Windsurf catch up up-and-coming Gaastra Tabou rider Ethan Westera who finished the PWA season with a bang last year, taking his first bullet at the Noumea World Cup!
Photos: PWA / Carter
WS: What have you been up to over the last few months?
EW: After training for almost 2 months in Tenerife I managed to escape just on time to get back home. When I got back home, I realized that this year would be difficult to compete and travel around, which is weird for many of the riders. The last few months I haven’t been windsurfing so much, I have been working more in the family business that we have here on Aruba. I have been learning many things and just trying to stay busy.
WS: How has Aruba been hit by the Covid crises?
EW: In my opinion we had a good amount of cases and some deaths, but it could have been a lot worse. I’m impressed on how the citizens of Aruba behaved and really took care of what they were doing on the other side, our tourism dropped completely. Aruba lives from tourism, so we will have a hard year to survive. They are projecting that by the end of the year we will have 40% tourism back on the island, which is barely enough to cut even, but we will keep our hopes up!
WS: How has your season been affected?
EW: My season has been completely affected. I feel like this is a long vacation…
I was really motivated to climb up the rankings this year, but I completely lost the motivation for now. I think many of the riders feel like this, but we all try to stay positive and push forward.
WS: What are you plans with the possibility of no events?
WS: Are you happy to be at home not travelling?
EW: I’m happy to be at home, but I’m sure it will be a challenge to stay here the whole year ha-ha! Home is like paradise, but it stays a small island. I feel that you can only survive here if you stay busy and do something every day. I don’t really love traveling like some other riders, but I miss traveling with friends and competing against each other.
WS: Do you think a lot of sailors will be badly hit financially by missing a year on tour?
EW: Personally, I think all sailors will be feeling this financially hit for 2 years or more. Who knows if we will have events in 2021…? Many windsurfing brands will be lowering their budget and as many people know the budgets are already low, so I think that many people will maybe even consider stopping competing and find something else to do.
WS: How did it feel to win that round of slalom in Noumea last season?
EW: It felt amazing! All those years windsurfing and staying committed to what I’m doing all worth it. The funny thing is when I woke up the day that I won the final I told my father who was staying with me in my room that I’m going to win a final today “today is the day”. I was having a good year on tour and to finish it off Noumea was just a dream come true for me. I needed a year like last year to refresh my mind that I can still do it.
WS: How much work and practice does it take to beat the best in the world at a PWA event?
EW: My opinion is that it takes just as much as any other sport, maybe even more. We need to be fit the whole year and have our gear dialled in from light wind conditions to strong wind conditions. We need to travel all over the globe with 5 or more windsurfing bags and compete for 5 days without knowing if it will be early in the morning until night or just sitting on the beach the whole day. We need to be ready to go. For me it took from my first PWA event 2011 to 2019 to just win one winner’s final, so you can imagine how high the level is in windsurfing. I can tell you this if someone wants to beat any of the top 35 riders that compete in the PWA they would need to train consistently and hard for 2 years with having some talent and good equipment.
WS: Was that the highlight of your career so far?
EW: I have had many highlights in my career, but that one win in Noumea was by far the highlight in my career. It’s everyone’s dream to win an event in the PWA, but a winner’s final is not so bad either. I have won IFCA events, but for me it has always been about beating the best in the world.
WS: Why do you love windsurfing?
EW: In the past I was doing 6 sports weekly. My mother and father found that sport was an important part of life and gave us the opportunity to try and choose between different sports. I began with 6 and at the end I stayed with one which is windsurfing. Windsurfing was just a freedom that I never felt before and until today it sometimes feels like my medicine. I keep looking for more every time I go on the water, because I like to keep learning new things and just enjoy the feeling of being alone in the middle of the ocean.
WS: Three words to live by?
EW: Live your Life!