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BEN SEVERNE: INTERVIEWED

14/04/2020
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Windsurf Magazine caught up with Ben Severne, the man behind the brand; Severne Sails to find out what his take on the current crises is and how the company are adapting!

Photos by: John Carter and courtesy of Severne.


WS: How is the lockdown situation in Perth? 

BS: Perth is probably one of the better places to be right now.  For sure there’s been a lot of measures implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 – social distancing, restaurants and pubs closed, etc. Intrastate travel restrictions mean we can’t drive to Lancelin or Margaret River from Perth as they have created regional boundaries.  But really not too many sick, and the health system seems to be coping well at present.

WS:  Are you still allowed to go testing or sailing?

BS: Yes, the beaches are still open as of today.  As long as people are following the social distancing regulations then hopefully, they will stay that way.  Like I said, Perth is one of the better places to be right now.  I was in complete self-isolation for two weeks after getting back from Hong Kong mid-march, and didn’t see the ocean (or another human) for the entire time.  But since I got out, I’ve been windsurfing every day. So, I have absolutely nothing to complain about here.

WS: Are the Severne offices still functioning normally?

BS: I don’t know if our office has ever functioned normally!

WS: What is happening with the Severne factories in China? 

BS: Things are coming back on-line in China quickly.  When it hit hard in China in February everything stopped.  But the way they reacted to this was amazing, and now our factories are working well and getting stronger every day.  Even some of our guys that got caught in Wuhan for their lockdown are now back down south in the factory.

WS: Will you be releasing new sails on a new schedule this year?

BS: That’s something that’s still up in the air – we’re evaluating the situation daily and trying to work out what’s going to be the best for everyone.  We’re still in full development mode, so will have some fun toys in the pipeline for when people get back on the water.

WS: Do you think there will be any events this year?

BS: I think there will be some events later in the year, but I don’t expect anything to be just the way it was before.  There will be a ‘New Normal’, and I think that will apply to windsurfing events too.

WS: How are the Severne team riders all doing?

BS: As far as I know all are healthy and just hanging to get back on the water.  Probably most of them are going slightly more nuts.  Maybe the one we need to be most concerned about Scott McKercher, he has just been on a self-imposed lockdown but seriously I think he is fine and ready to hit the water again.

WS: When do you think you will be able to travel again?

BS: Hopefully intrastate travel will open up for us here in Western Australia soon – that will mean we can get up to Gnaraloo, and then I’m sorted.  My guess is international travel is going to be difficult for some time to come, especially while each country is at a different stage of their crisis.  If the Australian numbers keep progressing the way they have been the last few days, then I think they’re not going to be letting anyone in here from Europe or anywhere where they had it much worse.  Which means even if international travel does open up and I can fly out of Australia, it’s likely going to be a lot more difficult to get back IN.

I think there will be some changes to peoples’ expectations of travel – more focus on local spots and appreciation of what they have.  I know I’ve been appreciating windsurfing on the river in Perth a lot more after my self-isolation…

WS: Are you optimistic that the windsurfing industry will return to normal Corona situation?

BS: I’m sure it won’t return to exactly how it was.  But change is inevitable and not something to fear.  People will still be windsurfing, and we’ll still be making windsurfing gear – it will be an interesting challenge to work out all the other details.  Maybe there will be different priorities that will influence the design process, or better ways to prepare for production.  For us we’ve already seen changes to the way we communicate with factories that will reduce the amount of travel required.  So, I think there will be a balance of some positive changes and some negative changes that will shape the ‘New Normal’.  I’m looking forward to that time when this crisis is over, and we can start working out how things are going to be.  But I’m most looking forward to the time when we can all get back to windsurfing and enjoying time on the water.

 

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