Klaas Voget works on his laptop in Chile (Pic: Femke Geestmann)
Continentseven: Klaas, you are not only chasing after low pressure systems and swells in Denmark, competing on tour or ripping waves in Maui or South Africa. There are many more obligations now for you.
Klaas Voget: Yes, I’ve been working for Fanatic for a long time in the product development, especially the wave boards. Since the beginning of 2015 I’m also Marketing Manager for the brand, which is a lot more than just being out there on the water testing gear and having a good time. I’m going to the Boards & More headquarters in Munich frequently. The rest of the time I’m working from Hamburg or from my laptop when I’m on trips. It’s a good step, as I was always looking for other challenges than „just“ being a Pro Windsurfer, but of course it can be difficult during busy times juggling with competition & training, family and work.
Continentseven: So your change from Simmer to NorthSails was a logical step?
Klaas Voget: My change to NorthSails was a logical step for me and also for Boards & More. The Fanatic office is on the same floor as the North guys, so we met several times before my change. I was already handling the shoot a few times before and since we’re doing a combined Fanatic/NorthSails shoot, it felt a bit strange being the only rider on a different sail brand. We tried to work things out a few times in the past, but it never played out. End of last season was finally the right moment. From day one it worked perfectly. I got together with Victor Fernandez and sail designer Kai Hopf straight away to develop the new 2017 Hero and the steps we made were super good. I can safely say I’m using the best rigs I’ve ever had in my hands.
Continentseven: But your main job is still for Fanatic? You seem to be the right hand for Craig Gertenbach?
Klaas Voget: Yes, marketing for Fanatic, product development for both brands. Craig has more than one right hand, Dani Aeberli for Slalom/Freeride and general Product Manager, myself for Wave and Marketing and of course his wife Karin for Marketing and PR. Generally we decide a lot of things together as a team, like board graphics for example…
Continentseven: What are your main working fields?
Klaas Voget: Mainly I’m in charge of the photo shootings, texts, picture selections, videos, the website including things like the new 3D visuals, and the development of the wave range including most of the team custom boards. I’m having frequent Skype calls with Fanatic’s board shaper Sebastian Wenzel on all the Wave boards we build for the team, which has been very efficient lately and is the best way to keep our Wave R&D going through the entire year. We do a lot of cross testing with the different team boards we build to make small steps and improvements with every single board.
Continentseven: You worked really hard on 3D visuals for the website, which is a new feature on the website.
Klaas Voget: The idea behind the 3Ds is to bring something to our customer, which is basically what we’re doing for more than 10 years when we developed the boards on the computer before they get cut by a CNC machine. We can flip it around as if we’re holding it in our hands and can check every single detail of its shape. Nowadays you can’t expect every Windsurf Shop to stock all the different boards of our range. To give a client something that comes as close as possible to the experience of holding the real board in your hands, I’ve been working with a french 3D specialist on every single detail, from placement and colors of the graphics, all the way to the foot straps, glossy rails, fin boxes or the air valve. All that on the exact shape of course. Some boards feature the construction as well, that you can check by a click on a trigger on the board. The best is you just go and check it out on the Fanatic site or the embed here of the Quad, one of my favorite boards. You can watch a tour of all the boards features, or switch all annotation markers off and zoom close to the plain board. I can recommend to click on fullscreen mode to get the best experience.
Continentseven: What was the hardest part to realize these visuals and for how long did you work on that?
Klaas Voget: It sounds simple to just take the original 3D file and place the graphics, but once you start, you realize how many little features and details all the boards have. From inserts and boxes and their exact shapes and placements, footpads, the placement of the different parts of the graphics, the surface… When you then add the different constructions and materials, it gets pretty technical and more and more complicated. Taking in account that we did that for all the different windsurf and SUP composite boards, you can imagine that it took months and you don’t want to see my mail account with the guy from the 3D company. Looking at the final results I think the guy did an amazing job and it was worth the effort from my side as well.
Continentseven: You are 37 years-old, you have a family and a lot of work. For how many more years will you compete?
Klaas Voget: I think you’re always as old as you feel. I started competing on the PWA Tour relatively late with the age of 21, but did university during my first couple of years competing. Only after my final degree I went for being a full time professional. I think my general fitness is still pretty good and I still enjoy competing and traveling to great wave spots a lot! I have a family now, so of course I spend a bit more time at home than before, but I still get my good share of waves out there. Last winter we went to Chile for two months with the family, what was amazing! I haven’t set a strict deadline, maybe I’ll reduce the number of events slowly with the time.