15 days” – a short story by Maciek Rutkowski, about hectic 2 weeks filled with travel, injury, a contest win and world cup struggle. The Polish sailor has been windsurfing since 15 years and has a lot of experience for his age. The 21 year-old is a serious contender on the PWA Slalom tour and is giving the PWA top riders a hard time. His best PWA result was a 12th place at the PWA World Cup at Costa Brava this year. Maciek has written a story for us about 15 days in his life as a pro windsurfer.



Nationality: POLAND
Sailnumber: POL-23
Age: 21

Sponsors: Patrik, Point-7, Quiksilver, Sylt-Brands, Unifiber, Burn energy drink

Interests: Cinematography, photography, graphic design, surfing, snowboarding, cliff diving, any other extreme sports, literature, music and food.
Maciek Rutkowski on Facebook
Maciek Rutkowski on Twitter 



A story by Maciek Rutkowski

Every year, when the calendars start popping up I’m praying not to see the “ugly” sight of 2 contests overlapping or having 1 day break between venues on other continents. I guess I don’t really pray enough, ‘cause since 3 years it happens on regular basis. One of the most important formula events of the year (Europeans in 2011, Worlds in 2012 and Europeans again this year) in Latvia and PWA Turkey, already since 3 years leave a gap of 1 day between one another. To most it’s no biggie, but for the few professional windsurfers that are doing both disciplines it’s half a nightmare.  The list of guys doing both those contests is short, yet it’s mostly formula contenders and/or PWA top10 regulars: Steve Allen, Arnon Dagan, Casper Bouman and myself (unfortunately, not fitting into neither category mentioned above just yet). Other dual-disciplined guys like Ross Williams or Antoine Albeau decided to put their full focus into the Turkey event and skip Latvia. We decided to roll the dice.


Wavesailing session in Poland before leaving to Latvia

Wavesailing session in Poland before leaving to Latvia



My travelling partner for the trip was Steve Allen. A great guy to travel with, specially by car as he owns a pretty fresh and pretty sick camper van. But also like not many athletes I know, he can separate what’s going on on the racecourse with what’s happening on the beach.  Too bad I had to test it this time, but we’ll come back to that.
The event in Latvia started with a lot of rain and some solid formula racing. From the start Arnon Dagan was the fast one, but Steve Allen the wise one and capitalizing on Arnon’s mistakes took the lead from day one. Sort of quietly “behind” them, but not really behind, because racing without major mistakes and with some proper boardspeed, was reigning World Champ Casper Bouman. He also took advantage of every mistake of Arnon and sneaked into 2nd. When it comes to me I couldn’t really get into my rhythm on the first day and had to settle for some “around -top-10” results. The days after we had a lot of formula racing and 2 rounds of slalom in probably one of the bumpiest conditions I’ve ever seen. That day the wind was going form side-on from the left to side-on from the right the whole day at around 20 knots. So there was some serious swell, but in between waves there was chop from every single direction. Got to a good start in the first final and hit the first jibing mark together with Steve Allen, but I felt the pressure and jibed to early and hit the mark and fully stopped and came 3rd behind Arnon Dagan in this one. In the next final the wind dropped by at least 5-8 knots. So it got even more tricky. And you know what happens when it get’s tricky? It’s Allentime! That guy just thrives off those kind of situations. So before the last day he was leading both the formula and the slalom. I was in 4th in slalom after not planing halfway through the second final and was thinking to myself: “f*ckin hell you can do better than that!”


Bumpy conditions in Latvia

Bumpy conditions in Latvia


Before the start

Before the start



So when on the skippers meeting of the last day slalom was announced I was frothing! The conditions resembled home a lot, with solid 18-20 knots and decent sized swell, but with sideshore wind this time. I went out on my 7.9 and my 115/69,5cm wide and was loving it. Found a few ramps to catch some air (Sorry Patrik! He’s always giving me shit about jumping slalom boards), did a little showoff session and got some good confidence right before the get go. Steve was thinking he was mostly racing against Arnon so he focused on keeping him out of the way and I was right there to take that opportunity and grab a bullet in the first final of the day. The funny thing was I forgot my slalom fins, because of packing them all for PWA Turkey already and leaving them with all the bags in Warsaw. So Steve helped me out and borrowed me a fin. But after my first bullet of the day he was like: “one more and I’m taking my fin”. Guess what? I won the next one as well! I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t give you the full story though. The starting line was really boat-favoured and obviously the 3 favourites: Arnon Dagan, Steve Allen and myself where haunting for that spot to start right at the boat. And there was some serious chaos. Long story short, both of them felt like I started “PWA style”, making myself space by changing course before the start, which in IFCA racing is not allowed. I don’t recall none of that, and am pretty sure I didn’t do none of that. But maybe because it happens so fast approaching the start line and maybe because I was half a board ahead and never really looked back, just was super-focused to nail the start and go down the first reach as fast as possible. Managed to do just that and led this one from start to finish. So my fin was gone. And to be honest I don’t blame Steve for that at all. For sure I was pissed off at first but than I thought: “why on earth would you help your opponent in the first place?”. I mean we’re competing for a win, for serious cash and in the camper we can be friends, but out there we’re both really fiercly competitive.  I think he just didn’t consider the threat from my side to be so real. So I can be just stoked I surprised a guy who usually doesn’t let anything surprise him!.


Friends on the beach, rivals on the water

Friends on the beach, rivals on the water – Steve Allen and Maciek Rutkowski


Anyhow I had around 5 minutes to the start of the next race and I didn’t have a fin in my board. Was running around and asking every person I saw. Luckily one of the competitors, who preferred to stay anonymous lend me a random 40cm and I was back out there for the next start in time. I got an ok start and although not as fast as on my, or Steve’s fins I was able to get a 2nd and because Arnon won the last one and Steve came 3rd I took the win in the whole event! It’s my first one in a major, pro contest so you can imagine it felt pretty amazing. Specially beating Steve Allen and Arnon Dagan, who are not only great competitors, but also long time mentors and friends. Specially Arnon was a guy that helped me A LOT in the early stages of my career when I was still a kid (not saying I’m soo adult right now haha!) and trying to figure things out. So to grab that win over them it was something unreal for me.


Maciek Rutkowski wins the IFCA Slalom Grand Prix in Latvia

Maciek Rutkowski wins the IFCA Slalom Grand Prix in Latvia


In Formula it was Steve in front of Casper and Arnon (tied in points) on the podium, but because Steve is an Aussie (Israel is in the Europe category though), the Formula European title went to the ex-RS:X World Champ Bouman. And because of that same reason the bronze medal went to my fellow Pole Michal Polanowski. I finished 7th (6th in Europe) climbing the ranks after a pair of 3rds and a few more top 6 results. But this (quite solid for me) result got very easily “overshined” by the win in slalom. And although Latvia is a very good party location (that’s a hell of a statement from a polish guy), there was no time for celebration. We had to drive the night back to Warsaw to catch a flight around noon of the next day. I thought the atmosphere in the car would be tense, to say the least, but Steve turned out to have this amazing separation ability, which I mentioned before. For sure from time to time, he would have those flashbacks, or explain on the phone to friends and family why he got beaten by a 21-year old “rookie”, but after all the guy just won the formula event and came 2nd in slalom, so I guess he was stoked anyway. Anyhow we were on another mission already: Turkey.



I barely made it to my connecting flight in Instanbul, as it took 1,5 hour to go through immigration. With racing beginning the following afternoon I arrived to the hotel in Alacati around midnight. Ate something called Turkish Kofte and hit the sack. I woke up the next day and already at 7 am couldn’t stand the heat. I just changed the climate from 16-18 degrees and rain every day to fully dry 35 degrees and cooking sun. It didn’t help the contest preparations I can tell you that much. After I unpacked in the tent together with the Black Team boys, strapped the boards, put the fins, rigged a few sails it was already skippers meeting time. No time to relax, have lunch, whatsoever – had to hit the water straight away. And it was a disaster. In both eliminations I was in early heats and in both I didn’t qualify from the first round after dumb mistakes that simply shouldn’t happen. The next 2 days the wind didn’t really play ball, so I could relax on the beach. But in fact not really. After a horrible start like that you keep on thinking how to bounce back. Your trying to take it heat by heat, but on the other hand do the opposite of what didn’t work out.  For me I just wanted to be aggressive and in the moment much more than the first day when I couldn’t really focus. So I was aggressive – had 2 crashed and an overearly. At least in the quarters, not in the first round, but that more or less sums up my worst event of the year by miles. I guess I just fell victim to overdoing things after a bad start to the event and could never go into a nice rhythm, which led me to a good result in PWA Costa Brava or Grand Prix Latvia. I blame it on the fact of racing 15 formula races and 5 slaloms in Latvia, than driving the night, running around terminals etc etc.  And other guy’s results seem to back my opinion up. The always consistent Steve Allen finished on a career-low 35th place and one of the fastest guys in the pack, Arnon Dagan, finished season-low 16th. Kind of comforting a little bit, but not really. But lesson learned and I hope not to make that same mistake again next year.


Racing in Turkey - Pic: John Carter

Racing in Turkey – Pic: John Carter


Turkey was a great event for windsurfing fans like myself. The amount of tight racing, crashes, surprising results and general emotions, was thru the roof. From Bjorn’s huge catapult after contact made with Ben van der Steen’s boom to begin with, with Cyril almost catapulting himself over Alberto in the final, the latter having a chance to win his second event of the year, sailing so injured that he almost couldn’t pump, Andrea Cucchi taking his first ever bullet after 20 years of going freakin fast, the Quentel vs.Costa Hoevel podium fight, to Delphine Cousin’s title to end with. There was just soo much action. Really amazing to watch and even more frustrating not to truly take part in. And what’s even better is that 2013 really seems to be the year the guard changes. Pierre Mortefon was leading the event for almost a week. Bjorn had his worst event since the beginning of his professional career (that’s in 18 years!!). Alberto Menegatti almost won it in the last final and still has some chances to claim the title. Micah Buzianis, although still up there, not really in podium contention anymore.  Julien Quentel seems more and more comfortable about getting podiums. Finally Delphine winning her first title in front of almost twice as old Valerie and Karin. I’m kind of proud to be a member of that younger guard and believe it’s really good for the sport and I’m happy for the sport as a fan – exciting times are coming!



I was packing up telling myself – the minute I come back home I start training for Sylt. September is usually great for waves in Europe so I was even thinking to try to enter the trials in Denmark if I get some jumping training in. Great forecast was lining up on the horizon and I took a day off to relax after the travel and went out to play some basketball with my friends. Where I come from everybody plays basketball. The high school I attended was even Polish national champion and I even made the team. Played only in some less important games, but still proud to have been a part of that. Anyhow, what I’m trying to say is that I have a lot of friends who are either playing pro basketball or used to and are freakin good at it. And there I was, the morning after arriving from  Turkey, playing 1 on 1 against a former youth national team point guard. Believe it or not I was one bucket away from winning the game. I posted up, turned around a try to hit a fade-away jumpshot. Not only have I missed it but also landed ankwardly and twisted my ankle. Initially I thought it wasn’t that bad as the foot didn’t get all that swollen, but when I woke up the next morning and it was the size of a proper apple I decided to visit the doctor. The diagnosis was: torn ligament in left ankle – 2-3 weeks walking on crouches, rehab, and than windsurfing in an ankle brace for the rest of the season. 





That means I will most probably be back for Sylt, but until than probably not train at all. Wonder how that’s gonna work out. When Alberto Menegatti found out I was injured  he texted me something like: “what your trying to steal my way of getting podiums?”. Obviously meaning not sailing for a month and than doing the event half-injured. Well, PWA podium is in dream sphere at the moment, but so was beating Steve and Arnon still last year, so who knows… haha . Anyway I kind of see this injury as a chance to get a few things organized in my life: answer the hundred unanswered emails, work on some media projects (like this little story here), start negotiating 2014 contracts with my sponsors, come up with winter plans, write a few scripts for a few clips/movies I had in mind since a long time, spend more than 1 day at home with the family and many more things that I didn’t get a chance to do since I turned pro. I guess it also puts things in perspective and makes you appreciate windsurfing much much more, once you can’t actually be out there for a while. I’m pretty sure I’ll come back more stoked and mentally stronger than ever. In fact I can’t sit still anymore and I’m not even halfway through the time left until I come back. OK, I’m off to hit the gym – need to keep myself busy physically not to implode. See you in Sylt I hope!!

Maciek Rutkowski POL-23