One Man's Solo Windsurfing Quest Around Europe
I’m not windsurfing round Europe to save the planet, for cancer, for any reason other than that that I want to do it. We can kid ourselves otherwise, but our motives are selfish. But we can want to do things that are likely to have either a more or a less harmful impact on the planet and its inhabitants. Let’s assume we have choices: to some extent we choose our impact.
I’d go further. Once we recognise we have choice, as enlightened individuals we must recognise that we have an obligation to make better choices. We must consider the welfare of the planet and the diversity of life it supports, which naturally includes the interests of humanity. Any world view that attempts to create a dichotomy between the interests of human and non-human life is dangerously outdated, and fails to comprehend that our own welfare depends upon a biodiverse and thriving natural world.
There’s only so much as individuals that we can do, and we have no way of knowing what the impacts of our actions are or have the potential to be. We assume the impacts are small: helpless, hopeless - even. But hope remains because our small actions – each and every single one – have the potential for a cascade of consequences, potentially hugely more significant and far-reaching than the original actions themselves. Our seemingly insignificant stand on any issue is potentially the catalyst for real positive change: a young mind inspired, a seabird saved, a cleaner beach, seas that will continue to support life, a more environmentally aware next generation, the establishment of protected areas, one-planet aware policies at national and international level, technological breakthrough necessary to help reduce CO2 emissions and slow climate change…
With this in mind - and understanding that our actions have the potential to be amplified into something positive and much more significant – it’s clear that we should act in a way that allows for the possibility of a positive chain of change.
As water users: the seas, oceans and waterways are our back yard. We - more than most - have a responsibility toward their protection, and we should lead by example: lift share to the beach, enjoy nature without harassing or damaging it, limit our resource use, use less single use junk and never EVER leave litter. We need to call out poor behaviour and practice by peers, other beach users and the businesses that depend upon them. Repeatedly. Until they get the message.
Many of us will either have benefitted from or participated in watersports coaching. Instruction is my background, and I’ve talked with numerous instructors throughout this journey. A common frustration with those I’ve talked to is that many of those starting out learning a new watersport don’t have the respect for the environment that we as experienced water users consider normal. That’s where we have an obligation: to lead by example and by calling out. And it’s also where national training bodies (RYA, BSA etc) need to step up to the mark:
Lesson / stage / principle / rule one – regardless of the watersport in question – should be about attitude to and respect for the environment: “It’s simple, there’s a few things to get straight, and you’re either in agreement 100% or you’re not welcome in our fold.
“Happy with that? Good :) then on to the fun stuff...
And if the national training bodies don’t have it in their curriculum, then say it anyway. To keep quiet is to neglect our duty to the beautiful environments we all enjoy, and to the life we share them with.
So, there you go, that’s my bit said, my grain of sand, now out there: with unknown and unknowable consequence. But just possibly something positive will come of it.
Now go add your grain.
Jono Dunnett is windsurfing – solo and unsupported - round the mainland coast of Europe. He provides regular blog updates on the expedition website http://www.windsurfroundeurope.eu.
We’re sending a pair of boots his way in exchange for this thought-provoking article and wish him the best of luck as he heads into his second winter.
And if this article has inspired you, check out our full windsurfing range here.