Enes Yilmazer is one of the upcoming stars in the Slalom scene. With just 21 years he already scores top 20 results and finished the first Slalom of the current season in 17th position. He had his PWA debut back in 2007 and already has won the IFCA youth world title twice. Enes improved year by year constantly in the PWA ranking: 2007 44th, 2008 24th, 2009 23th…

We met the young Turkish sailor, who was born on the 3rd of January 1990 in Trabzon at the Black Sea and were talking about his status quo, his training and his goals.


Enes keeps most of the time a cool head.

C7: You are living half the year in the United States and the rest in Europe and Turkey, Alacati! Is this perfect for your training?

Enes: Since 2007 I have been living in Corpus Christi, United States, during the winters, from September through May, and Alacati, Turkey during the summers. Of course it took a while to get adaptive to the different culture and lifestyle, but now I feel totally comfortable living on these two different cultures.
From training point of view it works out great. During the winter months I get my education at Texas A&M Corpus Christi University and I am able to train in warm and windy water conditions in Corpus Christi, Texas. I get really good conditions for slalom and wave sailing and at the same time great conditions for regular surf and SUP. The reason I decided to do that was, that I cared about my education and at the same time I wanted to focus on my windsurfing career 100 % percent. So for that situation Corpus Christi offered all I need. A great university and windy-warm windsurfing conditions.

An air view on the A&M university, where Enes is studying

C7: On how many days do you make it on the water while a whole year?
Enes: This is a hard question to answer! I always try to get on the water as much as possible. Sometimes around winter I have times I can not windsurf for a whole week. But during spring I have times getting out on the water every single day. So I think in the entire year I think I am on the water around 220 to 260 days without a doubt. Actually I was thinking about counting it in at 2009 but then I couldn’t keep up with but now you gave me the inspiration to do it!


C7: Would you say, “I am a fully pro windsurfer”? I mean if you would be ranked in 23rd position on the ASP world tour in surfing you would have won around 50.000 US $ of price money in 2009 only. In windsurfing it’s super hard to earn some peanuts, if not being placed really on top.
Enes: I would like to say ” I am fully pro windsurfer” because I think money is just one detail about being professional and being a professional windsurfer is more than that. As you know I am a college student at the same time. But all time, which is left besides university, I invest in the sport:  windsurfing, surfing, SUP, gym, running or any activity or work out that improves my abilities and makes me a better windsurfer.
From money wise I have been doing fine with my financial status, my sponsors! Especially Arkas Sport Club supported me a lot to be able to keep up with cost of following the PWA World Tour and being a professional windsurfer.


C7: What are the places you prefer most for your Slalom or Formula training?

Enes: For slalom training I have two favorite spots. The first spot is Alacati, Turkey. We all know that Alacati is the ultimate slalom spot and everyone knows the great water conditions there. Also I love conditions at my local spot in Corpus Christi, Texas. It is the University beach, which its located right in front of Texas A&M University. It is a great spot for me to train slalom and tune up my gear. For formula training, again, Corpus Christi bay offers me all I need.

Enes has a happy life (Pic: John Carter, PWA 2010).

C7: I guess you started to compete on the PWA Slalom tour in 2007 with the participation in Alacati. 2008 you finished the tour in 24th overall position and catched a JP/Neilpryde sponsor deal. Was it hard in the beginning to get the certain level and could you describe how you made it on the PWA tour through qualifications or other events?

Enes: It is true that I started competing on the PWA Tour at 2007, and since then, I have been following the PWA World Tour. Yes it was hard at the beginning, but it was a kind of a hardness, that I enjoyed dealing with. I started to compete when I was 13 and since then I am learning, getting better and faster. Learning slalom and getting better is like an endless book. The level is going up a lot last several years and its really challenging to keep up with new fins, new shapes and designs. I grew up in Alacati and it helped me a lot to adapt my slalom level into the PWA level right away. Because I grew up with the PWA, it was easier for me.


C7: You are a light guy! Which gear did you register for 2010 or which gear did you use most in 2009?
Enes: This is a though question to answer, because nowadays equipments are changing and extending their variety a lot, which makes it hard to decide. Since Pozo is cancelled this year I decided to go for JP Slalom VI 59, 65 and 76. The reason I choose these boardsizes is, that they fit perfect for my sail-fin combination and the conditions we are going to race in PWA venues this season. I have 86 kilos and I am definitely confident with the 76. It has a tremendous windrange from 7 knots to almost 20 knots. Same with the 65 cm wide medium board. It also carries 7.0 and 7.8 really good and has a big wind range, especially top end. And the 59 is my favorite board. I made my first Slalom final (top 8) with that board in Alacati, which was really exciting for me. And in combination with 7.0 and 6.2 this board just flies. So in overall I am really happy and confident with my JP Australia Slalom boards and want to show their performance on the racecourse. For my sails, I decided to go with the Neilpryde Rs Racing Evo II in following sizes:  5.1, 5.5, 6.2, 7.0, 7.8, and 8.6. There’s not much to talk about Neilpryde, incredible sails, fast, easy and they really have a big range. I just feel lucky to compete with these sails.

C7: Is JP/Neilpryde the perfect gear for and if yes, why?

Enes: It’s definitely the best equipment that fits my style most. I have no doubt about it. Neilpryde offers the best sails I have ever used in my life. What I really love about Neilpryde Racing sails is the big wind range and how perfect the work for any rider with any size in every different conditions. For my boards: I have been working with JP Australia for 3 years now and its great to be part of a brand, which develops the best boards and keeps working on them to push the limits on slalom racing. I think this year we created a great range of slalom boards that fits everyone’s style. Having a big range of slalom boards makes the selection much easier for people to choose the boards that they really want or need. In overall I want to say, I am really happy with my Neilpryde Sails and JP Boards. It´s great to race with the fastest sails and boards on the market and hopefully I can keep working with them in the future.


C7: Would you say that you are better in light and middle wind conditions or do you see yourself very competitive in high wind conditions as well? You had your best results in South Korea, Costa Brava and Alacati so far?
Enes: So far, what I see from results, I think I am doing better in light wind conditions. It makes sense, because I am a light weight guy comparing to the majority of the competitors in the PWA. I also grew up in Alacati, where the wind is mostly around 10- 20 knots.  I am not the fastest guy when it comes to high wind conditions, but then I love jibes and hardcore racing, because I feel like I can just ride it safe and make myself through to next rounds.  So in overall, I think all conditions are pretty much the same. It’s all about going out there and doing your best.


C7: What´s your favorite PWA tour stop?
Enes: Definitely Alacati, Turkey. Alacati is one of the most special places for me in the whole world. Whenever I race there, I am really comfortable and confident about my racing and the water conditions. At my home spot I am able to read the wind and have a local support in Alacati. This fact always helped me a lot to do my best on the racing course. In 2009 I did my first final (top 8) in Alacati and that feeling was worth everything, and what it makes it even more special is that it happened in Alacati. So I always feel special about this spot and it is will be my favorite spot forever.

An air view on the Alacati bay, the favorite spot of Enes.

C7: In 2009 you improved the ranking by one position to position 23. That´s a great result for a rider in your age, just one position behind Gabriel Browne, who is also a young rider on the tour. But there are not too many young guys on the tour. Most of the top riders are 30+ or older, like Antoine, Björn, Micah, Finian, Kevin, Peter, Jesper, Steve, Jimmy…
Would you prefer to race only with younger agegroups or have an extra ranking for younger sailors?

Enes: You are definitely right that there are not many racers on the PWA Slalom tour, who are at my age. But on the other hand I like racing with people, who are older, better and more experienced than me; because that means a lot to learn from them. To be honest, racing with young people and being on first place all the time wouldn’t be that exciting. With the way it is on PWA Slalom 63 right now it is great for me and I enjoy every moment we race.


C7: How does your training look like and will you make it in the top 20 in 2010?
Enes: I had been training hard in Corpus Christi, Texas during the whole winter. Also I went to Maui during the March when I had the spring break holiday. Besides that it was all training and tuning up the gear. I try to get on the bicycle two or three times a week and ride for 25 miles. Also this year I regular surfed a lot and I feel like that helped my body a lot to keep my stamina. I believe that I will make top 20 this year and hopefully even top 15.

Enes at the Costa Brava 2010 (Pic: John Carter/ PWA 2010).

C7: Do you have a coach with you at your trainings or are you following a strict trainings plan?
Enes: At the moment I do not have any coach, but that is also on my to do list for 2011. Hopefully I can arrange my budget and get personal trainers that can keeps up with my training and performance.


C7: Do you use any mental training or off water training techniques?
Enes: I think mental training is a really important part. For me I try to keep the things simple in my life. Having a clear mind is really important, and for that I try to keep stress and negative things out of my mind. I always focus on positive stuff and also doing things like yoga and stretching, which also helps.


C7: Out of my view you are a quick learner. You take up things very quick and you can keep your nerves on the race course quite well? How much time will you need to make it up in the top 10 or perhaps on the podium of a PWA race?

Enes: I think to be successful on PWA tour you need to have lots of varieties of elements such as speed, good racing abilities, concentration…. But out of all these elements, what I found out, is experience the most important. When we look at the top 10 in PWA ranking, the age of the youngest racer is around 30. This shows that experience is a big part in your success on the racecourse. I am a kind of a person that doesn’t take anything as a limitation, but I can definitely tell that every event I go I feel more confident, more focused and know that I am just getting better at every angle. So now my ultimate goal is to gain all these elements, that will put me top 10, top 5 and then on the podium. I want to make the top 10 in 2-3 years and hopefully play for top 5 in 5 years. I try to set my goals high and push my limits to reach them as early as possible.


C7: Which position on the PWA Slalom tour would be satisfying for you in 2010?
Enes: After the South Korea tour stop I am currently ranked in the 17th place! I am very happy with this result. I want to finish at least top 20 but my real aim is to finish top 15 for 2010.

At the Costa Brava on the PWA tour (Pic: John Carter/ PWA 2010).

C7: Enes, you are the best placed Slalom rider from Turkey, but you have super hard opponents like Bora Kozanoglu or Ertugrul Icingir. Plus Slalom windsurfing is super popular in Turkey. Do you feel a lot of pressure, when you are at the events in Turkey?

Enes: From racing point of view, Ertugrul is a good friend of mine, as much as we compete on the racecourse. We also help each other a lot for tuning, equipment and friendship. So I try to keep that same relationship with other competitors in Turkey. Sometimes I do feel pressure, but most of the time not. Sometimes you just focus on details and forget about the big picture. And for me the big picture is having fun. Things can stress you out and they can put pressure on you. Once in a while you get to remind yourself that you do this sport to enjoy it, not to stress. So as a solution for that, sometimes I just close my phone and do not open my laptop for couple days, just go windsurfing to enjoy and after that I am ready to do work again!


C7: Are you a kind of a star in your home country or is it harder for you to get a real local status, because you are many months a year in the States?
Enes: I can not say I am as famous as the National soccer players in Turkey, but I can definitely say that I am known by many people in Turkey, especially by windsurfers or people, who are interested in extreme sport. After I won the youth world title in 2008 and 2009, I got a lot of fresh coverage in media by internet, magazines and newspapers. For my local status, I have no problem with protecting it. I am in Turkey during whole summer, which is the period, when people windsurf most. I leave Turkey every year around end of August, which is exactly in the moment, when the season starts to slow down. So that doesn’t affect my status in Turkey. Also now a lot of people know me in the United States, too. So for that case I protect my image and status in both locations. This half year schedule fits perfect for me.


C7: Has windsurfing a high popularity in Turkey or would you wish that the sport would be much more popular?
Enes: To be honest I am really happy with the increasing popularity of windsurfing in Turkey. While the last 5 years the popularity has been rising up and as a professional windsurfer, I am trying my best to promote windsurfing in Turkey. Windsurfing started to get lots of coverage in newspapers, radios, billboards, TV shows in Turkey. Also Cagla Kubat, who is professional windsurfer, a TV-star and celebrity in Turkey, has lots of support on windsurfing promotion in Turkish media.

Enes gets good coverage in his home country.

C7: If you compare Turkey and the States? What are the differences in the sport of windsurfing?
Enes: I think the biggest difference is the way that both people windsurf. In Turkey, most of the people store their equipment in windsurfing schools and mostly sail in their favorite spot. In the States everyone has an own car and they just drive to the spot where they want to sails and store their equipment in their car.


C7: Do you personally have any idols in the Slalom discipline?
Enes: To be honest, I don’t really have specific idols that I am looking forward to be exactly like them, but for sure there are some windsurfers that I respect their success and things that they did for windsurfing. Robby Naish`s and Jason Polakow`s signature on this sport always inspires me and makes me wanna promote windsurfing even more. Also racers like Antoine Albeau or Micah Buzianis give me the courage of going on the water, training hard to be as good as them one day.


Enes Yilmazer on Maui in 2010

© continentseven.com 2010