Sunday, October 04, 2009

Shitty or challenging?

Stimulated by the comments of the previous post and by the fact that the video of the double elimination is finally available online (two days delay... almost real time!), I feel like saying something.

First, let's watch the video.

Those have been recognized as epic conditions for Sylt.
And now let's watch the video of double elimination of the 2007 Cabo Verde contest, also universally recognized as epic.

IMO, the difference is staggering.
Some may say that MOST of the world windsurfers usually sail conditions that are more similar to the ones in Sylt rather the ones in Cabo Verde and that a wave riding world champ needs to be good in all kind of conditions. I agree with that.

Let's look at the smarter, richer and better organized pro surfers. Here's their schedule of events. In addition to locations where you can expect to find perfect waves (Pipeline, Teahupoo, Jeffrey's bay) they have a bunch of locations where the waves can be either epic or average and a couple of locations where the waves will most likely be average, but it's good for the business and for the growth of the sport in general to have a contest there (specifically Brazil and Trestles).

So, nothing wrong with keeping Sylt and Pozo, but - again - can't crown a wave riding world champion based on three contests two of which are mostly based on jumping or backside riding. That's bad.
So what the PWA wave world tour needs is more contests in a better mix of location.
The first place one would immediately think of is Maui.
It's shocking that there's no wave contest in what is the universally recognized as the world's windsurfing mecca.

More spots? No problem...
This year I've seen a bunch of great independent contests organized around the world. Like the Fuerteventura Wave Classic.

Or the Reunion Wave Classic.

So it's the usual lack of money and sponsor problem, I guess.
Or is it lack of management capabilities? I don't know. It just seems odd that such a great, spectacular discipline like wave sailing doesn't get the attention it deserves with a proper world tour.


Anonymous said...

Giampaolo, it´s cool to see you're picking up on this topic. I am the same Anonymous that commented on the "shitty conditions" in the first place (Andreas). I agree with you up to a 90 percent. It IS ridiculous that a "world champion" earns his title in just three events. You are right if you´re saying those three events do not represent proper wavesailing conditions on average. You are damn right if you say that Maui should have a contest, And I agree that the PWA tour management does not do the best job in preparing the stage for our sport.
But what bothered me is that ultra-snobby "oh look at that "worldcup" they´re doing in that shitty conditions"-attitude. It´s actually fun to watch (I was there), and it´s exciting to sail (that´s what couple sailors including Antoine and Philip said when I talked to them there). There are literally tens of thousands of people watching in the cold on the beach, 85 % of them with no direct interest in windsurfing whatsoever. But they stand there rain or shine and watch and that´s good for this sport which is actually not the top notch trendsport right now.
I do not now why other potential locations are not in the circuit. If I think of Maui I feel that for the island kamaeina windsurfing is not as important as the rest of the world might think. Resorts and timeshare are important. People snorkeling with life vests are important. Same thing happening in Cabo Verde, where the good spots will all have blocked-out wind by no-brain construction in three to five years (even Ponta Preta) and nobody gives a S**** on the windsurfers who started to discover the isles for travel 20 years ago (Josh: you better be a real estate agent real soon like other windsurfers did).
End of my lamento, thanks for listening. I grew up on the island next to Sylt and I still live close to there and where do I go windsurfing if I can? Maui. Talking about shitty conditions.
Aloha, Andreas

Anonymous said...

i do agree with you and things need to change. BUT, i doubt all the guys involved are sat there patting themselves on the back saying, 'good job, 3 events, only one true wave location'. these guys will be pulling their hair out at how lame this is. we need to help, be positive, say supportive stuff, put windsurfing out there in a great light. hopefully with the moves made by events such as reunion and fuerteventura events we will see change, but there's no need to state the obvious.

although i really do see where you are coming from, right now it all comes down to money. are the pwa pro active enough in securing more sponsorship for the future, well, that is another question.


Anonymous said...

There's definitely wind and waves, but it's for sure not down the line wave sailing. With that said - the real question is whether the tour "wave" events should be only about down the line riding or whether jumps, backside tricks etc... should be part of it. Pozo is not much of a wave spot either really but it looks like a jumping heaven.

I think you hit it right on the nail about the money issue... most good windsurfing spots are in uncrowded areas... but that's where the live Web cast you've been talking about comes in play.

The surfing world really got it... Windsurfing needs to catch on --> maybe that's poor management there not doing the right things to get the money or maybe there's just simply not any money in it.


Anonymous said...

Money. Obviously you folks don't buy a lot of Colgate over on Maui.

Why does the "home" of Windsurfing not have an event, is it a lack of will? Old Skool American isolationism?

Surely it can't be money, as prize funds of $45,000 per event are not exactly out of reach surely?

Or did you never recover from JP coming over from Auz to teach you how to ride your own waves? ;)

mystery bob said...

Maui has cut off it's nose to spite it's face. Travares shutdown of vacation rentals and maui Police ticketing tourist and local spectators unmercifully for parking on the edge of the highway during contests and the general crap attitude so many here give to our most important source of revenue = tourists, it is now coming back to haunt. Especially during these economic hard times. the airlines haven't helped with exorbitant luggage charges.
We need Rodney Kilborne or Paul Ehman to step up and renew Thw Aloha Classic and the mauri-Onell (or something)

mystery bob said...

Saying JP taught the Maui guys how to sail waves is bullshit. Do you say Kelly Slater taught the Oahu guys. No. He is just best at it. Jason Polokow is great but so are Josh Angulo and stone, kais Katadourian and Lenny, paul Bryan from, a guy named Robby Naish and another named Dave Kalama or Mark Angulo. JP is at a top level, so is Bjoern, Nik Baker, etc, but they didn't teach our guys.
As for the contest in Sylt. I was greatly impressed by the talent, not the least of which were the pozo sisters Iballa & Daida. Mussolini and Albeau and many.Fucking Awesome guts and big maneuvers.

cammar said...

Thanks all for the comments.

I just feel like replying to Andreas that I never had what you call a...
ultra-snobby "oh look at that "worldcup" they´re doing in that shitty conditions"-attitude.

My post said: "Amazing what those guys can do in such shitty conditions."
Then after your comment, I admitted that shitty was not the right word and I changed it into challenging.
But the admiration for the ability of the sailors to rip in those conditions has always been there, no question about it.

Lil' misunderstanding is my guess. Very easy when reading blogs, emails and things like that.
Hope that's more clear now.

Well, now that I think about it I also feel like telling the last anonymous that the comment about JP is lame and not funny.

Dave said...

Great topic. I see Andreas frustration having his spot belittled. I'd be pissed too. BUT HOLD ON A SECOND!!! They are going construction crazy at Ponte Preta? I have not been there but by the looks of the footage I've seen, a series(or even one)twelve story, or there abouts, hotel/condo directly oceanfront will eliminate those lovely side off conditions and turn it into a complete wind shadow!?!?!Now that would be a travesty.
BTW, If you've got the balls to sail those conditions in Slyt.More power to you.It doesn't look shitty to me, it looks scary.
Aloha, Dave

DR said...

Hey GC, the surfing tour seems to have great industry support from companies like Ripcurl etc. This in the main seems to be because Kelly and the rest can sell t-shirts to a large group of surfers and an even larger group of non surfers who wish to buy into the lifestyle and who have no idea what that funny little plastic comb they get free with their shorts is for!

I agree with your point, can anyone be World Champ based on 3 events? In which other sport would this happen? Perhaps the wave tour needs a more flexible, rapid reaction (to a forecast) and cheaper format. If you had 15 events then riders could be given discards, the tour would have more credibility and the whole thing would be more marketable. The Fuerte and Reunion format looks like a good model.

The whole windsurfing industry feels too much like an old boys network so I am not sure things will change with the current PWA. Perhaps a break-away tour is needed?

Anonymous said...

I am glad you posted on this subject. I also think it is a shame windsurfing doesn't have more DTL events. Windsurfing in mast-high side-off conditions with a solid twenty knots is definitely the most beautiful, soulful experience I can dream of.
However, the great thing about windsurfing is the large range of venues we can sail. Side off; side-on; windswell; groundswell; reef breaks; beach breaks; point breaks; or no breaks at all. Sure, Cabo Verde looks great and all from a media perspective - and as far as wind "SURFING" goes, an event like that is about as close to surfing as you get. That being said, there is something amazing and liberating about bashing around in windy, treacherous conditions. Jumping is just as much a part of windsurfing as wave-riding, in my opinion, and side-on conditions can actually be very freeing as opposed to some side-off spots. In side-on conditions you can go backside, you can drive down the line, or you can sail switch. Because it focuses on jumping as well, it eliminates the handicap some riders have with a weak/strong side. Also, good onshore technique actually requires the rider to "surf" the wave more than side-off conditions do, as the rider will get backwinded if he/she fails to keep working the wave, transitioning quickly from rail to rail. In side-off conditions the sail whips you into the turn as it is laid down and the rider also uses the sail to project up the face and off the lip --- in side-on conditions the rider must rely on boardspeed developed from the wave/board in order to get back up to the top of the wave, as the sail is actually working against the board and rider. In an onshore bottom turn the rider must aggressively carve and drive the rail with his hips and chest (like surfing), whereas in side-off conditions the bigger turns are initiated by driving the rail by laying down the sail (unless you are keith taboul, who is currently reinventing the way we perceive the ideal bottom turn!).

Ultimately, I wish the tour would do more contests to determine the wave title. It is a shame there is only one dtl spot - strong goofy footers like victor fernandez would have a better chance at the title if there was a left on the tour that complements the huge right we currently have; Likewise, there is no spot on tour (except for scotland, which was cancelled) that features solid break setups with side-on or side-shore wind. I love sylt for the extreme factor and I think the pozo jumping is incredible, but I would like to see sailors challenged to the max on the largest variety of conditions.

And as much as I love seeing windsurfers sailing teahupoo, sometimes the whole "side-off" thing gets taken so far that sailors lose the ability to land an arial back on the wave face (so what's the point, then? why not just grab a stick and go surfing instead of wasting the perfectly good barrel with a sail that limits you to a particular part of the wave if it's 60* offshore and the sail just pulls you off the wave if you go for an arial?).
My home spot takes the whole "I only do side-off" thing to the extreme: I've seen my crew stick their noses up to logo-high side-on mast crunchers only to go down and sail 55* side-off conditions where the waves are only waist high. This b.s. attitude is reinforced by the mauicentric attitude that praises side-off as the "only real wavesailing." I learned to open the clew and drive the rail with my hips and the other 80% of the ocean became my playground.

I apologize for my longwindedness, but this is a topic I am passionate about. I love your blog, by the way, and the fact you cover all aspects of the ocean, not just windsurfing. Keep up the good work, GP!

-Stuart Proctor
Cape Hatteras, NC, USA

Anonymous said...

let me dream about next year world cup wave spot ....
1- gnaraloo
2- punta preta
3- lavanono
4- hookipa
5- caraibi "keith taboul secret spot :-)"
6- new super spot I don't know yet

naturally with ... live stream connection all day long with 4 camera and some gopro camera on pro's board !


Catapulting Aaron said...

Great post and great comments. I think they should add Ho'okipa and Matanzas (or another awesome opposite-Hoo tack venue that is side-off).

To name the champion, obviously you need more events, but also events that challenge the riders across the biggest variety of conditions.

Or, you could name Side-off and Side-on champs...ha!

Anonymous said...

Dang! I was joking about JP people...

Maui is the place that everyone who windsurfs wants to go to, it is Mecca. And one of the benefits that brings is (like the other comment said) you get a mix of all the best sailors in the world, so of course it is impossible to say who is best, or anything like that.

JP is probably my favourite that is why I used his name (I could have said Naish or Baker or whoever).

It was just a joke. Just like blaming the lack of a contest on a rebirth of 1930's Amercian isolationism was (although no one got prissy about that).

Because joking aside, I (and probably the rest of the world) can't understand why there is no contest on Maui. It definately cheapens the title not having one.

And given that every pro is on Maui for most of April at least, surely someone could pony up the cash (and even in windsurfing industry terms it is not a lot of money) and let people see what our sport has to offer in its greatest stadium... Or are the photoshoots more important?

Anonymous said...

If someone is calling sylt a non true wave spot, he's gotta be out of his mind...
It's easy to rup perfect waves with a 20 second wave period in 30 degrees.
Spots like sylt with 7 seconds f period packed with 5 meter sets show true style and skills.try conditions like that and stop talking bullshit like this. I'm sure that You'd be scared to go in conditions like this all of yu who claim this spot shitty. To rip in such conditions you hotta have true balls...

Cutre said...

Lets keep dreaming, to the 6 events "M" suggested, I would add:

7-Baja California
8-Los Jameos del Agua (Lanzarote)
9-Omeazaki (during the typhoon season)



Dave said...

And after all this chatter about only having three events to crown a champ, hats of to Josh! Even though it was only three events he is still a worthy champion I believe.
Aloha, Dave

P.S.Lakey Peak in Sumbawa would be a great addition to the tour for sure!!I went there to surf in '98 and was mesmerized by the perfect sailing conditions EVERY AFTERNOON!!!Unfortunately I could only mindsail the waves.

Andrew said...

What about Cape Town, South Africa? Loads of pros go there to train and the conditions are epic.

Anonymous said...

yes I agree with you ...Namotu 4sure !

DAVE please...sssssshhhh don't write too much abouto indo ...
and sumbawa ... keep the pseudo-secret ...

Anonymous said...

Here is video from the same day, only in Latvia Pavilosta. Bit offshore, 40-50+ knots

Anonymous said...