We met F2 shaper and product manager Daniel Aeberli three times this year. Daniel, Dany or Choco was born in Switzerland, is always in a good temper, a funny guy. We know him already for a long time, when he still was competing freestyle or shaping together with Patrik Diethelm. They were the shaping team at F2 for the last couple of years. After the bankruptcy of F2 in April 2008 Karin Jaggi, Patrick Diethelm and Daniel Aeberli decided to run the business to bring F2 back, where it was once. Now, 1,5 years later everything changed. Patrik Diethelm and Karin Jaggi run their own business and Daniel Aeberli is the new product manager and shaper of F2.
We are sitting vis-à-vis with Daniel Aeberli and just finished our lunch. We are interested in Daniel Aeberli´s background, where he got his knowledge from and how his life changed since he is working full time in a windsurfing company.
C7: Tell us a little bit about your biography as a windsurfer!
Dani: I started in the age of 7 and with 14 I started with course racing and switched into freestyle later. In this discipline I sailed more or less until 2003. Parallel to my freestyle career I joined a technical training in model making. I finished this apprenticeship in 2003. In this year Patrik Diethelm got a job at F2 as a shaper. I was using his boards for a while and I started a career in the background of him. He was the shaper and I helped and learned from him how to build boards.
Then in April 2008 F2 made a restart after the crash. F2 tried to save money, but we all three believed there is a future for F2. At this moment I also had offers from other brands but i was sure we can make it as a team.
C7: But why did you split up with the trio?
Dani: The F2 chief Gerald Pascher did split up with Patrick Diethelm. I definitely never wanted to split us up. The leading team just got reduced. I guess now it is a great chance for me. My family supported me in the decision, but I honestly was very sad about the fact, that the trio broke up in the end of 2008.
C7: Are you happy, how F2 is running, since you are working at the front?
Dani: Ah, yeah, I think so. There are always things you are not happy with, but that keeps the job exciting!
C7: How is F2 doing right now?
Dani: Not bad, fairly well, it´s really hard financing such a project, but I think we will make it back on top.
C7: The company headquarter is now situated in Saalburg, Thüringen. German Bernd Flügel (42), is the new CEO, acquired 40% from the Gerald Pascher, who is the owner of the MAG AG and still holds all trademark rights. Now, almost 2 years after the financial collaps, F2 has a new leader. Is it the right direction for F2?
Dani: Yes, I think so. After one year almost working alone on the windsurfing side…I am now happy that I got professional support and I also feel there is space for fresh ideas now.
C7: Has Bernd Flügel the opportunities to bring F2 back – together with his team, you, Philipp Schnerr and Marius Müller, where the company was once?
Dani: We all know the Windsurfing market is not as easy at it was back in the 90ties. But the move to Saalburg and to have the Warehouse and head office at one spot inclusive the German distribution for sure helps again to make business more easy and also more productive.
I think with Bernd,Philipp and Marius we have a lot of knowledge in each part of their job.
C7: How hard is it to lose teamriders like Peter Volwater for instance?
Dani: This question is very easy to answer. I am very sad about the fact, that we are loosing good teamriders. At the end of the day it´s just a question of budget. And in hard times like now it would be super difficult to finance an expensive Pro team. And for me it´s super hard to evaluate the cost-benefit calculation of a big team.
C7: Will you oblige some more teamriders?
Dani: Yes, I think so, but nothing is fixed yet (in the meanwhile F2 confirmed that they support Pozo ripper Dario Ojeda, top freestyler Steven van Broeckhoven seems to stay with F2 and Tonky Frans as well).
C7: How do you personally stick by the fact, that Karin Jaggi and Patrik Diethelm, your former working partners, are going to establish their own new boardbrand?
Dani: Out of my view the new brand “Patrikdiethelm” deserves a lot of respect! It´s definitely not easy to launch another boardbrand in the end of 2009, but I think it´s possible with innovative ideas, a lot of know-how and a slim brand structure, how they both are planning the companies profile. I am sure they have a realistic chance to be successful in the near future!
C7: Do you like your job?
Dani: Yes, very much. It´s a very versatile job. I have to travel a lot and learn about many things. Finally it´s a lot of work, but I need some pressure.
C7: Will F2 invest at the racing sector or do you see the brand predominantly in the freeriding, freestyle and wave disciplines?
Dani: Sure, racing is super important. My plan is to have a relatively equal distribution of the development budgets. The goal is to develop such a range, which can fulfill all interests and every client can find a board for his level and interest. It doesn´t matter if it is a freestyler or a waverider. Everybody should get the best product possible.
C7: There are rumours that F2 will launch an own sail product line. Will it be something like Arrows was in the past?
Dani: Lets see…I think we get something really nice….
C7: And who is the current shaper for the F2 boardrange, you or different freelancers?
Dani: Until now I shaped all boards so far and I am really happy with the first results. Now I will shape all boards for the 2011 boardrange and I am already super excited about the new challenge. I know that I can do it. And I don´t want that anybody else would create shapes. I guess the first test were good and we are on the right way.
C7: What´s your position at F2?
Dani: I am the product manager. That´s the official version. But I help at many other positions to get the whole system forward. Loosing Karin Jaggi and Patrik Diethelm means loosing a lot of know-how. To me a lot of things have priority. If I compete in a race, I am 100% racer. I could not imagine to be in Thailand only and shape boards there. In the moment I really have a lot of commitments.
But I think I will have a bit less to do in the future, when co-workers will deal with jobs, which I handle right now. That would be great for my private life.
C7: Do you have any private life in the current job?
Dani: I guess not really in the moment. But honestly I am really used to have an eventful life and it would be definitely hard for to get used to a 0815 life. I still live my dream and I am very happy about this.
C7: Are you less time on the board yourself?
Dani: Sure, I have less days on the water. But I guess that this was a good step. I can enjoy the days on the water much more. I also have much more work than expected with my fin brand Choco fins than I expected in the beginning. But it´s totally exciting and makes a lot of fun. Of course I want to continue with racing. I like it a lot and I could improve over the years a lot and I really hope that I will not lose the connection and can catch up with all the guys, but I work on it, hehe (Dani Aeberli just finished the Lancelin Marathon in 8th position, just 3,52 minutes behind the winner).
C7: When will you launch the 2010 F2 website?
Dani: The website should be online already. I really hope that we will have online while the next weeks. The guys, who are working on this project , are going to finish the website in these days.
C7: And the product highlights for 2010?
Dani: The Rodeo freestyle board. Did you read the test in the German SURF, yeeeeh.
Everybody tries to get us down on the bottom. But we have good products and also good test results in the magazines…so i think we are able to step up to the top again.
C7: Where do you see F2 in 3 years?
Dani: Our goal is to create a well structured and profitable company. After our recent restructions I think we are on the right track to become a well recognized competitor in the market.
C7: SUP, yes or no?
Dani: I like the idea is refreshing the market and a really cool sport….and a lot of potential which we are not going to miss out.
C7: What does the sport windsurfing mean for you?
Dani: Just everything!
Interview © continentseven.com/ CHP 2010