfing is perceived as an elitist sport? If so, what can we do to change this do you think?
I’m not sure. I think people look at windsurfing v kitesurfing and go for the easier learning option, rather than looking at it from a status point of view.
How do you see windsurfing evolving over the next few years? Reckon we’ll have another growth spurt anytime in the future?
I think the advent of foiling boards might add a new element to the sport. I am certainly considering investigating it next year, when there are a few more products available.
Who are your windsurfing heroes and why do they inspire?
There can be only one: Robby Naish! He is still enjoying watersports after all these years and has a positive attitude to life. You can’t ask for more.
Tell us about your local windsurfing crew. Who do you sail with?
If in Portland then John Kennedy, Scotty Stallman, Lea Spencer, Pete Young and Stephen Corp – all going faster than me.
At Weston it’s Pete and Zara Davis, Tim Lawes, Jon Shaw, Mikey Price, Guy Lanning, Bob Jones, Leslie Barton and many more.
At Newton in Wales the usual lot are Kel Clarke, Tim and Kevin Morris, Rod Dickinson, Stephen Tanner and too many others to mention.
Do you practice any other disciplines outside of windsurfing? If so, what and how do these other activities compliment your sailing?
I occasionally get the SUP out and should probably be doing a bit more. The last time was the Battle of the Thames 10 mile race. That was exhausting but in a good way. If I did more my core strength would improve and help with windsurfing endurance.
Bacon or sausage?
Tea or coffee?
Blonde or brunette?
Cats or dogs?
Hot or cold?
Final shouts and thanks.
Thanks to my understanding wife, who lets me indulge time and money in this sport.