Four years ago Daida Moreno received news that no person in the world ever wants to hear, "you have cancer". The words resonate with a cold chill even as we type. People handle it in different ways, Daida appeared to keep the news very low key and decided to fight it mainly from within. There was little news or updates about her situation but some four years later and she looks back at it as a turning point in her life. Rather than focus on the past we wanted to ask her about the here and now, the future and how things are shaping up for the highlight of Moreno's year, the Gran Canaria Wind & Waves Festival. We were in Pozo a couple of weeks ago and so put a few Q's forwards to this highly motivated, passionate and hard-working individual. So without further ado we hand over to one of the most inspiring women in our sport, the 18x World Champion, Daida Moreno.
Hey Daida, we saw you on the water yesterday, how was it and how has the spring been in Pozo this year?
This spring has been really good. We have had plenty of wind, surf and time for other types of physical training (martial arts, cycling, running and so on). I train pretty much everyday and in the afternoon I work as a physiotherapist with my own clients in between and we are now working everyday for the organisation of the World Cup, so pretty much all the time I am doing something.
What about this winter. What were you up to? Where have you been?
Winter has also been really good, but I'm pretty much doing the same as I am now. Just a few visits to Tenerife for some Physiotherapy courses and scoring as much water time as possible. Why leave home when home is so good.
There's no way around this question; gossip, news, info on 2017 gear?
Haha, well there are some really cool looking Severne Sails coming up, super easy to sail with. Also the upcoming Starboard boards are really something else. I really can't wait to sail them as a thruster set-up here in Pozo, it perfectly suits my style. Also there are new fin boxes called the “Star Box" which basically helps to solve past problems and there is strong focus on improving strength and weight this year.
So the PWA Gran Canaria Wind & Waves event will be the first event of the 2016 World Tour and you and your sister are organising it once again. Do you feel any additional pressure that it is the first event and how is it all panning out?
The pressure is always there. There are a lots of responsibilities, and a lot of team-work behind us. We are always thinking how to do better things without money, so that’s a pretty big challenge in itself. We are at the moment promoting the event in a local boat show and also at the Defi wind in France. We are looking forward to bring even more spectators to the event site to witness the best riders in the world going for the most radical jumps on tour. This year we have produced a small agenda to explain to the public how the event works. This agenda also includes details about the PWA, the best international and local riders and the program with activities of the Festival (conferences, comedy night, local Canarian music night, dj’s, activities for kids, yoga, sports exhibitions inside the tent, and many different activities during the whole week). It's going to be a busy one that's for sure.
Speaking to some of the lower ranked riders do you think the new system where the top 24 ranked riders are already in the main event and the rest have to qualify (or get one of few wild cards) is working? Or should it go back to the old system?
I think for events like Pozo it is really difficult to justify the amount of money it cost to have only 32 men in the event. It’s always better to have top 48. Besides, not all the people can do the whole tour, so many local riders are out of the main event and it’s also not working from the organisers point of view. We also want to see all the best locals in the main event. We normally have two wild cards to give to 4-5 people and it is then a really hard situation. I think the PWA should re-think about a better solution for everyone.
Live scoring, this will soon enter the freestyle discipline, how has it helped the wave discipline and event organisers like yourself?
The technology is always a great tool for the professional PWA tour. It makes it easier to understand and to follow the live stream. PWA is doing a good job investing time and money into this to progress as other sports do. Trying to find tools to make windsurfing easier to understand will always benefit us all, plus the system is super useful to learn about your own heat sailing.
Let’s talk titles, up until 2014 you were undefeated for a very very long time, then Iballa stepped in and managed to just pip you to the top with her performances in Maui, despite your success in Pozo and Tenerife. You two are always fighting closely for the top but would you say she has the edge in Starboard tack right now?
Definitely yes. I know I have to work more my starboard tack but since 2011 I was fighting for my life with cancer, then I was at university studying physiotherapy and I haven’t had the time or money to invest into my starboard tack training. I don’t consider myself bad at all in the other side by the way, my level sn higher than many local girls in Maui, but I had to put my life in a balance and use the time to invest in the future. Iballa lives in Fuerteventura, where she can stand up paddle, surf and windsurf everyday. This on water time is what it makes up the difference. Let’s see what happens this year. I know everyone wants me to lose (for a change), but I can prove myself better if we also have wind in other contests like Sylt or France, starboard tack or port tack, it doesn’t matter. For now I want to stay focused for Gran Canaria, and then move forward slowly. I have already won 18 world titles, it’s time for me to enjoy the day by day and leave the pressure of the events behind. If I enjoy my sailing everything comes smoothly.
Have you been doing any additional starboard tack training?
In Gran Canaria it is really rare to sail in starboard tack conditions but I have more and more time to go to Fuerteventura on the weekends after I work with my patients. So yes I've been scoring a bit more Starboard tack.
How long have you two been competing and is there any sign of slowing down, especially with the Gran Canaria Wind and Waves event taking up a lot of time?
To be honest I already started to slow down in 2012, especially the traveling bit. Once I recovered my health I started trying to get my fitness back, but then I got a foot injury and it took me off the water for 5 months last year. Now I try to enjoy my time in GC more than ever; sailing, working as a physio and organizing the World Cup, which it take us normally 9 months to complete.
We’d planned to meet you a bit earlier but the wind was a bit light so you went to join Dario Ojeda at his Tatami 211 Mixed Martial Arts training centre, do you often take part in this?
Dario’s gym is for me the best place to release all the tension of the day, a perfect way to stay fit and focus in a healthy line. I love practicing boxing and kick-boxing at Tatami 211 when there is no wind.
We are looking forward to the event, can you tell us who you think will be the top 3 men and who might be challenging you and your sister in the top 3 of the women? Any outsiders to keep an eye on this year?
The action will be there for sure! As per usual Victor Fernandez and Philip Koster will try to be on top but there are many people like Jager [Stone] or local riders who can make a big surprise into the top, the likes of Omar Sanchez, Dario Ojeda, Pablo Ramirez, [Josep] Pons, Moritz [Mauch] or Alessio Stillrich.
For the girls, I haven’t really seen many girls this winter training, they actually never come here for training so it’s really hard to say. However, Silvia Alba will be back with some strength, this is for sure, as she has been training in Tarifa/Caños de Meca the whole winter, I would keep an eye on her.
Thanks Daida, we wish you all the best for the coming year.
Cover shot: Fish Bowl Diaries
All other unspecified images: Jose Pina