November 2, 2005
Hood River resident, sailor and Sailworks founder Bruce Peterson was recently named the “Windsurfer of the Year” by US Windsurfing. Steve Sylvester, president of US Windsurfing provided the following article:
Bruce Peterson has been a passionate and enthusiastic promoter of windsurfing for over 20 years. Which is why he so richly deserves the title of “2005 Windsurfer of the Year”. This is our way of recognizing and thanking someone who has made outstanding contributions to windsurfing over the years. Bruce has been — and
continues to be — a great ambassador for the sport.
And he is not afraid to speak his mind. “We need to celebrate the magic of windsurfing way more than we do,” says Peterson. “Think about it. What other sport offers the kind of free ride that windsurfing does? It is self-propelled flying at its very best. And it’s never been more accessible than it is today. The gear is better, the rigs are more efficient and the costs of participation in ‘real’ dollars are surprisingly reasonable. It’s a great story.
But it’s almost like we’re so close to it that we’ve forgotten to remind ourselves just how thrilling it is to be fully lit, flying over the water at 30 knots powered by these incredibly efficient wings.”
It seems that Peterson always wanted to fly. As a high-schooler growing up in the windy, seaside port of Victoria, B.C., he spent hundreds of hours making and flying power kites with his friend Ross Harrington. When the short-board windsurfing craze hit Victoria in the early 1980s, Peterson was quick to jump aboard. By the summer of 1983, he was making and testing sails for celebrated Windsure Windsurfing in nearby Vancouver. By the spring of 1987, with a string of international racing successes to his credit and a growing reputation as a quality sailmaker, Peterson was offered a partnership position at Rushwind. The Gorge-based company had landed a very lucrative contract making race sails for global giant Gaastra, which meant that Peterson would be doing research and design work with some of the most talented sailors of that era. It was this collaborative environment that led to one of the most important discoveries in the sport: that windsurfing sails needed twist built into the leech to give the sails range and speed.
In December of 1989, Peterson decided to launch his own sailmaking loft. And his successes came hard and fast. Since that time, Sailworks has established itself as one of the world’s leading boutique sail lofts.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says Peterson. “If we want our sport to have a future we have to invest in the next generation. And that means not only producing gear that kids want to sail on but making sure they know how to use it.”
In typical fashion, Peterson put his words into action. He did an extraordinary job at the Nationals and the Formula Experience this year, which were both held in Hood River. From getting the Team USA kids sail numbers and name stickers, to conducting free rigging clinics and sharing local knowledge of Gorge sailing, Peterson was generous with both his time and his expertise. He was on site for the entire event, helping repair sails, replacing battens and fixing snafus no matter what sails the athletes were using. He was there for all the kids and adults.
When asked for comments on this year’s race season, Peterson happily admitted: “The best race I went to this year was the one I didn’t even compete at: The FE Worlds... I got to see the future of the sport and it really got me jazzed. I mean those kids were having so much fun on the water.”