Jim Crossley: A Great British Classic!
The gentle giant of the windsurfing world with a stealth determination he is a force to be reckoned with! Jim Crossley is a speed demon who annihilated the 50 knot barrier! He has laid down the gauntlet to anyone who wants to challenge him for the title of British GPS Speed Champion, a passionate and proud man he is always striving for that extra knot!
What makes Jim stand out is his intricate understanding of the engineering behind all the windsurfing equipment he uses, having started off designing his own boards at university. He squeezes every last drop of performance out of the gear he uses. His longevity within the sport he loves is all laced together with his quiet exterior and underneath is the core of a modest incredibly gifted man with a perseverance and a natural talent, which earns him huge respect from the windsurfing community.
By Emma Nicholson
I started by asking Jim when did he first try windsurfing? He said: "I started windsurfing in 1984 when I was eight years old. I had some homemade equipment that my friends grandparents made. His Grandfather made the board and his Grandmother made the sail. Kids windsurfing kit was quite unusual in those days. The boom was basically a rectangle of plastic waste pipe. I was hooked! The perfect sport for a young boy who lived at the beach all summer.
Can you talk me through your windsurfing journey?
"I would spend every hour on the water possible as a kid and eventually persuaded my parents to get me some equipment to allow me to compete on a racing level. I never really was very competitive, as I didn't have any money to buy new kit. I took to building my own boards and fins and it wasn't until 1996 when I managed to win my first national title on a raceboard. Around this time the racing scene began to decline and I wasn't interested in racing formula I wasn't to compete again until around 2009.
What is one of your best windsurfing memories?
"Traveling around Australia and Brazil wave sailing in the late 90's. Fun times!
What is your biggest motivator?
"Even at the age of 47 I'm still looking to move things forward and improve. The thing that drives me is going faster and faster. Its only in the waves where I begin I feel my age!
What is your favorite type of gear?
"I love sailing anything that can be pushed to the limits of speed and control. It doesn't have to be the newest fastest stuff, just kit you can push to the edge. This has recently come to include foiling.
"I need some of your OTC boys to come and push me and themselves for 2022."
What do you think the benefits are to people’s mental health by windsurfing?
"For me, it gives me a focus away from everyday life. Even when I'm at work I'm thinking about windsurfing. It makes me feel like a somebody rather than a nobody.
"The thing that drives me is going faster and faster."
What is your biggest achievement with your windsurfing?
"My biggest achievements in windsurfing results wise are probably being fifth at the speed world championships twice and seventh in Luderitz. Speed sailing progression is made up of achieving goal after goal - 30, 40, 50 knots I see each step as important achievements.
What is your favourite spot to windsurf?
"For speed sailing, West Kirby has to be best. My go to local spots are Christchuch Harbour and Avon which I love. Also hard to beat is a good day in the waves on the Bench at Kimmeridge.
"Windsurfing it makes me feel like a somebody rather than a nobody."
British GPS Speed Champion for the fifth consecutive year that is an amazing achievement, how did that feel?
"Its all about watching the forecasts and being ready to go when it looks good. We are very lucky in the UK to have such fast spots. Of course its great to win for five consecutive years, but I need some of your OTC boys to come and push me and themselves for 2022.
How did it feel to go to Luderitz and top the leader board?
"I was fastest on one of the days. It proved to me and my equipment that I can be competitive. I just need to be able to do it on the big days now.
Why do you windsurf and how important is windsurfing to you?
"I've always loved windsurfing. Its all I ever wanted to do. In recent years I have managed to compete at a level I never dreamed of before. Speed sailing has allowed me to compete at world level international competitions. Also to be able to work closely with sponsors such as Loftsails and RRD is also something that I take great pride from.
When did you decide to compete on the speed circuit and why?
"Around 2009 I entered Weymouth Speed Week for the first time. I wasn't very fast, but it was the beginning of pushing myself to go quicker.
"Portland is always a fun speed session."
Who inspires you?
"Farrel O'shea is the man to look up to in speed sailing. He very much operates in his own domain working on pushing the limits of what can be done on a windsurfing board. Holder of the overall British sailing speed record it could be that Farrel is still to push the limits to a new level.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt throughout your windsurfing career?
"To use equipment that is competitive. Don't use a brand just because you can get a good deal or like the look of it. It has to be the best or you will never be as good as you can be.
"If you can't get to the Maldives, then go to the OTC Portland."
What type of windsurfing do you like to do in your spare time for fun?
"I enjoy GPS sessions on slalom kit where I'm always looking for speed improvements and testing. I also enjoy a good day in the waves.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into windsurfing?
"Its not an easy or smooth learning curve so location, equipment and instruction are important. If you can't get to the Maldives, then go to the OTC Portland.
"I haven't gone as fast as I can go yet. I have another knot in me yet!"
Why is Portland Harbour such a great spot for speed sailing? "Portland is always a fun speed session. It works in a number of different wind directions and there is always somebody to sail with.
The future what does that hold for you? "I want to keep pushing myself on the canal as I know I haven't gone as fast as I can go yet. I have another knot in me yet as things stand and improvements in the canal and the equipment pave the way for the forever moving goal posts."