McGain gets the bug back.
This will be Phil's 22nd year competing at the Sylt World Cup, which dates back to 1985. Phil met current event organizer Matthias Neumann on the beach, while he was competing in his first World Cup event. Matthias has been running one of the most well organized events on tour ever since 1985.
Phil is no stranger to the highly demanding and frigid conditions the island of Sylt offers. He has been on the podium in the slalom, racing and wave disciplines at Sylt, however, this time round he goes into the event with no expectations. Modesty aside, he’ll no doubt be pushing and challenging the top sailors during the slalom heats.
McGain may have been away from the World Cup scene but has been actively involved in Slalom racing at regional and National Level events in the US for the past two years, winning both US Open and numerous Maui Slalom events.
Phil, now part owner and operator of MauiSails, decided to compete in Sylt this year for many reasons, but first and foremost was because of his passion and spirit for the sport.
Phil commented from his home in Maui, “Sylt has always been a special place to compete, the cold, the extreme wind conditions, the crowds and the fact that I know it so well, has drawn me back to Sylt for one more showdown.
Since I’m so involved with our business it’s important to be out in the field getting first hand feedback on the product while competing with and supporting my Team mates.”
Andrew Buchanan from the PWA was able to ask Phil a few questions about returning to the PWA World Tour.
AB- Obviously you have already answered some key questions about why your coming back to the World cup, but what have you been up to in your time out from the PWA?
PM- Two years seems like a long time, but time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve been super busy with MauiSails for the past few years and been focused on growing our business and making sure everything is running smooth. So competing hasn’t been a priority for me, at least not internationally.
I’ve continued to work closely with our team members, training, tuning and offering my support to them while they have been on Maui. The addition of Josh Angulo to MauiSails has been a huge boost for us, especially in our overall image and the feedback we are getting from Josh on improving our products which has enabled us to have our best year so far.
AB- A lot has happened in two years at the PWA with slalom rules and equipment, how do you think you’re going to compete with the top guys who have all this experience?
PM- I’m going into the event with no expectations, so I’ll be fairly relaxed and will just give it my best shot. I’ve seen Antoine dominating so much and recently Bjorn has won an event, Kevin is consistent as ever, so I’m looking forward to being on the starting line with these guys, having a good time and learning more about our sails so we can make them better.
AB- You’re now 45 years old and most of the fleet will be 20 years younger than you, giving up so much to the youth surely will be a concern once the flag drops?
PM- Yeah you’re right, the young guys have tons of energy and will be hard to beat, but I’ll draw on my 25 years of racing experience and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life physically and mentally.
AB- We’ve heard rumors of you running marathons to keep in shape, is this true?
PM- I started off running after sailing to keep fit and started to feel much better on the race course and during wave sailing, so I kept it up. Slowly I became more serious about the running and decided to run the Honolulu Marathon in December 2006. I got the same adrenaline rush from the Marathon as I did from competing in windsurfing, so I was hooked. I’ve competed in 6 marathons now in two years and this year started to do triathlons as well. Next year I’ll do my first half Ironman event and maybe one day qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s so close to home so why not? The marathons and triathlons are a great hobby which keeps me out of trouble, keeps me in good shape and while I’m not full time on the tour gives me another outlet for competitions.
AB- You sound pretty busy then. Do you plan to compete in any of the PWA events next season?
PM- I’m not sure at this stage. I want to compete in Sylt and see how I do. I still love to race and the PWA tour is important to me. It’s such great vehicle to be able to promote, test products and create an image for the Sport and all the heroes of the sport come from the PWA.
AB- One final question Phil. You were Chairman of the PWA for a long time, how do you see the PWA today and what sort of direction do you think it’s heading?
PM- I think the PWA is in a very healthy state. There are lots of events, disciplines have continued to be developed and there are plenty of young guys still coming up through the ranks to be the hero’s of tomorrow. The press coverage is still getting better, more people understand what is happening in the PWA, which is really important. The participation level for slalom has increased over 40% in the past few years so the industry have got to be happy with that. It means more people are buying products and your average windsurfer has access to the best equipment, in fact the same equipment the World Cup guys are using.
It still amazes me that the wave and freestyle guys still find new maneuvers to pull off and the competition level continues to sky rocket as the top sailors consistently pull of these moves during heats.
Our thanks go to Phil McGain for taking the time out to fill us in on his whereabouts, and we wish him the best of luck in Sylt.
PWA / Andrew Buchanan