Column Inches For The Captain
At 61, Greg Thomas (Thommen, Naish) is the PWA oldest, and far and away most experienced competitor. Thomas shows utter dedication; follow the slalom tour to the furthest corners of the world to compete against his younger rivals.
His impressive devotion has been picked up by The Maui News, who chose to run an article on the man, known to most as ‘The Captain’, thanks to his job outside of windsurfing, captaining a charter yacht.
Here’s what the paper had to say about Mr. Thomas:
The PWA tour is comprised of the best windsurfers in the world. Thomas is old enough to be the father of all 82 slalom competitors in the PWA rankings.
''I've always wanted to do it, I made my dream a reality,'' Thomas said. ''I had an opportunity to compete with the best guys in the world.''
Thomas travelled to Ulsan, Korea, for the first event only to see it cancelled because of light wind.
He finally was able to compete at the $70,000 Catalunya World Cup in the Costa Brava, Spain. He then raced in two events in Gran Canaria before returning to Maui.
He is currently ranked 41st in slalom.
''I didn't do real well in any of the events,'' Thomas said. ''I was in the back of the pack. Since I went to all the events, I got a better ranking.
''I was not last in any of the events, which was my goal. I learned a lot, it was super challenging.''
Despite local sponsorship from Naish Sails, Peter Thommen Sailboards, Vector Fins, and Flavor Waves, it was an expensive tour for Thomas. He estimated his out-of-pocket expenses to be between $15,000-20,000.
''You race for the love,'' Thomas said.
Thomas also credited his employer, Erik Barto of Paragon Charters, for giving him time off from his boat captain's job so he could compete.
''He supports me 100 percent,'' Thomas said. ''They're kind of like family. My credit card was maxed out, so I had to use the boss' credit card to get a ticket home.''
Still Thomas would like to do the tour again.
''Financially if I could put together sponsors, I would to it again next year,'' he said. ''But I would do it differently, way more preparation.''
PWA / Andrew Buchanan