The NSWWA was fortunate enough to have seven juniors competing in the season just gone, including four new juniors (myself included). Now this may seem great on the exterior, but when you compare these numbers to 18 in the masters, it is quite apparent that the number of young people coming into the sport has declined significantly from previous generations.
It is unspeakably important to target younger people when trying to expand a sport, in this case windsurfing.
Young people have a large influence over social trends (including of other demographics) and their friends. If windsurfing is seen as ‘cool’ and ‘popular’ in the eyes of young people, it’s numbers would increase rapidly. In terms of the public perception of the sport, as mentioned before what young people do creates an image of what is ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’. An example of this would be that upcoming waterman Kai Lenny has around 14 thousand likes on facebook opposed to the six thousand likes the much more established Jason Polakow has.
Also the challenge of improving their wavesailing will keep young people in the sport if they have people their age to sail with. Furthermore, competitors in the juniors category have potential to improve and show better performances in the future in contrast to the (no offence intended!) masters who are starting to take a little longer to recover from wipeouts and day long sailing sessions!
There are great obstacles newcomers must face when getting into this great sports, so it is up to those already in the sport to get juniors they know, namely their children, friends or siblings, into the sport..
All of the juniors currently in the association have a parent who windsurfs. This indicates that the only young people getting into the sport are those who have the privilege of being taught by a parent.
Due to the equipment requirements of windsurfing, (cost and transport) Most young people require the assistance of others who can provide them with the financial means to purchase their gear and take them and their gear to sailing locations.
So let’s share this great sport with the next generation and allow them to experience the excitement and enjoyment we have gotten to experience.
Spots for juniors to learn before hitting the waves (in South of Sydney)
- Darook Park – A great spot in SE to SW winds, with a shallow depth across the whole spot. Can sometimes be sailed in Ne and westerly winds. On occasions there can be waves next to this area known as the bay surf which offers, fatter softer waves for wavesailing newbies.
- Kyeemagh – Ideal in NE winds, but sailable in easterly, SE and even southerly winds. The spot is perfect for developing windsurfers, offering a protected, shallow area in close, but also higher wind area further for windsurfers who have developed some more advanced skills
Hope to see you on the water.