Pieter Bijl with Angulo – Interview
The Dutch Pieter Bijl (33), who is living with his family on Maui, is one of the most experienced windsurfers on and off the water. He started his professional career on the PWA tour back in 1998, not only as a racer, but also to develop hundreds of products for windsurfers (Fanatic, NeilPryde, JP). Now, after two years sailing and working for JP he decided to follow new tracks. From now on he will be involved in the business of Josh Angulo, as European commercial manager and product developer.
“The fun factor mixed with a very high level of professionalism is what Pieter brings to the table. He and I really see eye to eye on how we like to push things forward with minimum beaurocracy and great expediency . Pieter’s work ethic is probably unrivalled in the windsurf industry and now Angulo and it’s customers will benefit directly from his skill and experience. Also, I’m confident that Pieter will be firmly established in PWA top 10, which is a nice feather in our cap. Pieter and I will work hand in hand to develop the brand and have agreed that focus on the product is off first and foremost importance and our 2013 boards reflect the attention to detail. Welcome Pieter!” Josh Angulo
Read our interview with Pieter Bijl, who starts a new chapter in his life.
C7: Hi Pieter, how are you doing? How did you spend Christmas and did you have lot of time on the water recently?
Pieter Bijl: Christmas and new-year was spent on the mainland of the USA, where we visited some family, we where in Tennessee and Missouri for a little over 2 weeks. Before I left I spent an incredible amount of time on the water. The conditions in Maui were good for anything from Waves to Formula, so lots of the different styles of sailing. Been a blast. Look forward going back to Maui tomorrow.
C7: We got a message from Josh, that you have joined team Angulo and will work as European commercial manager and product development manager for Angulo Boards.
Pieter Bijl: Josh and I started talking about collaborating over the summer. It started out as a light hearted conversation, joking about the idea of working together. Although, we soon realized this was no joking matter and that we both ‘needed’ one another. Josh needed ‘someone to structure development and focus on European distribution. I needed and wanted a change, and I have always been passionate about working with design, shape, construction, etc. of boards. We talked in detail about the possibilities and agreed we’d make a strong collaboration and build a structure, that will be good for everyone involved. Josh and I have the same vision, with a strong passion for the sport that will show in our products.
C7: That means you will leave JP-Australia after almost two years. Was it a hard decision for you?
Pieter Bijl: Not so hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful to JP-Australia to take me on the team after not being on the tour for those 3 years. I wasn’t able to travel, they supported me in my comeback to the PWA, allowed me to find my rhythm and figure out what is important to me. That is competing at the highest level possible. However with starting a family the requirements in life change, we need to look more into the future. With Angulo I’m sure we will be successful in the market and I will be pushing on the race course and with that have more stability going forward.
C7: JP-Australia is a big company, Angulo is a small brand, which saw a lot of changes through the last years. Will you be the Messiah, who can help Angulo becoming a big brand, too?
Pieter Bijl: The intention is not to become a big brand, but to be a core brand that sets its self apart by creating products that work. There is a simple clean line of boards, we offer only one high-end construction to keep things simple. This same simplicity is what will allow us to grow, be cost effective and reinvest back into the sport to work on making windsurfing not just a sport for the elite.
C7: You habe been working for NeilPryde for many years, involved in the design and testing process as a headtester. Will you continue to work for NP and live on Maui or will you move back to Europe?
Pieter Bijl: With NeilPryde I was doing a lot more than being involved in the design and testing. I was managing the sail loft (ordering sail making materials, maintaining sewing machines and plotter), doing a lot of sail making myself, managing inventory and tracking hours of test equipment, coordinating and being involved in all the testing, helping the team at events, some basic marketing support and the Help-Desk on the NeilPryde web-page. So all in all more then just a full time job. This is one of the reasons I needed a change. It was getting too much and sometimes I would find myself cutting the time on the water to be able to get my jobs done. This has now finally changed as I’m currently only dealing with all the testing, coordination, managing test equipment and mainly testing. Not having that huge time pressure while being on the water has made me realize that windsurfing is more then just an awesome job. It is simply mind blowing! I love being on the water, Formula, Slalom, Freeride or Waves. It really doesn’t matter to me!
For the coming few years we will be spending our Spring, Summer and Autumn in Europe, winters in Maui developing boards and hopefully keep doing the test work for NeilPryde. During our time in Europe I will visit beaches and show people what Angulo Windsurfing has to offer. We will be going around Europe’s beaches showing and letting people try our boards. I strongly believe this is all we need to get our foot in the door in Europe. The boards are awesome and the feeling and experience people will have on these boards will speak for themselves.
C7: What do you expect from your new business and what is your personal goal on the race course for 2013?
Pieter Bijl: I expect business to start slowly and a lot of time will need to be invested to grow it. We have the products, motivation and dedication. We will succeed.
On the race course, a little of a different approach. Hectic and fast. I can’t wait to get to the first mark on these boards, control is great and the jibing insane. With more time to focus on sailing and training in combination with boards that work well for me I’m sure there will be a good improvement from the past years.
C7: You already were ranked on the 6th place overall in 2007. Is there a realistic chance to come back in the top 10 again?
Pieter Bijl: I sure hope so! (-; You have to understand that the last 2 years racing has been on the back burner, with all the duties at NeilPryde the only focus I had on racing was during the events. Now that is changing. We are back to where we were in 2007. There is time to train, sail, tune and prepare for racing. I feel these next 2 years we will see some serious change in performance.
C7: Is it harder nowadays as the fleet got stronger compared to 7 years ago?
Pieter Bijl: It sure is, but this also means that if your performance increases a little you’ll gain a lot more places then 7 years ago. In 2012 without much training I was in many finals. The problem was that the consistency wasn’t there. With training, better speed, more focus and improved jibing it will be a completely different game.
C7: You are known as a very aggressive racer with this “Kick ass” motivation? How would you describe your character as a business man?
Pieter Bijl: I guess this is a part of my personality and wouldn’t be any different in all other aspects of life. I wouldn’t call it an aggressive approach but more so a radical one. I’m like that in life, even as a father. I am extremely motivated on and off the water.
C7: You have been doing the PWA tour for almost 15 years. Is it still the same fun for you?
Pieter Bijl: It has changed a lot from 15 years ago… I have grown up and learned a lot. Today I have more focus and more dedication. But overall the level of fun and enjoyment is for sure just as high, just on a different level I suppose.
C7: Good luck for the events and your new job!