FRANCISCO GOYA: MARK OF A CHAMPION
Spend any time with Francisco Goya and you will know what a special human he is. Watch him windsurf, and you will know what an extraordinary windsurfer he is! Continuing our ‘Mark of a champion’ series from our October issue of Windsurf Magazine, we put the 2000 PWA Wave World Champion under the spotlight to learn more about the Argentinian legend. Humble and honest, these are his wise words.
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Words – Francisco Goya // Photos – John Carter, Bjoern Zedlick, Ben Welsh, Fura.
It is important to me that I try to be the best at what I do, either freesailing, competing, building gear, or in business. It is more fun when I’m learning and expanding the horizon. Focus and time usually works to make this happen. Life is more sustainable when I follow my passions and allow the cycles to mature.
To me, people are more important than results and products. I believe excellence happens when we balance humanity with performance. This is how we can keep reaching for our true potential and why we are here.
A defining moment in my life was before my 18th birthday when I decided to go for my dream life. Once that was set, with time everything else worked itself around it – friends, windsurfing, family, the business, etc.
I feel close to all of our riders, from our young up and coming who are making giant leaps, like Maria Morales, Marino Gil Gherardi, Adam Warchol, Luc Guidroz and Pepe Krause, to the top pros like Marcilio “Brawzinho” Browne, Kai Lenny & Antoine Albert that continue to lift the bar 1 inch at a time, and the more experienced ones like Boujmaa Guilloul, Levi Siver & Ben van der Steen, that keep on pushing the limits while bringing in their magic and uniqueness into the products and the business’s operation.
The best decision I have made recently has been to focus on windsurfing; I believe there is so much to be done in our sport. A wrong decision was not to go a bit earlier to windsurf in Chile this year as my flight got cancelled due to Covid-19.
Things that are perfectly balanced are motionless, so unless you are a monk in the mountains, I find it very challenging on this side of the planet to maintain a life balance.
A more attainable balance for me is taking care of my basic needs – working & playing. Sounds pretty easy to do, but to be honest, I still get out of wack. With the speed and amount of things I have to do, I have to remind myself which ones are the essential balls in the juggle, and the ones that can be dropped for now. When I’m not balanced, then everyone and everything around me feels it, and tasks become a struggle instead of opportunities to grow from, so it is essential not just for myself.
What motivates me to go on the water each day is that I know that it will be good no matter how cold, gusty, rainy, small or big it is, or how tired and busy I might be. I know that I’m going to feel my best, and I will learn something guaranteed.
The nerves I experienced in competition transferred a bit to product launches and keeping up with the speed of the business. I haven’t been that good at dealing with it sometimes, and it affects my sleep. I have hit that wall a few times when I wasn’t able to disconnect and it isn’t fun. I keep reminding myself it is an important and serious business as many people count on it, but having fun and flowing with those moments gets everyone and me to a better place in all aspects.
As an athlete, there was a lot of adrenaline in my day to day, so when my focus shifted to our brand and business, it wasn’t sustainable for me or fair for the rest of the team and my family, and I needed to make a change in my approach. Luckily everyone has been patient with me, understanding my intentions and letting me ride that one out.
The things I enjoyed the most about competing at the top level of windsurfing was that I was travelling around the world, meeting people along with their cultures, and at a time when there was no mobile phones or emails to distract me from those experiences and moments.
Sometimes I kept my distance from my rivals, but mixing was part of it too, there was so much to learn from everyone, and we were all happy to split the traveling bills also, so it worked well. In the end, it only mattered who was ready to ride their best on the competition day.
When you compete with the best, you find yourself in some situations that you are stoked for what you are seeing, but then you realize, wow, that is not looking that good in the score sheet. So while competing with basically anybody on the top 20 your jaw would drop a few times in those ten minutes. What I actually enjoyed the most was competing with my closest friends, as no matter what, you knew that at least one of you would advance. But if I had to choose my favourite sessions, it would be freesailing with a few stoked riders in a new spot.
In windsurfing right now there are about two dozen riders that are fully committed and keep taking it to the next level, so alongside our team, riders, I’m inspired by riders like Ricardo Campello, Antoine Martin, Philip Köster, Victor Fernandez, Jaeger Stone, Camille Juban, Bernd Roediger, Morgan Noireaux, Daida & Iballa Moreno, Balz Müller, Gollito Estredo, Matteo Iachino, Pierre Mortefon, the Goyard brothers, etc.
What’s more important, winning or money? How much money are we talking about? Nahh, ha ha, if I had to choose, I would choose to win, because it takes a lot more to be at the top of your game, and if you can win, you most likely have enough money to get by.
I’m mostly vegetarian, keeping the rest to a minimum. My best sessions are usually with not a full stomach.
I have some ability, but I wouldn’t bet on it more than putting time in on the water. I enjoy the element of surprise of what happens along with when you put in a long session. My strengths are consistency, but I’m not a machine by any means, more like a boat that gets from A to B, but it rarely points at B.
During my competition years, I was riding as much as possible, which kept the focus on what I wanted to learn, while the ocean was becoming more like home. My wife and kids don’t follow windsurfing, so they make it pretty easy to change focus when I have to.
Winning my first World Cup in Pozo in 1999 was my ‘Rocky’ moment. I remember getting kicked out in an early round of the single elimination. I was so mentally beaten that I could barely get back home; I filled up the bath and meditated underwater, letting go of everything. Afterwards I went to bed and slept for 14 hours. The next days became a new standard for me of what it meant to be alive.
I just had won Pozo when I saw Scott Sanchez of Team MPG (Maximum Performance Group) and how he was working with Micah Buzianis and Jimmy Diaz on the slalom side of things. I felt that I needed someone like him to work on my weaknesses if I was going to win again. It was his companionship and consistent training, step by step, he didn’t want to see 10s, but rather less 4s and lots of 7s. That year we ended up at the top of the podium at every event, from national events to the World Cup, and from Japan to Ireland; the rewards were pretty obvious.
I love riding Ho’okipa; that is the dream of dreams. But there was so much that I wanted to learn from the other spots and riders from around the globe. I also felt that it was all connected to the life that I was envisioning ahead.
When I won the PWA wave world title in 2000, I couldn’t believe it, a part of me felt that it was going to be a life struggle that never ended, don’t ask me why. I don’t think any less or more of anyone if they did or did not win anything, but I felt it was like a giant weight off my head. I was also a bit sad as that mountain was now climbed for me, and along with that, the desire to climb it again was gone. A few months after I experienced an even deeper joy when I heard we were expecting our daughter, and eventually the new mountain of family and a sustainable business were clear ahead.
We started Quatro back in 1994, we were 4 friends and we just wanted to have the gear that would allow us to ride how we wanted, with nobody to convince. In 1999 I signed a five-year contract with Boards and More that included developing equipment for ‘real world’ conditions, and in 2004 I was ready to bring that whole experience through to the Goya Windsurfing Team.
When Marcilio won his first wave world championship within a year of signing him up, it was amazing, like a storybook. He has continued to impress us all for almost 10 years now, taking his sailing to the top in all conditions. If you think he is good, just wait until you sail next to him, it’s out of this world.
I believe what makes him so good is that he has been doing what he loves for a long time. His Dad loves to windsurf so much and was able to transmit that feeling to him.
Yoga brought me a lot of awareness of the body and how to stay healthy. I practice a bit every day, Brawzinho is pretty consistent with it also.
The team is constantly looking for that extra power, control and magic from their gear. Braw, Kai, Keith and Levi focus on the wave area. Antoine and Yarden on the freestyle side, Ben and Bryan on the racing side, Maria, Adam, Luc, Pepe on the youth development and then with Keith, Jason, Bjoern and Lalo we work at transmitting it all into the new line, it’s a fun process.
There is always something good about any piece of gear, sometimes by showing you how bad this or that can be.
Kai Lenny went out on one of my old favourite single fins a while back, 64 litres and under 52/32 cm mid/tail widths, you could see how he had to adapt as the board mainly worked on the critical part of the wave; he was getting some good turns. The truth is that there is a lot more range on today’s gear, that allows everyone to be at the top of their game on a wider window of conditions.
My kids make fun of me every time I come out with some advice. They say, “Ohh, here we go, Dad’s wise words of wisdom!” My advice though is, be yourself, be patient, and remember that your best waves will be on the feeling of gratitude.
I’m forever grateful to everyone that believed in this dream, this is their ride too, and we are just getting started. Thank you!