We've been wanting to write about this for quite some time: how drone photography changes the way that we and the rest of the world sees windsurfing.
For those of us who have windsurfed for a long time, still photography was the more common method of relaying the windsurfing experience to others. If done by a family member, it usually resulted in a nice seascape with a smudge on the horizon which indicated "windsurfer". Unless you had a friend with a really good telephoto lens, this was really the way the world saw you - that dot on the horizon. Colorful dacron sails at least made us noticeable but then we had to go and ruin that with the advent of the monofilm sail. While monofilm had distinct performance advantages with it's lack of stretch, it made windsurfing about as visually appealing as a Pringle potato chip.
If you were really lucky, you would occasionally get a glimpse of some video or film footage of windsurfing. But, this was precious; so precious that the club spent a considerable amount of money amassing a video library so members could share VHS videotapes. We'd spend windless hours in the Outer Banks watching Peter Hart teaching us how to jibe and Robbie Naish slash waves and jump higher than a helicopter.
Then, Youtube and the GoPro changed so much for us. While the internet spelled the demise of windsurfing print journalism as an industry, it ushered in amateur and professional windsurfing footage by the truckload. You no longer waited for your periodic magazine refresh or the new DVD. A click and you were immersed. We started to be able to share what we felt and saw on the water with the rest of the world. Our friends could begin to understand the feeling of speed, the froth of the wake behind us, the water's shape. This was better, much better. Often footage was limited by the lens available or the inability to change the viewpoint readily. The wide angle lens meant it was hard to grasp a wider sense of what was going on. The fixed mount often resulted in footage of the backside of the sail, someone's feet or some other irrelevant aspect. However, the ability to create our own video footage and share it easily outweighed the shortcomings.
Maybe three or so years ago, drone footage of windsurfing started to appear. While camera drones had already been flying for sometime, it took a while for a drone capable of flying at the speed necessary to keep up with a windsurfer in breezy conditions to become affordable and widely available. In a sense, drones merely mimicked what helicopter based videographers had done in the 80s and 90s but helicopters are expensive and safety and their rotor wash limits how, and perhaps more importantly, who they can shoot. With a drone, we can see us, or people like us, windsurf. What we see is tangible. That really could be us.
While we've posted a number of videos shoot somewhat or wholly with drones before, here's a little collection that we've made that, hopefully, gets you excited about sailing this spring. Enjoy.