Christopher Friis decided to retire from the professional competition scene. The Danish windsurfer started to compete at national events, when he was 17 years-old. Now, with 25 and after some international competitions and getting ok results, he decided to change his plans. We definitely can remember Christopher Friis competing at Pozo 2011 nailing huge air moves next to the bunker. At this time he was one of the best upcoming young wave sailors. He had the potential to get really good, but Christopher realized that there should be more than competitive windsurfing in his life.
Watch his latest clip about a trip to Gran Canaria and read our interview below, which explains why he decided to move on.
Christopher Friis in Moving On – Contemplations of a competitor
Interview with Christopher Friis
Continentseven: Why did you decide to stop your professional career?
Christopher Friis: I think it’s something I have been contemplating for quite a while now. Last year I was already going through a lengthy application process for an entrepreneurship school in Denmark and one of the only reasons I decided to continue for another year was that I wasn’t accepted at the last stage of the process. Since the PWA cut the fleet from 48 to 32 it has been a bit of an uphill battle to be honest. I always had great support from my sponsors, but I had difficulties accepting the conditions that was offered to us “first round sailors” by the PWA. I could go on with the critique for days, but to sum it up I think it was an indifference to the guys who had to sail the qualifications that made me say stop, culminating with sending us out in less than marginal conditions in Klitmoller in 2013, where we were basically taken upwind by the jetski crew to be able to stay inside the competition area and a couple of other incidents where we for example would get an ex-world champion in a qualification heat in Tenerife. I decided that it wasn’t worth the effort anymore and I asked my sponsors if they would stick around even if I didn’t do the tour, and they did… I started focusing on video and have recently started collaborating with Kasper Bøttern, a friend of mine, to make some more interesting videos than the basic “all action” clips that you see so many of nowadays.
Continentseven: Is there a lot of pressure being a pro at a young age?
Christopher Friis: In reality, not really I think. It’s more pressure added by yourself. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself which ended up affecting my sailing negatively for a while.
Continentseven: What was the highlight in your career?
Christopher Friis: Competitively it hasn’t really accumulated too much, haha. A 17th place in Klitmoller in some of the craziest storm conditions we’ve had there. But I think my trip to Iceland with Kai Katchadourian, Robert Almqvist and Simon Crowther a couple of years ago was the biggest highlight for me. It was such an incredible trip with good people where we scored everything from perfect down the line to life-threatening storm conditions.
Continentseven: You are actually one of the best riders in waves in your home country Denmark. Do you want to keep this level for a few more years?
Christopher Friis: I would still like to claim the title in Denmark at some point, haha, so I’ll still be working towards that. When I say that my professional “career” is over it definitely doesn’t mean the end of windsurfing for me. It’s just a shift in my daily focus, but I still need the sport to let go of some steam.
Continentseven: Who inspired you on tour most?
Christopher Friis: Kenneth, with whom I trained a lot in the Canaries and in Cape Town in particular. Other than that, nobody in particular, just the people I sailed with and around.
Continentseven: Is it hard to keep the fun when being a pro or is there pressure on you all the time because there are many people,who put high expectations in you.
Christopher Friis: Yes! That pressure came to me as a slap in the face in 2013 with the PWA changes. All of a sudden it went from being a series of competitions that allowed me to pressure myself in a good way to being something with so many outside factors and built up tension and too much at stake to be healthy. Imagine, I would be traveling from my “base” in Tenerife all the way to Klitmøller to sail a single qualification heat, everything depended on how you performed in those 8-12 minutes, the whole basis for the trip and investment of going there. No double elimination chances or anything.
Continentseven: Will you compete at the upcoming PWA event in Klitmøller?
Christopher Friis: No, I haven’t applied to a PWA event since the 2013 event in Klitmøller. I support it and I think it’s a fantastic and important event for the World Tour, which is powered by an incredible community that comes together every year to make it happen.
Continentseven: What do you recommend a young rider, who wants to become a pro?
Christopher Friis: I think the best advice I can give to any young person with dreams of becoming a pro is not to start too early. Don’t put that pressure on yourself, have fun with your talent, take it seriously and see where it takes you, but don’t let the competitions become your life too early. It’s better to enter that world when you are sure to kick some ass.
Continentseven: What will you study now and how will your windsurfing change?
Christopher Friis: I have started at the University of Aalborg at the Economics and Business Administration program, which will take up a lot of my time from now on, but I still plan on making quite a bit of space for my windsurfing in-between classes. I have also considered going on a semester or two at the University of Cape Town, with a bit of windsurfing in mind. I hope to be able to send out a couple of this type of videos every year. I have a couple of smaller, special projects in mind that I would like to carry out with KasperBøttern, and hopefully share with people through some nice images.