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We talk to Fanatic team rider, R&D, and Marketing Manager, Klaas Voget to find out how he is coping with life and juggling his professional and family duties during the lock down.

Photos By John Carter

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WS: Tell us what a typical day for you is since the Corona Virus lock down?

KV: Actually, there is not too much difference to my usual routine, as I am doing a lot of home office for Fanatic anyways, but now we have more online meetings than usual to go through all the problems we are facing. We are all on slightly reduced working hours at the moment, so I have a bit more time for the kids. In Germany we don’t have a total lock down (yet), so we can still go to the beach and I can also still go out winging or windsurfing – of course keeping the distance to everyone. Without Corona I would be in Chile now with the family since Sunday. Mid-April I have a flight ticket booked from there to Maui for the Fanatic photoshoot. So, my entire travel plans are cancelled of course, but the daily routine is not that much different.

WS: How are you keeping fit mentally and physically?

KV: I have two boys who are 3 and 5 years old; they are full of energy and that alone is already a good workout – both mentally and physically! I play soccer with them in our house and garden and have just setup a trampoline for them, so there’s constant action. But as I have said, so far, I can get on the water (mostly with the wing), so that’s amazing for these times to stay active. I’m lucky to live so close to the beach, that I can actually walk to the water with my gear without being close to anyone. Now is not the time to experiment or take any risks on the water, so my sessions are pretty cruisy lately. If there’s no wind I go for a run and do a bit of workout on the sling trainer. My wife is a teacher and she’s also at home now with schools being closed, that makes life much easier for us with the kids running around the house all day.

WS: How has your day job changed for Fanatic while this has been happening?

KV: Usually now is the time of the year to organize the different photo-shootings. The main shoot was planned on Maui from mid-April. From the normal daily business, we have changed to a routine of online meetings to work out alternative plans for everything that’s not happening now. From logistical to financial challenges and changes that affect all departments at Boards & More. It is challenging times, but so far, the spirit and commitment from everyone involved is good. We’re all in this together, that includes all suppliers, shops and partners, plus the team and all employees.

WS: Are you already dreaming of your next epic wave session?’

KV: Of-course I am dreaming of some epic wave sessions; those dreams are the fuel that drives us in our sport. But now is not the time to be sad about epic sessions we are “missing”, there are much bigger issues at the moment. Times like these, offer opportunity to reflect on the life we’re living and the things we take for granted way too easy. Most of us windsurfers live a very privileged life. The current situation – like in any crisis – will hit others much harder than most of us. So, my own little luxury problem of not being able to travel to the sickest waves in the world right now is surely not the priority at the moment.

WS: What is happening with all the Fanatic team riders?

KV: I have been talking to a few of the riders over the last few days. So far, they seem in good spirits, but of course everyone is uncertain how and when things will go back to “normal”, when we’ll have some PWA events again etc. The life of a pro is constant travel and events. None of these things happen now and no one knows for how long. Some riders are still able to sail, but some others are totally locked down. A big question of course is how it will affect the riders financially. The life of a pro is mainly financed through sponsorship money and a small part by prize money. The prize money is not coming in for quite some time and most of their sponsors have a drop of turnover close to zero right now and have substantial financial problems. We’re discussing all that internally how costs savings will affect every single part of the company including employees and the team. We are one family and the plan is to pull through these tough times with everyone. But of course, that just doesn’t work without sacrifices from every single person in and around the company. The good thing for the riders is, that also a big chunk of their costs will drop away, so we should find a way to keep them all and hopefully have them compete again on a full PWA tour in 2021.

We have some Instagram live chats with the Team riders over the coming weeks. This past Saturday we’ve kicked off the “Rider Call” series with a live chat between Victor and myself for over an hour. You can check them out on the fanaticwindsurf channel. Also, our friends from Duotone Windsurfing have some interesting features with the riders coming up over the next weeks, so it’s worth following both channels to know when they are on.

WS: Do you think there will be any events this year?

KV: I hope! We’re facing two problems currently, one being the ban on events and traveling, the other being the economic crisis and marketing budgets being cut, which organisers need to finance the events. We have to wait and see. Events like the World cup Sylt have had a good financial situation over the past years and also a very good media setup. I hope the organisers can find ways to make some events happen – even if it has to be without spectators or special rules.

WS: Can you tell us about the shot of yourself and Maria Andres at the Fanatic shoot last year?

KV: This picture was taken during a very good helicopter-shoot last April. The wind and swell were perfect! We always shoot our waves-helicopter at Lanes to avoid the crowds at Ho’okipa and there are days it is gusty down there and the waves are closing out more than at Ho’okipa. But that day the wind fully filled in at Lanes, I think I was even on a 4.2! We all had plenty of set waves. When I saw Maria coming in on this one ready to smack the lip, I was in full planing mode and knew I could sneak over that ramp before she was going to hit it. I love shots with two people in full action; that just adds another dimension. So, I went for that push loop knowing it could make a great shot, but obviously I didn’t know at that point, that Maria would crank such a hell-turn into that lip below me. When I saw that sequence on John Carters laptop in the evening, I knew that could be a potential cover shot. I sent a snap of it to Maria and she was over the moon! I think it’s one of the best turn-shots I’ve seen from a girl and having another person flying right above makes it an even cooler shot.

WS: How do you think everything will change in windsurfing once this is all behind us?

KV: It’s hard to say how many businesses will really suffer and how many might drop out in our industry due to the lock downs. For sure this crisis will not be over in a few months, I guess it will affect the entire world for quite a few years. So, we’ll see how it will go on with events and their financing, with traveling for windsurfing and with the money the people can actually invest in their toys like windsurfing equipment. Generally Windsurfing itself is an individual sport, without any contact to others, so even though the current situation is not looking too good, windsurfing might be possible when team sports or contact sports are still not really back. The current situation might even bring individual sports into the spotlight for a while once the first wave of lock downs is loosened. So maybe there is even an effect that brings new people into the sport. I guess we all have to wait and see.

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