Is it a DeLorean, and who drove it past the clock tower when it got struck by a bolt of lightning?
No, you’re not dreaming: the board in the picture above is a Division II (D2), last seen in competition at the Barcelona Games in 1992. The rig, a 7.8m2 RS:One rig from Neil Pryde, was first produced in 2011. And the ‘kid’ visibly bored to death on this unusual combo is Frenchwoman Faustine Merret, Olympic gold medalist at the 2004 Games in Athens… on the Mistral One Design.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
The D2 flame, it turns out, was never fully extinguished. It kept burning in the hearts of many passionate windsurfers who carved out precious storage space to hold on to them all these years, and dusted them off every once in a while for a ride in the setting sun. But that ride was lonesome most of the time:
“I believed that I was the last human on the planet sailing those wonderful boards,” said Stratos Efthyvoulidis, who runs the Diaporos Regatta in Greece and is one of the architects of the rebirth of the D2 on the international stage, “when, searching on the web, I found the Open Division II facebook group created in France by some pioneers. Romantic people like me!”
And there you have it: a beloved windsurfing class that was picked as the Olympic sailboard class the year Mark Zuckerberg used a Macintosh 128K to prop himself upright and walk his first steps, is brought back to life by facebook! And now the D2 Class is the new kid on the block, the latest full class member of the International Windsurfing Association, with 1,000 members on facebook and a flurry of clinics and events on the calendar.
One of those marquee events will be the return of the D2 to the US Windsurfing Nationals at Cabrillo on August 12-16, alongside their brethren on Kona, Formula, Slalom and Freestyle boards. Class representatives Eric Bouillet (CAN) and Tal Golan (USA) reached out to Xavier Ferlet, the 2014 US National Champion in Formula and Slalom and the Event Director at this year’s Nationals, and Xavier was quick to give the green light:
“The first board I owned was a Dufour Wing,” remarked Xavier, “which was a Division I board, I think, but about a year later, my parents bought an Oceanite which was already a D2, I seem to remember. My next board was a Reix which was definitely a D2. Although I started racing on the Dufour, I soon switched to D2 boards. My first French Nationals was at Serre Ponçon in the Alps in the early 80’s. Other notable regattas I took part in were the D2 Europeans at Weymouth (UK) in 84 and the D2 Worlds at Torquay (UK) in 85. All this to say that D2 was where I did almost all my racing for about a decade (80’s) so I’m delighted to see the class featured at the US Nationals some 30 years later!”
With the introduction of a ‘Category C’ race division (up to 9.5m2 sail sizes for men and 8.5m2 for women, with no restriction on shape and design), you can now hop on a D2 board and race with your trusted rig. Check the group picture above – you’ll even see an RS:X Evolution sail in there (part of an early Neil Pryde proposal for the 2016 Rio Games, as you may tell from the Brazilian color theme)!
We know you’re antsy to check whether you still have the centerboard for that L3 Lechner you have stashed away in the garage, but before you do, brush up on this fascinating part of windsurfing history and check out Eric Bouillet’s write-up: The Revival – Back to the Future.
To stay informed on all things related to the class:
Open Division II website.
OpenDiv2 facebook page, the page that (re)started it all!
Superb photo album from Ann Miossec Smewing at a recent event in France.
A blog by Francois Schricke full of pictures of recent D2 repair projects, tips and media articles from the early days.
And come join the party at the 2015 US Windsurfing Nationals!