With so many young sailors bursting onto the PWA World Tour the competition was rife for this years PWA Youth Champion awards. With one World Champion already existing among the youths, will the rest of them be able to follow in his footsteps? The PWA Youth Champion awards were awarded in the following categories; Men and women’s slalom, men and women’s freestyle and men’s wave.
The youngsters of windsurfing continue to push both the seasoned pros and the boundaries of the sport as they prove time and time again that age is just a number, with their fearless attitude which simply knows no boundaries. The next few years ahead look extremely exciting as the talent on the PWA World Tour continues to flourish. Find out who the 2013 Youth Champions are below, as well as hearing their thoughts upon capturing each of the respective titles.
Men’s Slalom Youth Champion
Maciek Rutkowski (Patrik / Loft) won the youth champion award for the men’s slalom. The Polish man has enjoyed a wealth of success as a junior, which includes being crowned the 2010 World Champion for the youth slalom, the 2010 youth European Slalom Champion, and he finished third in the youth Formula World Championship in 2009. Now Rutkowski is rising through the ranks on the PWA as he finished the year in 27th place, with his best performance of the year coming in Costa Brava where he finished an extremely impressive fourteenth.
Here’s what Maciek had to say upon winning the youth champion award:
"For sure I'm stoked, it's always nice to be the best at something haha. It's an awesome feeling to have thousands of people on the beach in Sylt cheering for you, once you’re up on stage. On the other hand this was just a cherry on top of the main cake, which was a great year of racing with the best guys in the world with a lot of different outcomes. But anyway it's super cool that this award is presented, especially in slalom, because it's so hard for the young guys to battle with competitors who have been on the your for 20 years and I couldn't be happier to be the guy that fought the hardest. I just hope it's not the last PWA trophy I win hahaha! It definitely gives me some extra motivation to already start working for 2013! Can't wait!"
Women’s Slalom Youth Champion
France’s Delphine Cousin (JP / NeilPryde) took home the crown of being named the women’s youth champion in the slalom after she narrowly missed out on the podium. The twenty-one year old finished the season in a superb fourth place. Cousin impressed over the course of the season and it was her starts in particular, which consistently attracted attention. Time and time again the Frenchwoman was first across the line, so with a bit more experience she’s definitely going to be one to watch out for over the coming years, and she’s already got her sights firmly set on the podium next year.
“I am really happy about winning the youth champion award! This is a nice surprise because I had forgotten there was this title for all disciplines. For me this is a great reward for all the work I did this year : a lot of training and involvement. It was my last year in the youth class so to finish with a title is really cool! For the next year, my aim is to claim my spot on the overall podium. Indeed this year I finished 4th in the overall ranking after a very big and tough battle with the Turkish sailor, Lena Erdil (Patrik / Loft / AL360). The podium was really close this year and now I know I can do it! I will be giving 200% effort in 2013 to realize my goal!”
Men’s Freestyle Youth Champion
Youp Schmit broke into the world’s top ten overall for the first time this year, with his performance at the final event of the year in Sylt helping him break into the top ten. The seventeen year old demonstrated exactly what he is capable of as he took down several of the big names to finish in fifth place in Sylt. Schmit has all the tricks in his repertoire and his powerful style and pop really impressed the judges this year, as he too retains his youth world title.
“It's a great big honour to be named the youth World Champion again this year! There are a lot of young talents on tour, and i'm stoked to be able to win this award! This makes me motivated to go for more titles and next year I wanna do even better!”
Women’s Freestyle Youth Champion
At the age of just sixteen years old Maxime van Gent (JP / North) has already completed her second season on the PWA Freestyle tour, which shows that living in Bonaire, and windsurfing with some of the biggest talents in the windsurfing world, is really paying off. However, being one of the youngest competitors on the tour doesn’t seem to phase Maxime as she has successfully retained her Youth Champion title in the women’s freestyle.
Maxime van Gent:
“I am very happy to be youth champion again:) it gives me a lot of inspiration to keep training and become better, and one day maybe become World Champion. I hope it will give girls around the world the motivation to go and compete on the PWA so there will be more and more girls competing in the coming years. I would like to thank my sponsers JP Australia, North Sails, ION and Jibe city as without them it wouldn’t be possible for me to compete with such good gear BIG THANK YOU! I hope next year we have more places to compete, I’m already saving for it:)”
Men’s Wave Youth Champion
Philip Köster (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) certainly needs no introductions as the double PWA Wave World Champion and one of the hottest properties in windsurfing at the moment. The eighteen year old has blown away the competition again this year with his trademark double forwards and astonishing maneuvers in the waves, so it is no surprise to see him claim the Youth Champion title too, here’s what Philip had to say:
“It feels amazing! I am really stoked and happy. Winning a second title is as good as the first one. My winter plans will see me travelling to Maui and Australia to make a lot of videoclips like the VW one www.youtube.com/watch. I will also be helping with the development of sails and boards, training surfing and windsurfing. I’ll also be trying out a new sport for me, snowboarding.”
The PWA would like to, once again, congratulate all of our champions this year for their fantastic performances and we will look forward to seeing you competing again in 2013. The future for windsurfing looks bright with so much young blood emerging on the PWA World Tour, and we’re sure it won’t be long before we see all of the aforementioned names and more competing for the top spots in each of their respective divisions.