Making the transition from RS:X to the PWA Slalom World Tour

Luke Baillie (Starboard / Severne) made his debut on the PWA Slalom World Tour this year at the recent Ulsan PWA World Cup, having been competing on the world stage of RS:X - where he was ranked sixth as recently as April this year - now we caught up with the twenty-year old Australian to find out why he’s made the switch from RS:X, as well as finding out more about him too. Read the interview below:

PWA: How long have you been windsurfing?

LB: “I have been windsurfing since I was 10 and I am 21 years old so 11 years, it doesn’t seem that long to me.”

PWA: You come from a background of competing in RS:X - ranked 6th in April 2013 - what were the main reasons for you deciding to make your debut on the PWA Slalom Tour?

LB: “I had been riding wave and slalom boards since I was ten then at the age of 17 I kind of fell into RS:X class as I was perfect size shape and build, then I did 4 hard years slogging it out on the board spending countless hours on that rig. Then Sean O’Brien (Starboard / Severne) approached me at the start of this year while I was having a break at home and asked if I would like to be his training partner then it snowballed from there.”

PWA: Are you planning to compete at all the PWA events this year?

LB: “I am planning on doing all of the events except Costa Brava if I can, because I have caught the bug it’s far too addicting doing racing haha.”

PWA: Aims for the season?

LB: “To see how fast I can transfer the skills I have learned racing the RS:X over to the slalom equipment so that I could crack the top 30 PWA rankings by the end of the year.”

PWA: What are the main differences from competing in slalom compared to RS:X?

LB: “I have to rig like 3 sails every day we race as opposed to just rigging one haha. But I think the biggest difference is how fast the slalom races are in comparison to the RS:X we are usually racing for 25 minutes plus…. Whereas I don’t even think I had a race last 5 mins in Korea. It’s just so quick that it actually ends up being a little bit of a blur. It’s all racing and it’s about who is the fastest. 

PWA: Seat or waist harness? Why?

LB: “This is kind of a tricky one cause I actually haven’t worked out what is faster for me yet, because I use a seat harness for RS:X and for the waves I have always worn a waist. I spent 4 years to find the fastest seat harness for RS:X and managed to find one. At this stage I am wearing a waist, but I am hoping to find the right combination for me before I go to Europe.”

PWA: One piece of windsurfing equipment you couldn’t live without?

LB: “Definitely footstraps, could you imagine how boring windsurfing would be without these, they make the sport what it is.”

PWA: Which aspects of your sailing are you currently trying to improve? And how do you try to develop your sailing? Videos? Sailing with others?

LB: “I am still coming to terms with how fast this gear goes, it’s simply just crazy. I learnt a lot from racing in Korea, not just from being in the races but also from watching a lot of the other races. Since I have been back home there has been absolutely no wind, so I have been analyzing all of the events from last year getting an idea on the racing tactics involved. Sean and I will go to Northern Australia on the Great Barrier Reef to do an intense training camp before we head over to Europe.” 

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

LB: “Probably my father, he has guided me right from when I first started and he still is, and without him I would not be where I am today.”

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

LB: “Surfing would be the dream, but in reality I would probably be behind a desk engineering bridges.” 

PWA: Describe your perfect days sailing?

LB: “Going for a surf in the morning then coming home having a massive brunch then a nap whilst waiting for the wind. Then rig up 5.0 and 82L on the front lawn then head down for a sail til dark with mates.”

PWA: Favourite location to sail?

LB: “Currumbin Alley, Gold Coast Australia.” 

PWA: Favourite food and drink?

LB: “Meat pie and tomato sauce, everyone should try one when they come to Australia.”

PWA: Goals for the future?

LB: “To live today like tomorrow will be the last. Also help bring windsurfing back to the glory of the eighties like when my parents windsurfed for the joy of it, so I get to experience what that lucky generation of windsurfers experienced. Also to make my mark on the sport.”

PWA: Cheers Luke and good luck for the remainder of the season.