My generation – vintage to modern windsurfing

Words and pics: Russell Groves

Sticking to tried and tested is understandable. The comfort blanket of familiarity; the welcome feeling of snug but tatty slippers; those old but worn jeans that you simply refuse to bin, and so on. If something’s not broke then why fix it? Such is the situation with Malcolm Crocker. Sticking with the same windsurfing set up for over 30 years Malcolm has been enjoying his light wind windsurfing sessions without issue. But that all changed when Russell Groves introduced him to a more performance orientated set up. Over to Russell for the story.

In 1979/80 the Jet GTS was classed as a high performance board for beginners. For 2017 Fanatic have introduced the Gecko 156+L with dagger board, so again introducing a high performance beginner board. In some ways both set of kit are similar – designed for light winds, making the most of conditions with perhaps giving a route into planning windsurfing for those inclined.

But why am I showing these two boards?

It is not often you find an old set up in fully working order with all the original parts in tact – mint in fact. Malcolm Crocker is 81 years old and sails every light wind day he can. I keep an eye on him and make sure he’s not getting into any mischief. He owns such a set up and I was intrigued to see it in use.

One day he said, ‘come and have a look at the first board I bought.’ I thought he meant me to have a look at photos. But no, he was proud to bring a slice of pure windsurfing history out of his storage unit. He had found all the parts over the years and I was amazed. This was a relic, for sure, but a completely amazing one. It was so shiny it was almost new! And Malcolm is often out sailing his beloved Jet GTS.

Recently our centre – Las Cucharas Windsurfing – received the new 2017 Fanatic Gecko 156L with dagger board. I thought Malcolm must have a go on it and compare to his older gear. So I did a photo shoot of him using his first board before swapping to the Gecko and his first try on the shortest board he has ever sailed.

In the summer holidays Malcolm and the children will be on the water in their Mirror Dinghy or waterskiing. In 1979 they took their boats over to France and saw the Jet windsurfer for the first time. In February 1980 Malcolm had one of his own and bought it back home. Never thinking to sell it or replace, and certainly not mistreating, is why Malcolm still has this gear and uses it.

Malcolm is now wondering how long the kit will last? He says: ‘The sail feels a bit old and the stitching in the mast sleeve is beginning to break.’ I gave it a once over to make sure everything was in good working order. Having satisfied myself it was fine I told Malcolm that as long as he keeps it out of the shore break then it will last for years. It may be old technology but this gear was built to last and lasted it has!

Malcolm only uses the Jet GTS for light winds. For the majority of summer this isn’t a long period of time (due to it being so windy in Lanazarote). But outside of high season there are plenty of light wind days for him to simply enjoy cruising.

I think, however, the Gecko 156+L is going to be his new toy to play on when it is not too wavy. Being wider that the Jet GTS means it’s more prone to bucking when there’s any swell about. So as far as a quiver goes these two pieces of kit, while world’s apart in terms of their design and era, are perfect for the type of sailing he does. So many people miss the sheer pleasure of cruising, when actually it can be extremely fulfilling. And for anyone of an older generation this type of windsurfing can keep you in touch with the sport you know and love. By the time you read this Malcolm will be 82 years old. Like his first board, I hope he has many more happy years of fun on the water – whatever kit he decides to ride.

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  1. My generation – vintage to modern windsurfing, the return (by popular demand) – Windsurfing UK Magazine

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