Next up in our ‘Why I Windsurf’ series we catch up with the former wavesailing world champion, who’s now concentrating his efforts on the slalom tour – Josh Angulo.
Windsurfing has, to some degree, been my entire life. I remember my first windsurfing session – I was eight years old, and it ended in tears. I was with my dad and brothers, and he put me on a big HiFly board, with a tiny sail. I stood on it, pulled up the sail, and sailed out from the little beach behind Surf and Sea in Haleiwa, on Oahu’s North Shore. I thought it was so easy, until my dad yelled at me to turn around. He had to swim me back to the beach, crying my eightyear- old eyes out.
Every session since then has been, to a slightly lesser degree, a repeat; every time you start to get confident that you’ve got this thing under complete control, wham! Catapult. I’m the only professional windsurfer living in Boston, Massachussets. It’s definitely not Maui, and definitely not Cape Verde! It’s a logistical lifestyle choice – it’s easy to get back to Cape Verde, or the European spots on the tour. We do get to windsurf here, though not as much, and when it’s good, our sailing spots: Nahant, Cape Cod and Rhode Island, are simply beautiful.
When I do get to windsurf, I’ve learned this: when it’s cold outside, put your thick wetsuit on at the house before you go; you’re a lot more likely to go sailing when you get to the beach.
If you get there it’s cold, and conditions may be more ‘promising’ than ‘firing’, you’re only going to get on the water if you’re already suited up. The guys that windsurf here are hardcore and dedicated.
Do I miss waves? No. I get to sail them whenever I’m back in Maui, or in Cape Verde. Do I miss competing in them? Nope, I don’t miss that either.
I have my two world titles and it’s time to work on something else. Slalom is fun, and there’s rarely any debate about the order in which the sailors cross the finish line, which a guy who spent years competing in something judged on pure opinion can appreciate!
“If wavesailing is an art, then racing is a science; you can’t win if you don’t have your gear perfectly dialled, simple as that.”
Right now, the ground is covered in snow… so most of my training days are happening in the gym. I’m working on my body and my diet and putting it all towards the upcoming PWA slalom season. After a few years of freewheeling, getting by mostly on luck, my approach is being refined. My slalom history goes way back; I competed in Maui Race Series as a kid with guys like Micah Buzianis, and when I stepped up to the open class, it was against guys like Phil McGain and Alex Aguerra. In some ways, training for slalom isn’t that much different than training for waves – it’s repetition and equipment. Getting your gear feeling light – feeling ‘light’ isn’t just about weight, it’s about tuning. I admit it: after 25 plus years of windsurfing, sailing back and forth can get boring. I’m just now beginning to get the tuning and tweaking game, and how important that is. I’m working a lot closer with the designers to find the perfect sail mast combos, tuning the battens, and matching it all up with sails that really work. I test my gear with Micah and Pieter Bijl; there are no two better guys out there to test with right now.
There’s been a natural progression of my sailing, in my later years as a wavesailor, I became much more calculating. Going for a guaranteed seven on a wave instead of trying to find that one big hit that’d give me a 9.5. In slalom it’s similar. It’s about being consistent and managing risk; whoever gets fourth place, in every single heat, is likely to end up on the podium. You can’t just be fast. At this level, everybody from first place to fiftieth is fast.
If wavesailing is an art, then racing is a science; you can’t win if you don’t have your gear perfectly dialled, simple as that. Once you’ve got your gear and your technique dialled in, then a good slalom season is already mapped out, you just got to walk the walk – or rather, sail the course. Bring on the starting gun – I’m ready!