Opinion » Alta States

Alta states: A blast from Whistler’s past

Where have all the windsurfers gone?



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A star was born that day. "The moment we got that windsurfer on the water, everyone wanted one," she explains. "Dave Murray bought a board right away. Larry McKee wasn't far behind. Soon the lake was full of them..." Windsurfing ruled Whistler summers for just about a decade. "Those were certainly epic years," sighs Binty Massey. "Back then we thought the sport was going to grow forever..."

But by the late 1980s it was all but over. Too much fascination with the high end and little appreciation for the seasonal weather patterns of most North American consumers (listen up ski and snowboard industry!) doomed the sport long before it could establish itself commercially. Besides, mountain biking was making its first inroads into North American ski towns. And painful as the learning curve was for newcomers, off-road cycling seemed way better suited to its surroundings than its sail-driven counterpart.

Sure, weekend trips to the Gorge - and sunny afternoon sessions at the Squamish Spit - kept the local hardcore sailors satisfied. And Maui continued to be their favoured tropical trip. But the zany lakeside antics of Whistler's early windsurfers were soon relegated to the memory box.

And how sad is that? Maybe the windsurfers will come back to Alta Lake one day. Maybe a whole new group of kids will discover the joys of the new gear and realize they can be self-propelled in their own back yard on just about any day of the summer. I mean, it's a lot cleaner than getting dragged behind a smelly outboard. Isn't it? One can only dream...