The Swiss windsurfer Balz Müller created a freestyle board, the "Trickstick" with an overall length below 200cm. "I was looking for the smooth feeling I have while spinning with a snowboard or skateboard," Balz told us, who broke his fibula during a skateboarding session in autumn 2015. Therefore he removed the straps of his freestyle board to avoid any twisting or rotation of his leg.
We wanted to know more about Balz's recovery, his own board creation and about his experiences of strapless freestyle windsurfing. Read more in our interview below.
"My „trickstick“ turned out as an unbelievable sick-stick."
Interview with Balz Müller about his Trickstick Board
Continentseven: How is South Africa? Did you completely recover from your injury?
Balz Müller: "Capedown" (e.n. Cape Town) delivered plenty different conditions so far and the past days have been really successful on the water! My foot seems to handle the hard impacts and I don’t feel pain anymore. Just on the hardest landings I've got the feeling to bend all those screws in my fibula bone. A few weeks ago I couldn't imagine such a quick comeback to the on-going mental freestyle tricks. Now I'm glad to be able to work on double Air Culos, triple Air Paskos, double Shifty variations and all those new crazy moves the top riders are going for. And I'm stoked to announce two new Willy-Skipper variations. So it seems I'm over the hump with my injury and the motivation is bigger than ever!
Continentseven: At the beginning of your trip you windsurfed without straps. How was that, a new experience?
Balz Müller: For me there's no better recovery than doing what I love the most. I barely could walk but the bone was back together so there was just the point of getting my muscles back again. But a twist would have been a serious danger for the ligaments, so I needed to screw my straps off. Honestly I felt strapless hopelessly lost a the beginning, but it's great for the board control training especially in 40knots of wind. I was amazed by the free cruising feeling and I've got hooked very quickly and still love to ride strapless. Even freestyle can be really cool. It is challenging but lots of fun.
Continentseven: Meanwhile you put your straps back on the board, right?
Balz Müller: With all the freestyle pros training here in Cape Town I've got more and more into jumping seeing all those jump moves. After one month trying to kill myself with strapless versions of Konos and Loops I decided it's probably more safe to go for easy moves and build up my freestyle basics again. I think the basics are really important steps nowadays. I often see beginners in freestyle, who miss to learn basic tricks and later struggle on Konos etc. So I went back in time and started from the very beginning with the old-school moves, which can be as much fun as doing a knee breaking new-school trick.
Continentseven: Do you see any future in strapless freestyle?
Balz Müller: I believe if a few guys would start pushing for strapless moves lots could be possible. But to be honest I see more potential in strapless wave riding, as it's so much more fun to be able to move on your board. The no strap setup allows you to step forward during the bottom turn and back for epic top turns, I love it. Jumps are for sure challenging, but you may need to optimize your foot pads and I know Back Loops have been done already. Another big advantage are the reduced risks when you get washed.
Continentseven: Would we need lighter and thinner boards with special grip decks?
Balz Müller: Indeed you can use way smaller boards with the strapless setup and I know Starboard created that thinner board-concept “Atom”, which allows strapless riding. The point “new grip” is a very interesting topic as we have been using pretty much the same board-body connection since the beginning of windsurfing. And while the boards changed a lot in the meanwhile, the R&D departments didn’t invest much time or money into the development of new straps/pads/connection versions.
Continentseven: You are known as a very creative person on the water. Now you shaped one of the shortest freestyle boards under 200 cm. That’s very short. Are you happy with the performance of your new „trickstick“?
Balz Müller: My „trickstick“ turned out as an unbelievable sick-stick. Already a few years ago it has been my main goal to create my very own freestyle board. Actually I think every ambitious (wind)surfer should get the chance to create his own ride. Grinding a board out of a piece of foam is such an incredible experience and being able to reinforce the board the way I want or need is simply great.
"Grinding a board out of a piece of foam is such an incredible experience and being able to reinforce the board the way I want or need is simply great."
Continentseven: How and when did you learn to shape and build windsurfing boards?
Balz Müller: I wouldn't say I've learnt to shape proper yet. I just have been interested in windsurfing gear production since the beginning and have always tried to reach as much as possible out of the construction and the details of shapes. Now I've tried to connect all those experiences I've gathered in the last years while creating my own board. And for sure my first board turned out that well due to the great help and advices of Goose.
Continentseven: Where did you create your sick trickstick?
Balz Müller: I've got the chance to work together with Goose/Capedoc in his well organized workshop in Cape Town. He is a really experienced shaper and open minded to any crazy ideas.
- interesting link: Jaeger Stone and his short boards - interview and video from 2013
Continentseven: How would you describe the performance of that board? How long did it take to get used to the new length?
Balz Müller: Already the first session knocked me out! Not only as it rides smooth, it spins so fast, that I rotated my first Burner too much and the board rail hit my "temple" (private parts). The very hard impact sent me straight to another sphere. I think “from another sphere” are the right words to describe the first feeling riding on that 2m beast. As there's no nose the first tack was straight scuba-diving. That was for sure a new experience and needed a bit of time to handle. But besides that the board feels like nothing under the feet, if it's once on the run, and that's such a nice feeling! (e.n. a few pros tried the board in South Africa and were impressed by the speed and agility of the board)
"As there's no nose the first tack was straight scuba-diving."
Continentseven: What’s the volume and weight?
Balz Müller: It's built in a light carbon/helium-inside super new construction which is based on the latest Nasa technic for intergalactic sphere-traffic. Hmmm not really, but it's around 5.5kg and 85l. I tried to keep the volume in between the base track and the front straps. So it's even stable in lighter winds.
Continentseven: Who or what inspired you to create such short freestyle board?
Balz Müller: Hmm, a 2m foam plank is just less expensive, hehe no, but life is short. I think what really influenced my wish of that short board is the smooth feeling I have while spinning with a snow or skateboard. And to be honest the shorter the board the better fits in the back of the car.
Continentseven: Anything for the masses? The average freestyle boards on the market are around 220 - 230 cm at the moment?
Balz Müller: I expect the freestyle boards will be 10cm shorter compared to now in the next few years, what doesn’t mean they are less nice to ride. I think lots of shapes nowadays are pretty conservative and in my opinion it kills the innovation of new moves. I'm looking forward to more young creators building their own shapes, in search of the optimized own boards.
Continentseven: Will you shape more of these short beasts?
Balz Müller: There are already some cool ideas spinning through my head and wait to get realized. I just hope my next try will not knock me out after 15min again.
Continentseven: And your sponsor Patrik likes it, if you design your own shapes instead of riding the production boards?
Balz Müller: At the moment I don't have any sponsor contracts, but I really like Patrik Diethelm's shapes and we are working on something together. I think it’s not bad if team riders know how to build a board, because we alI need to be influential in windsurfing gear production to reach our best possible results on the water.
Continentseven: Would you use the board in World Cup events, if you would be allowed?
Balz Müller: I would love the ride my own board at PWA events. I think it would influence my style and for sure the result. I hope to create a unique board with a professional shaper and use that one in competition, but I'm also not sure if I can attend all the tour stops this season as I have to work as a landscaper.
More from Balz
- Balz Müller with his new style in the waves at Cape Town - Video Rehapbanger ft. Balz Müller
- Balz Müller's injury & his 2015 recap film
- Balz Müller & Steven van Broeckhoven: "In search of lost time" (Riding gear of the 80ties)