The exceptional European freestyle windsurfer once again managed to win the run for the European Freestyle Champion. The 31 year old Belgian who competed on the EFPT for the first time in 2008, still seems to be on top of his game. We caught up with the JP/Neilpryde rider to find out about his life and achievements as a professional windsurfer, his thoughts about the new live systems and his plans for the upcoming seasons.
EFPT: Steven you have been European Freestyle Champion for the 5th time now and claimed your first title in 2009. How does it feel for you to be on top of European freestyle windsurfing for so many years already?
Steven: It feels great! Especially this year as we had great conditions in Lanzarote and Brouwersdam. I am also really happy that I could win all events and this motivates me!
EFPT: Last year you have been fighting your way up after a major injury to then end up vice European Freestyle Champion. You had a very fast recovery after you broke your foot in Egypt. Which advice would you give to riders to prevent injury and how to recover from it if it happens?
Steven: First I dislocated my knee but I worked hard to be ready for the 2015 season. I also started the year off great by winning PWA in Leucate. Then I broke my foot in Egypt – jones fracture. This was in the middle of the season therefor I couldn’t complete it. But I have worked hard to be fit again and I managed to win the last EFPT competition. I recovered fast and I managed to get back in shape very quick due to the combination of the right training, food and mindset. My advice is to stay strong in your mind, believe in it and work for it!
EFPT: The amount of freestyle events have been up and down over the last couple of years. Where do you as a professional see freestyle windsurfing events going in the future?
Steven: The future we never know but it looks like that it’s not easy these days to get many events – not only in the EFPT but also int the PWA. It’s a shame. Three events per tour are not enough.
EFPT: What would be your dream freestyle tour?
Steven: For me 2011 was a great example we had 7 PWA events. I also have great memories of the EFPT 2009 and 2010. Let’s hope we get more events again in the future!
EFPT: We live in a very digitalised world and also the freestyle judging is becoming more and more technical. Where do you see advantages and disadvantages of live-scoring?
Steven: The only advantage I see is for the spectators. I believe it can be good for our sport but I had a bad experience this year during a PWA stop. The problem for me is that we have to slow down for the judges so we are only allowed to do one move on the same tack. This makes it hard for me personally to get warm and into the flow. I don’t even get tired anymore after a heat. I would like do more moves in my heats, that’s why I like the EFPT format- there are no limits.
EFPT: How important is it for a pro like yourself to work on projects and marketing yourself apart from windsurfing events?
Steven: It gets more and more important! Less events mean less media coverage so it’s good to stay busy. However, the most fun part of my job is the training on and off the water. I really like to prepare myself to be fit. The problem is this work doesn’t pay off so much if you have only three events.
I also really like to motivate the young generation. Young guns camp is great example. I don’t like teaching so much as I don’t believe in it but I believe in motivating people and share experiences.
Developing equipment is also something I take seriously. During the last year my equipment has improved a lot and it’s really nice to see people enjoying it. I’m also lucky to work with Werner and Robert, there are amazing!
In the future I would like to do more videos again like I have done with Andraž (editors note: Zan). The big problem of making good videos is the budget. I have been lucky to work with Andraž on some nice projects in the past and who knows hopefully in the future again. 😉
EFPT: It has become quite a trend amongst the freestyle windsurfers (both men and women) to also enter other disciplines. Do you have any plans entering slalom or wave competitions?
Steven: I would like to do Slalom aswell, the reason I didn’t enter is because I need more days on the water. In the the last years I didn’t have enough days on the water and freestyle for me comes first. My plan is to do some events next year in slalom to gain experience.
EFPT: With the new PWA rules, you alongside the rest of the top 12 competitors of the Worldtour will not be able to fight for the EFPT title next season. Who do you see in the top three?
Steven: I see Jacopo Testa, Sam Esteve (JP/Neilpryde) and Davy Scheffers in the top three.
EFPT: Do you think this rule will minimalize the value of the European Freestyle Pro Tour title as not everyone is allowed to fight for it anymore?
Steven: No I dont think so. The level is still super high also amongst the other riders and a top 12 PWA rider can still compete in one out of the EFPT events.
EFPT: What are your winter plans?
Steven: At the moment I will stay in Belgium as we are expecting our baby any time. If everything goes well we will travel by camper to Tarifa for December. The rest of the winter we will spend in Capetown!
EFPT: Can you give us a quick insight on your projects and goals in 2017?
Steven: I want to spent more time on the water, improve my level and have fun. All the rest will come!