Within sport psychology there has been a general absence of research conducted to date on newer sports, particularly those involving risk or adventure. Adventure and extreme sports differ from more mainstream and traditional sports in that they are more likely to be individual sports that are personally initiated and controlled and which tend to take place outside the confines of a traditional field, court, or gymnasium (Martha, Sanchez, & Goma i Freixanet, 2009). Virtually all adventure or extreme sports (e.g., snowboarding half-pipe, wave jumping, ice climbing) involve a considerable amount of risk and anxiety as a consequence of inherent uncertainty, danger, and environmental characteristics and demands and constitute an interesting and important area of study.
Since windsurfing was created as a sport in the 1960s it has had millions of adherents and practitioners at recreational to competitive levels (Rosenbaum & Dietz, 2002). Nonetheless, windsurfing has received minimal research attention with respect to the psychological aspects of engagement in the sport. Within sport science research, attention to the sport has come primarily from sport medicine researchers with a focus on injury-related concerns (Dyson, Buchanan, & Hale, 2006; Jablecki & Garner, 2000; Rosenbaum & Dietz, 2002). Few research studies to date have dedicated attention to the psychological aspects of the sport (Leahy, 1997).
The sport of windsurfing, in particular, has received little systematic research attention with initial studies conducted primarily in Italy. Research conducted by Antonelli, Benzi, Tamorri and Marceca (1986) addressed psychological aspects of windsurfing and included participants in the Italian Windsurfing Tour. Their results indicated that the ability to manage anxiety was an important contributor to windsurfing success.