Mistral International, Industrieweg 4a, 7641 at Wierden, The Netherlands

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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”

14th June 2018

Our range of Squab and Cloud boards

​SUP surfing is a niche interest area of our sport and only just recently it seems, SUP surfers are ‘discovering’ our range of Squab and Cloud boards and even our Levuka. Take this recent review where our Squab 7’10 was matched against JP and Starboard boards of similar spec where our Squab came out on top as the pick of the bunch. Aimed at the entry to upper level intermediate rider, our SUP surf boards are classic shapes, with a custom feel that should tick the boxes for most everyone. Seriously cool graphics, quality hand layups and all machine and hand shaped they include Futures fin boxes. There’s everything to like about these boards which defy their production status. Created by Chris Diplock and Steve West, the boards are ‘classic’ designs which will remain in the Mistral line up for some years to come.

Teamrider Surf Sport Castricum.
Stand up paddle addict and shop Owner of Surf Shop Castricum, Robert, travelled with his team buddy Jeroen to Plage Goulien-Crozon in French Britanny to test the new Mistral Squab against a couple of comparable sized boards. We are both big fellas (93+94kg) so opted for 115-129l compact boards. At Plage Goulien, we scored a variety of conditions from shoulder-high light offshore waves, to 3m peeling with a decent side shore breeze. Goulien isn’t a barreling wave, but it’s got plenty of speed and we scored long rides.

Mistral Squab

  • Volume – 129L
  • Length – 7’10”
  • Width – 30.3”
  • Thickness – 4.3”

The new Squab doesn’t look and feel at all like a production board. The rather square and wide tailed Squab has a custom board feel and build, in light weight glass-vector and epoxy resin paint construction, reinforced with a carbon tape stringer on bottom and deck. No paint or filler, makes this stylish baby, pure eye candy and looking very custom like!

On the deck the Squab has just a kick pad, so you can add a big pad on it yourself, or wax it for the ultimate surf feeling, or if you like, lightweight without the mess, add RSPro Hexatraction, which is what we opted for.

If you flip the board, you see 5 nice Futures boxes and a high quality quad set. The board has an intermediate rocker with a light mono-concave running in a channel with some serious tail kick.

On the water
We really didn’t know what to expect with the Squab. A wide and rather square board, but also lots of rocker, but the proof is in the pudding! The Squab paddles out very easy. The wide tail adds a lot of stability and the 7.9kg makes the board move easily through the water. Although there is no pad the board feels very composed, probably due the construction.

On a wave the big surprise started. The Squab takes off very quick, quicker than most boards we tried and when moving down the line you have a nice controlled feel, especially with the back foot on the tail pad the Squab turns on a dime.

Robert who is a true goofy footed back foot quad lover, was ripping like I have never seen him doing before. Nice bottom turns, showing some fins in-between and sliding top-turns with some serious spray in 2-3m waves.

After seeing Robert ripping, I wanted to try it as well. Like Robert, great acceleration and back-footed, Wow! Not the fastest board we tried when chasing down the line, but the loosest and most playful board we tried in normal conditions, especially when the wave wasnt that spectacular, the Squab has ample of drive and shows it’s true strength. A perfect board that makes you feel like ‘Kelly’ in the not so perfect conditions.

When pulling into some steeper, faster sections that needed to surf more over the front foot, it started to slip and slide a bit in the top turn. A tri-fin set-up might help there as well, by keeping everything under control; but for such waves, there are different boards.

We are were both very impressed by the Squab, specially for the smaller, softer waves and back footed riders the Squab opens up a whole new ‘turny’ dimension.

  • Custom board appeal and graphics
  • 5 fin Futures boxes
  • Takes off very quick (quicker than most boards)
  • Nice controlled feeling
  • Turns very quickly (on a dime)
  • Rips
  • Nice bottom turns
  • Very playful board even when waves aren’t great
  • Plenty of drive
  • Experiment with fin set up.

Author: Jeroen van Gessel, Teamrider Surf Sport Castricum.

7th June 2018

Mistral Creative Juices

No matter how long you’ve spent on the water, on a wide and varied number of water craft, in as many water and weather conditions, when it comes to the design process, working in a small team with like minded individuals, helps to validate your intuitive ideas and take them forward with greater confidence. Our Mistral Design and Creative Team, Chris ‘Bro’ Diplock and Steve West, have between them, over 60 years of design knowledge, ranging from surfboard, windsurfing, prone paddleboards, outrigger canoes, paddle and sail design and more recently Mistral hardboards coinciding with the sports arrival onto the scene.

Good design is a complicated process, which requires an initial brief or idea as to what the board will be intended for, so as it can perform successfully within those parameters. From conception, to making the 3D files, to computer cutting the foam blank, hand shaping the final details and laminating, it’s an anxious time as you work towards that first sample test board and the on water sessions which follow. Feedback from team riders, provides the primary bases for adjustment or not, with some testing often carried out by West in order to ‘feel’ if the overall end-goal in performance is being met and that riders can indeed get out of the board what they put in. While designs can indeed be fine tuned over time, the catalyst for this, can also sometimes be due to improved abilities of the riders, as a sport matures, but equally at Mistral, we strive to create, ‘Classic’ boards, as an acknowledgement end-users prefer constants, rather than continual change.

‘Bro’ hails from Cornwall, Britain’s bastion of surfing and is something of a UK legend in his field, whilst West, has lived a varied waterman’s life in Africa, Mauritius, Australia, the UK and all parts of the Pacific and its islands. Competitive successes, combined with work within paddle sports in particular, is documented through his books and used as reference sources at the Universities of Hawaii and the University of the South Pacific. Together, they have created such record making boards such as the Slipstream, Vortex , Equinox 14‘ boards and more recently the new Vanquish 14‘, not to overlook the popular Levuka, Fiji and Levu boards and all of our other Mistral hardboards.

14th May 2018

Teihotaata 3rd Air France

Up against the best names in the world Steeve Teihotaata pulled out an incredible 3rd place at the Air France Paddle Festival, the opening leg of the Paddle League Championship. It was a truly titanic battle with many big names struggling up against many new emerging paddlers and a race truly worthy of full international world class status. Sitting with the pack leaders in 6th and 7th for much of the first 35 minutes, turning out through the reef for the run home, it seemed that Steevie was off the pace. Picking a good line and selecting good bumps on his Equinox 14′ x 24″, he made great ground and was in 4th place fighting it out with Titouan Puyo in the home stretch to overtake using the great qualities of the board and his skills to make the podium in 3rd place. Congratulations to 1st and 2nd place getters. To Steevie – we salute and recognise a magnificent, heroic effort!

17th April 2018