Sailor in Focus

An Interview with one of the youngest, most promising sailors on the PWA Slalom Tour, Maciek Rutkowski

With a hugely successful past as a youth, Maciek Rutkowski (Patrik / Loft) won several national, European and World titles. Now he has set his sights on the PWA Wold Tour and he is fast becoming a hit on the PWA Slalom scene. At the tender age of twenty years old the Polishman boasts an unprecedented potential, highlighted by his fourteenth place finish in Costa Brava earlier this year. With so much potential and many successful years of competition ahead of him on the PWA World Tour, we decided to catch up with Maciek to see what makes him tick.

PWA: Firstly, what are your thoughts on how the 2012 season has gone so far and how would you rate your results?

MR : “It’s been good in certain aspects, but bad in some as well. For example I learned a lot about gear, development and tuning by being on the Patrik and Loft teams. I had a lot of fun,  travelled around the world, had great time and made great friends. In terms of results I had a couple of highlights like 5th in IFCA Europeans, 6th in Formula Europeans and finally 14th PWA Costa Brava making my first final – the rest of the contests went about as bad as they could do. I’m definitely happy that I showed a bit of my potential in those good ones and have to deal with the rest by eliminating the mistakes that caused things to go the way they did.

But one of the things I’m most proud of is releasing the PolishSouthAfrica: Vengeance video, that was a huge success and would love to follow it up with some more videos in the future, but only if I have time to put something worth watching together.”

PWA: How long have you been windsurfing?

MR: “Since I can remember.”

PWA: You are one of the youngest guys on the slalom tour, how do you find it?

MR: “I guess it has its pros and cons if that’s the right expression. At first it was a bit of a “rookie getting schooled” situation, but slowly I was earning my stripes and now I feel right at home on tour, even if some of the guys are my parent’s age haha! I don’t have as much experience as them, so whenever I do badly people tell me that I still have time. And whenever I do good people are way more stoked for you, as rookie getting to the final, than a guy who has been there 50million times before. But as soon as I’m out there all of that goes away and I don’t care if the guy in front of me has been competing longer than I have been living – I’ll still fight my ass off to pass him!”

PWA: Who has been you biggest influence on your sailing?

MR: “Oh, the list is looong! I guess at the beginning it was my brother Leszek, who was always way better than me, and then the guys who I was fighting with in the junior and youth scene, especially my friends in Poland with whom I trained on a daily basis. Of course the wave guys that I’ve been watching in the videos: Josh Stone, Robert Teritehau, Polakow, Cisco, Levi, Kauli Seadi (JP / NeilPryde), Brawzinho (Goya Windsurfing / MFC), Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde / MFC), Philip Köster (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) and many others. But I guess now in terms of competition I just try to look up to as many of the guys on tour as I can, and take some good stuff from everyone of them and ask and talk and analyze the heats and spy around the beach haha. Obviously one of my biggest influences right now is Patrick Diethelm (Patrik / Loft) who took me under his wings and in five months he taught me so much about windsurfing and especially boards  that I wouldn’t have imagined to ever possess that kind of knowledge. Same goes to Benny Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic / Different), who never failed to answer any of my questions. I’d have to also name guys like Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra), Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), Peter Volwater (Fanatic / Avanti) and Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) for their versatility and of course the Terminator (Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz)) – how the hell does this guy do it??"

PWA: What would you be doing if you weren’t windsurfing?

MR: “Probably I would go nuts!!”

PWA: Where is your favorite place to windsurf and why?

MR: “I love South Africa for the versatility of conditions and the atmosphere of the water, love Ponta Preta on a good day, love Turkey for competition and it’s crazy first marks, love Fuerte for the board breaking chop and catapults that make you dizzy for the rest of the day, but above all I love Poland for the sessions with all my friends and feeling right at home in classic conditions.”

PWA: What is your favorite move and why?

MR: “I’d have to say a goiter or a table top forward, but if you fly through on the inside of some PWA guys it feels good, too.”

PWA: What move/aspect of slalom did you find the hardest to learn and why?

MR: “Just racing. Those split second decisions, those nailed starts – these things are basically un-learnable and I hope it will come with time...”

PWA: What new moves are you currently learning?

MR: “I’ve been working on that double for a while now, but I guess wave sailing once a month throughout the summer doesn’t really help. Besides I’ve been trying millions of wave 360s and never landed one back in the wave so I hope it’s gonna feel great when I finally do.”

PWA: Which aspects of your sailing are you currently trying to improve?

MR: “All of it. Speed, starts, gybes, strength, fitness, stamina, trim – the complete hub of a perfect slalom sailor. And of course the pursuit of perfect wave riding never ends as well.”

PWA: How do you learn your moves and improve your sailing? Videos? Watching others?

MR: “Try to do all of it. I watch basically all the videos that are online and have a huge video database on my hard drive as well, but whenever I have the chance to watch or ask others I will. But I guess the hardest part is taking that onto the water and performing all the things you’ve spotted or got to know and putting all of them together.”

PWA: Where is your favorite spot on the PWA Tour?

MR: “I Love Turkey and Fuerte as they’re such a great showcase of our sport and I love Sylt for the atmosphere and the feeling of being really appreciated. I Would love to see an event happen in Poland one year though. It was the best time of my life when we had big formula events there.”

PWA: How does competition make you feel? And how do you prepare for your heats?

MR: “Depends how I’m doing haha. From super frustrated and throwing curses and sometimes even objects to ecstatic, speechless - the happiest, most smiling guy in the universe. But I get that same buzz, soft-legged, challenge sensation every time.”

PWA: What do you do when you’re not windsurfing?

MR: “Eating and training physically! But besides that I’m also filming, editing, taking pictures, doing graphic design, mixing music - in general just creating things, keeping myself busy, being creative whatever you call it, but it gives me a similar kind of buzz, which windsurfing or competing does. I have a million ideas a second, so basically I never have time for anything, but still love to hang out with friends that I don’t see very often and do a lot of other sports whenever I can – surfing, snowboarding or basketball.”

PWA: What are your goals for 2013?

MR: “Just to improve as much as possible and have the most fun possible. If I feel I’m constantly developing and pushing myself and my limits, then I’m probably happy. Obviously I’d also like to throw some cool videos out there and I might be aiming for a bit of a bigger production, but that’s more like in my “dreams” than “plans” section.”   

PWA: Do you already have plans for your winter training? If so, where are you going and what will you be concentrating on?

MR: “There is a plan to join Patrik Diethelm and Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) in Western Australia, and than maybe follow up with Tenerife, where a strong pack of sailors are training every year, but you never know what life will bring so I’ll just roll with the flow – as always.”

PWA: Thanks a lot for your time Maciek and good luck in Sylt.

To see Maciek’s very own, amazing, PolishSouthAfrica: VENGEANCE movie click HERE.

Also be sure to follow Maciek by joing his Facebook Fan Page HERE.