Björn Dunkerbeck is celebrating his 30th year competing on the PWA and we thought there is no better way to mark the occasion than an interview that touches on all things current within the Dunkerbeck world, and yes we got personal. Retirement, future plans and what happened last year are all on the agenda as we go into the mind of one of the most successful athletes in the history of windsurfing.
I'm more motivated than ever, I have been on the water pretty much 5/6 days a week, you know whether that is windsurfing, stand-up paddling, surfing or whatever...
Cutting straight to the point, last year was just not yours, are there any specific moments that you can relate to which might have been the reason why?
It was nothing really too specific more a combination of so many light wind events, overall I think I used 8.6 twice last year and 9.6 for the other events.
What sails did you have in your quiver last year and are you changing that for 2014?
I had 9.6, 9.2, 8.6, 7.8, 7.0, 6.2, but the only sails that got wet were the 9.6 and the 8.6, in fact I only used the 8.6 in two heats, not even at two events! It's not to say that I don't like light winds, I just prefer to be powered up, of course I like it when the wind is strong but strong can also be well powered up on the bigger sails. When the 85 kilo windsurfers are on 9.6 as well, I think that something is wrong.
For 2014, I'm just finishing up some testing but this year we have a 10.0, a 9.5 and a 9.0, so I will have to tweak things a bit and test it out but most probably I will have to go with the 10.0 for sure.
I don't know if PWA is going to be my main focus after this 30th year...
Obviously, the fight for the title has been between you and Antoine Albeau for many years, do you see him as your arch rival or is your relationship with him not so fierce?
I think it is not so much a rivalry, we are pretty friendly really, I mean on the water everyone wants to win of course, but these are top guys, we all windsurf with a lot of respect and don't run each other over. You have to remember we don't have any rules on the race course so this respect is important and this is the case with Antoine as well, he respects his competitors. Of course, it's going to be a hard fight again this year but hopefully we will have a bit more wind than last year, plus we have a few more events on the calendar so it should make for an exciting tour.
Being my 30th year on the tour I am excited to see conditions provide and to take part in so many events. I just don't want to be pumping around on 9.6 because that's not really slalom is it...
After signing to RRD he seemed to have a sudden new level of motivation, what do you think it will take to beat him this year?
Well you just got to be on it all the time, he is very focused, he trains a lot, but there are a few other guys who are also on the charge. For example Alberto Menegatti is young and strong and wants it really bad, he made a good impression last year and he certainly has a fresh fire in his belly. We can't forget the likes of Ben Van Der Steen, Ross Williams (who just became Formula World Champion) and all these guys will give Antoine a good run for his money this year. To be honest, anyone in the top 5 can win a few competitions but to really become a world champion and to be in front of Antoine at the end of the year you have to be in front all of the time.
Have you changed anything to try and upset him this year? Personally, with your kit, your training regime?
Not so much, just increasing what I have been doing to keep my fitness levels up, I'm more motivated than ever, I have been on the water pretty much 5/6 days a week, you know whether that is windsurfing, stand-up paddling, surfing or whatever. Ever since Sylt was over it's been all I have wanted to do and I think I was lucky as well, we had lots of wind and good surf so this helped me with my on water time. I think it says enough when I haven't even had time to rig my 10.0 yet... or any will power to do so (laughs).
Can you tell us a little more about your training regime, is it purely on water time or do you do more?
To be honest it is mainly on water time but I do like to get out on the mountain bike as often as I can, especially when the wind is light. In the end the best training for me is to compete, to race against others, this year already I have competed in two long distance races in St Barth and in Australia, but both those races ended up being on 9.6 as well. I guess you can say the last year has been good light wind practice for me.
Editors note: You can find out much more about that in our previous feature with Björn last month - click on the poster below.
Where are your favourite stops on the whole tour?
Well this year I believe Fuerteventura is going to be back on, so this is for sure one of them. There are a few new ones which will be interesting and who knows, maybe these will become a favourite. Other than that I think Alacati is a nice slalom venue when the wind blows. Last year was not that great just because we got unlucky with the wind but it's a nice venue anyway. Basically anywhere that's warm, Vietnam is also nice and this looks like it is returning to the calendar this year after a long break since the last event we had there and it should be quite a thrill to finish the season off in the South Pacific. Basically anywhere where it is 27 degrees and you can sail on a 7.8 is a perfect venue.
A hard hitting question, if anyone says the word retirement around you what is your reaction?
In terms of the PWA, this is pretty much my 30th year and I want to focus on speed sailing now so I don't know if PWA is going to be my main focus after this 30th year. I mean, it won't be an end, I am still motivated to do the nice and warm events, but I am keen to see speed sailing brought into a new age where it becomes much more focussed in the public media.
You live in a great part of the world and have a great family, do you try to give your kids a gentle push towards windsurfing or do they have their own dreams?
When you hit the water do you still learn new things?
It's not so much learning new things, it is pretty much polishing up what I already know. In slalom and speed sailing the main changes come from the kit, tuning the new kit, making fine changes which affect your speed and introducing new ideas that will help you around the race course. Perhaps this is where I do learn new stuff the most, because of the constantly changing kit. I mean, last year we did 50 knots for the first time so that proves that equipment has changed quite a bit in recent years.
Can you give us any insights into what we can expect from Starboard and Severne slalom gear in the future, any dramatic changes?
What top 3 tips would you give to your average windsurfer who wants to compete and be fast on the water?
The second is to enjoy yourself when you are out there, it's much more beneficial.
The third is to get a GPS device and see what kind of conditions and equipment set-ups you go quicker in/with. It is a great motivation device which doesn't set you back too much and you can compare your speeds to the best in the world by the click of a mouse.
Lastly, what’s your 10 year plan?
To spend a lot of time with my family, a lot of time on the water and to hopefully motivate other people to get out there and have fun windsurfing. Also it is important for me to remain healthy and keep my own windsurfing level up.
Don't forget to check out Björn Dunkerbeck's facebook page:
Be sure to sign up quick for the first ever Dunkerbeck GPS Speed Challenge, all details on the facebook page:
Lastly, be sure you get a good pair of sunglasses for your summer trip. These ones even float...
Image credits where unnamed - PWA/John Carter