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JC NO F MBR58844(1)(1)




With a record breaking 42 world champion titles in windsurfing, Bjorn Dunkerbeck hardly needs an introduction. He dominated professional windsurfing for decades and notably in many different disciplines. Now focused more on speed, both as an athlete and competition organiser, Bjorn is one of windsurfing’s greatest ambassadors and protagonists. He tells us more about his career, success and ideas for growing windsurfing.



I always wanted to be the best. I have always been very competitive no matter what I was doing. My trick was to be a little better than the rest, stay ahead and prepare better all the time.


There were many defining moments in my career for sure, but one of the most important ones was probably in 1987 when I won San Francisco and Guadeloupe and ended up 2nd behind Robby Naish in the overall rankings. I realized then that I had it in me and by upping my strength and having the best equipment sponsors at the time – F2 and Neil Pryde, there was no one that could stop me. Also, from the age of 8, I had the perfect training waters off Gran Canaria, with a lot of different wind and wave conditions, which for sure helped me a lot as well.


People that have inspired me are Robby Naish for sure in the beginning, then over the years great athletes like Kelly Slater, Roger Federer, 

Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Dani Pedrosa and Aksel Lund Svindal. Many of them also windsurf for cross training.

I have a lot of boards, 50 plus still today in my quiver, covering speed, slalom, wave, SUP and surf. Plus 100 more in the Dunkerbeck Windsurf Centre in Gran Canaria and the same amount in the Dunkerbeck Pro Centre in Bonaire. 

One time I checked in 30 board bags after finishing the Sylt, Scheveningen and La Torche North European legs of the world tour. That was when Britt and I did all 3 disciplines – wave, slalom and course racing, and were heading off to Maui for the last event, which was also 3 disciplines!


My good friend and speed windsurfer, Alberto Posati, became involved with AV Boards and we had been travelling for many years together to speed events and also many times to the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, so it was only natural to join AV Boards. They are the most dedicated speed board company these days and this is now my main high-end discipline, so it’s a good fit. We work together on all the speed and slalom boards with shaper Aurelio Verdi to make them faster and faster and faster. 


Be motivated and motivate others, hurt no one, love your loved ones, be happy, waste no time!


For me life balance is a mix between my family – (wife Maria, Alba – 18, Liam – 17, Martina – 13 and Daniel – 8), sports, fun, travel, competitions, challenging yourself and staying fit. I try hard to have it for sure! It is key and important for me, and should be for everyone else as well!


What motivates me to go on the water each day is having fun, improving, and staying fit. Water is my element – be it on a windsurfer, SUP, surfboard, diving or just swimming!

Don’t forget that I do all the disciplines in windsurfing, that keeps it interesting, – wave, freeride / freestyle, slalom, speed, long distance and now foil windsurfing, which is the best thing that has happened for light wind windsurfing. I am 107 kg and can get planing with 10.0 m2 & 9.0 m2 sails on the AV 91 cm slalom board with a Phantom foil 960 in 6 knots of wind. This makes any lake or thermal summer breeze of 6 to 11 knots a lot of fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, get on it!


I don’t need to be in the heat of the moment to perform. Focus and being well prepared is key for dealing with competition nerves. Also having done hundreds of competitions before turning 18 helps. 

Winning was the thing I enjoyed most about competing, that is crystal clear. I always aimed for number one, but always tried to be a good person too. When competing on the PWA, I was able to keep good control of my emotions, but gusty winds, light winds and then lowering the wind limit in slalom from 15 knots to 11 knots, to 9 knots and then 7 knots, where I pretty much had no chance anymore, made me a bit upset I remember.

For me, having my caddy, Victor Couto at events was key as I did all 3 disciplines and had a lot of equipment to carry around. Also it meant I had more time for press and TV interviews, meeting fans and doing work for my sponsors. Also Victor became a good photographer and we still work together at the Dunkerbeck windsurf, surf & SUP centre in Gran Canaria. Stop by and ride any board I used over the last few years on the world cup with Severne race, freeride or wave sails!


When I started full time on the world cup in 1986 I was 16, 75 kg and 178 cm. Then I slowly grew bigger and stronger, so my windsurfing could adjust as I was getting bigger. But a good tip for bigger sailors in waves or generally, is just use bigger boards, sails and fins according to your weight and height. Being bigger is no barrier to success, even in the waves. I was 7 times world wave champion and 2nd and 3rd for at least 12 other times, winning Ho’okipa and Diamond Head, the first European to do so, as well as Japan, Sylt, Scheveningen, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and numerous others. 


I won all the big events, 167 first places and more than 250 podiums in total, also winning all 3 disciplines in those long 10 day contests was something I am very proud of. 

I always wanted strong winds, big waves and warm water to compete in, so Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Maui were my favourite events, but also Sylt, Holland, Japan and France were great 3 discipline events with 10,000 plus spectators back in the day, they were fun to compete in!


To stay focused I kept my distance from my rivals at competitions. But I respected and enjoyed competing against all the big names, like Robby, Anders, Jason and Antoine. In 30 years of world cups there must have been a lot of others also and too many names to mention. 

Out of the current crop of pro windsurfers, in the waves I like Philip, Ricardo, Marcilio and Kai Lenny, as well as the upcoming Pozo stars like Marino Gil and Liam, my son. In slalom and speed, it’s Matteo, Antoine, Pierre, Twan, Hans Kreisel, and for sure Nico on the foil!


I haven’t spent a lot of time off the water over the last 42 years, but to be at the top it’s as important to do off water training as well as on the board. Aside from windsurfing, I go the gym, as well as doing CrossFit, TRX, mountain biking and SUP. 

For my diet I always try to eat healthily and light in competitions, but also have a T-bone steak from time to time. 


What we need to do to help windsurfing grow bigger and stronger is more and better information where the best windsurfing centres are locally, nationally and worldwide. Also that windsurfing parents bring their kids and friends to such centres as soon as possible. For kids especially, they get to have a lot of fun in a healthy environment away from the TV and PlayStation from 4 years old, no problem at all! 

Also windsurfers that work in big companies need to help us get better sponsors for the best and greatest outdoor sport there is!  

We need to get more TV time and mainstream magazines to show to the wider public how easy and fun windsurfing is. Also the WindSurfer LT is great for our sport, it helps make windsurfing colourful again. We all need to help make our sport as great as it deserves to be!


Being on the road for many years, there were quite a few funny moments. Once I was travelling with Kristopher and Vidar from Gran Canaria and we were late for a flight. The check-in person told us we were not going to make the flight unless one person stayed behind. Since Vidar was bringing back the rental car, we left him a note on the pile of 30 board and quiver bags and said see you in Maui. It was all taken care of by the great American agent at the time, but was still pretty funny!


I’ve had a few injuries, one was in the 90s when I had a snowboard accident and hurt my shoulder, missing the first world cup event in Almanarre, but I still won that year! 

I then had a disaster during a ‘Search’ trip in 2003; we were in Gnaraloo in Western Australia and after only 4 days I put a speargun through my foot by accident while diving. It was a 20-minute rubber duck ride back to shore, then a 3-hour 4×4 ride to the closest town, Carnarvon. From there I flew to hospital in Perth for 2 weeks, where they used a so-called sand blaster to clean out the hole in my foot. I quickly got back to windsurfing, but then in 2016 my left hip was bone on bone and I could only drag my leg around. Luckily for me, Dr. Ulrich Vielwerth, a specialist in orthopedics fixed me up, he has also been windsurfing for more then 30 years, so if you have a problem contact him at www.med360grad.de/orthopaedie-germering/; there’s also a link on my website, www.dunkerbeck.com. Many other windsurfers have passed by there already, and many more will in the future. 

Mostly I have been lucky. I sailed Jaws in the 90s and have had big days in Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, Sal and Fiji. I’ve also sailed big Ho’okipa and Lanes, all great moments. When it’s big, my number 1 tip is don’t wipe out, but in the not so huge stuff, I have paid my dues over and over again.


I’m still speed sailing and push where I can. The Dunkerbeck Speed Challenge, with all age categories – under 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and over, means there is no stopping in sight for me at all. Plus there is the Défi Wind series on again soon we all hope. I haven’t stopped competing and still get the competition thrill at the events I go to. I will do the speed world championships and the Lüderitz speed challenge when they are running, just no more PWA events. After 30 years on tour, that gives me more time to freesail and wind foil, as well as R&D speed sails, boards and fins.  

Also I am using the extra spare time to film for a 90 minute Dunkerbeck documentary that will most probably be ready for the Sylt World Cup 2022.  

Also, with the Dunkerbeck Speed Challenge, I get to push myself over and over again. I just had a brilliant session at ‘Speed Beach’ in Gran Canaria, at Bahía de Formas, just upwind from Pozo.  

GPS timing has been a game changer for speed sailing. I use the Coros GPS sport watches, their app supports 20 different sports, including windsurfing. You can get them on www.gps-speedsurfing.com, they are the best GPS devices I have ever had. Plus they have monitoring for your sleep pattern, number of steps and all that great information, but most importantly for speed sailing, some of the Coros watches allow you to directly upload to www.gps-speedsurfing.com, by just pushing a button after your session. You can see your top speed, 2 second best, 100 metre average and 250 metre average, which we use for the Dunkerbeck Speed Challenge ranking, 500 metre average – which is the official ‘outright’ record distance for the World Sailing Speed Record Council, 1 nautical mile average, one hour and ½ hour average and Alpha speed which is 250 metres, a gybe and 250 metres in the other direction, but you can’t end up 50 metres downwind of where you started, so it’s a good challenge and will reward fast gybers! 

Also, as a motivational tool, we have a ranking for the Dunkerbeck Speed Challenge Summer Edition of total distance sailed and time spent sailing. 

My tips for going fast are ‘close the gap’ and hold your sail still, controlling your board with your legs, as well as sailing off the wind, that is obvious! 

Also choosing the right equipment for the wind really helps – the correct sail, board and fin size. The best conditions for speed are flat water; this is why the Lüderitz canal is the fastest spot at the moment! Check out www.gps-speedsurfing.com for the fastest spot near your home spot!


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