It was this time two weeks ago that the news spread like wildfire of Andre Paskowski’s passing. For many it hit with a deep pang to the heart as tears literally fell across the windsurfing world, PWA Tenerife took on a new meaning to the likes of Ricardo Campello, Klaas Voget and many others who knew Andre well. A letter from Andre that had been written in his last days was released and shared by thousands across facebook in a matter of hours and tributes to the young talented windsurfer and film maker were posted from a host of windsurfing super stars. The impact Andre had had became even more apparent in these last two weeks.
The fight for cancer finally caught up with Andre and with it a gaping hole is left in the hearts of those closest to him. Despite the predictions from his doctors he fought his toughest battle and actually defied the odds on several occasions. The time for sadness and condolences to his family and friends will never be up but we now have a chance to reflect on the achievements and accolades of this inspiring human being. What he managed to squeeze into his short 31 years he had on this planet will exceed what many will achieve in a normal life span. Here is to Andre Paskowski, may he rest in peace and may his actions inspire others for eternity.
On the 16th April 1982 Annette and Ingo Paskowski became the happiest couple in the world, their new born son had arrived. The Andre Paskowski effect began. Windsurfing was clearly his route, his path that he had chosen, like many others the freedom of travel, living at some of the best beaches in the world and enjoying the lifestyle that this truly epic sport gave him were just some of the reasons he became hooked. However, evidence tells us that competition was a driving force for him, at least for some time, as he became European Freestyle Pro Tour champion in 2006. Then as if to prove it wasn’t just luck he also secured his title as the best freestyler in Europe the following year by raising the crown above his head for a second time.
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Whilst on his travels he met many talented windsurfers, visited a lot of incredible freestyle destinations and even landmarked one or two that we are very familiar with to this day. Not many will know that Andre Paskowski was really one of the first to familiarise the world with Jericoacoara in Brazil as it not only became a truly favourite spot of his but soon the best in the world followed to train at this windsurfing paradise. Whenever he returned there he was welcomed and treated like a king, the locals truly loved him and truly appreciated what he had brought them.
It wasn’t long into his windsurfing career before his love of film making became publicly apparent as he grasped a camera and began shooting for the film Wet & Salty in 2005. Combining DVD production with European titles, he was a brands dream. From then on his productions continued to grow and and grow in quality, professionalism and budget. Needless to say he was certainly at the forefront of windsurf movie making for almost 10 years, only to be challenged by the likes of Poor Boyz Productions who produced the Windsurfing Movie films. There was no rivalry and no comparison just a mutual respect to produce movies that would promote windsurfing in the best possible light. That was Andre, passionate about his sport and the people within it. Yet when we spoke with him over a year ago, one thing was missing. A really personal, close friend, a girlfriend and then as if someone had been listening on our skype conversation the bubbly and smiley Carolina Butrich Schwartzmann entered the scene. So who best to speak to now then Caro herself to find out more about Andre and what he dreamed of, what he was most proud of and much more.
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Boardseeker: Caro tell us about Andre Paskowski? When/how did you first meet him? What was he like ‘behind the camera’ so to speak?
Caro: I met Andre In Jeri, Brazil last year in October, I knew who he was but I had never met him before. The first impression I thought he was too shy and he thought I was too crazy… but then we start playing games (backgammon, cards) and that gave us the chance to start talking and getting to know each other and we instantly clicked. It felt so natural to talk with him, about anything and everything, just really nice and honest and REAL conversations. From that day until the last, we enjoyed every conversation we had, we just learnt about each other and together we grew as a couple; and I am so happy to have experienced this, I am so happy for every second we spent together.
Boardseeker: For someone so passionate about film making, with so much professionalism do you think he set a new standard in windsurf films?
Caro: André loved windsurfing so much and film making that it was his source of energy during all the difficult times. You could see the happiness in his face when he saw a nice shot, or sometimes he will wake me up in the middle of the night just to tell me an idea of the perfect shot for the project or things like that. I think that it is difficult to compare, because the industry is really hard to work on – not much money and a lot of expectations – but he had just so much passion, and also talent, that of course he set a new standard for windsurf films. Also because he was always pushing his own limits, he always wanted to improve, to reach a next level, to be better not only compared to the rest, but also compared to himself.
He always said that cancer made him realize a lot of things in life, about what was really important; taking care of people you love, not being hard on yourself, enjoying every moment.
Boardseeker: You were close to him in the last months, you worked with him on his projects, do you have any really memorable moments?
Caro: It is funny because before meeting him I had bought his DVDs and one year later I am working on finishing ‘Below The Surface’. When I first met him he told me that he wanted to do a new project, but he was not sure if he had the energy and time for it, so he was happy that I was willing to support him and help him in whatever he need. I’ve learnt so much the last year that it is crazy. We did everything together from the first brainstorming of the project until now, he would put me on copy of every mail and we would do all the decisions together, which made us grow an even deeper connection. And we have of course thousands of memorable moments… For example in Maui, we would both go in the water with the photo camera and the film camera with both water housings and it was just so much fun. Or when we were deciding songs since the beginning we would make a playlist and play cards until something good came out. That we could work on everything together made it so much fun, it didn’t seem like work even if we were working 10 hours a day, it was just enjoying the time together.
Boardseeker: We had the chance to chat with him a lot last year, he was quite deep about the topics we discussed and very philosophical, we can only imagine you had similar conversations, was there a lot to learn from him outside of windsurfing/filming?
Caro: As I already said, this was what first brought us together. We could talk about things and in a way that we hadn’t been able before. We would talk about everything, and of course I had a lot to learn from him. He always said that cancer made him realize a lot of things in life, about what was really important; taking care of people you love, not being hard on yourself, enjoying every moment. We had really nice conversations and is one of the things I miss the most. Even the last weeks together, in the hospital, we would have such great talks and enjoy the time left together.
Boardseeker: Did he ever talk about his plans beyond ‘Below The Surface’ with you?
Caro: His health situation didn’t allow him to plan too much long term… but we of course held on to hope and he fought like I’ve never seen before to get better… and we did talk about future. He would have really liked to have kids; and me, that I had never before thought of marrying or having kids, with him I would have love to. Everything seemed to fit together. And when we talked about a possible future together we were just so happy about it.
Boardseeker: He was one of the most inspirational figures in windsurfing, he achieved a huge amount, what do you think were his greatest moments, what was he most proud of?
Caro: He was really proud of making Rewarded because he could show an inspirational story behind Gollito, now 5x world champion. He was also really proud when he thought of Four Dimensions because they managed to do something really big with a small budget, and the outcome exceed all his expectations and own limits. And he was really proud of the process of the Below The Surface, he was really happy with the sections that are already done and with the overall work of all the team. And now we are just working hard to finish it as magic as he wanted it to be.
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Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go to all those affected, in particular Andre Paskowski’s family and to Caro. Rest In Peace.