Real World Windsurfers

Boardseeker

         
 

Basically, Ruth wins everything on the Ladies Tour these days. Her aggressive riding and solid loops have seen her take over from the olden days of Shawna Cropas, Charlie Connelly and Boardseeker Ed, Louise Emery. She also came 13th at the recent PWA event in Pozo. But Ruth works – darn hard. So how does she find the time to train & compete?

A Brief History of the Elliot Windsurfing Career

My Dad was into dinghies and we actually owned the oldest optimist in the UK – No.50. It was so slow we used to do more sunbathing in it trying to get around the course than actual racing! From 19 years old I worked at outdoor centres teaching sailing. From Pitsford Reservoir to two seasons in Mar Menor and then the Dominican Republic.

I began to get into windsurfing in Mar Menor and then bought my first kit out in the Dominican Republic. More teaching at Calshot Activities Centre and that gets me to 2003 where after 6 weeks in Cape Town, I felt I was ready to give competition a go.

Why Did you want to compete?

Actually it was in the Dominican Republic when Louise Emery wrote an article for Boards Mag about life as a lady competitor and I thought, I can do that. (Ed: Seriously regretting that now as she whoops my ass!) Having now competed I can tell you that it continually challenges your sailing and makes you get better quicker.

And work?

When I first moved to North Wales in 2003, I became a postie, getting up at 5am delivering mail to the residents of Anglesey! I quit in January 2004 to go to Cape Town again and then came back and got a temping job with the Environment Agency in Bangor. I ended up staying there and I am now a Monitoring & Data Assistant which means I drive around North Wales and fill bottles from sewage works, rivers and the sea.

 

“Competing continually challenges your sailing”

 
         
     
     
     
         
 
Ruth competing in Tiree, 2005. She is now sponsored by Fanatic & Simmer Sails.

“In tennis, no one says the women are rubbish just because they can’t hit the ball as hard as the men”

 

How do you get 6 weeks off in the Canaries?

I’m on a nine month contract with three months unpaid leave a year. I also get paid leave and flexi leave so it works out at 4 months off a year which covers Jan/Feb in Cape Town, 6 weeks competing in the Canaries and the odd week here and there for the British events.

Perfect life?!

Umm…it sounds it doesn’t it, but I don’t have a house and I tend to buy Tesco Value! I do have a pension though.

What are you working on, windsurf wise?

Stalled forwards and grubbies. I’ve sort of nailed the vulcan so need to work on another freestyle move. However, I’m in the painful stage at the moment!

Future plans?

A couple more years of this, then I’ll get a career. I’ve been studying for an Open University degree in Biology for the last few years. When it’s windy, I don’t get it done; when its light, I race ahead with the course work.

I’d also like to do better on the PWA Tour in the next couple of seasons. My wave riding is OK but my second jump lets me down (you need to do two different jumps in a wave heat). This means I must learn to land push loops this winter!

So where are all the other women windsurfers?

I think it’s partly the industry’s fault. Windsurfing is sold as a very male orientated sport, especially in the mags. (Ed: At this point, the Editor & Ruth have a lively debate about the Boardseeker Babe column!) I have also found that male windsurfers, especially the ones that compete, are very negative towards women sailors. They say we’re crap compared to them but that doesn’t make sense. For example, in tennis, no one says the women are rubbish just because they can’t hit the ball as hard as the men. We’re different but still just as competitive.

As for competing, in the UK the women who are capable of holding their own in competition actually tend to be slightly older and have kids. If you want to do the UK Tour, for example, it needs to be your total focus with all your holiday time spent at events. This isn’t practical for most mothers!