Windsurfing Squirrel

Newman Darby

Newman Darby

Ever since I was I was boy, I’ve collected ‘interesting’ bits of information. I put that in quotes because by interesting, I mean interesting to me. I can’t speak for anyone else.

I collected them like a squirrel gathers nuts, tasty kernels of facts that I then bury away somewhere because I know they’ll come in handy one day.

But like the squirrel, too often I forget where I’ve buried them, or I remember only half the story, which can be worse.

That’s one of the reasons I keep this blog. If I record things somewhere that has its own search facility then I’ve a better than even chance of finding it again when I need it.

So I’d better demonstrate what I mean by recording an interesting fact. Here goes: on this day in 1958, a twelve-year-old British boy invented the windsurfing board.

His name was Peter Chilvers and during the Easter holiday on Hayling Island in Hampshire he had been experimenting with a sort of water-scooter of his own design.  It was basically a piece of plywood with a sail and a rudimentary tiller that he moved with his foot.

It wasn’t easy to balance on the board and even harder to remain on it when he had movement. But he had a eureka! moment while watching the weathervane on top of the local church.

If he could turn the sail and make his board the arrow that always pointed into the eye of the wind, then he wouldn’t need a rudder. The sport of windsurfing had been born.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any images of Chilvers’ creation and above is the American, Newman Darby, who also thought he had invented the windsurfer. He had, just ten years too late.

The whole business became the subject of patent infringement lawsuit in the 1980s and when the manufacturer, Tabur Marine, used evidence of Chilvers design to successfully defend the case.

Chilvers himself became an engineer for Lotus and founded a sailing and windsurfing centre in London’s East End for underprivileged children.

He is also heading a £40 million bid to build a similar centre on Hayling Island to recognise its part in windsurfing history.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 5th April 2012

    I was saddened when someone I thought knew me quite well said recently, “You spend so much time on that blog, and you don’t get paid!” Which, of course, misses the point completely. I do get paid – in relationships, in therapy I don’t have to pay for and in a place to store my squirrel nuts.

  • Mr Parrot 5th April 2012

    You’re right, of course, Roger. If people only spent time on the web because they got paid, there wouldn’t be much of it other than Amazon, e-Bay and porn!

  • Professor Pudding 6th April 2012

    Did Chilvers also create a range of jams?…And err…is there really porn on the web? If I might be so bold, how do you know?

  • Mr Parrot 6th April 2012

    I think you’re getting confused with Hartley who discovered that jam was an ideal lure while fly-fishing. I thought you’d be more than aware of porn with your cooking skills. it being anutritious substitute for meat.


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