Sarah-Quita talks about 2014 as she looks forward to pushing the level of women's windsurfing even more this year.
Hi Sarah, how did the 2014 season go for you, we see you were on top as usual?
SQ: Hi, in freestyle I’ve managed to stay on top yes. I had some time to practice back home in Aruba and I really noticed the difference on the water and during my heats.
Waves were a new challenge for me. I spent 5 weeks practicing in Cape Town last winter. It seems like that has paid off as well. In Gran Canaria we only finished a single elimination so I finished 9th but in Tenerife I had a chance to fight back in the double and I made it all the way to 3rd, which was amazing for me!
Finally I had a chance to go to Turkey for slalom and finished 1st there as well. All in all the season was really good for me!
We know in 2013 you were studying throughout the season, how did everything go and are you all finished now?
SQ: Yes that’s why I had to miss out on most slalom competitions and could only compete in the summer for the past few years. After 3.5 years of studying I have now earned my bachelor’s degree in science and innovation management. For the moment I’m going to take some time off from university and focus more on windsurfing. But I think it’s important to pursue a master degree as well in the future.
Coming from a small island in the Caribbean you have to travel a lot in order to get to all the competitions. Do you still enjoy travelling after all these years?
SQ: Yes I still love travelling. I have had the most amazing experiences because of travelling and windsurfing. Carrying all of those board-bags is definitely a hassle. But in the end when you make it to your destination, share the windsurfing passion with friends, meet new people, and experience another culture, it’s all worth it to me.
What advice can you give to our readers regarding travelling with excess baggage, board-bags, etc?
SQ: Handling all of that excess baggage by yourself is no fun. Get a friend to help you out with carrying everything if you can. Sometimes I take an extra (light) board bag with me in case they say my bags are too heavy. But most important of all: keep calm at check-in and always smile.
Which airlines do you recommend for travelling with boards and which ones are on your black list?
SQ: (Laughs) If I name my blacklist here then they might put me on theirs! I love Turkish Airlines. They’re always easy with the bags and the service on board is great. KLM also has good service on board, but getting your bags through check in is quite a nightmare and expensive.
Where do you train to prepare for the PWA season and what tricks are currently on your wish list?
SQ: For the past three years I’ve been in Lanzarote, Tenerife, Jericoacoara, Aruba and Cape Town to practice. This year I will travel to more wave destinations so I can practice my jumping and wave-riding too. In waves I’m looking to practice backloops, pushloops and stalled forwards.
Freestyle you can really train anywhere but I think at the moment the best place to practice is Bonaire. The conditions are so easy, but more so it’s because of all the talented sailors there that push each other’s level on the water. I think it’s time for me to get the double moves down like spock culo’s and practice power moves both ways. Let’s see how that goes!
What’s your board of choice and why?
SQ: For freestyle I’m usually on my Starboard Flare 91L because the board is fast and quite extreme during the moves. I’ve used the 101 Flare a few times too. This board gives that extra bit of flotation, slides really well and also a dream to sail on.
In waves I’ve been using the NuEvo 73L and the Kode Wave 77L. I like both but prefer the Kode in smaller waves because it feels faster on the water. The NuEvo is amazing for carving.
You have been with Starboard for many years now, do you know the first year you were signed, and how has being apart of the Starboard Dream Team shaped your professional career?
SQ: Yes I’ve been on Starboard for quite some time now. I have been sailing the boards for at least 10 years. I think I signed with Starboard for the first time in 2006. I feel very fortunate to have been part of the Starboard family for such a long time already. My teammates are great and we all support each other.
Although I haven’t been able to be part of the yearly photo shoot for 3 years now it is one of my favourite times of the year because it’s a week that is all about bonding and having fun on the water together. That’s what windsurfing is all about to me.
Starboard has always supported me whether it has been pursuing windsurfing ambitions or pursuing my studies and I truly thank them for that.
You have been World Champion now how many times? What are your future goals, can you reach any higher?
SQ: I currently have 7 world titles, six in freestyle and one in slalom.
Winning the overall title is really cool but my focus is more on raising the level. For me it’s all about progress and enjoying the sport in all its diversity. There’s always something to learn in windsurfing, that’s the cool thing about this sport.
This is why I’m also moving towards wave sailing. This is such a fun discipline, and if I get good enough I will give winning the PWA world title a shot as well!
What advice would you have for young up-and-coming freestylers who are watching you and hoping to reach your level some day?
SQ: I would advise them to not give up practicing. Freestyle is my biggest passion in windsurfing, but I know it can be really frustrating at times. But don’t give up because the moment you land that move you’ve been practicing for so long, is really worth it! Just have fun on the water and enjoy the crashes as much as the landed moves. Because actually the crashes make for the best stories ;-)
Interview conducted by Starboard HQ.