As the most decorated sailor in windsurfing history, Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear), is accustomed to fighting it out at the very top of the rankings. Over the years Dunkerbeck has dominated every discipline going, but 2013 proved to be a frustrating and disappointing year for him, by his extremely high standard. Speculation had began to build about whether he would return for 2014 and after our recent interview with him, we are pleased to confirm that Dunkerbeck will be back with a vengeance next year as he continues to compete on the full PWA Slalom World Tour. Having lifted the title back in 2011, Dunkerbeck will be eager to regain his world champion status, whilst displacing his arch rival Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) from the top of the world. Read the interview below:
PWA: Last year seemed like a tough, and by your standards disappointing year? How are you feeling now that you've had time to reflect on the season?
BD: “yes, 2013 was a short tour only 4 slalom event with not much wind and the even lower wind limit was no go for me at all 90% of all slaloms on 9.6m Reflex 4 and Starboard 127L iSonic underpowered!”
PWA: Was that one of the toughest years on the PWA since you began competing?
BD: “No not really just no luck with the wind all year long.”
PWA: Do you think there are any particular reasons that we didn't see you consistently at the top as usual?
BD: “Yes, the main reason was no wind and the 10 second stop and go rule around the marks, even if I did enter 1-2-3 the smaller guys often came from behind and got planing faster than what I could.”
PWA: Will you be back raring to go, challenging for the title again next year
BD: “I do the full slalom PWA World Tour in 2014, yes, with new venues like Margarita in the beginning of the year Fuerte back as well Sylt of course it will like 6-7 Slaloms I hope!”
“To note since I started in 1985 lots has happened with the wind limits and no rules are taking the FUN out of slalom! Slalom was the strong wind discipline 18 knots was the wind limit back then the years after 15 the 12 then 11 now never under 7 knots and this is a JOKE in my eyes... not SLALOM any more!”
“This light wind rules were put in so that there was more guarantee to have a result for the events, not to have to compete a race as there was 7 knots... but in fair suitable wind conditions!”
PWA: After Sylt you attended the Chris Benz speed event in Namibia, how was that?
BD: “Luderitz was not that windy this year, I was set up to beat my personal 51.09 knots = 94.61 km/h on the 500 meter average and 98.80 km/h GPS 2 second top speed.”
“I had 4 different 5.6 sevene reflex 3-4-5 + smaller ones but the wind was more for 6.2 m2 the full time...too bad! Also my Starboards 44 speed and smaller were not big enough for the wind we had!”
“To note LUDERITZ is not a competition it's a record braking CANAL this is naturally why I did not carry all kind of boards and sails for medium wind because my goal was to better my personal best and to better the world record and this would not happen on anything bigger than 5.6 and 44 cm board!”
“The riders pay 1000 euro a week to sail on the canal, hopefully in winds that can better record no contest like MISTRAL and others have put out afterward without any notice!!!”
PWA: Do you think there is a maximum speed for windsurfers? Do you think we are close to that barrier?
BD: “There is never going to be a limit. 100 km/h in the right wind and perfect canal conditions are definitely possible right now. But not in wind from 25 - 35 knots on a canal that is far from perfect like this year in Luderitz!”
PWA: In the perfect conditions what sort of speeds do you think you could go? And is there anywhere else apart from Namibia where you think the record could fall?
BD: “Wind steady 45 knots, perfect canal 100 km/h+ for sure ;-))”
PWA: We have seen you involved with brands outside of the windsurfing industry and now you are really focused on your own eyewear brand. Can you tell us how it all started?
BD: “Sure, while practicing water sports I lost so many pairs of sunglasses that I made sure that my own eyewear will FLOAT. We have 6 different frames with 4 different color combinations and they are all polarized. The 4 top end ones of each different frame model have fotocromic lenses and are very light and I use them for windsurfing and SUP, for mountain biking, etc. I believe that there are great for any kind of sport or outdoor activity.”
PWA: Do you have a lot of input in the designs?
BD: “Yes only the designs that I like are made and we are constantly developing new ideas and models for the next seasons so it is an ongoing project.”
PWA: What are the best features you would describe about the Dunkerbeck Eyewear?
BD: “They are light and they float, they have polarized durable lenses that are comfortable to wear and are a great complement for a sports enthusiast.”
PWA: We also saw that Dunkerbeck Eyewear was a sponsor of the JP Aloha Classic in Maui last month, did you get a chance to see the event via the live stream? Have you been sailing at Ho’okipa lately?
BD: “Yes Dunkerbeck Eyewear was a proud sponsor of the JP Aloha Calssic in Maui, I did see a lot of the heats since I was in Namibia speed sailing at the time, however I haven’t been able to spend too much time in Ho’okipa sailing in the last years. so not much Ho’okipa for me lately even though I was the first European to win the waves in Ho’okipa at the Aloha classic in the mid 90s.”
PWA: How will you be spending the rest of winter?
BD: “Boarding on snow and water!”
“Thanks, I wish you all a merry Christmas and a windy and wavy happ healthy new year.”
PWA: Thanks for your time Bjorn, have a great Christmas and new year too, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2014.