It's no secret that travelling with windsurf gear can be a little bit cumbersome. The boards are in the region of two and a half metres, masts can really restrict your choices of airline and then there are the sails, booms and much more to go with it. Now imagine competing in all three disciplines on the PWA World Tour, filming your own documentary and living in Aruba. What then do you have to carry, how do you manage and is it worth kickstarting your own logistics company? We caught up with Sarah-Quita Offringa to find out how this is all possible.
Over to Sarah...
This year I competed at 9 PWA competitions, and I attended the Défi wind and the Sosh freestyle cup. I flew to most of the events but drove to all of the events in France.
- 1x freestyle
- 3x slalom
- 5x waves
I have all my equipment in Holland at my friends house, so I always travel via the Netherlands to pick up or switch my gear before I go to any event.
If I just have one event for one discipline, that’s perfect! But some times I travel straight to the next event so I will have to plan ahead and take the extra gear with me. Then there’s this minor addiction I have... I pretty much always take my freestyle equipment with me. At least to the places that are known to be windy, for example: Canary Islands, Turkey, Maui and New Caledonia. I get bored if I can’t go freestyling. A quick freestyle session always relaxes me.
The Canaries Events
For the Canary Islands I pack both wave and freestyle equipment as I will usually spend 6 weeks there for contests for both disciplines. This is quite easy because the freestyle and wave gear is small and light.
I try to keep it minimal, so I don’t have to pay too much excess baggage, but really that never works out. When I go to a competition I don’t gamble on whether or not I should take certain gear or not. Also if you’re really lucky, friends ask you to carry some equipment for them.
I even busted out my latest freestyle World Champion trophy and casually put it on the check in counter.
Then you also pack extra gear just in case you break something (one massive wave at Ho’okipa, one washing onto the rocks and chances are your rig will have disintegrated) I’ve even had stuff stolen. Basically you just pack for in case LIFE hits you!
Going to the Canary islands this year I had:
- 4x boards (2x wave, 2x freestyle)
- 8x sails (4x wave, 4x freestyle)
- 6x masts (4x 400, 2x 370)
- 3x booms
- 4x extensions
- 4x bases
- Plus harness, fins, footstraps, roofrack straps, screwdrivers, sponsor stickers, sail numbers etc.
I stuffed all of this into 4 bags. That’s pretty reasonable. I expect no problems at check in.
The hard part about the Canary islands is that you travel every 10 days, either by boat or by plane. So you’re constantly unpacking and repacking your boardbags, and I of course have an overweight clothing bag (I have not yet learned the art of travelling light).
After the Canary Islands I have about 3 days in Holland before I’m off to the next slalom event in Turkey. I usually rent a car and have a friend help me to carry the bags through the airport, take it to my house where I can drop the wave gear and start packing for slalom. Then we take my bags back to the airport. That usually takes us a whole day. Packing for slalom is a whole different art. All of a sudden, size matters. It’s bigger, heavier and longer, ‘Why do the 8.6 and the 490mast not fit in that bag!?’ oh because it’s a wave sail bag… It’s too short.
The boards are really fragile so I make sure to put them in a single board bag or wrap them in bubblewrap before putting them in the main board bag. I take off all the straps as not to damage the bottoms of the boards and so there’s more space in your bag. A couple of thoughts that cross my mind are: ‘Should I gamble and grab just two booms, because a third one is too heavy?’, ‘I might want to take that extra mast because one could be softer than the other and will affect the sail in a whole different way’.
Alright.. Boards, check. Sails, check. Masts, check. Booms, check. Extensions, check. Done. Ooohh oeps. Nope. Fins. I forgot the fins. 40cm, 38cm, 36cm and 34cm. And then a second set because they work different depending on the conditions. Don’t forget the screws for the fins SQ, don’t forget the screws. Sanding paper, scissors, stanley knife, duck tape etc... Okay, all set.
Going to a slalom event where I think I might use all my gear I take:
- 3x boards
- 4x sails
- 6x masts
- 3x booms
- (Okay… 1 board, 2 sails 1 mast and 1 boom for a freestyle setup as well).
Usually I’ll have 4 bags. Really heavy ones. I pray for a really nice check in person every time.
Euro Events (excl. Canaries)
In Europe I’ve only had to attend wave events. So then packing is easy:
- 2x board
- 4x sails
- 3x masts
- 2x boom
This should be about 2 to 3 fairly light bags. No praying needed. Check in will be a breeze!
I end up paying around 900USD for all of that.
Since I don’t have a car, I would fly to Sylt. But for the event in France I was lucky to drive down with Dieter van der Eyken. Driving is so much more comfortable! You just stuff everything you need in the car, and a bunch of unnecessary things as well!
As I said. Going for one discipline each time is fine. Even wave and freestyle together is alright. But mixing slalom with any other discipline is a real challenge.
I’m off to Hawaii for waves and New Caledonia for slalom. I’m going to spend 6 weeks in that area and both places are great freestyling spots. I am more or less familiar with Maui and I know I won’t need my really small gear so I leave my 3.7 & 4.2. Also I am hoping that I won’t break any sails. For New Caledonia I won’t need an 8.6.
I arrive at the airport and check in the mother-load:
- 6x boards (3 slalom, 2x waves, 1x freestyle)
- 7x sails (3x slalom, 2x waves, 2x freestyle)
- 10x masts (5x wave/freestyle, 5x slalom)
- 5x booms (3 slalom, 2 wave)
- 8x extensions
- 4 bases
5 bags in total. Really heavy ones. Again I’m praying for a really friendly check in lady. But no dice. I end up paying around 900USD for all of that.
Better do well at the next events to earn some cash!!
On top of that I have a 12 hour layover in San Francisco and I have to unload my bags before I get to check them in again 8 hours later. It’s a hassle, but at least the bags serve a double purpose as I make my self comfortable between them and catch some Z’s for the next couple of hours.
For all situations I have smaller bags in my bags so I can make lighter bags if I have to. But I have learned to try and pack the most possible. Because sometimes they don’t weigh it. It’s better to bargain and reason afterwards to make lighter bags. I don’t like travelling with all of that stuff, but once you make it to your final destination and you get on the water, it’s really all worth it!