“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Meister Eckhart.
Words Finn Mullen // Photo Timo Mullen
Originally published within the March ’17 edition.
It’s around this time of year that we look forward to the windsurf season to come and why not? 2017 gear to drool on, fresh goals to set, new spots to sail in and the irresistible urge to enjoy and improve your windsurfing more are what this issue is all about. “When you move your goals then you are able to go forward with your sailing, otherwise you can get stuck in a rut,” says Matteo Iachino. After finishing third in 2015, Matteo reset for 2016, clinching his maiden PWA Slalom world title with a surprising change in approach. Did he wear his footstraps down to the last thread, drown himself in sweat in the gym? No, quite the opposite, speaking candidly in our ‘Racecraft’ feature this month he advises, “The most important thing I learned from last year …was to not get stressed about the rankings. You cannot focus on only one thing in life… You need to have fun in different ways … if you dwell and think too much then you can end up ruining your chances. When I lost the title race last year I was way too stressed.”
‘Rest: Why you get more done when you work less’ is the title of a recently published book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. The title says it all about Alex’s take on overtime, stress and productivity but the Silicon Valley consultant and visiting scholar at Stanford University argues his point with an interesting concept, the value of “active rest” and the importance of “deep play”. Advocating more time for leisure in the classic Greek sense he extols the value of resting not by lying on the couch but by engaging in “hobbies that look like they absorb gigantic amounts of time and energy” but actually benefit our lives by providing “occasion for creative reflection” and cites the increased productivity of Germany over countries which work longer hours as an example of the benefits of a healthy work / life balance. Windsurfing certainly takes up ‘gigantic amounts of time and energy’, so we can deduce that there is merit in less stress, less work and more windsurfing! Let’s take this fresh approach further with some inspiration from this issue.
For anyone that thinks windsurfing progression stops in your 40s, let me introduce Kevin Pritchard, age 40+. In case you need reminding, multiple world champion Kevin has decided not to apply for his bus pass or take up bridge, he is far too busy polishing his Aloha Classic trophy which he won last year in conditions deemed ‘best ever’ and against sailors half his age. Read about Kevin’s motivational tools in ‘Fresh lines’ as he tells how he reinvented his sailing last year with an unconventional form of cross training and influence.
Unconventional is certainly a word that could be applied to Vickey Abbott’s journey from her birthplace in Northern Scotland to becoming the first British women to windsurf Jaws. Describing herself as “An ordinary, very stubborn girl with an overactive imagination” she tells us an inspiring tale in ‘Fresh start’ about following your dreams and moving to Maui, reminding us that “No one is going to push you. The motivation, drive and determination have to come from within.”
Drive and determination are the key ingredients for success in any windsurfing endeavour but perhaps none more so than the illustrious ‘Forward loop’. The ‘forward’ is a mental and physical barrier that many sailors struggle with and if you have decided this is the year you have a fresh crack at this milestone, then Harty arms you with all the information you need in ‘Operation Rotation’. Keeping it at slightly lower altitudes, Jem Hall addresses the first step to getting your windsurfing wings and some fresh air under your board with ‘Jump the bump’ as he breaks down the chop hop. Whilst at the other end of the altimeter, Alessio Stillrich tells us how to reach fresh heights with his how-to jump higher tips.
If you just want to keep your fin in the water but still reach new highs with your windsurfing then check out our guide to the world’s most popular alpine and freshwater windsurfing spot, Lake Garda, as Italian young gun Riccardo Marca takes us on a tour on his home away from home and somewhere he feels “deserves to be on any flat water windsurfer’s bucket list.”
Part of the enjoyment for me about windsurfing is being able through travel, technique or equipment to be able to feel new sensations and try new things. Last year I bought myself a long overdue 7.0 and 130 litre freeride board, which became my go-to fun setup. So simple to use yet so rewarding to sail it reminded me of the joy in just blasting and massively increased my potential time on the water, something any parent or partner knows the importance of! Technique wise I jumped from 28 to 30 and then 32 inch harness lines after 10 years on the one length and wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I travelled for the first time without gear, thanks to the wonderful range of hire kit at Ion Club Mauritius and funnily enough did not miss emptying my wallet for excess baggage charges or walking through Heathrow in a sea of sweat while wrestling three broken baggage trolleys. With windsurfing we are always learning, always trying, always growing. Fresh approaches and experiences bring fresh enjoyment. I look forward to another year of being “a beginner every single morning” because that’s not just what keeps windsurfing fresh, its life itself.
“ With windsurfing we are always learning, always trying, always growing ”
PHOTO Finn and Tam Mullen get their freshwater freeride fix on Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland.