Back on course to windsurfing
Mistral’s association with the iconic sport of windsurfing, a water sport which grew at a truly phenomenal rate during the 80s and 90s, remains a legacy and heritage that will simply not go away.
The reasons for Mistral’s temporary departure from the scene are complex, however the simple truth of the matter is, Mistral can never escape from this reputation and we have never lost our love for windsurfing.
The time now is right to re-enter the sport, a time when there is overwhelming evidence to support a surge in interest and development of the grass roots elements of the sport from where it began. The best example is that of Windsurfer® which has reinvented itself and making a comeback and in addition, a resurgence of requests to schools to begin teaching once again. WindSUP® (hardboards, inflatables, rigs) a name we registered and embraced, has played its part in helping to reignite interest in the sport and a concept we fully embrace and nurture
The question then becomes, where should Mistral begin a re-entry into the market. After some two years of consideration and research, it was concluded we needed to avoid re-entering the market where it all went wrong, in this case, at the extreme end. The best place to position ourselves it was concluded, was at the beginning level of entry and secondly, where most sailors like to spend their weekends once advanced; the ‘hook in and hold on’ segment, who like nothing more than to sail fast over choppy waters at their local lake, bay or lagoon and to this end, Freeride boards tick this box nicely.
Counter to this new found love of the past and the simplicity the equipment offered for huge gains and fun for everyone, is the recent and sudden inception of foiling, where it seems that anything that floats must have a foil added. Far from a new concept, Mistral experimented foils in the early 80s. As to whether we should also dive head long into this arena of development, we have had to consider our philosophical position on the matter in hand. Is foiling the way of the future for the majority of participants, for most of the time and does it in fact, attract or repel the average consumer we are looking to attract to the sport?
Foil boarding or sailing in any guise is a niche within a niche, but much more concerning for us is the reality, only elite male athletes are for the most part pushing the need to foil, more often than not, endorsed and promoted by brands looking to take a sport to another level of extremity, thereby creating what is termed, a ‘disruptive’ or ‘creative’ destruction, yet few luminaries will stand up and say so, on account of them being deemed to be unsupportive of a waterman mentality.
Evolutionary economists have long appreciated the conception of disruptive innovation, or ‘creative destruction’ where the costs of innovation for technological advancement, are born out of venture capitalists and those with the skills to make it a reality.
From this early phase, ‘overshooting’ then becomes a secondary phase, in which the costs come back on those who benefit from the earlier phases of innovation (the customers) by overshooting the point at which they would have ideally liked the technological advancement and competition to cease. The reason it tends not to stop, is due to the same evolutionary logic of ‘competitive innovation’ that created the sport and the early phases of development in the first place; one brand trying to out do the other.
Overshooting is inevitable and no individual user or firm, rarely has the foresight to put the brakes on the limits to which innovation and technology should advance, ultimately causing the sport to become out of reach of even the most average rider, income or even aspiration. Mistral has no wish to be part of such overshooting or disruptive innovation at a time when growth must be nurtured at the bottom end as against meeting the wants of a few.
Once we knew our aims and objective, we set about the design process to create two recreational, entry level boards complete with retracting daggerboard and importantly, no foot-straps to make the statement, simplicity is the key to these boards. These shall be revealed shortly and we’re very excited to have them in our family of boards, complete with matching sails.
But what of Freeride boards and sails and rigs to match? There comes a point where attempts to reinvent the wheel cease to be viable or logical and so we reached out to a brand we recognised a synergy with, that of Simmer Style, whose history dates back to the very foundation of hi-performance windsurfing on Maui in the beginning of the 80’s, created by iconic sailors of the 80s, Malte and Klaus Simmer.
Now led by Chief Designer, Tomas Persson, discussions were had to enter into an arrangement to select a number of their designs to adapt into Mistral equipment and that process has not only began, but soon to be a full blown reality, a reality we’re very excited to be able to share with you in more detail shortly.
“The winds of change are blowing us back on course to windsurfing”