The Future of Freestyle
2012 was a good year for 15 yr old Oscar Carmichael. With a summer training in Sotavento, he brushed up on his skills while surrounded by his peers and the best PWA freestylers. Obviously having bendy bones and a willingness to fall in a lot helps, but this kid learns quick… and his skills quickly saw him become UKWA Junior Freestyle Champion, with one event to spare.
UK Freestyler Adam Sims catches up with Oscar for Boardseeker:
Name: Oscar Carmichael
Homespot: Portland harbor, U.K.
Years windsurfing: about 4 years
You have been sailing 4 years. Where did you start?
I started windsurfing on a family holiday in Greece on a friend’s old school cloth sail and 10ft longboard….right then I knew I was hooked, it was just too much fun. For my 11th birthday I was given a kiddy board and rig which I took along to a local T15 club at Portland. This soon became the highlight of my week.
Ok so first off, how has the year been for you?
Yeah it’s been sick I’ve had loads of fun training in the UK and abroad and competing on the UKWA freestyle series.
You took Junior Freestyle Champion with an event to spare, a pretty damn good result if we may say so ourselves, how was the series for you?
Dude the series was soo sick this year, with Trevor Funnel’s organisation all the events were super smooth, he also hooked us up with tow-in sessions on jet-ski’s!!
Did you try any other type of windsurfing / or comps?
Yeah, I used to be really into course racing, after T15 racing I was selected for the GBR Junior National Squad team but it just wasn’t for me. Although it taught me a lot about competition I found it was too repetitive…I would find myself wanting to put in duck jibes around slalom courses and knew it was time for a change of discipline
Do you plan to do the Juniors or Pros next year, or both?
Next year I’m going to concentrate fully on the Pro’s.
Why did you get into freestyle in the first place?
I was always playing around with my kit spinning it .sitting down …just having fun. Believe it or not Peter Harts “showing off" freestyle instructional video was one of my first freestyle inspirations! I first started competing in the T15 freestyle competitions until they started asking me to teach and judge the class I was meant to be competing in.
At 15, you are already at a very high level for freestyle - where do you see your future?
I want to reach the top 16 in the PWA and be British National Champion by the time I’m 18.
What moves do you want to learn /aspire to do?
I really want to learn Spock into Culo… its just such a sick combination, and also Pushies on the waves, they look sooo sweet.
Will we see Oscar Carmichael on the PWA World Tour in 2012, or will you be training hard for the following year?
Yeah I want to try and compete in Podersdorf and Fuerte but it depends on their dates, but fingers crossed!!
The UK Freestyle tour, how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been competing on the tour since 2010, this is when the UK freestyle really started kicking off again with the help of Trevor Funnel. There have been a series of five events over the last couple of years which is to be extended to six next year, as the freestyle scene here is getting more recognition and attracting many new faces.
Can you explain a bit more about what happens at the events?
The events are held at different locations across the country with heats for the different categories held over Saturday and Sunday all age ranges and abilities are catered for. The competitors usually rock up in their vans and it is as much a social scene as a windsurfing event....the guys there have become some of my closest friends. Even if the wind isn’t strong enough for freestyle something else will be organised,with turf dogs or tow in comps being organised.
Who are your windsurfing influences?
I really love the style of the Bonaire guys like Kiri and Bjorn, they’re so fluid throughout all of their moves. However, Marcillo “brawhzinho" Browne when he did freestyle was a tank!! gotta be the most powerful freestyle sailor I’d love to sail like any of these guys.
Do you wavesail at all?
Yeah I have done a bit of wave sailing but not hat much. I really need to get some more practice in in the near future as big moves like backloops are quickly becoming a necessity in PWA freestyle when there’s chop.
Any advice to other juniors looking at starting freestyle?
Getting out in light wind on a big board and doing a load of light wind freestyle for sail control and balance is a great way to improve. Making the most of any windy day even if it’s gusty and choppy you just need to get out and train the conditions aren’t always perfect at the competitions.
To many onlookers, some aspects of freestyle seem so far beyond their experiences, that it's almost too hard to appreciate the difficulty of some of the moves.
I can understand this, it’s not until you start trying to land some of these moves that you can understand the complexities involved they can be technically very difficult.
Do you think freestyle is the reserve of younger guys?
Freestyle can be enjoyed by anyone at any age however I do think that freestyle is a young person’s sport at high end competition as fitness, flexibility and the ability to learn new moves quickly are a must if you want to be near the top.
Freestyle has no doubt influenced 'new school' wave sailing, with the freestyle influence of the Brazilians like Kauli and Ricardo making it become much more the norm.
Any thoughts on this?
It’s sick seeing these guys shredding massive air taka’s and new-school sliding moves like the reverse, but I think that the classic stylish wave riding from guys like Levi Siver or Jason Polakow are hard to beat.
You hooked up with RRD for this year and had some support from them, how did the gear work for you?
The gear is sick … the boards are great for learning moves on for sure.
What moves would you say the RRD equipment helped you with the most?
The new board is perfect for slidy stuff like Spocks and Grubbies hence it’s nickname the “Cheat stick"
So you are coming to an end with RRD, any last words?
Cheers guys I’m going to miss being part of your team and thank for all your support. I’m going to especially miss Adam Sims who has been like a big brother to me.
In the video we see you ripping in Fuerte during this summer, good trip?
This was the sickest trip!!, sailing almost every day with your friends and going to the PWA party’s at night… it doesn’t get better than that.
What did you learn?
Double spocks, Shakas and switch moves on the opposite tack
Right so the big change, who are the lucky brands then?
My new sponsors are North Fanatic ION – so big thanks to the Baker brothers for supporting me. I’m stoked with this kit combination and I’m sure their experience will come in super handy to me in the future.
You've had some chance to sail the gear now in these awesome Nov/Dec storms, how is it working out?
This kit is AMAZING …the Fanatic Skate is super fast and the North ID so light to duck it has really helped me with the big power moves, especially Culos and Konos on my weaker side, I also landed my first burner last week.
So the year ahead must still have school in it somewhere, what's the plans after?
Yeah School is important, once in a while I'm off 'sick' to practice hard but I'll finish my studies then probably go straight out to Fuerte for training and then the PWA competition. I have to make a special thanks to the support of my parents though, they truly believe in me and I'm totally stoked to have parents like them, without their help I'm sure I would be nerding it up through A-Levels and Uni instead… there is time for that in the future!
Joining Fanatic/North then and it looks like you'll be teaming up with PWA rider Max Rowe, any training plans?
I’ll be going back to Fuerte in the Summer which I am sure will coincide with Max’s dates and also possibly Jeri over winter …can’t wait.
Awesome, well all the best from us here at Boardseeker and any last words?
Thanks guys, hope everyone is smashing these winter winds and see you on the water!!