(A tale of windsurfing derring-do I wrote for the HK Standard in 2006. Click here to read entire story with photos at Things Asian.com)
It’s eight AM on the first day of the sixth annual Penghu ProAm windsurfing tournament, the first stop on the 2006-2007 Asian Windsurfing Tour, and the event promises to be a veritable sailing whirlwind. The crème de la crème of the windsurfing world are gathered by the harbor, preparing to do precisely what sixties mystic troubadour Donavan once advised against; to try and catch the wind. The sun is bright, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and the archipelago halfway between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, statistically among the windiest places on the planet, seems custom made for competition windsurfing.
But by the water the faces of the sailors show concern, for one crucial element has failed to appear in expected quantity: wind.
“Last year at this time the winds would’ve blown your tits off, they were forty, maybe fifty knots,” says Dirk Michielsen, a Belgian designer of sports eyewear who’s made his home in central Taiwan for over a decade. “But this year, ach, it’s strange. There’s no wind.”