Each of us has a different and interesting story about life and windsurfing. So all interviews that I do are fantastic, all great stories about,… well about something that’s really hard to describe. A life of chasing the wind.
Well in this interview with a young superstar Bernd Roediger, he describes it beautifully,.. this “Strange Commitment to a Life Based Around the Wind and Waves”.
Tell me how did windsurfing start for you?
Windsurfing started on the nose of my dad’s board, in warm water and light wind, on summer break, and then as something to look forward to after school. It wasn’t something serious until much much later in life, and for years I mainly windsurfed so I could spend time with my dad. We have become so close through sailing together! Windsurfing started how I hope it ends, happy.
You are a pro rider, right? Tell me more about that.
People call themselves pros when they start to get money from sponsors. But I don’t agree. I am a pro because Windsurfing is my occupation. I would do anything to windsurf, structure my life around it. It is the focus of my entire life, and the deciding factor in every choice I make.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this life is both good and bad – there are some experiences I won’t be able to fully appreciate or embrace, because windsurfing is my passion and it demands my time. I see below you ask another question: “I see you are windsurfing and surfing “all the time”,… how does that work with the rest of your land life (family, friends, school)?” The answer is that my land life is subdued and boring. I live with my parents. My friends and partners have always had to come to terms with my obsession. It is a defining quality in my relationships. And for school, I started online learning in the 6th grade and am still online in college. For this reason, above any other, I am odd and an outcast in my peer group.
How does one become a pro rider,... when is the "turning point". How did it happen for you?
Again, I think it means different things for different people all the time. Even in a pro career the definition changes. One day, you are focused on a determined goal, and that singular purpose propels you to new heights of personal experience. That sensation of rising, overcoming, learning and growing; that is the feeling of being a pro rider, the addictive positive feeling of trying to become something meaningful. But the reasons we have to wake up in the morning tend to change over time, and you lose the ability to feel totally positive. That’s when you lose your status as a pro rider, you are no longer pushing yourself to be a better person, no longer creating reasons to live, creating meaning. To live well, we must always reassess our lives, our motivations and convictions, test them against our feelings and values, to find out what’s really going on in our souls. You can call yourself a pro when you get your first sponsor, but after that, the road becomes much more uncertain, but also more rewarding!
How do you choose your sponsors?
Like a relationship, you just let it happen. Maybe you are interested in reaching out to a specific brand, but there has to be a natural synergy in the way you interact. A small brand that’s equally interested in you will be better than a larger one that doesn’t really value what you do, and who you are. I have had to learn that many times. But now I feel like I’m in a place where my sponsors are really personal. Jeff Henderson at Hotsails not only provides me with gear, but also with advice, he is a mentor and a friend. Black Project is a place where I feel at home, where I can work and develop my paddling, and much more. Chris Freeman, the founder of Black Project, was one of the first people to encourage me to pursue a college degree. Flikka works with me to create interesting custom boards, and we trust each other with our mutual vision!
Are sponsors all it takes to finance your windsurfing career?
Definitely not! While I’m incredibly fortunate to have the generosity of sponsors, windsurfing is expensive! And traveling the world to windsurf is doubly so. Like I said before, you’ve got to be willing to live in a unique way, if you want to be a windsurfer. I think pros and non-pros alike can understand this strange commitment to a life based around the wind and waves.
Do you also train on land,.. specifically for windsurfing - running, gymnastics, etc.?
Yoga is my go to. I like the aesthetics of yoga, the calming nature of the breath-work. Flexibility, strength, and balance culminate in yoga, preventing injury and helping the style of your turns! But another great training for windsurfing is throwing the sail away and surfing for a bit. It will do wonders for your wave reading, your sense of timing, and your comfort level in the water. Of course surfing is fun too! It’s a sport where injuries are pretty rare, and not too serious, I love it!
What does your daily windsurfing routine look like?
Go out when it gets windy!
Any other “wild” Hobbies and Interests?
I enjoy fantasy, fiction and mysticism. Getting lost in someone else’s world, something they spent years of their life developing and building. Sometimes I feel like I am working on one of my own, everyday. I like reading Tarot cards and I think astrology is pretty cool. I’m not super wild or anything, I am very agreeable which makes it easy for wild people to convince me to do things outside of my comfort zone. My girlfriend has a way weirder career than I do, she is a fairy.
What are your windsurfing plans for the future?
I plan on working on more videos for my YouTube channel. I really like YouTube and spend a lot of time following other creators there. I think it’s a really healthy community online, compared to Instagram or something, it’s a lot safer and more positive. I just want to provide a little more depth into the windsurfing experience, and maybe help some people with informative videos!
Considering the constant pushing the limit in extreme conditions,... how often do small or big injuries happen? What can a windsurfer do to avoid that?
Like I said, yoga is helpful! There is no way to totally avoid an injury, especially because injuries can happen in the smallest and gentlest conditions. I tend to be more worried about my mental health than physical health. A body can heal, or learn to adapt to an injury, but your emotions and your thoughts can be wounded deeply, and never recover.
When I broke my back, 9 years ago, I thought about what it would be like to never windsurf again; that was devastating. When I was healthy enough to sail again, I went out and stomped the biggest air I’d ever attempted, I knew I didn’t want to waste a moment, or live in fear. Now, every session is a commitment to that philosophy, to take risks for passion, and to always commit with a clear mind.
Do you have some favorite pro windsurfers that you look up to? Why?
Mark Angulo because of his radical commitment, but also because of his struggle with meaning and his creative talents. I think he is a brave person, fearlessly challenging his own demons and the largest waves on Maui, I look up to him. I also really like Kauli’s sailing, and as I head to Cape Verde for the PWA event, I can’t help but think of his sailing there.
Do you also teach windsurfing?
Yes! Although I don’t have a school or anything. I think I would like to incorporate more teaching in my YouTube channel in the future!
What are your favorite windsurfing spots?
You make amazing windsurfing videos. Can you tell me about that? Who operates the camera? Who does your editing?
My dad has been my filmer since the beginning. My girlfriend has started to film me a lot too! I do all the editing, I think it’s really fun, plus it helps me learn so much about my sailing.
Your Instagram profile is super rich with great content and lots of fans. How hard is it to keep up with everything?
I have always had a really hard time with that website. So many years I couldn’t post regularly, but I have learned to be more consistent. Still, it’s obvious that social media is bad for our mental health, and I just hope we can use it to communicate positivity, and passion for windsurfing. I hope I don’t ever make anyone feel like they are missing out on Maui life, I want to honestly represent my life, so people see me as a human being. That has been my biggest challenge, and I think I’m feeling better about it all the time.
I see you also do some modeling,... how is that working out? Any plans for the future there??
I will do a little here and there, but I feel like it’s very difficult to find happiness in that field!
You were part of the windsurfing movie "RIDERS of the Liquid Plains",... can you tell me about that?
That was a terrific project! Jace Panebianco is a masterful filmmaker, and documented our travels so well! I will always appreciate his work. And that movie was made right before the pandemic too, so it was a nice preservation of memory for all those IWT competitors.
What would you say is your unique quality that makes you different from other windsurfers that you compete with,... maybe more than one,... for example, highest jump, biggest wave rides, fastest top speed,.. most followers on social media 😉 anything like that?
I think I’m the one with long hair and the loose harness.
Any last words for people that love the wind and wind sports?
One of my favorite poems as a child was
“Who Can See the Wind” by Christina Rossetti
And it goes:
“Who can see the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their
the wind is passing by”.
A fitting poem for windsurfers living the quiet life, chasing invisible forces, appreciating all the wonderful powers of the universe that we can never hope to understand.