Thomas Traversa is the 2014 PWA Wave World Champion. Thomas Traversa is one of the windsurfers, who can convince in all sort of windsurfing conditions, from a a knee high wave to over mast high waves. “The waves are always small around Marseille, so I had to travel a lot since many years, to get some real wave sailing conditions. I had to learn how to adapt quick to new spots, because most of the time you have only one day with the right wind/swell combination,” Thomas told us in an interview last year. And maybe this is one of the reasons, why he became such a complete windsurfer, who is able to windsurf at many spots and at Ho’okipa like a local. Imagine.. it would be his home spot… Anyway, he definitely deserves this title, although he has never thought to be able to win it. Read more in our interview below.
Continentseven: Thomas, congratulations on your first PWA Wave World Champion title. How does it feel to win this title?
Thomas Traversa: It feels kind of unreal! I have so many good memories from this past year of competition, and now I am wave world champion it is too good to be true!!
Continentseven: Why to you think you won the wave world title this year?
Thomas Traversa: I am feeling better than ever with my boards and my sails, and after some good results in the last 2 years I really went into every heat thinking I could make it. There was also a part of luck, like always, but somehow I have been doing my best sailing during my heats this year, that made a big difference I guess. It’s funny, because we had a very complete tour, and I think everyone in the top 5 (Victor, Ricardo, Brawzinho, Alex and me) could have been world champion, but it just went my way!
Continentseven: Since you won the Red Bull Storm Chase, you seem to be stronger and more focused on winning. Did the Storm Chase victory and competing in extreme conditions give you extra mental strength?
Thomas Traversa: Yes, the Storm Chase was really important for me, I realised I could actually win something more than once, and against the best guys. I feel like I am in a good moment of my life, Sophia and I are going to have a baby… I really want to try hard if I compete because I want to keep living this life, so there is no time to waste!
Continentseven: Becoming Wave World Champion one day. Has this always been a big career goal for you?
Thomas Traversa: No I never thought it could happen, so it has never been a dream, or a goal. Only this year after two or three events it became possible to do it, and I thought that if I had a chance to be world champion, I should give all I have and see what happens. But now that I did it I really appreciate it!
Continentseven: You never minced your opinion about competitions or the PWA tour. Are you now happy with the PWA tour and the events? Be careful, you are World Champ now…
Thomas Traversa: This year we had a great tour, of course we could have a few more events, in better conditions than what we sometimes get to compete in… I feel like the wave tour has been getting better in the past years, even if we lost Cape Verde and still miss some down the line events like Chile, Baja California or Australia for example. I know that people have to work hard and find money to organize PWA events, it is not that simple, but hopefully our World Tour will keep getting better. I mean we have some good events and a final at Hookipa, so we can’t complain too much!
Continentseven: We sometimes have the feeling in windsurfing, that riders are scared to say the truth, just to save some faces within the windsurfing competition bubble. How important is it to be honest with yourself to achieve goals?
Thomas Traversa: I think we are all honest with ourselves, we are all dedicated to windsurfing, this is why we are there.
Continentseven: Robby Naish said, you have definitely improved your windsurfing at Ho’okipa? Do you think the same?
Thomas Traversa: After last year’s event here in Maui we changed a few things on the boards, then we came back with Alex and Fabien and spent all April sailing Hookipa and trying new boards again. That was a good move because our boards ended up working very well at every spot on tour, and with Alex we were actually looking forward to sail again at Hookipa for the event! This and also this year I tried to forget about where I was, all the history, the big moves we have all seen from Polakow, Kauli, Levi, Morgan,Ricardo, Brawzinho, Camille and many more… I tried to ride every wave for what it was, as if I was on a trip, or a contest somewhere else.
Continentseven: How much time did you spend windsurfing at Ho’okipa so far?
Thomas Traversa: I did about 9 trips to Maui now, first time in 2001. It was always for a couple of weeks in the winter, and lately it has been more like a month around March/April. It is always hard to get many good waves at Hookipa, so you actually have to come many times to really understand the spot and how to ride the different kind of swells.
Continentseven: Yes, some people say, the conditions at Ho’okipa are actually not that good compared to other wave spots or that it is a very special wave/kind of conditions. You have windsurfed at many different spots and have ridden many different waves in your windsurfing career. What is your personal opinion about the spot Ho’okipa?
Thomas Traversa: Hookipa is not easy, not perfect, but it is one of the best spots in the world because the wave is really powerful, it offers all kind of sections for all kind of moves and turns, and it can be good at any size, with different swell directions. It is a place where you have to be really sharp, because every wave is different from the previous one, and you have to commit on every turn because it is not an easy wave to ride.
Continentseven: What gear were you using?
Thomas Travesra: I used my 70 and my 68 liters boards, I am not sure about the dimensions, but it is the boards I used all year on tour. I was using them as Tri-fins like always, 14/10 and 15/10. My sails were the I.Q 4.2 and 4.5, it is the 4 battens model from Gaastra.
Continentseven: The tails of your boards are looking slightly different to many other wave board tails (very thin, cutouts, etc.)? Are these tails a reason your wave riding or the boards look extremely loose and free on the wave.
Thomas Traversa: Nothing very different on my boards, the tail is thinner because I am light so I can not turn if I have too much volume under my backfoot. The winger/cutout is there to give a bit more curve to the outline around the front foot, and keep a narrow tail around the backfoot for more reactivity. But then all the bottom shape, and the shape of the rails, and where you put the volume, how flat the deck is, the mastrack and fins’ position… All this makes a board work or not, that’ s why you need a good shaper and Fabien made us great boards again, they are faster and easier than ever!
Continentseven: One day before the final heats of the Aloha Classic, we read you injured one of your back muscles? What happened exactly and did it influence your windsurfing in the double elimination finals?
Thomas Traversa: It was just a muscle injury. It was very painful when it happened, but after one day of rest it was already feeling much better! 2 days after when we finished the double elimination it didn’t hurt me and I could sail at 100%, so it was all fine.
Continentseven: Last year you lost in the first round of the single elimination against Morgan Noireaux. This year you lost in the final against him. What is your comment about Morgan and his windsurfing?
Thomas Traversa: Morgan is sailing very well, he always picks the good waves and always does the right turn or move on the right section. He knows exactly what he is doing and he has big turns,big airs and moves… that’s why it is so hard to beat him, and he is only 20! I am looking forward to see him getting even better, and maybe compete on the PWA tour at one point!
Continentseven: You were very close of winning the Aloha Classic this year, too. What do you think you missed to win this prestigious title?
Thomas Traversa: Morgan sailed a really strong heat as usual, so I had to sail my best to have a chance to win. The waves were a bit tricky with a lot of close-outs, and I crashed a few turns and Goiters. That could have made a difference, but Morgan just sailed better than me and that’s it!
Continentseven: Soon a new chapter in life starts. You will become father. Excited?
Thomas Traversa: Yes Sophia and I are over excited ! It is a dream coming true for both of us I think, things will change but I am sure we will enjoy!
Continentseven: Thanks for the interview. Congrats again and good luck for the upcoming exciting months!