Interview with Alex Mitchell
From: I was Born in Amsterdam lived there for about a year. Since then Surry.
Occupation? I'm in my final year of College studying Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Science in society. I want to take a gap year and then hopefully go to Southampton Uni to study Marine Biology. Next year I’m hoping to go to Thailand in the winter, Fuerteventura in the summer and then maybe Egypt if I can afford it.
Years windsurfing? About 5/6 years
Favorite disipline? Freestyle
Sponsors? Puravida Boardriders. Who got me riding Fanatic/North
What's your local spot?
Queen Mary Reservoir. When I had a car I used to go to Hayling a lot, but I slid off a roundabout into a high curb in the wet and, well; now I don’t have a car.
How did you get into windsuring?
My sister did a water-sports course thing where you do sailing windsurfing, raft building and other water sports. So I asked my parents if I could do one and chose windsurfing. Then later I joined team 15 and started racing. Then about a year after that I joined Zone squad and raced with them for about 2 years. But I got a bit bored of racing and started having a go at the freewave series that used to be around. I found whenever I was out racing I wanted to be out short boarding and trying freestyle.
What was it that attracted you to freestyle?
Watching videos online made me want to get into freestyle, every time I would go out short boarding I would try vulcans and stuff. I went out to Egypt and landed a Vulcan and just wanted to do nothing else. Then after that I went to Fuerteventura and met Jim from Puravida who now sponsors me.
Tell us about your competition experience?
My first competition was White Air in the Isle of White when I was about 15. It just looked like a pretty cool event with loads of sports like BMX and Mountain biking. I had done loads of racing so knew how competitions worked and just thought I would give it a go. I entered and came 3rd. After that I started doing the UKWA freestyle wave. I went over to Ireland and came second competing as a junior. Later that year there was another competition at West Witterings, I think I came second I can’t really remember but it was a fun event. In 2010 I did the UKWA freestyle at youth level and came 1st and then again in 2011.
Do you ever venture into other disciplines like waves or back to any of the racing you used to do?
I don’t see myself doing any racing anymore, I don’t mind the occasional slalom session. I like a bit of wave riding but not really that into it. I like freestyle the most especially with a few waves coming in so I can get some jumping in. Even when I used to race with team 15, I was always saying to them that they should do more freestyle. They have recently invited me to come and do some freestyle coaching sometime, probably later in the year. I think somewhere like Fuerteventura is ideal for freestyle. I think it’s really cool to have a little bit of a wave. I mean you can do a ponch on flat water but it looks so much better if you do one off a bit of a stunt ramp. I think it’s so much better for the public to watch. It’s more impressive and gets more people involved.
What do you think of the UK freestyle scene?
I think it’s looking pretty good really. There are a lot of sick sailors around today. Sometimes I think UKWA need to re-think their locations. I think there should definitely be a competition at Hayling. It’s one of the best freestyle spots. It’s wicked that they’ve started doing things like tow-in. Otherwise it is just a bit of a disappointment for everyone when there’s no wind. At least with tow-in we can run a competition and it’s good for spectators. It’s much better to show we can actually do something. I think these on forecast expression sessions that are happening more and more are a really good idea. When you go to them it doesn’t feel like a competition, just like you’re out for a sail with your mates and everyone is pushing really hard to pull good moves.
What do your friends from college think of windsurfing?
They all think it’s a bit gay to be honest, one of mates who I’ve windsurfed for ages is at the same college as me so that’s cool. Sometimes we can get out at Queen Marry together after college. Most people just don’t really see the appeal. They’re all just into football and normal sports. I just don’t think they really get it. I think my parents are quite proud of me windsurfing, they don’t mind me going off on trips and stuff.
What moves have you most recently cracked?
My best move is probably a Culo, got all the sliding switch moves, but Switch Konos and Culos are probably my favourite moves at the moment. I really want to learn regular Konos and most of all Shakas.
Have you travelled to many more exotic windsurfing spots?
I’ve been to Fuerte about 5 times, the best was probably last year. I had an amazing session on the last day with Oscar Carmichael and Adam Sims. It was perfectly flat in the Lagoon and I was fully powered up on my 4.2 and everyone was landing doubles and stuff just a really sick day.
Tell us about some of your windsurfing Highlights?
Probably just coming first this year in the UKWA, and I think just generally the travelling to events and travelling abroad with mates and getting to do what I really like to do. I really like going away windsurfing. I think if I just went on a normal holiday somewhere and just sat around I’d be really bored.
Have you had any setbacks in your windsurfing career so far?
One time when I went to do a competition with Jim in Wales. Dave White was there, doing an article on Wales. So I travelled round to loads of wave spots with him. We were out one day, it wasn’t massively windy but the waves were big, I went for a big backside aerial, when I landed the wave wrapped around the back of my sail and I broke my elbow. I had to swim in, which was pretty horrible. The life guard looked at it and bandaged it up and sent me off to hospital. I had this weird support on because of where it was they couldn’t put a cast on the joint.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m going to try and carry on with the freestyle tour, and hopefully in my gap year try to attend a few of the EFPT competitions, maybe Austria.
Freestyle can look pretty intimidating. What would you say to anyone out there trying to get in to freestyle?
Just persevere, just keep trying. Video coaching really helps, you can use it to compare yourself to someone else and see what you’re doing wrong. Every time you go out you got to think this is what I’m going to do and just keep trying. That’s what I found when I went out to Fuerte, I learnt about 7 moves in one trip just because every run I would try.
Thanks Alex, and good luck with the future.
By Will Jones