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a few observatons, questions and rants
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outhaul



Joined: 27 Sep 2011
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: a few observatons, questions and rants Reply with quote

Just wondering what your take is on the current state of windsurfing.

Anyone perceive an uptick in interest or participation? How about kiteboarding, still climbing (pun not intended) or leveling off? I don't necessarily believe one is tied to the other, where ones loss is the others gain, but I sense a slight plateau occurring in kiteboarding. For example, Real Kiteboarding is now called Real Watersports, does this suggest a diversification to other water sports such as SUP and surfing as an additional means of growing the business or is kiting simply a smaller piece of their pie now?
Again, my sample size is quite small but that's what I'm sensing.

Like most of you I don't care if windsurfing is popular or in style. Actually let me rephrase that, I do care but only in terms of fostering continued research and development of equipment and its availability and pricing. Which leads me to the the Cobra factory. I hate the fact that most boards are produced in one factory and the cloud of secrecy that surrounds it. Has anyone been inside the factory, or know of anyone who actually has been allowed inside? I've been told by one of the biggest US windsurfing shops that they were not allowed in despite being in the neighborhood.
If one gets a bad board is it the brand or just a bad day at Cobra? Is it the same workers simply rotating from one brand to the next? I just can't imagine an "Exocet wing" for example, where only Exocets are made. How can we effectively judge quality before purchasing? This is especially on my mind because of some of the issues surrounding the Exocet WindSup. Great board but more than a few of us have had problems. I was well taken care of by Steve at Sandy Point, the US distributor for Exocet, when my board started cracking after only a couple of outings. Again, is it the brand, or is it just a shortcoming in technique by Cobra workers while producing that particular board for that brand on that day?
I'm starting to really appreciate Bic boards for this very reason. Their WS boards and many SUPs are made at their factory in France, by their workers. They use advanced molding processes that are very consistent from one board to the next, I like that too. I realize most Bic boards are geared towards beginners and intermediates but the the industry needs more boards like this, boards that have great consistency and great value and boards where we can identify the maker, for good or bad.
Ezzy Sails is another great example, they own their own manufacturing plant and have complete control over the entire process. The consumer knows what we're getting and where it comes from. Maybe I'm old school but that's comforting to me, and by the way, their quality is second to none.
The industry as a whole needs more of this because it adds credibility as well as quality.

What do you think?
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windward1



Joined: 18 Jun 2000
Posts: 734

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply to Outcast Reply with quote

Hi Outhaul,

I agree with what you said about preferring a supplier having full control of their own manufacturing. And I do think Bic makes good boards at a reasonable price and carries the stigma of being for beginner or intermediates, but I like at least one of their boards. It gets me out when others wait on the beach.

And I think Ezzys are real quality.

I think kiting is plateauing. Same # of kiters out as in the past three years.

I do not see windsurfing growing though. To me it seems to be on the slow downslide. Hardcore groups still around although the age of the members seems to lead to natural reduction. The only young folk I see getting into windsurfing around here is when the AWT comes to town.

Windward1
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 1308
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Gorge, we are seeing a lot more Kite boarders at the Hatchery
(actually at pretty much every site). So the sport appears to be growing,
but when I talk to the shops, they all say purchasing of Kite Board
equipment is shrinking. What we're experiencing on the water is the
bubble of Kite Boarders who purchased at the peak, are finally
becoming proficient enough to try the bigger winds and swells.

I figure we've got a couple more years of increase of Kite boarding
on the water, until the purchase bubble moves by, then a die off
(like windsurfing), then a level off.

We'll see.

Windsurfing has been pretty steady state in the Gorge for the last
5 years in my opinion, and if you come in as a noob, you won't think
the sport is dieing. To a fledgling, it'll seem crowded.


-Craig
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U2U2U2



Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 3090
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plus 1 on Ezzy. HotSails Maui are made in Southern China and quality is dam good.

ref Cobra, I recall several reports on visitors in Cobras plant, their were some areas that were off the tour.

My take is that you cant from them find out what or how much material goes into the boards they make, so they maintain a integrity between the brands. You can always purchase one and cut it up, and espionage
possible.

I would thing that to be efficient the workers would stay on one company, but a large one like Starboard would have many more than just say Tabou.

The materials and placement are going to vary board to board. Having installed fin boxes in 6 different brands most insides in that area are the same , but not all.

There are lots of options outside Cobra, Open Ocean being but one, USA made in the Gorge


The windsurfing VS kiting or alone opinions will probably vary from locale. Windsurfing seems pretty stable to me, while I think kiting is attracting the younger set.
We can try to attract more, but likely as many will go to the dark side as stay

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capetonian



Joined: 11 Aug 2006
Posts: 904
Location: Oahu

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simmer and AHD spring to mind for boards not made in the Cobra factory.
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adywind



Joined: 08 Jan 2012
Posts: 271

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen pictures in an article about RRD which the author claimed depict the interior of the RRD factory in Taiwan. I guess this actually was their wing in the Cobra factory. I'm sure the companies there share a lot more then space alone -for cost saving purposes. Can't blame them - surviving in a tough market requires flexibility.
Yes Ezzy and BIC are great companies. I progressed to short boards on a Core 160 and Infinity 7.5 /still have visible scars on my legs from the boards seams/. But they are not the ONLY good ones, which I quickly discovered and moved to other brands since then.
The state of WS is unique to some extent in my area / Chicagoland /, because of the vibrant European emigrant community we have here. My observations are-that we have slow but steady influx of new WS enthusiast . The bulk being Eastern Europeans /less family and career centric/ and the occasional American guys in their 40s and 50s-divorced or empty nesters usually. The situation in the kite camp is pretty much the same, but curiously enough I met several returning to WS guys.
I want to express my doubts that WS or KS will ever become anything more then niche sports, but look SUPs - they are different story. Hey I saw the Kardashians on SUPs ! If this kind of promotion doesn't work- nothing will ! Very Happy
Wandering what the Next Big Thing out of the "brain labs" on Maui will be?!? I hope it will be something as female friendly as the SUPs. I'd love to see more women involved in water sports.



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U2U2U2



Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 3090
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

capetonian wrote:
Simmer and AHD spring to mind for boards not made in the Cobra factory.


Simmer in their 2nd season, are made in China in the former AB factory.

AB //Mistral in VietNam

AHD in South Africa

Witchcraft in Slovenia, for production, custom in the Canary Island

I don't have an opinion on where they are made so much as I do the quality control and use of materials ....... difficult to determine either until you have a problem

you would conclude that the more boards that were made the better they should be, OTOH the more likely that Worker Z is having a shitty day and will do slipshod workmanship. Its always something

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spennie



Joined: 13 Oct 1995
Posts: 857
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What happens with boards made in a factory such as Cobra is they build the boards to each manufacturer's specs. Masts are the same - you might get two or three brands out of a specific facory, but each brand is made to that particular brand's specifications. I read somewhere that there were only about 4 bicycle frame manufacturing plants in the country, making everybody's frames (excluding customs). If you're having trouble with a Cobra board, it's could be that the brand specified a very lightweight layup, and it's just not strong enough. Could have been built on a Friday, too, or a new guy on the line. Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.

I've owned many Cobra boards, and they've all been very good. Those guys have made zillions of boards, and know what they're doing.

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3-phase



Joined: 26 Jan 2007
Posts: 481

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AHD are made in North Africa to be exact in Tunisia. Swiss Factory Owner and a loyal Tunisian workforce that care about what they do and work since many years in the factory.

The main different in board manufacturing: Asian made stuff uses some materials that you cannot use in Europe / USA for Environmental reasons and we do not use in Tunisia. Workplace safety and conditions in Asia are often way off the Regulations you have in Europe and the USA and we follow in Tunisia.
The boards / performance from most brands are good and geared towards there target group.

Ezzy (competitor) gets my praise to be located in a third world country and NOT exploits them.

Kiteboardig I am sure has seen the peak and Windsurfing is stable with a slight uptick. There are more new people on the beach lately then I have seen in the past 8 years.
Just stop laving at them when they show up on a 20 year old 250 liter board and epoxy mast. With a few encouraging words they are up and running to be livelong Windsurfers.
SUP will help getting more Pips on Windsurf boards, I use since 2 years Nah Skwell SUP to teach Windsurfing until they are ready for Foot straps and when they are “Sunday Cruisers” I teach them on a Sealion XL strapless Windsurfing including planning.
So the SUP wave we can use a bit for getting more interest in our sport.

Aloha
Jurg
www.windsurfdeal.com
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U2U2U2



Joined: 06 Jul 2001
Posts: 3090
Location: Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania. Colorado

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for the NORTH , VS South Africa.

Ezzy from what I have read is the exact opposite of a sweat shop type factory, they assure the workers get a good meal, and treat them with respect and a fair wage. When the tsunami hit them, they asked for donations, the Thank YOU card is framed on my den wall with the workers in uniform with all smiles in front of the building. The one article I read said, David when he visits tried to sweep the floor and they have to take the broom away from him.

this is all off topic ( first time that's ever happened) but in keeping with the general theme.

curious they can use materials then import to the US, while not allowed here

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