Fresh from his win in the Amateur Division of the 2012 Wavesailing Nationals, Aaron now has his sights set on even bigger and better things …
How were you first introduced to wavesailing?
When I was 10 years old, my parents bought me a ‘Seaskip’, which was a sailboard made for kids. The Seaskip had footstraps and a lightweight aluminium mast, so jumping it was the most fun thing to do when the conditions permitted. If the wind was right in the channel, it was possible to get some decent air, but the best spot was off 7 Mile when the Nor’easter would kick in.
At the time skateboarding was my other passion, so I couldn’t help but launch every time a bit of chop or a wave presented itself. The thrill of getting airborne and landing was amazing, and from that rush was born the passion to push the limits of the sport within my own physical boundaries.
For those of us not very familiar with the sport, what’s the difference between wavesailing, windsurfing and sailboarding – or are they all one and the same?
These terms are used to describe the sport. There are a multitude of disciplines that make up windsurfing, as people commonly call it. Speed Sailing, Formula Windsurfing, Super – X, Freestyle, Slalom, Olympic RS-X Class are all disciplines within their own right that make up the sport. Wavesailing is windsurfing in the waves. The equipment is quite different, with wave gear resembling surfboards in the rocker lines and rail shapes. The rigs are also quite specialised and purpose built for surf conditions. The real difference between Windsurfing and Sailboarding comes down to a patent.
Newman Darby in 1965 wrote an article for Popular Science which he used to sell his style of sailboard. Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer (inventors of the WindsurferTM brand) along with Robby Naish and others went about shaping and creating a culture that both combined the laid back nature of surf sports with the more rules based environment of yachting. The Windsurfer brand was very successful and meant that manufacturers of sailboards had to pay to use the term sailboard, because they couldn’t call them windsurfers.
As manufacturers were granted licenses to produce sailboards, major players like Ten Cate, Bic, Mistral, F2 and HiFly emerged and started influencing sailboarding culture.
What first made you decide to wavesail competitively?
I used to hound my dad to take me to windsurfing events before I could drive. When I was about 13 years old, he took me to Long Reef to watch an event called the Sony Surflite. I was fortunate enough to chat to the guy who won the event, and he took the time to listen to my nervous questions and encourage my enthusiasm.
I was fortunate enough to sail with some highly esteemed mentors on a regular basis. Kai Hopf (North Sails International Chief sail designer), Tom Leudecke (World Cup Competitor), Mark Paul (Bombora Sailboards, Designer), Mark Pedersen (World Cup Competitor), Kevin Wadham (Gaastra Sails Designer) and a crew of hard core wavesailors like Scotty O’Connor, Rohan Cudmore, Brett Goodwin and others that were based on the Northern Beaches gave me plenty of encouragement.
In 1992 I travelled to the island of Maui and sailed the mecca for wavesailors, Hookipa Beach Park. I spent nearly six months in Maui. Jason Polakow was starting to make a name for himself in the sport for his extreme style, and I was fortunate enough to meet him during that time.
How many competitions have you entered this year, and what have been your results?
I have entered two events in Australia this year: The Australian Wavesailing Nationals and the Merimbula Sailboard Club Classic. In the Nationals I entered the Amateurs Division and won it against Luke Baillie from QLD. I placed 2nd in the masters division at the Merimbula event against 30 other masters from around Australia.
Take us through the 2012 Australian Wavesailing Nationals at Woolgoolga …
The Australian Wavesailing Nationals was a spur of the moment event for me, as I had no equipment and no way of getting there. My mate, Tim, picked me up from Forster and brought some equipment up for me, which I borrowed from Wind Surf N Snow. I had a great first day of competition, getting through my side of the double elimination in an undefeated 1st place. The other competitors had to beat me twice to take the 1st place result from me. As the week progressed, we sailed numerous times in conditions that were not good enough to hold the comp, so it was decided that the single elimination results would be the final result, giving me the victory.
Do you have/are you looking for sponsors?
Leading up to the 2012 Australian Wavesailing Nationals, I borrowed a rig and board from Sam Parker at Wind Surf N Snow. The rig was amazing for the conditions and my board was very short and floaty, which meant that, combined with a quad fin set up, it powered up nicely in gusty conditions. NCAC Stash House have been supporting me in my pursuits and helping me to promote and cross market the sport to the younger generation. Chris and Dean Deland from The Boxfish Restaurant have helped me out enormously by bearing some of the costs associated with events.
In Sydney I used to manage a wholesale/retail outlet who are now helping me out with Neil Pryde Sails & Equipment and JP-Australia boards. I still have to buy the equipment, but it is at discounted rate. I am always keen to take on new sponsors, so if you’re reading this and you would like some exposure, please contact me!
When and where is your next event?
I am taking a metered approach to the NSW Wavesailing Association State Rounds this year and just entering the comps I know are going to have good conditions. Next year I will enter every state round in NSW with a view to winning a State Title. My next event is not until January in Gerroa. It is the final round for the year … Where would you ultimately like to see your wavesailing take you?
Maui in August 2013 is a goal. The Taranaki Wave Classic is on during October and is an event that I used to co-organise when I was Australian Sub-Editor for Wind N Kite Magazine. My best mate, Jeffro, who I used to wavesail with me on the Northern Beaches lives in Taranaki and has been a major influence on my wavesailing style.
I am really keen to go fast as well as wavesail, so I may sneak a trip down to Sandy Point, Victoria during the 2013 Speedweek held there by the local Speed Sailors to try and break my personal 2 second best of 38.87 Kts. The current record stands at 52.05Kts, so I am fairly sure that I won’t quite be reaching that speed!
This interview was found in issue 71 of Manning Great Lakes Focus