windsurfing, also called boardsailing or sailboarding, water sport that employs a board-and-sail device and combines elements of sailing and surfing. The sailboard was first developed in 1964 by boater and surfer S. Newman Darby of Pennsylvania, but it was a similar craft developed during the 1960s by the Californians Jim Drake, a sailor, and Hoyle Schweitzer, a surfer, that ultimately led to the sport's becoming popular in the 1970s. Essentially, a sailboard is much like a surfboard to which a sail has been attached by a universal joint, thus allowing full manual movement of the sail. By standing on the rudderless board and maneuvering the sail the windsurfer harnesses wind and wave to glide along the water's surface. The sport spread rapidly from California, throughout the United States and North America, Europe, and Australia. There is variation in modern sailboards; they now generally range from 8 to 12 ft (2 to 4 m) and weigh between 15 and 40 lbs (7 to 18 kg); some have attained speeds of over 40 knots. Types of modern windsurfing include racing, freestyle, slalom, and wave sailing, with competitions held throughout the world. The sport has been an Olympic event since 1984, and has had separate contests for men and women since 1992. Kitesurfing or kiteboarding is a variation on windsurfing that emerged in Hawaii in the 1990s; in it, a parachutelike airfoil (the “kite”) and a board are used, and aerial maneuvers may be performed. Kitefoiling uses similar equipment with a hydrofoil attached to the underside of the board, allowing the board to glide above the water at a fast speed.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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