Devotee still follows the wind and waves

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am


Blonde, bronzed and dipped in salt, Alex Mowday looks like your typical Sydney surfer.

Which he might well be, if not for the fact that the Australian-born windsurfing devotee has called Taiwan home for 25 years.

Mowday had been living in Hong Kong, designing and manufacturing sailboard rigs, when he mooched over to Taipei in search of 'the perfect wave' and intelligent sailboard design.

During a weekend race meeting on the island of Penghu, he discovered a 'windsurfers' paradise' - 'clean air and water, and relentless winds - I mean the wind blew 24/7. And the steadiest wind I had ever experienced,' he says.

These conditions made Penghu perfect for the rigs Mowday was developing, and he moved there in 2002, also setting up a surf station 'catering for the hard-core windsurfers in Asia'. Around that time he began coaching some young athletes, including local prodigy Howard Chang Hao, who went on to complete at 17 as the youngest sailor in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the first Taiwan-born sailing Olympian.

By then Chang's family had also moved from Taipei to Penghu, enabling their son to follow his dream and, like Mowday, they have never regretted it.

Mowday continues to design sailboard rigs, manufacturing at a factory in Zhuhai on the mainland for export to top global brands.

Even though he lives in a remote fishing village of just 1,500 people, Taiwan's fast and reliable broadband infrastructure makes it easy to do business. This Australian remains enchanted by the wind and the waves, the 'outback feel' and the friendly people of his adopted home in Penghu, where visiting fish and produce vendors announce their daily specials on the town loudspeaker, and he can look out his bedroom window to see what the wind is doing.

Today, Mowday travels the world training Taiwan's elite sailing squad and he's just back from Spain, where Chang qualified for the upcoming London Olympics.

'But no matter how exotic the destinations Mowday visits, 'most times, I can't wait to get back,' he says.