He Sails A Lot In WindSkating
Santa Monica Man’s New Sport
By DAVE BERMAN
Evening outlook Staff writer
In the beginning there was sailing. And surfing. And surfing begat skateboarding. And sailing and surfing begat wind surfing, a surfboard outfitted with a sail. And now, apparently, surfing, sailing and skateboarding have begotten Wind Skating.
The new sport is the brainchild of Santa Monican James Budge, a surfer and skateboarder, “There’s been half a dozen people who’ve had the idea to put a Sail on a skateboard,” the 31-year-old former Santa Monica surfing champion said. “It was really a fluke on my part that I found something that works.”
Budge’s idea, which he has patented, consists of a thin plastic sail with a 12-foot mast and eight-foot boom, made of either wood or aluminum tubing. The mast and boom are manipulated by hand. The bottom of the mast fits in a small plastic cup on the front of a skateboard.
You find a parking lot or playground, a good wind, stick the mast in the cup, spread the Sail, step on the skateboard and away you go — up to 20 miles per hour. By folding and unfolding the sail, pumping into the wind, arching against the sail, you can speed along, tack into the wind and perform other sailing maneuvers — more or less, “What works for a sail doesn’t necessarily work for a WindSkate,” said Budge, who has had plenty of advice from professional sail makers. The device still is being refined.
But it has the advantage over other skateboard-sail combinations in that there are no ropes and pulleys, the skateboard still can be used by itself and the more expensive sail (about $50, weights less than 10 pounds, can be folded and placed in a protective sac, like skis, and can be set up in less than two minutes.
A cheaper model – about $30 – is made of wood and works just as well as the collapsible aluminum type, Budge says, but isn’t as convenient. There are also three different kinds of sail – clear plastic, bright blue and orange and a bright blue and orange with a clear triangular window in the middle to avoid a blind spot (most sighting is done around the side of the sail).
It can be adapted to any skateboard, but longer models work better. “It’s a combination of skateboarding, surfing and sailing.” said Greg Haugen, 29, Budge’s business partner. “It’s also similar to skiing in the way you use your ankles and hips. And it’s like a Hobie cat (sailboat) in that you actually pull on the sail and use your hands instead of ropes and pulleys.” Budge, nephew of former tennis star Don Budge, claims one doesn’t have to be able to skateboard to Wind Skate,
“As long as you can stand on a skateboard and balance, that’s enough,” he said. “It’s a different feel altogether. A good skateboarder won’t necessarily be a good WindSkater. It’s all in how you respond to wind.”
Budge has tested the device along the bike path and in the parking lots at Santa Monica Beach. He hasn’t been hassled about using the areas and there’s little danger he claims because, “when the wind is good for WindSkating that’s when everyone leaves the beach”
So far the WindSkate has been marketed mainly by word of mouth. About 20 have been sold in what Budge – who makes advertising and promotional films for a living — calls “a garage-type” operation. But he is considering manufacturing them if interest continues to grow.
“Right now people are saying, ‘What is it?’ ‘How does it work?'” Budge said. He and Haugen have responded by making a five-minute rear projection demonstration film, handing out pamphlets and promoting it at surfing films. They also give lectures on Wind Skating at campus surfing and sailing clubs.
Inquiries and some orders have come from “all over” the state and even Germany and New Zealand, Budge said. If Wind Skating takes off (you’ll excuse the pun), Budge and Haugen think it can become a competition sport.
“You could set up a course in a parking lot and run it for speed and ability,” Budge said. The problem may be finding cooperative parking lot owners. The two have been banished from a large lot at SDC. It may have been a question of liability. Or it may have been that the sight of a bright orange and blue sail criss crossing the parking lot in full view the office-bound employees proved too much of a distraction.
For More Information Contact:
Windskate Santa Monica
P.O. Box 3081