In June 2017 - Ethan Westera (Tabou / GA Sails) - became IFCA World Champion for the first time in his career at the age of just 19-years-old, however, little over a month later the Aruban was involved in a serious crash in Fuerteventura. The seriousness of that crash wasn’t realised until a little later when it became apparent that it may even threaten his promising career.
Westera’s come back proved to be an intense test, both mentally and physically, with several challenges along the way. Through sheer grit and determination, Westera has recovered brilliantly and is once again competitive at the highest level of the sport. The now 22-year-old recorded two top ten finishes in 2019, while he signed off the season in perfect fashion as he earned his first bullet on the world tour, while also breaking into the top 16 for the first time in his career. However, whilst that may read impressively to outsiders, that clearly isn’t enough for Westera and he has his sights set much higher than that… we recently caught up with Ethan for an interview:
Hey Ethan, how’s it going?
Hi Chris, All fine with me. I have been two months at home working, windsurfing and basically just enjoying life to the max.
Now currently traveling to Tenerife to start my intensive training for this up and coming season.
Two years and half years after suffering that potentially career threatening injury in Fuerteventura - it seems that you are back to 100% after breaking into the overall top 16 for the first time in your career? How does it feel to break into the top 16 and how happy were you with your performance last season?
Yes some years have passed after my injury and I feel close to my 100%, but not there yet. I still feel some things are holding me back, but this year I will be working on them. After such an injury it always takes quite a while to get back on track.
Last year was a really crazy year for me, especially mentally. I have only been outside of the top 16 one time and I made two top 10 results, which I never did before. I’m really satisfied with my performances last year, but I was hoping for more. I had many situations in a competition where I wasn’t performing and many that I was. I’m missing that consistency in sailing, but also in my mind. This year I will be working a lot in that. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with my top 16 overall, because I know how hard I worked to be in the top 10. I felt that I should have been there, but 2020 is another beautiful year to kick some ass.
At any point during your recovery did you ever have any doubts about whether you would make it back to the top?
It’s difficult to get injured when you just became IFCA world champ at 19 years old. It feels like you are invincible until you get injured.
For me, I never felt that. I love windsurfing so much and I always had amazing support around me. Everyone guided me to a good recovery and I listened a lot to how my body was feeling. If you really want something in life you should just go and get it. There will be many obstacles trying to stop you, but you just have to keep pushing.
Not only did you break into the overall top 16, but in the final event of the year you managed to win your first elimination on the world tour - how did that feel? And does it make you more confident heading into next season?
Yes, well what can I say about that. I still get goosebumps when I look at that final.
I won many finals and comps when I was young, but this one final feels like all the comps from the past together and more! It’s any kids' dream to win a final. I remember when I was 12 and I couldn’t stop looking at Antione [Albeau] and Björn [Dunkerbeck] winning finals. For me, it’s so crazy, because I didn’t know any better than watching all those YouTube clips as I live on Aruba and I wasn’t traveling yet. My father was also there and that just made it much more special for me. We were on this journey for a long time and he can never make it to any competitions, because of work. I guess he came to the best one. haha
My confidence has never been so high in my windsurfing career, so let’s see what it will do for me.
Having been so close to the overall top 10 - just 200 points short - what are your goals for 2020?
So close, but yet so far. The level is so high and many people are at the same level, which makes it really exciting. I know my goals for 2020, but I will keep it to myself for now. I will be fighting for the top spots.
From your social media, it also appears you’ve had a bit of a break from windsurfing… what have you been up to? And are you now feeling recharged for the coming season?
Well, actually I have been busy. After the last event from last year. I started training directly in the gym and I have been doing that until now. I have been windsurfing and kitesurfing.
I have also been working quite a lot. We have a family-owned watersports center on Aruba, which is amazing. You never know until when you can windsurf, so you need to find your backup. I’m ready to start the season and have great memories again on tour.
How will you be preparing for the new season?
I’m currently heading to Tenerife for the annual TWS pro slalom training camp. I will be there until mid-March and then I will be heading to France nice and early to do some testing with Cedric [Bordes] and prepare for the first world cup that will be in France.
Thank you for the interview!
Thanks, Ethan. Good luck with your winter training and see you at the start of the season.
You can stay up to date with all of Ethan Westera’s latest news and adventures via his Social Media Channels: