A Chronological Order Of The Development
Of The Free Sail System Sailboard
1948-1949S. Newman Darby (then 20 years old) came up with the idea of using a hand held sail system mounted on a universal joint for a small catamaran. Hulls were built and tested on water. This experimental model had problems. Newman designed and built a rudderless sailboat that steered by shifting his weight to tilt sail fore and aft. Because of this experiment he could sail his first sailboard later on.
1959-1962 Newman taught himself to use a 12' surfboard on lakes in strong winds. He was half blowing with the wind and half surfing on the waves while using the wind against a wide canoe paddle to steer. Friends watching asked him why he didn't use a sail instead of a paddle. It was a good idea but he thought the surfboard was too unstable and soon started designing wider more stable hulls for a test model to see if such a thing was possible.
1963 Newman still thinking of his 1948 catamaran, was about to test steering by the hand held sail system on a larger catamaran he invented (plans and photos he had published in the Feb.1961 Popular Science Magazine) On meeting Naomi Albrecht, (who thought the craft to complex) they decided to put the hand held sail system on a surfboard instead. Newman then built an extra wide stable test hull. Naomi sewed the sail. This become the prototype of the first Darby Sailboard.
1964 Newman and Naomi tested their new sailboard in early summer on Trailwooad Lake, Pennsylvania. It had shallow leeboards and was difficult to handle. About a week later, the leeboards were removed and a daggerboard was added. They then found it would steer and tack upwind and realized such a sport was possible. The mast was at first just set in a shallow hole in the deck. When we started sailing in strong wind a universal joint was used on the mast foot. We then taught a few friends and relations to sail it.
November 1964 NaomI and Newman got married. After the wedding, they talked to relatives about manufacturing these sailboards.
December 1964 Newman's brother Ken had been watching with interest, so he quit his job and began forming the world's first sailboard business. They called it Darby Industries, Inc." Ken became the president. Newman the designer, and Naomi was in promotions. Help was hired and friends and relations became stock holders.
January 1965 Darby Industries made their first metal universal joint for the mast foot.
Spring 1965 Newman bought and used his first wetsuit to test sailboards.
Spring 1965 Diane Albrecht impressed Popular Science's photographer by out-running the motorboat he was shooting pictures from. The motorboat could do about 14 mph. The fastest monohull sailboat under 12' couId only do about 12mph at that time.
SPRING 1965 Newman met with his brother Ronald (a scientist and advisor to the president of the U.S.A.) who became a stock holder. They studied the use of other sail rig designs that may be used. Newman then designed the sloop rig for the sailboords. The main sail on this sloop rig became the popular three sided shape.
June 1965 The personnel of Darby Industries had a meeting to name the sport. They decided to call it Sailboarding and the craft a sailboard.
July 1965 Darby Industries had their first seminar on the water. It was basically to teach their reps., stock holders, and employees more about handling a sailboard. Some of the sailors started developing the technique of holding the bowed boom in front of them. Some started wave hopping and body dips. Nearly 100 persons were watching. The wind was blowing at about 20 mph.
July 1965 Newman made and tested a skeg (fin) on a sailboard. Charles Hawk (a stockholder and sailboard rep from Virginia) wrote up the first patent application papers for Darby Industries, Inc. Newman made two scale models of a 12' long' surfboard - like sailboard for their new model. They were displayed in their store. Naomi Darby took the first movies of a Sailboard in action. Darby Industries sold 60 sailboards to Lomma Industries. Mrs. Ralph Lomma taught her students to sail holding the bowed boom in front of them.
August 1965 Popular Science Magazine published a four page article on sailboarding. This magazine went to many countries. Hundreds of letters came, one as far away as India.
August 1965 Darby Industries, inc. had a bad fire in the foam cutting shop. Due to loses and poor sales the patent was dropped and the new 12' surfboard-like hull was shelved.
September 1965 Plans for do-it-yourselfers to make sailboards were sold through adds in Popular Science classified section. Later Popular Mechanics, boating magazines, newspapers, and tv started showing this new sport. A model showed and demonstrated how to sail and control a sailboard in the Philadelphia boatshow.
1966 An article by Newman Darby was published in the A.Y.R. S. magazine in England. Soon businesses in Europe were contacting them. Adds for other sailboard manufacturing companies in America were now being seen.
Summer 1966 Ken Darby sailed a sailboard across the Chesapeake Bay and back at Annapolis, MD. This was the longest trip to this date.
Autumn 1966 Ken Darby claimed that they mode about 160 sailboards and were losing money on them. They then switched to making boats, bathtubs, and sinks. They kept selling plans. They went back in the sailboard business during the early 1980's.
1967 It is heard that James Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer had a sailboard called "The Door" of rectangle shape, similar to the Darby Sail-board. Also that they built surfboard-like shaped sailboards. Movies were taken of James Drake teaching himself to sail a sailboard.
1968 James Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer applied for a U.S. patent for a sailboard with a wishbone boom on it.
January 1990 South East Boardsailor publishes an article titled "Who Really Invented the First Sailboard" giving Newman Darby the credit.
June 1997 American WindSurfer published an article titled "Origins of Windsurfing Exclusive New Evidence Newman & Naomi Darby".
August 1997 Newman and Ken Darby come to Portland for a wedding and were invited by Windance to visit the Gorge and tell their story. The lobby of the Convention Center was filled to over flowing with people who wanted to hear the REAL beginnings of Windsurfing. Newman received a standing ovation for his presentation.