Chapter: Robby Naish
Robby Naish: What has fuelled him to excellence?
Our conversations with Robby explore his journey with his family’s business, Mistral and the modern Naish brand as one of the only surviving companies from the 1970s. His down-to-earth honesty is revealed in talking about life, his preference to sail alone, his World Cup years and the evolution of board sports.
Chapter: Peter Brockhaus
Peter Brockhaus: An alternative early European windsurfing story
Peter reveals the challenging circumstances he faced as an entrepreneur growing the sport in Europe. Though he conceived Mistral (1976), within three years, he was out, establishing F2 (1980). He explains developing a teaching system (1973), patent issues and philosophical disagreements with his business partners (1979), revealing a rich untold story with many twists and turns.
Chapter: Larry Stanley
Larry Stanley: The right man, in the right place, at the right time.
Vietnam veteran Larry, while recovering in Hawaii, meets Mike Horgan, another ‘Vet’ and, from this meeting, an apocalyptic outpouring of ideas would manifest in the creative process of developing product to harness the wind to surf and jump waves for that ultimate free ride and with it the birth of Windsurfing Hawaii.
Chapter: Ulli Seer
Ulli Seer: How do photos influence perceptions of windsurfing?
Ulli’s creativity behind the camera led him to become Mistral’s one-person marketing team as a professional photographer/designer. From Bavarian lake sailing to his role in creating a distinctive windsurfing beach vibe is a fascinating story of following his heart. His vibrant images tell a story of international travel, adventures and collaborations with Peter Brockhaus and the Naish family, amongst many others.
Chapter: Ernstfried Prade
Ernstfried Prade: His drawing board influence
Ernstfried initially worked with Brockhaus on his German Windsurfing Magazine (1974). His story progresses from his early successes in racing to the drawing board for Mistral and how he became the longest-surviving contributor to the brand, creating technical features and product designs culminating in a variety of patents spanning from 1982 to 2020.
Christian-Müller-Kittnau: The hidden story of Mistral sportswear
Outside of Germany, Christian’s name and background is little known. His account of sportswear development at Mistral (1976), alongside Brockhaus and Prade, is palpable. Unlike other early brands, a holistic sportswear line complimented the Mistral brand and equipment from the very beginning. Where did this come from, how was it implemented, and what was its impact?
Chapter: Teddy Keifer
Teddy Keifer: The World Cup dream team (1981- 86)
Central to building a brand image, how do you manage an all-conquering professional World Cup Team with names such as Naish, Cabrinha, Boyer, Messmer, Lefevre and other greats? Teddy describes his organising role amid a chaotic schedule. What were the logistical challenges of responding to super-charged racers, board designers, the press, a hungry marketing department and international travel?
chapter: Yola Bichler’s
Yola Bichler’s Club Mistral journey (1985-2014)
Yola Bichler’s Club Mistral journey (1985-2014)
Yola’s journey in creating, shaping and selling holiday destinations tells a story of a costly marketing exercise gone wrong, leading her to managing and eventually purchasing the holiday brand. How did she evolve into this role, and what did she learn about Mistral’s brand’s managers, windsurfing, kiteboarding, SUP and the participants?
Chapter Pan Am
From Pan Am to the Olympic board
The story of the well-known 1982 Pan Am longboard and its development that led to a Mistral prestige product. The early challenges of longboard equipment used at the Olympics (1984-92) are also explored, the story coming full circle with the Pan Am board influence on a later Mistral One-Design, selected as the 1996 Olympic board.
Chapter: Charly Messmer
Charly Messmer: Mistral team rider (1977-85)
Charly’s perspectives are philosophical and enlightening, from a chemistry student in Switzerland to being one of the sport’s first sponsored riders and later a snowboarding expert. From success in the Open Class with the Mistral M1 to World Windsurfer® Class Championships and the professional World Cup, he experienced it all.
Chapter: Core cultural shifts
Core cultural shifts in windsurfing (1973-83)
The evolution towards high wind sailing soon became conflated with ‘fun’, and the ‘funboard’ term emerged, eventually leading to the Peter Brockhaus-organised Euro Funboard Cup. A range of changes spread beyond Hawaii’s beaches to allow the sport to develop further, and whilst these happened, they did so with some aggravation and cultural shifts.
Chaper: Hansi Fichtner
Hansi Fichtner: a shaper’s influence
Hansi’s story is one of a long line of unsung heroes. He collaborated with Ernstfried Prade and Charlie Messmer, F2 and Michael Pucher (World Speed Record holder) by quietly and methodically designing and shaping boards and sharing his knowledge. He was held in high esteem and sadly taken from us in a car accident; his untold story is particularly poignant.
Chapter: Peter Chilvers
Peter Chilvers shatters the patent (1982)
Peter’s background was as an engineer for Lotus Cars in England. The finer details of his story in creating ‘prior art’ of the windsurfing concept are not widely known, yet it was the first brick to fall in a crumbling wall, making it a significant event. We explore his background, what happened and how.
Chapter: the new frontier
The USA: the new frontier (1987)
The USA, in 1987, was a new frontier for board sales following the patent expiring in January of that year. The market had just peaked in Europe, and there was a fear that North America and Canada would be swamped with European imports. What were people thinking and saying at the time?
Chapter: Rapid evolution
Rapid evolution: windsurfing’s evolution bites back
Windsurfing’s progress was mainly about a design, production and technology’ arms race’ towards faster, lighter, stiffer and stronger performance equipment. But when a sport experiences a rapid evolution, how does this impact end-users, the buying public? The story is told with a twist, including interviews with people on English beaches and in Australian businesses about experiencing rapid evolution.
Chapter: The chocolate
The chocolate and more years (1997-2008)
From 1997 to 2009, the goings-on in the windsurfing sector was almost a work of fiction. Soon three premium windsurfing brands, Mistral, F2 and Fanatic, would come under one ownership in a declining market. Mistral was sold twice first to Jacobs Suchard the major Swiss coffee/chocolate company, and at the end of this period, it and another brand were in a hole. It is a bumpy story.
Chapter: Olympics opportunity
Olympics opportunity (2000-2024)
The story of Olympic windsurfing equipment choices in recent decades is contentious. Should the sport present itself as a top-level TV-friendly event or make it accessible to as many nations as possible through cheaper, easier-to-use equipment? It is a complex puzzle that athletes, manufacturers and governing bodies tried to solve.
Chapter: Mistral’s return
Mistral’s return to the water (2009-2022)
The untold story of Mistral’s journey from 2009 is one about how to rejuvenate and diversify a once-strong brand. Ado Huisman took ownership at a terrible low point for sales and morale, and the path back was a rocky road to recovery. Mistral would take in licensing and new SUP opportunities for growth.
Hooked! The past informing the present
All those interviewed for this book muttered, ‘I was hooked’. This concluding story considers how they were hooked, revealing where we believe the soul of the sport is now. It includes an exploration of the sport’s commercial future, digital experiences, and its influence on people and other water sports.