SAILOR IN FOCUS
Next up to face the PWA spotlight is the seventeen year old from Curacao, Rafael de Windt (Hot Sails Maui), who is an aspiring freestyler that harbors aims and ambitions of breaking into the top five and beyond on the PWA Freestyle World Tour. Having only been windsurfing for six years he’s definitely one to watch out for in the future, especially when you consider the fact that he is already landing skopus and training to land spock culos. Find out more about Rafael below.
PWA: Firstly, what are your thoughts on how the 2012 season has gone so far and how would you rate your results?
Rafael de Windt: “I only went to one PWA event this year, Fuerteventura and I am super happy with my result. My goal was to finish in the top 20 in Fuerteventura and I managed to finish 17th, so I am super stoked about that.”
PWA: How long have you been windsurfing?
Rafael de Windt: “I have been windsurfing since March 2006 , so that’s 6 years.”
PWA: Who has been you biggest influence on your sailing?
Rafael de Windt: “My biggest inspiration to start windsurfing was Ingmar Schnitzler(owner of Windsurfing Curacao). He taught me everything about freestyle windsurfing and also encouraged me to always go on the water. He still helps me a lot when I am sailing in competition.Then to learn new moves and put more style into my moves there’s : Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra), Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) and Kiri Thode (Starboard / Gaastra).”
PWA: Where is your favorite place to windsurf and why?
Rafael de Windt: “My favorite spot to sail is at home ‘Spanish waters’ and Sorobon (Bonaire). Spanish waters because it is flat with the possibility for chop, a lot of boats pass by towards the harbor creating some good waves to jump off and it is always a great feeling to be on the water with close friends from your child hood. Also is it an interesting spot because every time we go out sailing we never know where we would go, maybe we’ll go upwind to train switch stance maneuvers near the mangroves or we’d go next to the harbor to sail in some mega choppy water from the boats to do some air moves such as loops and big shove-its. As for Sorobon I always have the opportunity to learn a lot just by watching locals Tonky , Taty, Kiri and Youp sailing in nice flat and consistent wind conditions over there it is always an adventure to go on the water.”
PWA: What is your favorite move and why?
Rafael de Windt: “My favorite move is the skopu, because I love the part where you go so high and then in mid air you close the sail and you feel the board going upwind when you’re still in the air and then when you land, you slide so fast with so much speed, so much power that when the move is finished you still feel a lot of adrenaline going through your body.”
PWA: What move did you find the hardest to learn and why?
Rafael de Windt: “Burner and the willy skipper. Burner because every time I would start the rotation my board would not leave the water but, after a lot of tips from a lot of people I finally got the feeling for it.
Willy skipper is still a move I cannot do, because I am really scared of it. The main reason is when I started practicing the willy skipper I had board with not much grip and that caused the worst thing that can happened with a willy skipper ‘gone wrong’. When my feet landed on the board I slipped and hit the mast with my manhood, so until today I am still super scared to do it. :)”
PWA: What new moves are you currently learning?
Rafael de Windt: “Spock into culo is on top of my list but I I also decide to try some backloops when there is a big wave or when we go out in the open ocean. I also started to focus my training to do moves on my bad side, and that’s how I found out that I like to do my normal kono more on my bad side than on my good side and because of that I decided to learn to air bob on my bad side too. I also tried the new move of Dieter van der Eyken (Starboard / Severne) and I’ve crashed really badly a few times with that one.”
PWA: How do you learn your moves and improve your sailing? Videos? Watching others?
Rafael de Windt: “When I learn a new move the first thing I do is to look how they do it on videos on Continentseven. I also train a lot with Quincy Offringa (Starboard), it is always a lot of fun to sail with him on the water, we are always pushing each other towards higher and faster rotations on a few moves.”
PWA: Where is your favorite spot on the PWA Tour?
Rafael de Windt: “That will be Fuerteventura and last year, Bonaire of course.”
PWA: How does competition make you feel? And how do you prepare for your heats?
Rafael de Windt: “Before the heat I usually always get super nervous, it used to be a big problem for me as I would always stress out with every crash, but when I started talking to Ruben Petrisie he taught me a lot about how to calm my nerves and to just enjoy it and always keep smiling. Now I stay on the shore near to my equipment and check if everything is ready. I check out the heat that’s before mine and in my head the only thing I am saying to myself is to have fun first and the rest will follow. When the red flag goes up I go on the water and wish my opponent good luck and start smiling. And then during the heat I try to chill and take my time, when I crash I start laughing with myself and think how crazy that crash actually was.”
PWA: What do you do when you’re not windsurfing?
Rafael de Windt: “When there is no wind, I like to wave surf a lot, fishing, paintball, wakeboarding and chilling with my friends. I also like to enjoy yoga sessions which is always super relaxing to do.”
PWA: What are your goals for the future?
Rafael de Windt: “My goal for next year is to finish in the top 15 in my next PWA event. But in the long term I want to encourage and help as many young kids as I can to get into freestyle windsurfing. I am currently busy giving classes to the next generation of young freestylers on Curacao. It is so much fun, because it reminds me how hyper and crazy I was when I started windsurfing. I also want to compete in as many competitions as possible, hopefully together with other freestylers from Curacao. I am certain that I will make the top 5 in a few years If I continue to do my best, who knows maybe I will become the world champion on day.”
PWA: Thanks Rafael, we look forward to seeing you at future contests and good luck with your training this winter.
You can find out even more about Rafa on his website here, as well as being able to keep up to date with everything he has been up to recently.