FM – Fanatic has a very noticeable ‘team’ culture, almost like an extended family – is that natural or deliberate.
CG – It is deliberate to create, but to be honest, comes naturally also if you choose the right people to work with. For example in our office team, I will also be there unpacking boards and testing with Dani, Klaas etc., not delegating and creating a them vs. us culture. Same goes at our photoshoots, Victor is the World Champ but he´s right there unpacking 50 boards in 35° with us, next to Adam, myself, Dani etc., no complaints. That´s the type of attitude that helps us bind as a group for sure. Plus of course the fact that we can all sail together in similar conditions at a fairly high level, helps the respect factor amongst all and leads to a lot of great memories to share.
FM – How important is windsurfing competition in your view.
CG – Without competitions, there would be very little for our Windsurfing media to report about and low chances of seeing our heroes on the water at the various World Cups. But also national and local competitions are super important to keep the communities alive in our sport, which has been the biggest problem over the last 20 years – people ended up going windsurfing alone and sooner or later doing a sport alone becomes boring and people lose interest. So I think it´s a very, very important part of our sport, on both the lower and top levels.
FM – Do we need to change anything in the formats of windsurfing competition?
CG – In Freestyle I think they should try a more simple format perhaps, to make it more spectator friendly, on the other hand I have no clue what the names of the moves in snowboarding or skateboarding are but I still really enjoy watching it, same as I do in freestyle windsurfing where I am clueless to 50% of the moves at least? Slalom is great right now, I would just like to see a few different shorter courses which favour also tactics and gybing, that is getting better now on the PWA too. Wave, well to be honest, the only thing we need there is more events. Same old story, you want quality judges, media, free accommodation, proper prize money, but all this costs money. If you just want cool locations and are prepared to sacrifice all the rest and not really be sustainable, then go to the smaller events format. I think people badly underestimate how good the current PWA format is / how strong the Tour is – just because there are sometimes a few less events (8 or 9 slalom this year alone!) – check out the mess in the SUP and Kite pro tours vs. the much smaller sport of windsurfing. The PWA can be really proud of the job they do and what they offer the athletes. Good conditions / locations do not help you if you are only spending money at events and not creating something sustainable, that´s fine for the IWT, where the general concept is different to the PWA, but it´s not professional windsurfing.
FM – Do you miss competing?
CG – I did in the first years a lot, but managed to put that competitive streak to better use in my career and the last 2 years I competed at our South African Slalom Nationals in Langebaan, SA, just great fun and I won the SA Slalom title in 2016/17, nearly 20 years after retiring! We have a nice scene going on in SA right now with plenty of people getting back into windsurfing and some fun slalom events; this is what we need to see more of everywhere.