Island windsurfer member of inaugural hall of fame class 

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At the 2024 Défi Wind Competition in Gruissan, France — also known as the “Woodstock of windsurfing” — Nevin Sayre of Vineyard Haven will be inducted into the Windsurfing Hall of Fame today.

A lifelong sailor, Sayre held the No. 2 world windsurfing ranking for two years in the 1980s, founded the Professional Windsurfers Association in 1996, and even met his future wife Stina at the 1983 World Championships in Barbados.

Sayre will be inducted with 47 other riders from the inaugural classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023, in the first ever Windsurfing Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“Buying my first windsurf board at 17 was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Sayre said. “I’m honored to be selected by the Hall of Fame. It’s my passion, and I’m very blessed.”

But Sayre isn’t in France with his son Rasmus just to bask in the glory and dominate 1,500 other windsurfing junkies from around the world. Instead, he’s hoping to finish in the top third of the wingfoiling competition, at best.

Wingfoiling is a spinoff of windsurfing distinguished by an underwater hydrofoil. Sayre and his family got into wingfoiling later in his career, and now he’s back in the middle of the totem pole.

“Our roots are in windsurfing, but we love the new challenges,” Sayre said. “My ambition is to finish in the top third of the wingfoiling competition. Défi is like nothing I’ve ever done before — it’s frickin’ nuts.”

Wingfoiling competitions in America top out at 100 boats, but Nevin and Rasmus are up against 400 other foilers at Défi, all jockeying for position while being powered by 50-knot (57-mph) wind speeds. All 400 foilers race together, and cross the start line practically all at the same time.

“The start is really important, and normally I’m really good at it,” Sayre said with a laugh. “With the sheer scale of the competition, it’s hard to find your place. You don’t want to be too conservative, but you’re also trying not to kill yourself.”

The competition began on Monday, and lasts three days, with each day featuring multiple 20-km races. After day one, Rasmus (top 50 overall score) was crushing his dad, who was flirting with 200th place.

By the end of day two, however, Nevin had made the adjustment, and was sitting pretty at 84th place, with the best score among all foilers at least 60 years old.

“I was making mistakes that surprised me,” Nevin said. “Hopefully I got all the mistakes out of the way.”

But regardless of how Sayre finishes, the big day for him will be Thursday, when he officially becomes a Hall of Famer.

 

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