The modern sport of windsurfing can be traced back to the 1930's when a surfer named Tom Blake, whose arms became particularly tired one afternoon from paddling his board out to catch the waves, thought he should be able to use the wind for propulsion. After some experimentation, he added a mast and sail to his surfboard.
Later, he added a foot-controlled rudder and called his invention ‘a sailing surfboard.' Blake's invention, however, was not widely received and it was another thirty years before S. Newman Darby took the idea a step further. Darby invented a rectangular sailboard to which he solidly attached a mast and sail. Steering was accomplished by moving a horizontal lever attached to both sides of the sail. Darby's invention was published in Popular Science magazine in 1965.
Today's windsurfing is the product of a new sailing idea developed by three California surfing enthusiasts named Hoyle Schweitzer, Jim Drake and Allen Parducci in 1966 and 1967. Their invention, initially called a ‘Baja Board,' consisted of a free-sail system that allowed the mast, boom and sail assembly to move in all directions around a universal joint. In 1969, Hoyle Schweitzer started a business that he called Windsurfer and began traveling around the country promoting the sport and his board. In 1971, the sport was introduced in Europe where it became an immediate success.