Sails: Sailloft Hamburg
Competition Skiing: 1976-1990
Professional windsurfer: since 1996
Designer/Shaper: since 1998
Designer/Shaper for F2: 2003-2009
„Patrik“ products: since 2010
Windurfing since: 1985
Sail Number: ITA-120
Professional Windsurfer: since 1996
Favourite Spot: Margaret River / Australia
>> Production Speed Worldrecord Holder
>> 3 x Production Speed World Champion
>> 2 x Overall Speed Vize Worldchampion
My life in a flash
I was born and raised in Switzerland, and together with my two brothers, experienced a very good childhood. We were all extremely active in a variety of sports from the early days, but the mountains were our natural playgrounds. As a very passionate skier, my father taught and managed, all of our skiing careers. Away from sport, I always loved to fix and build things. I probably inherited my need for absolute Swiss perfection from my father who was a car mechanic, whereas my southern temperament is definitely an attribute I credit to my Italian mother.
To be successful in ski competitions it was essential to be fit, so I completed a tough summer training schedule that included taking part in a variety of different sports. Windsurfing happened to be of them because it was perfect for training the whole body balance system. In my wild teenage years I suffered a few nasty traffic accidents which unfortunately ruined my skiing career. But, on the flipside, they launched windsurfing to the forefront of my sporting life.
At the age of 20 I spent my life moving between the mountains and the ocean, whilst also studying for my apprenticeship as an electro-mechanic. And, after a successful exam, I was called for my obligatory service in the Swiss army.
It was becoming too late to become a successful professional athlete, so the Swiss military offered me a fascinating new challenge, which I accepted, channelling my energy on climbing the army’s ranks. I spent long tough winters in frozen white landscapes, climbing mountains, shooting guns, firing rockets, and learning the theory behind warfare, whilst leading a sperate life during my free time, enjoying the beauty of long hot summers, deep blue oceans, and endless beaches. This down time gave me the peace and quiet in which to learn about the passion of soul sports - no competitions, no pressure, just pure dignity, and appreciation for Mother Nature.
After six years of cruising around in my free time, and sailing the best waves on earth, I felt something was missing in my life. I needed to feel the emotions associated with speed and competition, which I’d lost after ending my skiing career.
My technical knowledge, and my growing desire to feel the excitement of competition again allowed me to experiment with composite constructions whilst building my own boards to use at contests. Waves were, and still are, my favourite playground, but I needed the kind of head-to-head speed challenge that you can only get from racing.
At the age of 26, I shaped my very first board. It almost sank a couple of hours later! However, after some top tips and tricks from a good friend, and endless experiments, the following few boards came out tremendously well. And, for a couple of years I raced successfully on my own products in both Swiss and Italian national competitions. But, my big breakthrough in shaping came in the year 2000 at PWA event in Paros/Greece. An airline lost Finian Maynard’s equipment, and in pure desperation over anything else he borrowed my board – one I’d only just finished on the beach the day before the World Cup started - and he finished second! On that very same board I scored one bullet after another in the Italian and Swiss events, and dominated the Lake Silvaplana Marathon with a four-minute lead – the shape was just magic!!
One thing led to another, F2 became interested in my skills, and eventually offered me a job as a tester for Arrows and F2. From that moment onwards, my life has been all about shapes, technical performance, and innovations. I never leave things to chance – I always have to know why something performs well, or why it doesn’t! In addition to the testing, I introduced many innovative board designs to the range, and created shapes for the - then new - disciplines of freestyle and formula. Riders around the globe loved my work, but they also loved the fact that I was competing on many of the shapes myself.
Just two seasons later, Peter Thommen decided to start his own brand. And suddenly, I was his successor!
It definitely felt like a new world, and a life experience! I lived on lake Garda, and worked around the clock! In the first year I lost about 10kgs in bodyweight from the sheer workload which included shaping, laminating, and testing around 80-100 boards per year with just one other guy to help! And, in the first year I was a complete stress head because I wanted everything to be totally perfect for the first line of boards bearing my signature. Over the following few years I found a great routine, relaxed a little, and finally found time to return to racing.
Age wasn’t really on my side for a comeback into professional sports, but over the years my experience, and knowledge about technique and equipment had grown infinitely, which definitely gave me an advantage in competition. In 2006 when Slalom and Speed events returned, I finished 4th overall in the Speed World Cup and the following 2 years I became Vice World Champion which gave me the satisfaction I was chasing throughout my sports career.
For 10 years I had a great time working for F2. The team and the brand were constantly growing, and the results followed quickly. There were many highlights with world titles, and world records achieved on my shapes, as well as unforgettable photo shoots in Australia, and around the Cape Verde islands, which are great memories that I will never forget.
Even the greatest moments in life have to come to an end though. But, when they do, they leave room for new chapters to begin…!