Interview with Rich Page PWA Tour Manager
Q: PWA tour manager...sounds like a tough job...what does it entail?
RP: Managing the tour! I am the only full time member of PWA staff throughout the year and am responsible for the majority of what goes on. Everything from event contracts, media contracts, hiring and firing of event crew, rule changes etc. etc. I am involved at every level. Phil Mcgain (PWA Chairman) and Richie Foster (PWA Director) also spend a lot of their free time working on the tour, so they really deserve much of the credit. During the busy season I have an event Manager – Shane Smart – who handles the bulk of the logistics work to take the pressure off a bit.
Q: How much work actually goes into making an event happen?
RP: It really varies. Some new projects take considerable guidance and support from our side to get them up and running, but the stalwarts of the tour, such as Pozo are sealed in long term deals so it is just a case of crossing the t’s and dotting the I’s. The event Organizers themselves obviously have huge logistic arrangements as well, but that all falls under their responsibility on the whole. Our main role in reality is to fine-tune the events and particularly the competition side to ensure they reach a “Professional” enough standard for the PWA to put their name to it and have PWA sailors attend.
There are times when the politics of the whole thing become particularly relevant, especially when trying to integrate different classes into events, such as the combined PWA race and Formula World Championships in Sylt this Year. That is when experience and personal contacts start to pay off.
Q: How is the tour looking for this and next season?
RP: To look at the PWA Tour on the surface, you would not see anything too remarkable. But, we have been able to maintain the tour at that level whilst building massively for the future. The result is that the future of The PWA has never looked so good. We have good marketing and media support, we are financially and administratively independent and we have the support of the windsurfing industry and most importantly the sailors – our members.
With the recent PWA Formula event in Poland, racing has returned to the PWA and we have a great deal of interest for Race events next year, as well as Wave and Freestyle.
The future is bright.
Q: Any exciting new locations?
RP: There are a lot of possibilities right now, there is a great deal of interest in the US and South America, and it is only a matter of time before we are back in Maui, but it would be foolish of me to disclose too much at this stage, but needless to say the reshaping and foundation building that has gone on over the last 2 years is starting to come to fruition. This year we will visit Canada and Bonaire for the first time.
Q: Are we seeing a lot of new blood joining the PWA?
RP: Yes! Particularly in Freestyle, it is such a dynamic discipline and anyone can go out there and do it. The result is that new kids coming through are taking top-level scalps and pulling off some major coups. The days of the 12-year World Champions are over!
Q: How did you get involved with the PWA in the first place?
RP: Initially I started working on UK events driving boats, setting courses, that sort of thing and I was asked to help out at Brighton one year (with PBA). I was lucky in that the weather was absolutely horrendous and my boat handling skills and general abilities seem to come into their own a lot more when I’m up against it like that, so I managed to prove my worth quite easily. The result was that they asked me to come back and do some more.
Since then I’ve worked my way up through the ranks doing every job there is pretty much. From flagman, to head judge, to running the tour. One of my main areas has been as a PWA policeman, being responsible for sailor discipline and their first point of communication if they have a grievance. This has led to me taking thousands of dollars in fines over the years, probably the biggest being nearly $3000 from Robert Teriitehau when he tried to take a swing at me. There were tears over that one I can tell you, but not from my side. I’ve survived 2 major shake ups in my time (the transition from PBA to PWA and the more recent split with SSM) and have the unusual privilege of being the only person who has been to every PWA contest in the last 5 years. That level of experience has helped me to take hold of the reigns on what was a bumpy track at the start of last year, and still be hanging on now we are back on the tarmac. I do however have very little to show for my time on tour except a lot of friends, hundreds of stamps in my passport, and a ropey tan at the best of times.
Q: I heard you windsurf yourself?
RP: I have been known to stick a toe in the water occasionally…. I have been sailing for about 18 years, which begs the question why am I not a better sailor, but I have had some periods of, shall we say, low motivation and commitment in that time…. I’m right back on top now though and loving every minute on the water.
Q: How would you like to see the tour develop over the next few years?
RP: It would be nice to see a few more events in exotic locations, but I think that that will come…. Watch this space….. Things are developing well already though, as I said we have never been in a more positive position. I think we will see more events in a wider variety of locations and with the possibilities of tour sponsorship, come some excellent opportunities for the entire sport to grow.
Q: What is your favourite event?
RP: Difficult to say, obviously the glamorous spots over the years like Fiji or Maui have their attractions, but each event has it’s endearing qualities. I have been going to some locations for so long now that they almost feel like home. Partying in Sylt or the Canaries has its attraction, but sitting on the beach in Brazil is always good. I think Maui is still my favourite spot, but that is just because the sailing is so good.
Q: How about a tour sponsor...anything in the pipeline?
RP: Nothing that I would talk about here, but like I said we have never been in a better position….
Q: Describe a typical day in your life?
RP: When I am not at a contest, it mostly involves sitting in front of my laptop writing and responding to emails, and researching possibilities for events. But when we are on site it becomes a whole lot more involved, calculating seedings etc before the start of the day, through overseeing the contest as the day progresses and eventually calculating results and rankings at the end of the day. After that I can continue with any other tour business that needs attention!!