Developed in California in the late 1960’s, the first European demonstration of a windsurfer/sailboard is believed to have been at the 1972 yachting Olympics event in Kiel. This windsurfer dates from 1973 and is believed to be probably the first to be imported into the UK. Manufactured by the Dutch company Ten Cate it was one of four brought to the UK for a comparative test of fifteen “off-the-beach” designs of small sailing boats arranged by Yachting World magazine. At the end of the test the Dutch team that had transported and demonstrated them – none of the British participants were able to learn to master the technique in the time and conditions available – did not want to take them back and so this example fell into the hands of the Assistant Editor at the time of the magazine, who continued to own it till donating it to the Museum in 2015.
It is in exactly the original condition, unlike many early boards which were modified and eventually discarded. In particular it still has the original laminated teak boom, which most owners replaced as soon as possible because they were so heavy and hard on the hands.
Whilst bearing the name Ten Cate it is uncertain whether the polypropylene board was manufactured by the Dutch company itself or its sub-contractor Rubbermaid. The epoxy mast was probably imported from the US company Skypole, a manufacturer of pole vaulting poles. The sails are by Ten Cate, whose original business was in textiles.
Despite the inability of the original British participants of the test to master the technique of sailing this board that did not prevent windsurfers/sailboards from going on to enjoy great popularity around the world. Of the 14 other designs in the 1973 test only the Mirror and Topper continue to be seen in any numbers today.