Pros and Cons

Boardseeker

Pros and ConsChampagneAntxon Otaegui Willy SkipperRobby Swift

A lot of windsurfers idolise the World Cup competitor who travels the world living the dream. But what is it really like, over to Axel Reese for a thorough investigation:

The windsurfing pro travels with the latest windsurf gear that he gets for free. He gets paid to sail (sorry, train) in the best locations around the world. “It’s probably the training which makes it much more fun in relation to other sports,” says Craig Gertenbach, Fanatic brand manager. “There is absolutely no comparison to swimmers who have to wake at 6am every morning and monotonously swim up and down”

In the past 20-30 years, though, life has changed for the world’s best. In the 80s and 90s, the Top 10 World Cup sailors were very handsomely paid. However, a diminished market has led to significantly reduced sponsorship deals.

With a few exceptions, salaries for the current generation of windsurf pros are modest. Income for the top guys consists of prize money, budgets from sponsors for boards, sails and accessories and clothing and incentive payments for sponsor’s logos in magazines.

Although a World Champion can still achieve a six figure salary, the windsurfing professional of the 80s and 90s could multiply this by 3!

To add to this, many competitors now have to bear the cost of training, flights, accommodation and so on out of their own pocket. “This can easily cost 30,000 Euro a year” said Antxon Otaegui. “Fortunately, the top 16 receive free hotel accommodation during the World Cup!”

 “There is a huge amount of travel involved and everything else has to take a back seat, including girl-friends and friends back home.”

There is actually a good side to the “hardship” – the top windsurfers today have an endless passion for the sport. The guys today are almost unanimous in the opinion that they don’t need to be rich, they just want to see the world and windsurf.  This means a huge drive to compete, learn new moves and push the boundaries of the sport.

Photos: John Carter / PWA

There is actually a good side to the “hardship” – the top windsurfers today have an endless passion for the sport. The guys today are almost unanimous in the opinion that they don’t need to be rich, they just want to see the world and windsurf.  This means a huge drive to compete, learn new moves and push the boundaries of the sport.

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