SAILOR IN FOCUS
How do you juggle your 9-5 job with being a pro windsurfer?
Steffi Wahl (Patrik / Sailloft Hamburg) finished the 2012 season in fifth place on the PWA Wave World Tour. This is made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that she juggles a separate full-time profession alongside being a successful windsurfing pro. The German impressed for the duration of the season, with her backside waveriding drawing plenty of praise from the judges on numerous occasions. Read our interview with her below:
PWA: Firstly, what are your thoughts on how the 2012 season has gone and how would you rate your results?
SW: “Actually I really really enjoyed sailing in the 2012 PWA tour again. Firstly I´m still really happy that Gran Canaria took place and that the Moreno Twins made such an effort to make this happen. I booked my vacation in advance, so I would have been really sad not to go to Gran Canaria to compete. It was a great event and on top of that I decided to go to Teneriffe, which was my first time. 3 weeks sailing in summer is just awesome and I was very happy. I had such a good time with all the girls and my equipment worked out really well. Becoming 4th in Pozo and 5th in Tenerife was more than I expected, because I did not spend the winter somewhere to train. It seems that I can somehow rely on my basics which are still somewhere sleeping inside... After competing this year I´m super motivated to learn something new... let´s see how it goes.”
PWA: How long have you been windsurfing?
SW: “Good question. I started age 11 on a lake, but living in the south of Germany made it not so easy to stick to it. It was kind of an up and down with my sailing and finally after finishing school I decided to move to the north of Germany to come closer to the sea.. I wanted to learn how to sail in waves and I did it here in the north and in Denmark.”
PWA: Who has been you biggest influence on your sailing?
SW: “Not really a person influenced me, maybe the style of some persons. I really like the attitude and style of Kauli Seadi (JP / NeilPryde). He is always on the water, even if it´s 9 degrees and raining in Sylt and he is always loving the conditions. I like the waveriding style of Nayra Alonso (Fanatic / Severne) a lot and I like to see that somebody who is good in surfing (not windsurfing) has a really fluid style in waveriding. That´s why I keep pushing my surfing... I think it will help me a lot with windsurfing.”
PWA: What would you be doing if you weren’t windsurfing?
SW: “This question is not my favourite one: actually I have a proper 9-5 job.... with some flexibility if it´s windy. Living in Germany you need to have some free days otherwise you won´t make it on the water very often. The question fits better the other way round: what would you be doing if you weren´t working? … Windsurfing!!”
PWA: Where is your favorite place to windsurf and why?
SW: “So far I love sailing in South Africa the best. There are so many different conditions from high wind to big waves or both together and all of that in between a couple of kilometers. You don´t have to drive for ages to get to a spot and you always find a place where there are only a few people out. Living in Europe it´s easy to reach with just a short travel time. Besides that I love sailing in Denmark, Cold Hawaii. It´s just so good that it´s only 400km from my hometown, so if it´s on it´s easy to go there and the conditions are very nice.”
PWA: What is your favorite move and why?
SW: “I love waveriding and this is my favourite move. I like to feel that you need your whole body and full body tension to do a proper bottom turn with speed. It´s so intense, that you don´t think of anything else in that moment.”
PWA: What new moves are you currently learning?
SW: “I have to improve my jumping, and I guess I need to work on my pushloop. That´s a start.”
PWA: How do you learn your moves and improve your sailing? Videos? Watching others?
SW: “I just realized that I only learn new moves if I see other girls or my boyfriend doing them. Being on the competitions this summer was the best for me. I got really motivated again and tried things, which I would not when sailing for myself. Watching videos and then going straight on the water is the best....”
PWA: Where is your favorite spot on the PWA Tour?
SW: “If I look at the conditions I must say that I enjoyed Tenerife a lot, because it was proper sideshore waveriding with a decent wave. But I like Pozo too for this amazing high wind and that you feel your whole body after one week full power sailing there. For the surrounding I like Sylt the best, because it´s in Germany and there are a lot of people and because it has so much diversity. Everything and anything can happen there.”
PWA: How does competition make you feel? And how do you prepare for your heats?
SW: “I just want to do my best in a heat. But I´m a very realistic person and I know in the first couple of minutes if the heat will be good or not. I have to work on that, because you can change a lot in 10 minutes. I have to have all my stuff ready very early on in the day and need to go out way the competition starts, just to make sure I can do it. In Pozo I love to sail early in the mornings, nobody is out and the event site is empty.... if I could not do that, then I start to get nervous somehow.”
PWA: How do you find trying to split your time between your job, training and competing?
SW: “Windsurfing is my main sport and for this I will always try to make some spare time. During the competitions I try to keep up to date with my job in the evenings, so that I´m not fully lost after.”
PWA: What do you do when you’re not windsurfing?
SW: “Sitting in the office, try to get some swells in Denmark no matter what time of the year to surf, spending time with my dog on the beach....”
PWA: What are your goals for 2013 and the future?
SW: “I only plan for one year in advance. Having so much fun in 2012 on the PWA tour I really love to compete again this year in all locations. Let´s see what happens after....”
PWA: Thanks Steffi and good luck for 2013.