Words Finn Mullen // Photo Katie McAnena.
Originally published within the July ’16 edition.
Does windsurfing matter? It’s a simple question that we posed this issue to a panel of professional windsurfers and whilst unsurprisingly their answers were overwhelmingly positive, they also had a simple common theme – family. In the scheme of worldly matters, family for most people is rightly foremost in their weighted view of what actually ‘matters’, but for our assembled forum it was interesting how much value they placed on the friendships that our sport has given them – their windsurf family. “It’s a special clan” Sarah Quita Ofringa affirms. “Thanks to windsurfing I have met thousands of people, learned different languages and most importantly, made a whole family around the world!’’ said a grateful Ricardo Campello. Moroccan master of the waves, Boujmaa Guillol, enthuses further, “Throughout my windsurfing journey I have met amazing people that have been the key to my personality right now. I have learned everything about life through windsurfing, from history through to geography, languages, medicine, body anatomy and understanding people and populations, religions, cultural shocks, climate change and pollution.” Windsurfing has no political or explicit economic gain; it’s heartening in an Olympic year that our selection of sailors measure the importance of our sport by benefits that money cannot buy and ethical ideals.
Prodigiously talented and widely respected former world champion, Frenchman Thomas Traversa, enigmatically observes that, “Windsurfing is an eternal quest for something which will never last: wind is like happiness in a way…. Windsurfing makes me feel alive, like a lion chasing an antelope, I live the moment, my body and mind work together in perfect harmony. I don’t think about the past or the future, I don’t care about the rest of the world, I am where I am, like an animal.” That blend of body and mind harmony is something our King, Robby Naish, ascribes to the benefits of windsurfing – “It is really good for you.. physically and mentally. It is always challenging and gives you reward when you earn it…it is not just handed to you!”. Timo Mullen describes the challenge of windsurfing as ‘’a massive learning curve that does not seem to ever end. There is no end to the game; the finish line is always just out of your grasp.”
Being active, a sense of belonging to a group and having to make a long term commitment to a goal and challenge are not just themes that resonate with our contributors, they are increasingly being seen as key aids to happiness and good mental health. While many of us will be familiar with the A-B-C of resuscitation, less well known is the A-B-C program for positive mental health that is progressively being advocated by charities and professionals. Act-Belong-Commit provides a simple approach to our well-being that windsurfing seems well versed to provide for; lest we forget that our windsurfing ‘family’ has suffered losses from both physical and mental illness and that we always need to be on our guard to help our fellow sailors both on and off the water. Examining further, the first step – Act (be active); well windsurfing certainly releases plenty of stress busting endorphins when we engage in it as an activity. “Sometimes I just make a crazy noise while I am sailing because I am so happy’’, says freestyle wizard Kiri Thode. While happy mind, better windsurfing is the message from 2 x World champion Marcilio Browne in his interview this issue – “I just keep on telling myself that all I have to do is to enjoy my windsurfing and that usually helps me into a positive mindset. Then I end up sailing better.”
If you need help controlling those inner demons than delve into the second part of Peter Hart’s exclusive interview with Ken Way, pioneering UK windsurfer and performance psychologist to premier league champions Leicester City. Ken reveals some of his secrets to success; learn how they can make you windsurf better too. As windsurfers no greater sense of belonging can come from communal
gatherings such as clubs, windsurf demos, festivals and competitions where we get to indulge our inner ‘windy’ geek in the company of likeminded others. Get an insight into what it’s like to be part of the PWA freestyle tribe in our ‘Storm on the lake’ feature this month as we follow the fortunes of four young Brits on their quest for glory at stop one of the 2016 pro tour in Austria.
Finally for commitment, what better example of what it can achieve as we profile the dedication of another young Brit in this issue – Aleksy Gayda, who’s remarkable journey from his home waters of Canvey, Essex to one of the world’s most famous waves – Pe’ahi / Jaws is a tale to inspire. Windsurfing – it may be hard to explain the attraction, the benefits, the addiction; “the highs justify the lows.” says Dave White. But why does windsurfing matter?, well that’s easy to answer – it’s as simple as A-B-C. Act, Belong and Committ to windsurfing as much as you can, it’s officially good for you!
Photo Windsurfing matters because it’s officially good for you. Finn Mullen indulges in some salt water therapy.