R.I.P Dear Friend

A tribute to the unforgettable, late and great Peter Volwater

The windsurfing world was rocked again this week with the untimely death of Peter Volwater. With a career that spanned 20 years on the PWA Tour, Peter was respected as one of the finest all round windsurfers, having achieved event results within the top 10 in 4 disciplines (Wave, Freestyle, Racing and Super X) and many within the top 5.

Peter first appeared on the World Tour back in the mid 90’s. Fresh faced, wide eyed and not afraid to have a go, he quickly rose from the ranks of rookie and by the end of the decade had established himself as a real force to be reckoned with on the water. His early mastery of the massive, Pozo double forward earned him a pedigree as a radical sailor and it was a reputation that he backed up with a fearless approach to the most extreme conditions. 

Not only was Peter agile and talented when it came to wave and freestyle manoeuvres, he was blisteringly fast. An accomplished speed sailor, he could out drag most people along the reaches of the slalom course and often gave the all dominant Bjorn Dunkerbeck a real challenge for straight line speed back in those early days when that just didn’t happen.

When the Super X discipline emerged for its brief run on tour, Peter’s combination of speed and control served him well allowing him to earn a thoroughly deserved 5th place overall in 2006.

Outside of competitive events he maintained his reputation as hard charger, riding some of the biggest waves on the planet including Jaws on Maui’s North Shore.

But there was something very different about Pete compared to some of the other super athletes that he challenged on the water. He knew how to have fun. He enjoyed every minute on the ocean, that much was obvious, but the smile on his face lasted well beyond his return to the beach, and often long into the night. If there was a party going on, you could bet Pete was not only there but leading from the front, armed only with an enormous grin, cavernous laugh and maybe, just maybe, a whiskey coke in each hand.

Friendly and approachable to anyone he met, it was that ability to create fun out of nothing that really drew people to Pete and the colossal outpouring of grief and sympathy at his loss is a testament to the huge number of lives that he touched. With a smile that can only be described as infectious, he brightened the days of everyone he saw.

Although Pete’s competitive career focused more on Slalom in recent years, he still had a gargantuan appetite for wave sailing and was well known to be out “till dark” on the biggest days at his spiritual home at Margaret River in Australia, where he continued to demonstrate the same fearless attitude to hitting massive lips as he did when he first set out to take the world by storm.

Despite Pete’s unquestionable lust for life, in the summer of 2014 he began to struggle with his own mental health and he was forced to hang up his competition board and sails whilst he got himself back on track. With the continued support of his many friends, his family and his girlfriend Alana, he fought a brave battle against the hurdles he faced and suffered many ups and downs along the way, but he was determined to keep fighting as long as he had to. Sadly, it was a battle that even he could not win in the end and Pete was found dead earlier this week.

The loss to his family, his many friends and to Alana is something that is hard to quantify as he touched so many lives during his 40 years on this earth, but for everyone who knew him, had sailed with him or simply watched him perform from the beach (or in the bar!), things will never quite be the same. Nothing will ever be able to fill the space in all of our lives that Pete once occupied and he will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace dear friend.