David Varilek invented the concept of the Skisailer in 1983. It was designed for a sport called „skisailing“ – a combination of downhill skiing and windsurfing. The equipment itself is a sofisticated connection bar for the attachment of the windsurf rig. Bar can be set onto ordinary skis /without drilling additional holes/ allowing them to be directed with usual flexibility.
In 1984 a contract for development, manufacturing and distribution was signed between David and Mistral. Swiss company Mistral invested over half a million dollars (!) in this project. In 1986 the MISTRAL SKISAILER was introduced to the market for 410 USD (equal to 900 USD today). The first presentation at ISPO Munchen was promising, mainly thanks to David´s promotional video *. 2000 sets were produced. The expectations were high, the line between success and failure has been set at 5000 units sold in 2 years. The product was planned to be marketed through the whole Mistral´s network and individual sport shops**.
The result of this effort was only 708 pieces sold during the first year. As far as we know they were bought in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Benelux, France, USA and Canada. We have no more info about the rest of the story***. The only thing we know is that one of these rarities was bought by our friend and supporter Guy Baillie. Thanks to his kind donation you can touch the original Mistral Skisailer in WINDSURFING MUSEUM PRAGUE . It´s like new, even though it is already 35 years old now.
*) The official Skisailer videos are available on David Varilek youtube channel: 1986 – final version, 1985 prototype video, 1984 prototype video.
Another rare video is available on the Skirstyle windsurfing youtube channel: Joop Nederpelt presents Skisailer on Dutch TV show /1987?/ The Mistral Skisailer brochure picture was probably made during this video shooting.
**) Skisailer story from the marketing perspective you can find in Marketing Management: An International Perspective: Case Studies from Kamran Kashani, Dominique Turpin (fortunatelly available on web including the Skisailer leaflet)
***) In 2021 we know only 4 windsurfers who tested the Mistral SKISAILER in the 80´s. One of them is Bruce Caslowitz. Enjoy his 80´s action 🙂
Another SKISAILER rider is Warren who has sent us 2 pics and a few words. Thanks Warren 🙂
Thanks to our friend and supporter Andrea Pangrazi for the Mistral Skisailer brochure picture. I am looking for the original or better scan still.
Provided for Non-Commercial and Educational Use only. Not for Reproduction, Distribution or Commercial Use.
We are looking for any further info about the Skisailer and it´s history. Thanks for your comments > firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 16.1. 2021