Windsurfing, a sport full of dynamic and strength, was dominated for decades by experienced windsurfers, who possessed sufficient physical substance. The huge athletic body of 36-fold world champion Björn Dunkerbeck was a synonym for success. With the new generation of windsurfers other attributes have become important: agility, playful easiness and elegance, by means of which the young wilds have managed to ascend the throne in the World Cup Circus and to chase the old generation off the yard. The youngest discipline in windsurfing, the Freestyle, was the trigger for this revolution.
From the Caribbean to the Local Quarry Pond
To do windsurfing intensively was suddenly possible everywhere because this new discipline can be practiced at every lake and doesn’t require strong wind or waves. „You can freestyle any time and any place, no matter what the water and the wind is like“, says windsurfing wunderkind Philip Köster (17). And he must know: Philip has been surfing ever since he was eight. He won last year’s Big Days (a big surf event that takes place during storm) and has already won lots of prices. He was the youngest participant to surf at international contests; at the age of 14 he was surfing waves as high as houses together with the big guys.
“I would recommend beginners to try freestyling on flat water first”, says Philip, “to learn some easy jumps. During the first season, you can learn a couple of maneuvers that will knock your friends out. For example, try an air jibe.“ For this maneuver, you don’t just turn around on the board, but jump 180 degrees to turn the board.
The current female freestyle world champion is also very young: Sarah-Quita Offringa from Aruba is only 19 years young. At the age of 14 and 15, she was already the world’s second best, at 16 and 17 she was the best! Her recommendation for beginners: “learn from each other! Friends are good training partners. And it’s much easier as you think… just try it for yourself!“
Ricardo Campello of Brazil is considered to be the initiator of the “revolution”: At the age of 14, the Brazilian resident of Venezuela already caused a furore with special moves which had hitherto been deemed completely impossible. In the eyes of the long-serving windsurfing elite the tricks of the agile newcomers looked like the reversal of the laws of physics.
Ricardo and his fellow freestylers “initiators” all have one thing in common: they all come from the fishing village El Yaque on the Isla Margerita. It was the Hawaiian Josh Stone who travelled to the Caribbean island and set the impulse with his first “new school freestyle maneuvers”. A sheer windsurf boom broke out among the children of the small fishing village El Yaque and due to their playful easiness and the rhythm of Merengue and Salsa, which they had in their blood for generations, they developed to become the first stars in freestyle. Not only did Ricardo Campello become vice world champion at first go and then three-fold world champion in a row, Diony Guadagnino, Douglas "Cheo" Diaz, Alexis Zabala, Colette Guadagnino and the youngest freestyle world champion in the history of World Cup, Gollito Estredo, who all come from El Yaque, have become “the” emblem of freestyle ever since.
The next place “infected” by the revolution was the Caribbean island Bonaire, which by now should have become number one talent factory for freestyle. The shallow lagoon at Spots Lac Bay, together with ceaseless wind and the fact that the manuevers, which had been celebrated in various windsurf videos, could only be realized in shallow water brought about not only the number one World Cup riders Tonky and Taty Frans, as well as Kiri Thode, but also magnetized the youth of the whole island.
But Europe has caught on quickly: a movement of young surfers between 17 and 25 has even gone as far as to revolutionize windsurfing competitions: with a new format called “European Freestyle Battles”, they have called freestyle windsurfers to compete each other all over Europe. The event series was launched in Germany in 2010 and is already part of the official German windsurfing series, the DWC.
Founder Adrian Beholz, 21, is a passionate freestyle windsurfer himself. He explains: “Windsurfing has become one of many fun sport disciplines. Outsiders don’t really know what the sport is about. But freestyle-windsurfing is cool, it’s young and it’s very attractive to watch. It could give back the young image to windsurfing the sport surely deserves”.
For this reason, Adrian initiated the German Freestyle Battles in cooperation with Andre Paskowski, multiple German and European Champion, as well as the whole German freestyle scene. The international freestyle windsurfers soon supported the project: „The battles are becoming international. We held our first event outside Germany in Switzerland last year, this year, events in Greece, Great Britain and the Netherlands will follow”, says Adrian.