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windsurfing


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A water-based activity practised in coastal settings and on lakes, in which the individual stands on and sails a board fitted with a sail and a mast. Initially known also as board sailing or sailboarding, the sport emerged in the late 1960s in the USA, its popularity then spreading to Britain and Europe (in particular, France and Germany) in the 1970s. The sport's emergence and growth was linked to the counter-cultures of those decades, and it has been said to have ‘evolved in opposition to dominant sporting cultures, and in particular the institutionalisation of sport in late modernity’ (Belinda Wheaton, Understanding Lifestyle Sports: Consumption, Identity and Difference, 2004). Its oppositional features have also included a reduction of the concern with rules, and the cultivation of an ethos of participation. Nevertheless, the institutionalization of the sport has included the establishing of a global regulatory body, the recognition of official World Championships, and acceptance into the (men's) yachting category of the Olympics at the 1984 Los Angeles Games under the older name of ‘boardsailing’ and using a longer board than that used by most participants. Wheaton has noted a persisting tension between the Olympic discipline and the more expressive variant of the sport: ‘the pinnacle of sporting success tends to be associated with the wave acrobatics, slalom racing, and freestyle tricks promoted and administered by the Professional World Windsurfing Association’.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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