As windsurfing has appeared in Belarus

Surfing Belarus

As windsurfing has appeared in Belarus

Windsurfing (sliding on water in a standing position on a special board (windsurfer), equipped with a sail on a mast with the hinge in its bottom part) was invented in the middle of 70th by Americans. 15 years later this kind of sport was included to the program of the Moscow Olympiad - In 1980 a group of Minsk scientists - enthusiasts contributed a great mite in it.

In 1974 Victor Jushko and Eugeny Saunin saw one of the issues of the Leningrad magazine “Boats and yachts”, in which the small note about sailing boards was published. Therefore Jushko and Saunin decided to try to design a similar thing.

Recollect, how did you start?

Eugeny Saunin: I devoted all my life to water. I was born in Feodosiya which is situated on the coast of the Black sea. Then I moved to Nikolaev where my hobby was water ski. In 1967 when I was 32, I left to Minsk and at once became the champion of the republic. Then I went over to trainer's work. To tell the truth, it was only my hobby. Because I was head of a laboratory in the Institute of nuclear power in the settlement Sosni near Minsk. In 1974 I was carried away by one article in the magazine “Boats and yachts” in which the question was about foreign competitions on sailing boards. My familiar from the Institute and I decided to create such board … We spent a lot of time for the work - the summer, autumn and winter of 1974. And one of the first tests we carried out in the Institute. On 2 February 1975 the surfing section was organized. It was the first surfing section in the Soviet Union. Then about 70 people came on an organizational meeting in the Academy of sciences … And many of them became keen on the sports.

Did you build sailing boards, using a trial and error method?

Eugeny Saunin: Not absolutely. We knew several things ourselves; moreover, we went to the library, where we read foreign newspapers and magazines. Polish editions helped us a lot. Imagine the board of that time; it was a pasted case made from fibreglass inside with foam rubber inside. The board weighted 20- 25 kg . We ordered sails in Kaunas. They were sewed of calendered lavsan. In other words, lavsan was run through hot platens, a sail turned out impervious to water and air. But sometimes accidentally, sailing boards were delivered (at the Iron Curtain!) from the Western Europe. Once in the late autumn we went on the Minsk Sea to train and noticed bright sails in the distance. Swam up. We saw two men on two windsurfers. Teeth were chattering. We asked one of them: “Where are you from? Why haven’t you life jackets? ” (According to the instruction it was necessary to put on life jackets.) Silence. Then we decided to scare these strangers to and we said that rescuers would arrive soon and they would take them with their boards away. All the same the young man answered nothing. We again: “Where are you from?” “From Paris”, - was the answer. His answer angered us even more: “Do you scoff? Now we will leave, and you will freeze here”. Think, how a man from France could be on the Minsk Sea in that time. Only now people of all nationalities can be met here … It lately turned out, they were French engineers who projected and built the factory of printed-circuit-boards on the Rakovskoe highway. In that time foreigners were not let out anywhere. However the engineers were made exception and were allowed to go to the Minsk Sea. So we got acquainted and made friends. When they came back home they left their Dutch windsurfers for us. Approximately one year later in the Institute of nuclear power the Frenchman Bail Daniel arrived and he began to train with us. After a while, under the protection of one of the colonels of the KGB, he got an opportunity to leave with the belarusian team on different competitions.

But let’s return to the following stage of the narration. Why did the first union competitions pass in Minsk?

А.P.: After several home starts it became boring for us to play in our own "sandbox". Therefore we decided to look for adherents in other Soviet republics.

Eugeny Saunin: And an improbable thing happened: In the autumn of 1975 62 sportsmen from 14 cities of the USSR arrived to Minsk. Visitors were placed on the old base "Youth". Thus, the first meeting of all Soviet people keen on windsurfing took place. Then the first union competition took place. After that the All-Union federation of windsurfing was formed. The next year the Cup of the USSR on windsurfing appeared. It is remarkable, that two years running (1977-78) belarusian team "Spartak" took first place in the knock-out competition. We competed on lake Chudskoe, the Kiev and Kaunas water basins, in Taganrog gulf, on the Black sea … Most of all we liked Kohte-Jarv, on Kurshskaja Spit- Zelenogradsk, Neringa-Nida… To put it briefly, then we visited the most picturesque places of the Soviet Union. For this purpose we had a bus "LAZ". Also we had no problems with meal, equipment - boards, sails, masts, booms, extension pieces, guy line, etc.

Probably, officials liked your hobby?!

Eugeny Saunin: The matter of fact is that  earlier the attitude  to sports was different. Now some kinds of sport are objects of particular attention. But they do not authorize expenses. Others do not receive a stiver. But it’s very hard to achieve results without money. The chairman of the sports committee of the BSSR Liventsov and the head of the sports association "Spartak" Borsuk supported us. OSVOD, the Academy of sciences and the Institute of nuclear power helped a lot. Everyone gave a penny, and in general we had a pretty sum of money, which allowed us to live comfortable. Soon windsurfing was included to the program of the Olympic Games. Therefore in the USSR four strong teams were formed. They had an opportunity to carry out a centralized training. Of course, to compete with them was beyond our power.

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