We continue our series of catch-ups with one of the UK’s top freestylers Max Rowe. Having been injured, changing sponsors and spending not nearly enough time on the water, some might say the winter hasn’t been ideal for him. After 5 years on the Fanatic/North international team Rowe returns to an old friend, the brand that helped him on his way in the early days, Simmer International. A new turning point in his career and freedom to develop the sails and board of his choice, we caught up with him here in the infamous Fuerte Action cafe on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.
Over to Max…
Before we talk about the change, it’s a little, errr, early to be here for the PWA, making up for last year or is there another reason why Fuerte?
Haha, yeah I wanted to get my timing right this year, so I’m here three months early ;-). Actually I’ve been waiting for my new gear to arrive and had to begin constructing a sail with Simmer sail designer Tomas Persson from scratch. It wasn’t as easy as getting the stuff just shipped to me, so I had to design it and wait for it to be made before I went anywhere. So I was always planning a last minute trip anyway and spoke with Adam Sims just as he returned from Cape Town, a few days later and we are both here, totally on forecast.
So you’ve been on Fanatic/North for a while but you used to be with Simmer, was it a natural choice to head back to a brand you were already familiar with?
Yeah there is an element of heading back to something familiar that I liked. But one of the main reasons was that Simmer were looking for someone to head up their freestyler board and sail development and this was the kind of opportunity I was looking for and it all just came together with them.
Ok let’s talk social media, you posted something about your departure from Fantic/North, was it a ‘bumpy’ end or did the post come across a little out of context?
Well, yeah it was definitely ‘bumpy’ for me because of the timing, I was made aware of it 3 days before I flew to Maui in November to do the testing for North, right at the end of the year. I regret in a way how it reflected on Fanatic who were all bundled up in it because actually the timing was really aimed more at North who left me in the deep end just days before my testing trip to Maui. Yeah and I wanted to write something that actually reflected on how I felt about the situation rather than just thank you bla bla bla. I thought it was quite a fair statement, of course I’m incredibly grateful for the support and opportunities they gave me and they were always extremely professional with me until that point which of course because of the such short notice it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth!
So you arrived on Maui, quite sure the following year had to be with another brand and then injury struck?
Yeah the injury definitely wasn’t great timing from that point of view, I was pretty down already about the late news that I had to find a new sponsor so breaking the ankle could have potentially come at a better time *laughs*. Anyway I had a super nice time there with my girlfriend, I enjoyed the island, there are certainly worse places to rehab.
Looking forwards, we saw you testing the sails already and ripping on them, you seem to have already settled in just two days, how do you like the new gear and what can we expect from the future of Simmer and Max Rowe?
Well yeah the new gear, the sail is working fantastic, obviously I had complete freedom from the design point of view and these are only the first prototypes, they still need a little bit of tweaking but overall I’m very happy with how they’ve come out. I’ve yet to try out the bigger sizes as it’s nuking here but it looks like the weekend will bring the perfect opportunity for this. We’ve also got some really exciting stuff coming with the board as well, that we will be bringing out at the start of next year. Together we are hoping to be able to offer a really exciting freestyle line up, the board will be ready for the start of next year and the sails will be out this summer.
So there is a lot of testing going on right now, will the Simmer board look anything like the board you are using now and can you reveal anything on where you want to go with the shape?
No the board won’t look anything like what I have now because the actually board I am using is custom paint job over an old skate, as the board won’t be ready in time to meet the PWA production board guidelines. Yeah the board setup is going to be pretty exciting, it’s going to be made in this great factory in Vietnam, which means it will not be restricted with one mold and being stuck with one shape for a long time. Where I see it going right now is that shorter boards are becoming more and more common so one of the main aspects we will focus on us developing this.
Are you excited about the team you are joining and what is your personal plan for competing, will we see Rowe in the waves in the future or are you totally committed to freestyle?
Yeah I am very excited to join the team, it’s a strong outfit with some colourful personalities, I think everyone involved in the brand is very passionate and also importantly they’re a lot of fun. I would love to move into the waves one day if I can get my level to a point where I see it needs to be for the world tour, at the moment I am mainly just blending the waves in for a bit of fun and where it is useful to be able to focus on competing on the freestyle world tour.
You’ve also been spotted sporting some trendy new fashion wear on and off the water?
Yeah also very excited to announce that I will be riding for the UK Mystic team, I’ve known Nik Green who works for Watersports World UK, the Mystic importer, for a long time now and he lives nearby so it’s great to be able to support the brand and so far I’m thoroughly impressed by the quality of all the gear.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for this year both in and out of competition?
Well I’m going to be heading to Greece again to work for Club Vass this summer, I’ll be there a lot and focusing a lot of attention on that. In between I’ll be heading to all the World Tour events and a few of the European tour stops, where they fit in with my busy summer schedule. I hope to be able to do my best to make it into the top 16 to recover from last years ranking after some tough luck at events.