Living The Dream
Marco Lang (Fanatic / NorthSails) will probably never forget Sunday 1st October 2017 for the rest of his life. Before this date Lang had never won an elimination on tour - although he had shown over the past couple seasons that he has the outright speed to challenge anyone and had won a few losers’ finals- however, that all changed on Day 3 of the Mercedes-Benz Sylt PWA Super Grand Slam as the 31-year-old quite simply blew the rest of the competition away as he stormed to victory in both eliminations that day - which set him up to win the biggest windsurfing event of the year. A quite remarkable rise given that in just 2014 the Austrian was ranked 32nd in the world. Now, after winning his first ever event Lang has shot into 8th in the overall rankings with one event to go. After reaching such a milestone in his career we caught up with Marco for an interview.
Hey Marco, how’s it going? How are you feeling after winning your first PWA event? Has it sunk in yet?
Not yet. The last few days were quite busy, lots of calls, emails and messages and I did not have the time to calm down and realise everything. But it’s an amazing feeling. Since I remember it has always been a dream to compete on the PWA World Tour and a huge honour to sail with the best windsurfers in the world. From now on I belong with these guys, now I’m serious competitor for all of them! It is just an amazing feeling and I absolutely happy.
That must have been one hell of an afternoon for you…. Going from never having won an elimination to winning two in a row? How good is it to see the hard work paying off?
This year I arrived on the island with quite a good feeling and proper physical conditioning. I love to return to this island. Sylt was always one of my favourite spots during the world tour.
So, the morning of the aforementioned Sunday was as exciting as any other competition day. I woke up quite early, like every day, and I was nervous and tense, as I used to be on a competition day - I had at least 4 appointments with the toilet (hahaha).
Honestly though, I didn’t expect that something like this will happen. The conditions on that Sunday were perfect for me - exactly the conditions I’m used to and feel comfortable with. Maybe I had an advantage because the conditions were quite similar to the conditions on Tenerife, where I spend the majority of my off-season training.
I was super happy to qualify for the final. Sylt is quite tricky because the conditions are quite unpredictable and you never know what will happen.
Winning my first final was even more unpredictable and totally surprising. As they say ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and the pictures which were taken at the finish line are showing all of my emotions. After the first elimination I tried to stay focused and pushed away all theses thoughts. I wanted to do my best and to concentrate on the second elimination…
Winning the second elimination as well was just unbelievable. I hardly had any clear thoughts. I was absolutely speechless and I had troubles to find the right words in my first interview. The best guys in the world are competing on the world tour, everyone is pushing as hard as they can and so it is even harder to win two finals in a row!
Just don’t ask about the following night - I was not able to sleep because I had so many thoughts on my mind. I will never forget that afternoon in my life - that moment will last forever.
In the second semifinal I think you were leading and then you hit the last buoy? What was going through your head at that moment? It looked like you were quite relieved once you’d still qualified and got back to the beach…
That was the worst moment of that day. The wind was pretty light and the current quite strong. I took a wave to keep planing but I had the feeling the current was pulling me away from the mark so I ended up getting stuck in the rope of the buoy. My big advantage was a proper lead, so thankfully, I had enough time to get away from the mark and still qualify.
Out of all the world cup events to win, you won the biggest event of the year - how was it competing and winning in front of all those people?
INSANE. I guess that’s a dream for every sailor… to win in Sylt. I felt like a rockstar!
How tense was it for you waiting each day in Sylt when you were leading the event?
I would’ve preferred to race the whole week but the conditions were definitely more for freestyle and wave. I tried to push away all thoughts about what had happened before, and tried to stay focused. Even though the forecast looked quite bad for slalom and it seemed like there won’t be any more races I came to the beach every morning and prepared all my stuff for racing- it helped to lose a bit of tension!
Some people may not be aware of it, but you actually started as more of a freestyler… not the usual route for a racer… how did you end up switching into slalom?
Austria is well known for some really good freestylers, like Chris Sammer and Max Matissek.. In Austria it was quite popular and I was super fascinated by Freestyle. But I realised that I won’t be able to compete at a high freestyle level so I decided to switch to slalom - but I am still a passionate Freestyler. I just need a bit more power in my sail than the slender freestyle guys, I’m just too heavy for those crazy moves!!
Over the last few years you’ve made huge leaps forward in your progress… in 2014 you were ranked 32nd in the world… in 2015 you earned your first top 10 finish and finished 17th overall… last year 19th but you finished the season with two top 10 finishes - now after winning your first event you’re currently ranked 8th in the world… how much blood, sweat and determination has gone into your amazing rise through the ranks?
I think improving results is the most important thing for all athletes. For me it was the most important thing, that my close associates believe in my skills and that made me strong and I kept on fighting.
Over the last few years windsurfing has become more and more professional. All athletes are improving a lot and everyone is chasing the same goal - to get stronger, faster and better. For me it is really difficult to keep to a regular training pattern on the water. All the lakes close to me are still more than one hour away, so I spend pretty much all my time on the road. I’m super motivated and I keep on fighting and training. I want to climb up the ranking, I’m not satisfied yet!
What were you expectations coming into the season? And has winning an event moved the goal posts of what you think you are capable of achieving?
I entered the new season with a great feeling. It was a shame we couldn’t finish the event in Korea where I already show a solid performance. [Qualified for the winners’ final which couldn’t be completed]
After Japan I was a bit frustrated, because of the seaweed I was not able to show my potential. So from a potential top 8 finish in Korea I finished 41st in Japan – the worst possible start I could imagine for the upcoming season.
My goal for this season did not change after the event in Sylt. I want to finish the season in the top 16.
But winning the event in Sylt gives me a good feeling for the last event.
How did you celebrate your first ever victory?
After the event I went directly to Tarifa for the Boards and More Dealer Meeting.
Fanatic and North Sails organised an amazing party for me, Victor [Fernandez] and Gollito [Estredo]. It was even more emotional than the prize giving because I was celebrating with my sponsors and friends.
The Whole Boards and More company is like a big family, so it was amazing to share that moment with them.
Now you’ve got about 4 weeks until New Caledonia - what will you be up to between now and then?
Next week I will fly to Maui with my girlfriend for some vacation and bit of R&D. But first of all I’m going to spend some time with my girl as I’m traveling a lot and we don’t have lots of time together. She supports me a lot and helps me through all situations. She is one of the most important people in my life, I owe her a lot, and I appreciate her support! She’s my one and only.
Thanks, Marco. Congratulations again and see you soon in New Caledonia.
You can stay up to date with all of Marco Lang’s latest news and adventures via his Social Media Channels:
Facebook: @Marco Lang Aut 66