Just few years ago Leon Jamaer was a relative unknown in the windsurfing world; now Leon has signed to the JP and NeilPryde international team, taken third in the Red Bull Storm Chase and is set to better his 9th position on the PWA world tour.
Boardseeker catches up with Leon to discuss big changes, equipment choices and tuning, the chase and looking ahead to 2014...
NeilPryde and JP Australia approached me to join the team, for a few reasons, but mainly because I am a German rider mainly riding in Europe this year, they like how I ride and were impressed with my results last year.
Over in Chile last year I tried a few of Robby’s (Swift) boards, I felt quite comfortable on them straight away. I thought a lot about it, I was happy with Fanatic but I also wanted something new and fresh for the first year that I can really concentrate on the windsurfing tour. Before I was studying and couldn’t take much time off, but now I am almost finished so I can really focus on the tour and be a professional.
I will be doing all of the PWA and some wave events in Germany. I want to travel more too, I have a few places in mind where I want to go. I’m in South Africa at the moment, I want to head to the Canaries more on a good forecast and places like UK too. I’ll be based in Germany, and will be making trips around Europe on good forecasts. I would really like to finally make it to Indonesia this year, I’ve wanted to go for 5 or 6 years now, so I hope this year I can finally make it.
This year I really want to finish in the top 5 on the PWA, it’s really hard to say. I know I need to work on my starboard tack riding, and my jumping on starboard tack is just rubbish, but as we know most of the PWA contests are port tack anyway. I probably need to train my onshore waveriding, even though it’s not that much fun for me!
I think I also need to learn to be a little more consistent. In free sailing I dont want to waste a wave doing half hearted turns which also means I crash a lot. In contests its sometimes a bit different if you want to win your heat.
I think I can do my best when it’s really good conditions, if it’s waist high waves in Pozo then anything can happen, but if it’s really good I think I can get good results. I like conditions where your performance isn’t limited. For example, when the waves are small you can’t jump high or really do too much, but when you have proper ramps one person can do a high backloop, but if you’re really good you can do an even higher one.
JP have the single thruster, it’s fast, responsive and turns well, perfect for European conditions! Then they have the radical quad which is the board I used in the Cornwall RBSC, that board felt really good when the waves were mast high - really smooth on the rail! The onshore board, when the conditions get that big have less control so I switch to the radical quad and it’s really, really good.
I’m still trying lots of different boards, all of the 2014 boards and I’ve just got the first 2015 shapes too, so I will try them all and figure out which kind of conditions suit which boards the best. I can say here in South Africa I did my best top turns ever on the new Radical Quad shape!
I will also start working on some complete custom boards, I really want to try and develop the perfect board for where I live, around Germany and Denmark, their onshore boards are pretty good already but there is always room to improve!
On Hot Sails I used all different sails: the 5 batten Firelight, the 4 batten Quad and the 3 batten K3, so it’s really hard to compare to now what I’m using with NeilPryde.
Though I feel very comfortable on the Combats, even the first time I used them I just rigged them quickly (I didn’t really know how), jumped on the water and they already felt great. I have chosen the Combat as they have a bit more power, which is great for European conditions, plus I’m a bit heavier than some of the other guys, so this power really helps.
[part title="Storm Chase"]
It’s a really weird feeling for the chase to finally be over. When the chase started I knew there were so many good guys that wanted to get in, I didn’t really think I would make it as I wasn’t very well known. Luckily, people still voted for me and I got 13th in the voting, then I knew if we got really good conditions I could do well but it was hard to get in in the first place.
Tasmania was my favourite mission for sure, the conditions pushed everyone to their limits. There were some solid mast high sections to hit but then the first peak was almost twice the size and not many attempted to hit that one. None of the mission were quite ideal for jumping... most of the times you had to be really lucky to find a good ramp. In the end it was mostly about wave riding which I am stoked about because many people thought the Storm Chase would be more about surviving, but we actually scored pretty epic down the line wave riding!