Last year around this time the PWA Slalom Tour started to slowly get canceled, one event after another. When did you realize that your plans were going to change in 2020?
In March I was still believing that the PWA Tour would happen, but in April I slowly lost my hopes. I had a really good winter preparation on Tenerife and the equipment which we had was working really well. I was ready to give 100% to get some good results. But day by day I had to realize that in 2020 we won´t see any competitions happening.
What was your goal and how did you reschedule your year instead?
My main goal was definitely to keep my Top 10 Result and to help get another World Champion Title in Slalom for Fanatic & Duotone! But when I knew that no events would happen, my main focus switched to R&D. For a few years now I have been involved in the R&D process for Duotone. Normally during a regular racing season I focus 100% on racing but last year my main focus was on developing products. I cannot complain that I had nothing to do.
Did you have to stay longer at home in Austria than usually due to Covid? How did it feel not being on the road and competing?
In 2020 I spent more time in Austria, I had time to explore some beautiful lakes and I am really happy to call Austria my home sweet home. I used the timeout from competition and started a few new projects in my life. I moved back to the spot where I started windsurfing. I feel great in this area and that’s why I decided to call it my new home and together with my girlfriend we decided to build a house, a new home for us! I definitely enjoyed sailing at the Austrian lakes more than ever.
Did you discover any new windsurf spot?
I definitely knew already all the windsurfing spots before, but last year I found some time to go more often for a bike ride and I forgot how amazing it is to ride between the Alps. Besides water, I would say mountains are some of the most important objects in my life. My best emotional moments I always have on top of the mountains while enjoying a great view.
How did you manage to keep testing and developing gear with all the travel restrictions?
Normally the whole R&D process happens on Maui or at Lake Garda but due to the new restrictions we were forced to test the gear in Germany or Austria. We definitely found some great Foiling conditions around our home. I live pretty close to the Fanatic/Boards & More Headquarters, so I am always in close contact with Craig Gertenbach and Dani Aeberli. My team mate Jordy Vonk lives in Austria as well now, which is pretty handy! The main focus was definitely on our Foiling gear.
Where is the lineperfect balance between training and testing?
I have to say I lost a bit of the balance between training and testing. 3 years ago it was still 50-50 but now I would say it's more like 70% testing and 30% training. But I don't want to change anything about it because the testing and the whole R&D process is fun and it's great to see the outcome when customers are telling you how amazing that board is and you know that you were part of the team that developed it.
In 2017 you had a great season! Winning Sylt must have felt amazing, it being the Grand Slam with the most spectators and being a huge event. Then you finished the Tour in 7th! How is your training going for the upcoming season?
2017 was something special. I will never forget the moment when I was standing on the podium in front of thousands of spectators. I try to sail as much as possible with my slalom equipment to keep my slalom skills. Besides the time on the water, I spend some time in the gym with my coach.
PWA Slalom in 2021 now combines fins & foils. How do you like foiling compared to sailing with a fin?
Fin is still my favorite but I was focusing this last year more on foiling. In light wind conditions it's definitely fun and is much more competitive.
Do you think that the 2021 Slalom Tour will happen?
I hope something will happen as I had a great preparation and I am ready to hit the race course.
What are "your conditions"?
My favorite conditions are something between 15-25kts for my 140 Falcon and the 115 Falcon.
Some 2021 predictions?
I know Pierre Mortefon is ready and prepared for another World Title but Jordy Vonk is also pushing hard to be up there. I just want to have the Title for Fanatic/Duotone, doesn´t matter from who!
Other 2021 goals?
I think the most important, especially now, is to stay healthy!
Any learning from 2020?
Enjoy every single day!