We hooked up with Kevin Pritchard to talk about the perhaps most spectacular change of 2011. Kevin left Gaastra in the beginning of January and signed a contract with the Maui based sailcompany Ezzy sails.
C7: When did you play with the idea to leave Gaastra and sail for Ezzy?
KP: It just sort of happened. I had a great relationship with Gaastra, but they were making big changes and I really wanted to work with a company based in Maui. I had been telling my girlfriend for two or three years that one day I am going to work with David. It was almost like me throwing it out into the universe and having it happen. Pretty crazy really.
C7: What was the main reason for the change? Did you have any good relation with David Ezzy (sure, he is on Maui)?
KP: I was ready for a change. I had not been very happy doing the world tour the last few years and found a good opportunity with David. We have always been very respectful of each other and we seem to want the same thing.. to ride the best sails in the world. I think it is really great to have him be such an accomplished wave sailor and he was stoked to have me come and work with him, so I was like, yeah, this is something I really want.
C7: This change means that you changed to a brand, which is much focused on the wave sailing, but not really dedicated to high end racing. Does this mean, that you definitely will not compete in any PWA Slalom events in 2011?
KP: Yeah, I don’t think I will be doing any PWA events this year. I heard a rumor, that they are going to do a slalom event in Maui, so I might do that on the two cam Infinity sails, just for fun. It would be totally killer to get in the top five on a two cam fun sail. I was just thinking about that as I am writing this interview and yeah, I would be totally stoked to take out some guys on my new Infinities.
C7: In 2010 you had good results and you could made it on the 6th overall in Slalom, you made it twice in the top 5, finished waves in 12th with a great result at Klitmöller! Were the results not enough to have motivation for another season?
KP: You know, I just didn’t have the set up to go out and win races. I know, what it takes and I didn’t have it. I wanted a team based in Maui, that would go out and train and test and figure out the gear. I was hoping maybe Finian and I could do that last year, but it didn’t happen. I think you have to have a gel, a good time with your training partner, you have to feed off of each other and have the same goals. When I was coming up through the ranks, I had my brother there, pushing and pulling, and we would train so hard and have so much fun together it wasn’t like we were even working. We just wanted to win so much that we did whatever it took. The past few seasons Matt injured his legs and wasn’t really into training, and simply didn’t have the time to work things out with my gear. I have been doing the tour a long time and I didn’t want to get too grumpy and not enjoy what I was doing. It was time for a change for me.
C7: So you kind of stopped your racing career, but straight after the sailsponsorchange you immediately took place in the “Lord of the Wind” slalom and racing event! Did you miss competing already? Or were you just tired of high end competitions?
KP: My brother and his family were down there and Matt was like, hey, you should come down and hang out with us and do a race at the same time. I didn’t really want to compete, but I thought what the heck, there wasn’t much pressure with racing, I had the Ezzy two cam sail, so if I got totally blown out of the water I already had an excuse. I have put pressure on myself to win for the last 15 years. I just want to have fun and enjoy the life a bit more, work on a product that I believe in and do some other type of windsurfing promotions rather than going to the same locations, and doing the same thing.
C7: What did your boardsponsor Starboard say about your change? Was it easy to explain?
KP: They were not as stoked as I wanted the to be. I don’t think they really see the opportunity that I do with what I want to do. I think I am going to blow them out of the water and show them what it is all about.
C7: You would have been the top Gaastra racer in the 2011 team. So you should have get the top budget! Wasn´t it like that?
KP: Yeah, sometimes it is not only about the money. You got to be stoked on what you are doing and having fun in life. Gaastra is a solid company, I have won a lot of world titles with them and I couldn’t have asked for better support. They wanted me to do the tour again, for less budget than what I felt was necessary, and so I really started to pursue other options.
C7: Was money a reason for your change or were you looking for a new perspective? You mentioned that your are going to train with Graham Ezzy.
KP: Yeah for sure it wasn’t about the money. It was more about the long term future for myself. I can see working with David in other ways, than just going and winning a contest. A lot of people in the industry can only see what they know, or what your last race was. Whats the saying, your only as good as your last race. Well, signing on with Ezzy, for me was more about a longer term future. My contract isn’t a one or two year contract, there is no date on it, if we are stoked working together, then we keep working together, if we don’t then we will change it up. I think that is a pretty good way to look at things.
C7: Are your plans to invest a lot of time into wavesailing to make it on the podium in the wave discipline or are the young guys pushing too much into crazy airmoves like double loops, tweaked Pushloops, that you could keep up with the top guys?
KP: Well, I am not that interested in taking down Philip or Victor in Gran Canaria next year. But I still would love to hit some big lips in Cabo Verde. I really dont think I have too much to prove to anyone. I just want to have fun, and sail some of the best waves in the world!
C7: So you will definitely not compete in any PWA wave events this season as well and you will focus on the US windsurfing tour?
KP: My main focus will be competing in the US Windsurfing tour. I really want to be a part of this and it is something that I really believe in and get this thing rolling. I am working with the Tour manager Samantha Bitner helping out with some of the promotions and trying to get people stoked on it. When I was growing up we had events at Waddell Creek and Jalama Beach, and this helped me get to where I am today. I want guys like Whit Poor, and his brother Tyson, Wyatt Miller and a hand full of other rippers to have that chance to shine and come up and kick some butt on the world tour.
C7: Now you are on a sailbrand, which is super popular in the States. Will you put your focus more on the US market as a sailor (participations in events, promotion events)?
KP: Yeah, that is what I want to do. I want to go more grass roots and get into the US more. I have been to twice as many countries and I have States! With the PWA, they never have had a stop in the US since I have been on tour and I would like to be a part of changing that. So we will see.
C7: Do you see yourself as an ambassador in the States, who can help to grow windsurfing?
KP: I would like to think so. I know I just have not had the time to be in the States enough in the last 15 years so I am hoping to get into it.
C7: Is your stop in the racing discipline also a signal, like a warning: Slalom went too much into speed oriented direction and is less fun?
KP: I think slalom is great. It is fun, fast, and it is technical. Slalom is what most of the windsurfers in the world do, go back and forth, we have just taken it to a new level. It is great fun!
C7: Would you perhaps wish to change the Slalom format to something different, if you could. You always fought to keep up the old Slalom 42 rule, to make it more accessible for not sponsored riders?
KP: Well, for me personally, I always like the custom aspect of it. It helped because I like to create new things, dream new products, work on the gear, dream the impossible. I was always working, thinking about how to make something new and faster, for my style of sailing. When you are going up against guys, who are bigger and stronger than you are, and also on the same gear as you, you are going to have a tough time beating them. I was able to build faster boards and sails, than my bigger rivals and that helped me out a lot. A lot of people though I was going though the boards with ton’s and ton’s of equipment. The year I beat Björn for the title in 2000, I only carried three slalom boards to Gran Canaria, and I used those three the whole year.
C7: You did compete with 2 cam sails at Los Barriles and you could win. You also had quick downwind races in the super-x discipline some years ago! Does Slalom need very rigid riggs with 4 to 5 cams and 7 to 9 battens or do you put Slalom in a new direction?
KP: The slalom sails these days are amazing. I think to win a world title you have to have the very latest top of the line gear. To go out and win a national level title, and have a lot of fun, the 2 cam is pure fun for me.
C7: Will Ezzy also develop racing sails soon, that you will have gear for slalom competitions?
KP: Definitely for 2011 it is out of the question. The PWA has their registration deadlines and they were back in December, so I think it has passed the time to get race sails in for this year. But you never know for the next season.
C7: Will you focus now more on your photo- and videography or do you try to find a nice compromise of both disciplines, photography and windsurfing?
KP: Yeah for sure, I will have a good balance between windsurfing and photography. This is what I was looking for and with my role in Ezzy Sails I think I can achieve that.
C7: Is there anything left in windsurfing, you could not achieve yet?
KP: I have really achieved everything that I have ever wanted to as far as competition goes. There are very few people in the sport who can say they won a wave world title and a racing world title. I don´t really have anything left to prove to myself and I am happy where I am at in my life right now. I want to get back into sail developement the way I used to be involved, and continue to live the dream.
© continentseven.com 2011, Pritchardwindsurfing.com