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Club Meeting - Windsurfing

By Robin Cooter - Posted on 28 October 2015

BEN McCANN.   When you look at the list of medal winners for windsurfing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will you seen Ben McCann’s name amongst them?  

Ben is 15 and has worked his way up from winning the RYA (Royal Yachting Association – the U.K. administration of almost all water sports) North Region Youth Squad Championship on the Bic Techno board (Yes it is the same firm that makes pens!) to 4th. Brit at the RSX European Championships to, if I remember correctly, the RYA Transition squad on the 4.5 board.  This is the board that is sailed in the Olympics abet with a bigger sail and longer mast.   Ben brought in some of his equipment for us to see.   In this class almost everything is made of Carbon Fibre and if not handled carefully breaks, for example the board goes from protective bag to water to protective bag.  If it lands hard on the beach there is a real risk of it breaking.   As well as this race board he has boards for slalom, waves and a few more which along with masts sails and other kit are, to his mother’s horror, scattered about the house.  (She should think herself lucky that he isn’t rebuilding a motorcycle in the lounge!)

The point that was driven home very clearly was that carbon fibre breaks easily on sailboards and that at his level the equipment is very expensive.   A set of 4 carbon fibre sail battens costs £90 and they regularly break.   He reported that they are now manufacturing “unbreakable” sail battens but early experience is that they do break!

It was a real pleasure to welcome Ben to the club.   He came alone, was easy to talk to over the meal and his first talk to an adult group was relaxed and fluent.   The only downside was his assumption that we all knew the abbreviations for board classes and kit.  

At the end of my first sentence there is a question mark.   Unfortunately it relates to two questions, the first is obviously but the second concerns the fact that after the London Olympics the IOC threw Windsurfing out as an Olympic sport and put in Kite surfing which, after a huge campaign they reinstated after realising that they really didn’t understand the difference between dinghy sailing (they also threw out some Olympic dingy classes), wind surfing and kite surfing!   I might appear a little biased in the last statement!

It really would not surprise me to see Ben’s name on a British Olympic sailing team sheet in 2020 or more likely 2024.