The Canadian windsurfer Ingrid Larouche has been dominating the American Windsurfing Tour for the last couple of years by winning one overall title after the other. Although she started her competition career pretty late with the age of 30, she was able to collect many podium finishes and victories since then. Last year, after 4 years doing the AWT events, she wanted to try something new and although she had never sailed in side-onshore port tack conditions before, she showed up on the Canaries to participate in the PWA wave events.  

“It’s hard for someone from North America to make it to Europe and be supported. I really do it for the love of the sport and the thrill of the competition.” 

Cape Town saw great conditions this winter

Cape Town saw great conditions this winter


Continentseven: You are born in Canada. How and when did you get in contact with windsurfing?  
Ingrid Larouche: Well, that would be years ago up on the lake where I’m from in northern Quebec. Few people owned an original windsurfer back then and us kids would take them out a couple times a summer.  It’s only years later though when I finished my studies and took a contract on the east coast of the U.S as a physiotherapist that I really got exposed to windsurfing.  


Continentseven: Since when have you been competing?
Ingrid Larouche: I started competing in freestyle back in 2008 when we had the Gorge games, the Nationals, freestyle Frenzies and U.S events of the sort.  I then switched to waves when AWT organizer Sam Bittner put on the first “Pistol River wave bash” in 2010.  The whole AWT tour began that next year and I continued that direction.


Continentseven: Canadians love their sports. Ice hockey is pretty popular in Canada. How popular is windsurfing in Canada?
Ingrid Larouche: It’s not. Not one bit.  And most of the windsurfers I know from up there have switched to kiting now anyways.  Canada is all about hockey, almost exclusively where I’m from!


Continentseven: Are you well known at the beaches of Canada?
Ingrid Larouche: Honestly, I have never really windsurfed in Canada. Living in the U.S now, I don’t even bring gear when I go visiting. And why would I, when I get to call the Gorge and Hawaii home …:)

Ingrid's hair, bleached by sun, salt and wind (Pic: Carter/PWA)

Ingrid’s hair, bleached by sun, salt and wind (Pic: Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: Wave riding is your main discipline and you recently made it on the podium of the 2015 Aloha Classic, which saw an incredible high level in the ladies fleet. How did it feel standing on the podium?
Ingrid Larouche: Yeah, I was super happy to make the 2015 Aloha Classic Podium especially since I was sailing injured, once again, spraining my foot and fracturing 2 toes just a couple days before the start of the PWA.  Injuries always bring my confidence down and it was tough because I had hopes to do well at that event.  I have been training and competing at Hookipa for a few years now, and had made it on the podium at the last 4 Aloha Classics as part of the American windsurfing tour. I know, it wasn’t against PWA ladies, but the level of sailing and competition at Ho’okipa is nonetheless quite high with ladies like Fiona Wylde and Junko Nagoshi (who didn’t compete in 2015, but has been dominating at Ho’okipa for years). Going over to Gran Canaria and Tenerife last year and doing those PWA events was brand new to me. I had never sailed onshore port tack and was quite intimidated in such strong wind. The girls definitely have some other game in those conditions so being able to get on the PWA podium at Ho’okipa on what I guess I could call “my home turf” meant a lot.  


Continentseven: You are multiple AWT champion and used to starboard tack conditions. How did it come you decided to participate in the Canaries events last year?
Ingrid Larouche: Yeah, winning the AWT for four years in a row was amazing. The AWT taught me a lot about competition and was a huge building block for my sailing. We had “starboard tack” ladies coming from all around, making the competition both fun and interesting and was rewarding for sure.  I also got to compete with the men, doing the amateurs for a couple years and even moved on to pro men, so I always got to sail tons of heats.  Last year I felt I needed to do something different and wanted to develop my port tack to keep pushing myself and decided to go the PWA route.  The Canaries definitely took me out of my element and gave me that new direction and boost that I felt I needed after 4 years doing AWT. 

Ingrid enjoys riding in over mast high waves at Ho'okipa (Pic: Carte/PWA)

Ingrid enjoys riding in over mast high waves at Ho’okipa (Pic: Carte/PWA)


Continentseven: How important is competition for you?
Ingrid Larouche: It pushes me.  “Preparing” for an event or having that goal ahead keeps me motivated and focused.  I get so inspired to watch and have the best windsurfers around and I like to be part of events because of it.  


Continentseven: How many more years will you compete?
Ingrid Larouche: Well seeing as this was my first year on the PWA tour, I would really like to give it a couple more years.


Continentseven: You belong to the top wave riding women at the moment. Is it possible for you to make a living from windsurfing or do you need to work besides windsurfing?
Ingrid Larouche: It’s hard for someone from North America to make it to Europe and be supported. I really do it for the love of the sport and the thrill of the competition. I have been working as a Physio ever since I graduated, and, after working full time for years, I now have it figured out quite nicely where I can work on Maui in the winter and in the Gorge in the summers and feel I found a great balance between work and play. I mean, I can always dream to work less, train and travel more and see how much better I could get if I had more time on the water, but I am also realistic with windsurfing.  I’m glad to have a good career that gives me some flexibility.


The first  trip to Pozo taught  Ingrid a lot (Pic: Carter/PWA)

The first trip to Pozo taught Ingrid a lot (Pic: Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: If there is no wind, how do you spend your day?
Ingrid Larouche: I often try to schedule my work days around the wind.  So, most likely, I’ll be working.  


Continentseven: How do you keep yourself fit?
Ingrid Larouche: On my days off, I usually try to do 2 activities a day, and hopefully one of them is windsurfing.  If it’s windy, I will windsurf as much as I can. I just love being on the water.  On Maui, I surf, run and mountain bike.  Bikes were also a huge passion for me. I was competitive for several years doing enduro events throughout the northwest (at pro level). I still bike every day when I’m in Oregon, even thought I’m nothing as fast as I used to be.


Continentseven: What’s your favorite windsurfing spots and where do you want to travel one day?
Ingrid Larouche: I love sailing at Ho’okipa.  I haven’t been too many places yet, but I love down the line, starboard conditions and warm water so. Maui is hard to beat for me. Mauritius is one top spot on my list.


Continentseven: Your goals for 2016?      
Ingrid Larouche: I want to give PWA a good try and make it to all the stops this year.  I need to learn a thing or two about port jumping and wave riding but I’d hope I would improve my ranking from last year.

© 2016