The long established European Freestyle Pro Tour (EFPT), like many tours, has had its fair share of ups and downs. In it’s hay-days it was turning over hundreds of thousands of Euros in prize money each year. In recent years the economy certainly had it’s impact on the tour, but are the perfect ingredients coming together for the tour to make a storming come back? Ridiculous new-school freestyle combinations, European World Champions and some new faces on the EFPT team, might just be the very roots of a new age for the EFPT.
10 years ago the mission was to found a tour that gives every freestyle windsurfer the chance to gain some experience in competition. The aim was to provide a base for riders who want to measure their skills on an international level, meet like-minded people, exchange ideas, adventures and knowledge. The tour should help in recruiting sponsors and deliver talents - as has already been the way, several times. Only to mention two times European champion André Paskowski, the Dutch Kevin Mevissen and the current overall reigning world champion in freestyle Steven Van Broeckhoven. Their names became big in the scene, after they were successfully taking part at EFPT events in the past years. The European Freestyle Pro Tour was never meant to be there to gain personal profit out of it. Every cent ever earned, floated right back into the EFPT itself and still does.
However, things got a little harder as the economic crisis reached big parts of Europe two years ago. Although the effort to offer a tour with lots of different stops never got less from our side, the likeability for organizers to run an event did. Due to the fact that the majority of all events got sponsored out of tourism and other official posts, it got harder and harder for organisers to run an event.
We are happy to announce now that even after the last two years, which were not the best for the tour and the international economy itself, the industry is still seeing the importance of the EFPT and lays trust in it by supporting it also in the upcoming season.
Currently we lay our main focus in getting as many events as possible on the calendar. Only by doing so, the tour gets the chance to grow again. At the moment we have two events fixed - the contracts are signed. In Podersdorf (28.4.- 30.4.) the EFPT is running the tow-in event, with the perspective to drag attention to the European Freestyle Pro Tour. The night tow-in last year was a huge success and attracted attention from several sides: the big audience on the beach, the media and last but not least the industry itself. Results of this event will not be included in the overall ranking, still we are hoping to present a great show in this growing area of freestyle.
At the present time it seems that Sigri, on the Greek island, Lesbos, is going to be the next station for the EFPT riders. Marcel Simon from the Sigri Surf Center is host and organiser of the "Sigri 3Style Area Cup". Greek lifestyle, a perfect flat-water spot and the high chance of wind in August, will definitely turn this new stop into a highlight.
Furthermore, we already have the dates from organisers who we are still negotiating with. Ralf Busse from the Alacati Surf Paradise Club is keen to organise an event in Alacati Bay, Turkey, the week right after Sigri. The geographical closeness of the two stops would ease the travel circumstances for all the riders.
After years of looking out for it, we are hoping to be able to present you a tour-stop in the UK this year. The EFPT office is working together with Simon Bassett, owner of 2xs in West Wittering, Adam Sims (Editor for Boards and Boardseeker) and the SWA, who are keen to organise the supporting program of the event (party, etc.). Also an additional tow-in event in London is still being discussed.
Both, Alacati and West Wittering, were added to the official calendar, even though we had to put a (TBC) behind it, we are working hard on getting it officially confirmed in the following weeks.
On top of this we have four more events on the 'EFPT wish list' for 2012. We are still in negotiations with organisers in Sardinia (Italy), Lefkada (Greece), Six Fours (France) and Klagenfurt (Austria). Here we are looking at dates in June, September and October.
The good news is that the trend for the tour seems to point up again and the interest amongst potential organisers and new riders is rising. Hopefully we can tell you more in the next EFPT monthly!
Stay tuned, Hanna