by Dieter "Didi" Brennecke
In 1966, at 12 years of age Jürgen started surfing in Westerland/Sylt in Germany. His idols were the local lifeguards, they lent him their boards and taught him about currents and how to deal with the ocean. On his first real surf trip to Gran Canaria in 1970 Jürgen stayed with lifeguard 'Don Quadrado' in his VW van. They scored perfect uncrowded waves. In the search for good waves Biarritz then became Jürgen's second home, and when it got too cold there you could find him in California or on the exotic beaches of Sri Lanka.
A true surf gypsy. When at home in Sylt he started repairing boards and learnt a 'real job' as an interior decorator and carpenter. Having done this he was back on the beach as soon as he passed his lifeguard exam ! Only like this he could get in the water daily and afford those long winter trips.
Whilst in Biarritz Jürgen got to know his future business partner Thomas Herz. Together they opened the Surf Shop Sylt. Well known shapers came from Hawaii, France and Australia to work for the Surfline Sylt factory. It was here that they developed some outstanding windsurfer shapes that were far ahead of their time.
In 1973 Jürgen started windsurfing with European windsurf pioneer Calle Schmidt. As a surfer JH learnt quick. In those days most people saw windsurfboards as small sailboats. JH knew that it was really a surfboard with a sail and started to sail in waves. Skibinding pioneer Hannes Marker was so impressed by JH's ability in surf that he offered him a job in development and sent him to the first Pan Am World Cup in Hawaii.
In 1978 Jürgen got married to his wife Ute, in July their first daughter Bitsy is born.
Together with Ute and Bitsy, JH went south to Bavaria. The first step was to develop the first Marker prototype. They then travelled to California to pick up some of the first Clarkfoam windsurfing blanks. Steve Boehne from Infinity Surfboards shaped the prototypes to Jürgen's specifications.
JH's second place at the World Cup confirmed the validity of his designs and signalled his arrival as a worldclass performer.
In 1981 Jürgen stopped working for Marker. Marker wanted a type of displacement/planning combi hull and JH saw no real future in this design. He was hired by F2 founder Peter Brockhaus as a pro and designer. Jürgen designed all the first models. The Starlit, Sunset, Bullit, Comet and Strato were all JH's designs, and all were planning hulls. In the same year the Hönscheid Familys second daughter Sonni was born on Sylt.
In the Weymouth Speed Trials, England, Jürgen goes faster than the existing World record on all of his runs. Just on a surfing trip in North Devon he heard of the speed week and quickly took a 7.6 Pintail Gun out of the racks from the Tiki Surfboard factory, glued straps on and put a mastfoot in. A similar board Jürgen was using in the waves of Diamond Head, when everybody else still was fighting with their big, fat square tail boards with domed decks in the tail.
In November 1981 JH and family travel first time to Fuerteventura, where F2 does a promotion video with JH starring called “in the sign of the comet”. The video is introduced on the boatshow in Düsseldorf, Germany, and with the exellent conditions shown it puts Fuerteventura on the Windsurfing Maps as the Hawaii of Europe. Thousands of Windsurfers conquer the desert island in the following years.
1982 JH wins the Maalaea Dash Speedcrossing on Maui in front of Robby Naish and the whole world elite of windsurfers on a 15 foot gun custom shaped by Dick Brewer for Jürgen. Dick sponsored Jürgen with a couple of boards. And JH learns more and more about the art of shaping being in the shaperoom with world class master craftsmen like Brewer, Harold Iggy, Jimmy Lewis, John Hall, Steve Boehne and many others.
He gets top five in the Pan Am again, wins Euro Funboardcups back home.
JH finds in La Torche / France for Windsurfing similar conditions as in Hawaii. He has a memorable session using his special supersmall stormboard with the measurements 6.10 x 18 x 2 1/2 shaped by Brewer for radical conditions
As a professional Jürgen was leading the World Cup in 1983. Disaster struck when during storm conditions the sail backwinded during a big jump, hitting him on the head and breaking three vertebrae and a disc. Incredibly, three months later JH made his comeback, complete with a steelplate and screws in his neck, by winning the Omaeski, Japan World Cup.Until 1986 he continued racing, filming and developing boards, sails and gear.
However at this time event venues were not chosen too well and most were left without wind. The sailors were kind of frustrated with this and Jürgen did not like to hang out on land for days or even weeks due to bad conditions, playing clown to the spectators. He changed his pro contracts into pure development ones.
In 1981 the Hönscheid family had first visited Fuerteventura and fallen in love with the island. In 1986 the dream came true.
The business in Sylt was sold, and free of pro and shop commitments they packed the Landcruiser with all the necessary gear. Jürgen, Ute and their daughters Bitsy and Sonni hit the road : destination Fuerteventura. Fortunately at this point Surf Shop Sylt partner Thomas Herz had similar plans. He went to Tenerife.
In Fuerteventura Jürgen pretty quickly returned to his original skill, shaping boards. He founded Northshore/JH Designs and is still making state of the art wind, kite and surfboards. His works as tester for the biggest German windsurf magazine which helps in the development of his own shapes. He also writes countless articles for magazines both in and outside of the windsurf world and must be considered as an authority on design and technique. Ute takes the pictures for the article and like this, as always, they make a great team. 1990 Third daughter Janni is born.
In 1991 JH build the first superlight sandwich board, weighing in at under 5 kilos. In 1996 he broke the 4 kilo mark with 3.85 kilos.
In 1994 after 3 daughters now a son, his name is Dennis. Sadly Dennis passed away because of a medical error in a german clinic 3 years later. Very hard time for the Family.In autumn of 1998 the Hönscheid family opened the shop in front of the factory in Lajares. Ute now runs it with the help of Sonni.
1999 Bitsy (Boogieboard) and Sonni get German surfing champions ( Sonni in the following years 12 times in a row). JH wins the masterclass and gets fourth in the Eurosurf in Portugal.
2005 Ute and Jürgen are grandparents, after Bitsy is having a little daughter called Joana.
2007 Jürgen gets more and more into standup paddling.
Bitsy has another little daughter called Lilly.
2008 Jürgen writes his third book, now after 2 books of windsurf technique a book of his surfing and windsurfing life. Published by Terra Oceanis Verlag in Kiel and called “Mein Arbeitgeber ist der Wind”
2009 Sonni wins the Jever Sup Worldcup in Hamburg in both sprint and long distance, Janni gets third in both disciplines
2010 Sup Boards are getting smaller and smaller, JH builds them for the family and amoung others for Jannis boyfriend Tom Lowe. Surfbreaks are getting more crowded and Supsurfing enables friends and family to surf outer reefs and less frequented breaks.
2011/2012 Janni wins German Championchips in surfing in the Longboard Devison and gets vice champion in the shortboard class.
She gets sponsored by Chiemsee, a longtime famous windsurf and surfing brand.
Also she is the “face of the worldcup” in Sylt, having a TV clip windsurfing in High heels.
2013 Janni gets short-and Longboard champion, gets invited to "TV Total" and other TV stations and has a lot of press going on like "Bild am Sonntag" among others.
Sonni has a super successful year as well winning "Lost Mills", Mallorca, gets German Champion Sprint and Long Distance, 2nd worldcup Hamburg, and than the sensation: 3rd at the prestigious Molokai2Oahu Race.
Also Sonni has great success with her art, a very successful exhibition in Kampen Sylt, from now on the prestigious "Hofgalerie" in Westerland Sylt present her paintings on a steady base. And a new art exhibition is planed for 15th of august 2015 again in Kampen, Sylt.
2014 Tom and Janni travel to California/Mexico , Tom got a job for Vodafone "Firsts", where he surfs for the first time in his life a 20 foot plus wave on the island of Todos Santos and Mavericks.
Bitsy became personal trainer and since a few years is working in the sports/fitness department of the Tourismus Service in Westerland on the island of Sylt. Together with her 2 daughters Joana and Lilli she
comes every year to Fuerteventura for 2 months.
Amoung other international top results Sonni wins the Molokai2Oahu Worldchampionships. She receives the "Sup award" in San Clemente, California for the best female performance 2014. Sonni also designs clothes with her art on for her sponsor Chiemsee, skate- longboards for Mike Jucker/Hawaii ................ Please, check out Sonnis Homepage for more info and results.
Sonni at the NDR TV "Sportclub"
Like Sonni Janni also is very busy travelling around the world. Fototrip for Chiemsee to Mauritius, Foto/ Boattrip to Maldives, Foto/Video trip to Bali/ Mentawais and East Australia. Back in Germany Janni gets a lot of media attention: Playboy cover and photos/story, TV interviews like - in.puncto EINS PLUS TV , 6.October 2014 ..............
For more please visit Jannis Homepage: http://www.janni-honscheid.com/
with 300 kgs baggage around the world..........
More info about german surfhistory, Jürgen Hönscheid and family you find in the book "Mein Arbeitgeber ist der Wind" with lots of photos.
Interview in Windsurfers.de Jürgen Hönscheids 60th bithday June 2014
This movie is about the history of german surfing and the lifeguards on the island of Sylt. They started
to surf already in 1954! To get this amazing movie in full lengh contact Jörg from Kiosque Films here