From Amateur to Pro
This kid is nearly there!
||Darren Roberto Mitchell
||27/05/1987 (19 yrs old)
||Simmer Sails, RRD Boards, OShea Clothing, Vulcan Metal Fabricators
Why did you get into windsurfing & how old were you?
My Mum and Dad got me into windsurfing when I was 6 years old. It was a bit on and off at first but my dad was keen and both parents encouraged me so as I got older and stronger I became more interested.
Initially my Dad got me a 3m BIC mini rig with the aluminium masts and I used my Dad’s Hifly long board with wooden daggerboard, they don’t make em like they used to eh?! I sailed this at Bala Lake and then more at home on Crosby Marina.
What did you find most difficult to learn in the early days?
In the very early days anything that required good physical strength, even water starting as the equipment seemed so heavy. I remember my Dad swimming my sail into position on Bala Lake about a million times and holding the sail up just so I could get that first water start in a Force 5!
Did you do any racing competition?
Yes, I started on the Aloha circuit with encouragement from Martin Cartwright (Helen Cartwright’s Dad) who I met on a family trip to Vassaliki.
When did you first sail in waves and where?
The first time I would consider myself to have sailed in a decent size wave was at Rhosneigr in about 1998 on my Strapper Slalom board.
What was the first basic freestyle move you learnt?
I’ve always been into aerial freestyle, none of this gay carving malarkey, so it was the vulcan.
Why did you decide to compete on the freewave circuit?
I knew I didn’t want to race anymore and I really enjoyed freestyle and waves so I thought I would give it a go. Meeting all the new sailors was great and it gave me real goals for the future. Competing the first few times was a bit daunting but with some more experience it has really grown on me and I look forward to the buzz of knowing what I’ve got to do and doing my best in a heat….obviously it doesn’t always go to plan!
You're now an 'amateur'? What moves do you need to do, in your mind, to compete successfully in the Pros?
Freestyle wise, in the UK, I wouldn’t do too bad but I know I’ve got to improve on all my switch moves, which is why I am in Egypt at the moment. In waves, I feel that when I’ve been sailing a good few days I can “do” the moves (backloops, forwards etc) I really just need to improve on consistency and height, as that would be my downfall against the top guys.
What's the last freestyle move you learnt and can now do consistently?
Flaka I guess, but I’m really working hard on my switch moves.
What's the worst wipeout you have had?
I had a looooad of wipeouts in Cape Town with a lot of days being the biggest waves I’ve ever seen in the “flesh”, but undoubtedly the worst would be the day I went to Elands Bay. I was feeling brave after a good session and launched right into the mast high shore dump. Now I mean mast high, sucking shore dump. After about 30 minutes, I dropped a backie and just got annihilated all the way in. At one point I’d been hit on the head and was gasping for air, sucking in lung fulls of white water, arms in windmill mode, until I got to the inside with what was left of my kit - nice.
How much help do your parents still give you to help your windsurfing?
A lot and I’m really grateful for everything they help me with.
What's your top tip for kids wanting to get good at windsurfing?
Just have an open mind when it comes to what you want to learn. Don’t think I must learn this before that bla bla, just enjoy it and learn what feels right and stick at it. If you do have the opportunity to train abroad it definitely helps! But even those light wind days can help for learning most moves.
Life other than windsurfing...
What do you study and why?
I am going to University in September and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll be at Swansea studying Product Design Engineering if any lovely ladies would like to know! Working with my hands in design tech has been the only subject that has interested me all the way through school and college.
What is your career plan other than trying to become a Pro?!
A good design/engineering job and I can’t see myself living in the U.K when I’m older!