How did things change?
It is easy to name Robby Naish and Björn Dunkerbeck for 80’s and 90’s because they both dominated in each discipline: Wave, Slalom, Course racing and they helped to develop our sport to reach new heights every year. Today everything is so specialised. Some guys compete on the world tour in either slalom, wave or freestyle. But there is is not even one overall world champion combining the 3 disciplines in the World Cup. You have juniors, men and women, racing one design and winning Olympic Gold medals - the highest achievement in any competitive sport. So who is the best and what part of Windsurfing are you looking at when you have 5 or 6 athletes in each category? That may be part of the problem in our sport, who is the Windsurfer or big name the youngsters should look up to today? I don’t see the one superstar in windsurfing. Here our sport is perhaps too small and there are too may disciplines.
Others just travel around the globe and produce insane video clips of waves, freestyle moves or on speed strips in famous Spots like Hawaii, Fiji, Cape Town or they feature those very remote locations such as Scotland, Iceland Tasmania.
There is a group of wave sailors competing in the Red Bull Storm Chase in winds of up to 100 km and huge waves, for me those are the athletes pushing our sport to the very highest level. I can relate to that since we took up a similar challenge in the 80’s to see how far and how extreme we would get with the equipment that was available back then. These kind of events are not primarily about winning the trophy but more to be there when it happens, have fun together, raise the bar and enjoy an all out awesome day, surviving in the wildest conditions you can possibly find. Those are all really cool guys, sometimes I go out with one of them when they are here in Cape Town, Victor, Leon, Jules, Adam, this is always great fun, good vibe on the water, nobody dropping in on your wave, everyone is looking out for the other sailor if there is trouble or broken gear, cheering each other on, thats how it should be. Perhaps some of the “part time” wave sailors should take up a bit of this philosophy.
The biggest name in action watersports is Kai Lenny, possibly the most outstanding waterman today who is covering 5 or 6 disciplines: Surfing, Big Wave, Tow in, SUP, Foiling. Windsurfing, Kiting.
But one thing is for sure: all those professional sailors and all the windsurfers getting on the water during holidays and on weekends are "addicted to ride” in one way or another ... and so am I ...