A week on the road.
Being on the road as a pro windsurfer can, to many people, seem like the dream life. And in some occasions it is, but before the reward, there is really hard work. And before you can get to enjoy amazing conditions somewhere out there in the world, there is all of the work you put in to make a trip happen, be it for a travel story or a world cup!
As many know, during the European summer, the world cup season is at its high, and I have taken out a week in August when making the trip down to the town of Alacati in Turkey where the warm weather and constant make it a perfect place for a sport like windsurfing.
The story begins back in Copenhagen a couple of weeks earlier. I am sending out emails to friends from the tour to hear about going down to Turkey about five days before the event to get used to the conditions there. Some days later, we are a group, and through contacts that we have gotten over the years we are lucky to find a place that can accommodate all of us at the same time.
I remember just having gotten some new sails and boards in, and I decided to pack all of it. The main sponsor for the event is an airline and we have an amazing equipment deal through them, so I don’t think too much about what I am packing, everything goes in the bags; five windsurf bags and two normal bags later, I am ready to fly the friendly skies. In the summertime I base myself out of Copenhagen as I have a great set-up there and it‘s easy to fly around Europe.
Not long after I hit the airport terminal, I am already in the air and ready to take on this new trip which will be a mixture of good friends, good times, good food and of course lots of fun racing! For events like this, it is very rare that I travel with others as no-one else usually flies out of Copenhagen, so the first bit is always a bit quite before hooking up with the rest of the boys. A nice little quite time is good before hopping on to the windsurfing bonanza of world cup for a whole week.
Today the destination is Izmir, the closest airport to Alacati, unfortunately there is a stop in Istanbul along the way, but it will give you just enough time for some Turkish coffee and sweets before taking the last flight down to Izmir. After exiting the flight and making it down to baggage claim, I am met with a big pile of equipment, which means one of the boys made it here before me. It was Finian Maynard who had beaten me in bringing the most amount of bags by far. He had built himself a small fortress in the arrivals hall and was waiting for the rest of us. We were all flying in within a couple of hours of each other. The next person I see at the baggage claim is Peter Volwater who, like me, has not gotten his bags yet. It usually takes a little while at this airport so we join Finian on the floor for a bit of chilling out. It will be a while before our bags and the other guys arrive, so there is nothing to do other than to just relax for a little while.
Turkey is great at this time of year but it is also amazingly hot and I remember us talking about the wall of heat which will be hitting us once we hit the airport curb outside the doors.
After a while we see our equipment coming out and we give the airport staff a little hand dragging the heavy bags out. By the time we had dragged out our bags, Gonzalo had arrive together with Marco Lang, and we were now just one guy short of being ready to leave for Alacati.
After some more time of chilling and a little coffee session we were now ready to leave the airport. We had arranged a big truck to come for our gear and a mini bus to bring us all into town.
About an hour later, we are at our hotel and we finish of this crazy day with a round of cold beers. May the week begin!
The first order of business when you wake up on a morning like this, is to try and find your space to set up for the week. So even though it’s early we all head down to the beach and try to set up our equipment somewhere for the whole period of time we are there. After some heavy dragging and carrying, we are all set and it's lunchtime. Once you are set up, things are easier really. You have much less stress. You are already there, your equipment is set up, and now is finally the time where the fun can begin: you can start hitting the water.
The next couple of days, there were really just one objective, to spend as much time on the water as possible. We had been joined by some of the French guys who had decided to come down earlier as well, so there were lots of guys on the water, and as the days progressed, more guys showed up. It is fairly normal that most guys show up a couple days before an event starts.
Most of the time we tested out our bigger equipment making sure that it working out in the marginal conditions, which we compete in sometimes. Especially at this spot, it is not unusual to do many races on the biggest equipment we have.
We also managed to squeeze in a Fanatic boards presentation with the whole racing team and the Turkish distributor as we had just gotten the new 2013 slalom boards, so everybody were pretty excited.
The evenings are spent, either at our hotel eating dinner and hanging out, or at one of the local restaurants. I simply love the food here, and it's incredible how much it boosts my motivation having amazing food. Everything from breakfast to dinner. After a couple of nights, we found a place really close by with great food, so we eventually ended up just spending the evenings there, before heading back to the hotel for some computer work, emailing, organizing etc.
I must note that at this time, I had not gotten myself out of here first as I was thinking of spending a couple of days more sailing here before going back to Denmark. Next stop for me was the Danish championships and with great sailing here, I was trying to organize getting into Denmark just a day or two before the next event!
The inevitable day came and we were now to compete. This first day always bring great excitement. Gonzalo and I were sharing an equipment tent, and we had it top tuned and organized for the first day. It was really just like a windsurfing center. Just grab a rig, downhaul and go. This brings great peace of mind, so we were pretty chilled on the first day.
After a couple of days, the competition was really on a high. It was getting close to the weekend, and more and more people were turning up on the beach to check out the action. I had had some good races during the week and was fairly happy with the level I was keeping.
In the morning, while I was taking my rigs down to the beach, I saw someone’s sails flying around by the beach thinking “amateurs". By the time I got to the beach I realized that it was actually my 6,2 and 7,0, which had been taking a tumble through tents and stands, and my 6,2 was damaged. Instead of having a quite morning, I now had to drag the 6,2 back to my tent to repair it. It all worked out well though, and the sail was back on the beach after a short little while.
This year, like the previous year brought lots of wind, but also very shifty wind, so I had everything from 6,2 to 9,5 on the beach ready to go. It was all in all just amazing racing. The atmosphere here is really relaxed on the beach which also gives you a relaxed feeling out on the water.
When the days are done, even the crew will hit the water for a blast around the bay.
More people had now found their way to our usual evening spot, and before we knew it, it was the chocolate brownie heaven, and boy were they good! I like it when the boys get around for a little bit in the evening just to talk about the day and the experiences out there before going back to bed and recharging for a new day.
The last two days of the event were a bit more funky wind wise, so there was time to mess around on the water, take some pics and just generally keep it cool on the beach and stay out of the scorching sun. During events, there can be lots of downtime. When you first start doing events, you tend to stress out a bit, but after a while you become a champion chill-out master being able to sit anything out, and this is what we do every now and then. I spent this extra time talking with some of the other guys about staying here some days longer and finally got to the decision that I would not be leaving after the last day of racing.
The last day of racing is always a bit crazy. We race, and then we pack up getting ready to leave the place. There was lots of stuff to pack up, and as I now had decided to stay longer, I decided to divide up my bags a bit, and keep only a little bit of my equipment, and send the rest home with some of the Danish boys who had decided to come down for the racing also.
This is not an easy process. Gonzalo and myself had made a quite extensive mess during the week. Slowly and sweaty things were coming along, and after a good hour or two the gear was packed, and it was now time to end this day with a beer with the boys.
The day after I decided to go for a little exploring up the beach with my buddy Sean O’brien and more friends, and we found some pretty amazing places which definitely are worth checking out. Its amazing how you keep finding places that take you by surprise. The first part of the day was spent chilling, swimming and playing beach tennis here before going back for an afternoon sailing session when the wind had finally picked up.
We once more finished off the day with a session at the local place with talks about what was about to happen the day after. Apparently a long distance race was being organised, so we decided to try it out. The next day we signed up for the race, but realized it would be a little hard for us to win, as there would be guys racing on formula gear, and the first half of the race was upwind...hmmm... we still decided to do it. Hours and hours later I was back on shore, and I had no idea what place I had come in at, but it didn’t really matter. It was a nice little race, and I headed back out on the water for a testing and tuning session with Gonzalo and Ben Van Der Steen who also had decided to stay
Time was slowly running out. There was only another day left of sailing before I would head back to Denmark. I of course spent the day on the water testing out the new Fanatic boards and doing some filming with Sean. It was just another amazing day here at Alacati. In the evening we went for one last dinner at our spot, and the next morning we were all out of there. I met Sean in Istanbul where we spent some hours together before going our separate ways.
The day after I was in the car with my friends on my way to the Danish championships, and so it continues for the rest of the season. The summer time is packed, and its not unusual that the schedule will be like this for a long time before having some downtime. None the less, like any other trip, this was an amazing one, and I was happy to be able to make it down to Alacati for this stop of the world tour, and hope that I will be able to return to this and all other spots in my future time.