Huge crowds gather for what turns out to be a frustrating start to the world famous Colgate World Cup, Sylt as windsurfing’s worst enemy – the wind – teases the competitors all day long.
A dawn raid for the wave sailors proved fruitless as the breeze refused to build, and the swell that had been forecast failed to materialise, leaving them to head home before breakfast had even been served.
With few waves, the next group of fired up competitors to have their window of opportunity were the freestylers. Unfortunately for them, by the time they’d finished their skipper’s briefing at nine o’clock the wind had dropped below the sufficient level for them to compete too.
And, by the time the final fleet of world-class windsurfers – the slalom racers – were briefed the wind was already showing signs of dying completely. Race director, Juan Antonio Aragon and his team made every effort to get the first heat underway by setting a course and sitting it out on the water all day, but the wind simply refused to blow.
Despite the lack of action on the water, live video streaming of the event continued on www.pwaworldtour.com with interviews throughout the day, including a master class in wave board fin configuration from Kai Lenny (Naish, Naish), Robby Swift (JP, NeilPryde), and Klaas Voget (Fanatic, Simmer, MFC).
One Man Brand
With plenty of time spent on standby, we took the opportunity to talk to top Italian slalom racer, Patrik Diethelm (Patrik, North) about being a world cup competitor, shaper, and all-round brand man!
PWA: First and foremost, why did you decide to go it alone, and start your own brand?
PD: “Well, when I separated from F2 I had two choices; I either had to return to being an electrical engineer, or carry on shaping by heading off in a new direction. Shaping windsurf boards was definitely the more enjoyable of the two, so that’s what I did. I actually often thought about doing it throughout my seven years with F2, but I just couldn’t understand how I’d fund it. I knew all of the numbers from F2, and they were far larger than anything I could comprehend. But, before I made the final decision I realised that myself, and with a little bit of help from Karin (Jaggi – Patrik, Severne), we could do everything on our own. Together we could cover all of the bases from brand manager to team rider, shaper, secretary, marketing manager, you name it, and all without those costs!”
PWA: In what ways do you think being a world cup racer helps you to design, develop, and shape boards?
PD: “Firstly, I don’t have to waste my time talking to a team rider and having endless conversations about how the board feels, and what we need to do to improve the performance. There are a lot of good racers out there, but many of them can’t explain exactly what the board needs to make it better. Okay, they can say it doesn’t gybe that well, but they can’t pinpoint the reasons behind it. Does it have too much vee, not enough vee, too wide in the back, too flat, there could be many things, but the rider just doesn’t know. Whereas, if you’re a shaper that rides boards, you know immediately what’s wrong with them. I could jump on almost any board and would know immediately what I’d want to change without having to measure anything.”
PWA: We often see you battling it out on the slalom course, do you prefer shaping those boards because you’re into that more, or would you rather design wave boards?
PD: “This is one thing that nobody really realises, I actually enjoy wave sailing much more than slalom or speed. But, I’m not a professional wave sailor so that’s why you only see me competing in the other disciplines. At home, if I had the choice between waves or slalom, I’d take waves every time! So, in answer to your question I guess I’d have to say wave boards. Although having said that, it’s always rewarding winning a race on a board that you’ve put your heart and soul into shaping!”
PWA: One of your top wave riders, Dany Bruch (Patrik, Severne) has been using trailer fin boards on the tour this year. Where did that concept come from?
PD: “It basically came from surfing, just like the twin, and the quad did. The single fin has always been one of the most versatile wave boards because they generally plane earlier, jump well, and get upwind easily. But, they weren’t loose enough to get vertical in small waves, whereas the modern twin fins were. So I wanted something that could make the best of both situations. And then it came to me, suddenly I saw this trailer fin surfboard that I had in my garage and thought whoah that could be the answer. To begin with I just wanted to have a board that I could swap between a twin fin and a single because I knew that those would work. So, I put the three US boxes in the bottom, and if I could incorporate the trailer option then it would be a bonus. I lengthened the twinser boxes, and tried the board with the fins as far forward as they could go and it was amazing – in the tiniest of waves you could go completely vertical. But, then we tried the same boards in some bigger waves and it just didn’t work that well as a twinser because it was turning too far too quickly, so we needed to control it. That’s when I thought back to the surfboard and put the mini trailer fin in the middle box. It worked so well, and suddenly all we had to do to was adjust the trailer fin according to the size of the waves we were riding.”
PWA: How do you feel having won a world title (Women’s Slalom – Karin) in your first year with the brand?
PD: “I’m absolutely stoked. And, we did it all with just two people. Like I said earlier, we are the marketing, the shapes, the sales team, the team riders – it’s amazing! I’m also really pleased that Dany is doing so well, he seems much more motivated, and much happier this year which is great. Perhaps he too could claim a spot on the podium by the end of the wave tour…”
Eye On The Horizon
The forecast for the following few days is looking really good for the racing, with the possibility of some freestyle too. And, all is not lost for the wave fleet, with eight days still to go, anything can happen.
Keep in the groove
For more information on all the entrants, and to keep up to date with every piece of the action, click on www.pwaworldtour.com
Here you can:
• View the live streaming broadcast
• View the live ticker service for heat-by-heat bulletins
• Check live elimination ladders
• Check results
• Read daily news summaries
• Browse awesome action photo galleries
There’s also a dedicated event website which can be found at www.windsurfworldcup.de
Or for more information, please contact the PWA office via firstname.lastname@example.org