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Windsurfing has a future if we have kids ripping and thanks to the efforts of the organisers of the PWA wave events in the Canaries the PWA youth fleet is flourishing with a group of young women and men who are multi-skilled, multi-lingual and bursting with talent and ambition – nearly all of them want to be world champions! Read on as we find out more about some of the top performers and characters along with two of the UK’s own flying the flag in the fleet.

Words  Marino Gil, Miguel Chapuis, Alexa Escherich, Takara Ishii, Titouan Flechet, Liam Dunkerbeck, Julia Pasquale, Hayata Ishii, Maria Morales, Alexia Kiefer Quintana, Carlos Kiefer Quintana, Pepe Krause, Ruaraidh Somerville and Lucas Meldrum // Photos  John Carter

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Marino Gil
I’m 17 and live in Gran Canaria, Spain; I’m Spanish but my parents are from Argentina. I speak English and Spanish and hopefully I can learn something else! I learnt to windsurf in Bahía de Formas, a beach close to Pozo; my father started teaching me when I was 7 years old. I really like everything about windsurfing, but most of all is feeling free in the water and always being connected with the sea. Outside of windsurfing I like to chill with my friends, go skating or surfing or just do other sports.

I use Goya sails and Goya boards and love them! My favourite move is the one foot backy or the stalled forward, is hard to decide! If I could steal a move from anybody it would probably be the push-forward from Ricardo! My dreams are for sure to become world champ one day, I will try my best to make that possible. My funniest windsurfing experience was trying to find a new spot with one of my friends and nearly falling off a cliff!

“I really like everything about windsurfing.”

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Miguel Chapuis
I am 18 years old. I live in a small town in the south of Spain called Tarifa, famous for its strong winds and beautiful landscapes. I always train in Tarifa and during the winter you can get some good conditions and a lot of variety. My favourite spots are Playa Chica and Caños, which I enjoy a lot and it’s where I feel the most confortable.

I’m from Spain, but my father is from France so I also have French nationality, and I can speak Spanish, French and English. I started windsurfing at the age of 9 in Tarifa and I have to be honest that I had a hard time, but once I got it I was hooked. My parents both know how to windsurf so they taught me and are the ones that got me into it.

What I love most about windsurfing is the adrenaline of flying or riding waves and sharing sessions with friends. Outside of windsurfing I love hanging with my friends and wakeboarding or fishing with my brother, but when I’m alone I really like playing the guitar. I also like Rubik’s cubes a lot, I have a collection and love resolving them as fast as I can.

My favourite move is the tweaked push loop and my favourite windsurfer is Marcilio Browne; if I could steal a move it would be Alex Mussolini’s 360. My ambitions are to be in the top 10 of the PWA and also be able to travel to places with good waves around the world and also it would be pretty sick to invent a new move. One of my dreams is also to make a windsurfing movie with other riders. Kit wise I use Neil Pryde Combat sails, JP Australia Ultimate Wave boards, Tectonics Maui fins and Mystic wetsuits and harness.

Funniest windsurfing experience – I once got a new set of fins and was so exctited to go in the water to try them that I forgot to screw them in, so when I got in the water I did one run and lost them, that was the end of that session as I didn’t have any others!

“ It would be pretty sick to invent a new move.”

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Alexa Escherich
I’m 17 years old and live in Munich, Germany. It’s not the best place to windsurf, that’s why I always train in Fuerteventura/Gran Canaria. I speak German, English, Spanish and a little bit of French. I learnt to windsurf in Risco del Paso, Fuerteventura when I was 5 and have trained there every year since then. Windsurfing gives me a feeling that I can’t get  from any other  sport especially when sailing with friends. Outside of windsurfing I love to play the piano, it’s something that I’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been windsurfing. I also really like to surfskate and as for other skills, I like to think that I’m good at photography and calligraphy.

I use JP / Neil Pryde gear, my favorite move is the Funnel and I‘d like to steal the Bonka of Yentel Caers. My ambitions and dreams are to make windsurfing a well known sport again. The funniest thing that happened to me windsurfing was in El Medano 2017. The men’s heat was running and I wanted to test my gear to see if everything was working properly for my upcoming heat. As I was sailing I wiped out and my kit ended up stuck on the infamous Godzilla rock and I was swimming for quite a while. Rather than filming the guys ripping, the live streaming guys thought it was more entertaining to film me struggling to get to my equipment!

“ Windsurfing  gives me  a feeling that I can’t  get  from  any  other  sport.”

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Takara Ishii
I’m 18 years old and am from Japan. I live in Omaezaki and that’s where I learnt to windsurf at 5 years old, my dad taught me and he also windsurfs and had a windsurfing school. Omaezaki is the most famous wave riding spot in Japan and works from November through until March. I started out as a racer but when I saw Alex Mussolini come to my home spot when I was 14 I wanted to learn waves and be like him! Now the PWA judges call me ‘Mini Musso’, so I must be on the right track! My ambition is to win the PWA and one day become world wave champion. I am training as much as possible and competing in all the PWA and IWT events I can! One day I would like to beat Koester and all those top guys. I need the push loop forward and maybe a triple loop (laughs)! I don’t get scared when I go really high, it is fun! I also like big waves, so one day I also want to ride Jaws and other big wave spots.

I have some Japanese companies that sponsor me which my dad helped me get, the biggest is a hair removal company ‘WAX XXX’. I also have a few other outside sponsors as well as RRD within the industry; RRD designs are so nice, I tried lots of different gear but RRD suited my style the most. My favourite move is the double forward, I can’t land them consistently, but I like trying them! I often decide to train a move when I go on the water and just keep trying it until I get super tired. I also watch moves I’m trying to learn on video so I can get it in my head how to do it. I have a professional trainer to help me off the water and I have a fitness training programme I follow every day.  I travelled to the Canary Islands this year with my brother and a few friends but sometimes I go alone. I finished school last year so now I am free to windsurf full time. I have a driving licence in Japan so can rent cars when I am abroad but I find driving them scarier than doing a double forward! The only thing I miss from home though is Japanese food; I miss that after one day of being away! Other than windsurfing I like to do all the other outside sports like surfing and skateboarding. I also like computer games when I am relaxing at home. My worst experience windsurfing was in Morocco last year when the waves were 5-6 metres. I broke my UJ after a wipeout on the most powerful point of the wave, I lost my sail in the water and spent a long time swimming, it was pretty scary.

“My favourite move is the double forward.”

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Titouan Flechet
My naame is Titouan Flechet, but everyone calls me “Titou”. I’m 16 years old and live in Brittany where I train in all of the “Baie d’Audierne” (La Torche to l’ile aux Vaches) and “Baie de Douarnenez” in France. I speak French and English very well and study Spanish at school also. I started to windsurf when I was 4 and learnt from my father in the south of France and in Morocco, at Moulay Bouzerktoun with Boujmaa Guilloul.

The best thing in windsurfing for me is the freedom… you can fly super high… surf the wave… you can do anything you want. Other than windsurfing I like stand up paddling and surfing. My favourite windsurfer depends on the type of conditions. In cross-offshore winds and big waves, Thomas Traversa is the best. In jumping conditions, it’s hard because all the pros are super good, so I don’t really know. I think Victor Fernandez is the best in all conditions; he is the most all-round. My favourite move is the back loop, because you can fly super high and do a cool landing. My dreams in windsurfing are to be a world champion!! I use Hot Sails Maui sails (3.1 to 4.6), Tabou Boards, Black Project fins, Caas masts and Prolimit wetsuits. My funniest windsurfing experience was this summer in Morocco. It was super windy, I was on a 3.5 overpowered and I saw a good ramp. I wanted to do a big stalled forward but just as I moved my back hand back on the boom the wind hit the other side of the sail, so it turned into a shaka, albeit a very late shaka and without my feet, just my hands!!

“ The best thing in windsurfing for me is the freedom.”

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Hayata Ishii
I’m 14 years old and live in Omaezaki, Japan and my home spot is Long Beach. I speak Japanese and English, but my English is so-so. I learnt windsurfing when I was 5 years old with my dad in Omaezaki. I love doing high jumps and am learning push loops. I’d love to be able to do push forwards like Ricardo Campello and my ambition is to be a world champion. Outside of windsurfing I like SUP and computer games.

“ I learnt windsurfing when I was 5.”

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Liam Dunkerbeck
I am from Gran Canaria and my favourite spot to train at is Pozo Izquierdo. I’m 15 years old and my nationality is Spanish; I speak Spanish and English and a little bit of German. I started windsurfing in Fuerteventura on a lagoon. What I like most about windsurfing is going high and being on the water doing what I like. Outside of windsurfing I like to surf and I’m a Canarian surfing champion. For kit I use Severne 2020 Redback sails and my Starboard UltraKode 65 litre Liam Dunkerbeck pro model board. Right now my favourite move is the back loop and my favourite windsurfer is Philip Koester for jumps and Jaeger Stone for wave riding. Like everyone I guess, my ambition in windsurfing would be to become a world champion.

“What I like most about windsurfing is going high.”

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Julia Pasquale
I’’m from Gran Canaria, Spain and I’m 16 years old. I speak Spanish, English and a little bit of French. I learnt to windsurf in Bahia de Formas, near Pozo Izquierdo. Pozowinds’s school taught me when I was 8, at the beginning I didn’t like it, but at 10 I tried it again and I started to like it. I love to sail with friends when I’m windsurfing in good conditions. I also like to do orienteering, I’m in a club and I compete in national competitions. In windsurfing I really love a good vertical turn. My favourite sailor is Víctor Fernández because I love his style and I would like to do doubles like him! I use Duotone Super Hero 2020 sails and Fanatic boards (love my Grip XS), this equipment works really good for me!

I would like to be world champion and enjoy windsurfing by competing at a high level. I enjoy competition because of the atmosphere, all the riders having fun with each other and doing what we all love – windsurfing! I don’t like competing against my friends, but I love spending time with them in the water.

“I love to sail with friends.”

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Maria Morales
I am 13 years old and live In Tenerife. I train in El Médano and sometimes in Pozo. I learned to windsurf in Médano when I was seven years old; my father has taught me everything I know. I like the atmosphere that exists among all the juniors of the PWA World Cup, when the competition ends, we are still all friends.

“ When the competition ends, we are still all friends.”

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Pepe Krause
I’I am 13 years old and I love windsurfing. I am from Germany originally but I live in Canada now. I don’t really train at home but I travel a lot. I’ve been to Maui, and the Canary islands but hope to be going to Baja, Chile and Peru this year too. My parents pay for all of the travel so I am pretty lucky. I speak English, German, Spanish and a little bit of French. I learned to windsurf in Germany and in Spain. I started in a little lagoon when I was 5. My dad taught me as he is a windsurfer as well. I love wave riding and hitting big sections. I am trying goiters but I just love to hit the section. If I could emulate one move from any pro windsurfer I would just love to be able to do a Jaeger Stone slash off the lip. His style is super sick. My hero is Ricardo Campello. He is the craziest guy and the nicest to all the kids and helps us out. He is funny and I like him. In my free time I either windsurf or snowboard. I live in Whistler and we get a lot of snow there. Right now I am a pretty good powder snowboarder. It is like surfing in the snow. If it is a really good powder day that can be a really good feeling too. I really want to be a world champion one day. I want to travel everywhere and be on the podium, have fun and always stay positive. And I’d like to live on Maui. I am riding a custom board from Keith Teboul and for my sails I use Hot Sails Maui. Keith shaped my board for my size, it’s pretty sick. Once I was windsurfing in Maui and rode a sweet wave but fell doing an aerial. I had to swim for about ten minutes to my gear. When I got on my gear, out of nowhere a shark came up and circled me twice. I don’t get why he didn’t attack me while I was swimming. Then he just looked at me and swam away.

“ I love wave riding and hitting big sections..”

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Alexia Kiefer Quintana
I’m 14 years old and I was born and live in Gran Canaria. My father is from Germany so I have got German nationality. I usually go windsurfing in Pozo Izquierdo or Vargas and I speak 4 languages: Spanish, English, French and German. I started windsurfing 4 years ago on a beach in the south of Gran Canaria called Bahia Feliz, in San Agustin. My father was a windsurf instructor for many years, so he teaches me as well. What I love most about windsurfing is the wave riding because it’s just super fun. Whenever I can, and there’s wind, I’m going to sail, but if there’s no wind I ride my scooter in the skatepark or surf or stand up paddle.

My favourite windsurfer is Adam Lewis because I love how he rides the waves. If I could steal a move from any windsurfer it would be the double forward of Philip Koester because it’s my favourite move even if I don’t know how to do it! In the future I want to be wave world champion and have a good freestyle level. I use the Duotone kids sails which are called “NOW” and the new Fanatic Grip Boards, 60 and 68 litres. In my board I use a quad / 4 fin setup. Once I just went with the 2 smallest fins in the board and it was impossible to sail, so I came out and my father was a little angry because I was windsurfing super bad, but I told him what I had done and he just started laughing.

“ Whenever I can, and there’s wind, I’m going to sail.”

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Carlos Kiefer Quintana
I’am 12 years old and live in the south of Gran Canaria and I usually train in Pozo and Vargas. My nationality is German and I speak Spanish, German and English. I started windsurfing when I was 9 in Bahia de Formas, a spot without waves close to Pozo. My father was a windsurf instructor, so he taught me. What I love most about windsurfing is jumping. When there is no wind I really like to play with my friends, go on my PlayStation or surf and go on my scooter. My favourite windsurfing move is the shaka and my favorite windsurfer is Philip Koester. If i could steal a move from any windsurfer, it would be the stalled double from Philip Koester. In the future I would like to be world champion and win the under 15 category next year. I use Duotone Now sails and the Fanatic Grip XS. Once I saw my sister catapult badly, I laughed so hard that I catapulted too.

“ What I love most about windsurfing is jumping.” 

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Ruaraidh Somerville
I’m 16 years old, from Glasgow, Scotland, and I train at my “local” beach Troon and in Tiree. I like to think I speak Spanish, but the moment I try and speak the language in a conversation with actual Spaniards I forget everything I’ve been taught and can only remember the words for hello and goodbye!

I learned to windsurf when I was 5 on the loch in Tiree, which has warm water, a sandy floor and grassy sides – in other words, the perfect place to windsurf. My dad and sister taught me. I windsurfed every year on the Loch on my summer holidays and then when I was around 12 or 13 I had a light bulb moment and realised I wanted to windsurf every day for the rest of my life. I’m still working on getting there now. In my free time I read a lot, hang out with my friends, watch movies and surf or paddleboard when there’s no wind. I like to write and draw windsurfers too.

What I love most about windsurfing is the freedom of riding a wave; you can turn and hit whatever section you want the way you want to as well as that feeling of weightlessness when you get a big aerial. I love everything about windsurfing, even crashing! I love doing a good, floaty air off the lip; for a move that’s so similar to jumping it feels very different. My favourite windsurfers are Antoine Martin and Marc Pare, those guys have a sick style. I have so many more favourites but those guys inspire me the most. If I could steal any move from anybody it would be Philip Koester’s reverse/wave grubby; you don’t see so many guys doing it and it’s such a clean, stylish move that can be done on a really small wave and it still looks sick!

My windsurfing ambitions are to up my jumping level and go hard on the PWA and do well, but more realistically I just want to have a good time sailing with friends! Right now gear wise I’m on JP and Neil Pryde with K4 fins; I love all the equipment I have from them, but my favourite combo is my 4.0 Neil Pryde Combat HD and my 69 litre JP Ultimate Wave with 13 cm Leon rears and 8 cm Shark fronts. I feel like on this setup there’s absolutely nothing holding me back except myself and my own level, and it doesn’t give me any excuses to not sail my best.

 When I was sailing in the evening in Pozo a few days after the contest, I went for a stalled forward totally lit on a 3.3 and messed up the rotation so badly. My front hand came off the boom and I had to let go and my kit did about 4 rotations on its own before it landed in the water. I had to swim for what felt like ages and I watched as my kit got washed up in the totally wrong position to the wind and flipped across the dry rocks until it stopped. It took me a while to walk across the rocks by which point my feet were all cut and bruised, but I had no way of walking back out into the water or getting to the beach as I couldn’t balance on the rocks and carry my kit at the same time. I’m sure the local guys can do it easily, but I’m used to sandy beaches not sharp stones! Luckily one of the guys I was staying with, Laurin Schmuth, thankfully saw me struggling and came to help me. He took my board and I took my sail and we managed to get off the rocks! Other than a small crack in the side of my board and a few nicks on my boom, my kit was totally fine, so I was really lucky. It wasn’t a fun experience but we both looked back on it and laughed. I’ve learned from that experience; now I know it’s best to keep both hands on the boom ha ha!

“I love doing a good, floaty air off the lip.”

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Lucas Meldrum
I’m 18 and have lived in Brighton, England my whole life. This year I just finished full time education (A levels), it’s been a super tough year with exams so there’s been little opportunity to sail, but I normally train at my local beach Hove, which is a 15 minute cycle from my house. I have my gear stored there which is great, but as many UK windsurfers know we don’t get consistent conditions. But it keeps me motivated the fact that some of the best UK windsurfers used to sail at Hove such as Robby Swift and Nik Baker (who still sails Shoreham up the road). I have dual nationality and am lucky enough to have a British and Spanish passport because my mum is Spanish. This may make life easier with Brexit, but let’s not talk about that ha ha. I speak Spanish and English. I think with these two languages I can communicate with a lot of people around the world, so feel pretty fortunate.

I used to go on holiday in Vassiliki with my parents from a very young age and always got a buzz from watching everyone sailing. I was around 10 years old when I gave it a go with help from dad. I then came home and joined my local club, Lagoon Watersports, and they have been supporting me ever since! I think the best thing about windsurfing is its never-ending possibilities. There’s always something to look forward to and the feeling of landing new moves is second to none. Other than windsurfing, I’ve come 2nd in the under 21 UK SUP Championships and in the past year in my free time I was just doing college work pretty much. I like doing graphic design and other creative stuff. I’ve got a couple of little film and logo projects I’m going to do this autumn so that will keep me busy. I think my most interesting hobby is windsurfing, I don’t really have anything else.  My favourite move is a back loop for sure, just that floating feeling, it’s addictive. From a young age Victor Fernandez has been my favourite. Everything he does is so smooth and if you are lucky enough to sail with him you appreciate just how good he is. A move I would steal is Victor’s table top double forwards. Its like a stalled double but with a bit more style, they look so sick. I would love to compete on the PWA world tour and see how far I can go. I think you have to be really patient coming from the UK. The kids from Spain get so good from a young age because they can sail every day, while I think it takes longer to get to the same level coming from the UK. But if you stay committed and determined you can make it to the top. People like Adam Lewis and Ben Proffitt are pretty inspirational to me because, like me, were never top sailors or even on the PWA wave tour when they were young but they stuck at it. Ben has won many events and Adam is now one of the top guys. I use Fanatic Grip boards – 60 litre for strong winds and 75 litre for anything else and my Duotone Super Hero sails from 3.0 to 4.7. I’m also using K4 fins which are working super well.

This year in Tenerife I was waiting in the lineup for a wave in Cabezo and a fish just jumped out and hit me in the chest. It was pretty funny, I didn’t know what it was at first and I just screamed. I later discovered that you can get hurt pretty bad from flying fish. Mark ‘Sparky’ Hosegood (PWA Judge) had to go hospital after a flying fish got stuck in his ankle, ouch!

“The best thing about windsurfing is its never-ending possibilities.”

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