Leo Ray (F-200) stopped his professional windsurfing career 2012 and was looking for new challenges: “I came back home after the PWA canaries events of 2011, I watched a Base Jumping video on the internet and it suddenly made sense. I needed new challenges and this was a pretty interesting one.”  After some years of Sky Diving, Wingsuit Flying or Base Jumping, Leo felt the desire to come back to windsurfing and he booked a trip to Maui. We hooked up with Leo to speak about his extreme sports career and his comeback to windsurfing.



Leo Ray Interview


Continentseven: Leo, you were off the windsurfing scene for a while.
Leo Ray: Yeah, my last contract with Naish Sails International ended a while ago already. During my 11 years in the team, I got the chance to live some amazing experiences. I will always be very thankful for the chance I got to live my dreams, but after so many years of riding, I must admit that for a while I lost the passion for windsurfing. It got very confusing when doing what I loved the most became tasteless and felt like a routine. I had the feeling it was time to move on. Not having any windsurfing gear and not being able to ride if I wanted to was very scary but necessary.


Continentseven:  When did you have your latest windsurfing session, before you came to Maui?
Leo Ray: My last good wave session was in Gruissan/France last November right in front of Windsurf School “Pole Nautique Gruissan”. The conditions were unusual for this place. I used my old 74l Wave board with 4.2m powered up. The wind was Side Side-On Starboard tack. The spot was looking amazing with some 2 meters quite clean sets and some messy monster on the outside. I enjoyed it so much!!! Beside the feeling of  being totally out of shape, riding again felt so right…


Continentseven:  What did you do instead of Windsurfing?
Leo Ray:  I followed another dream. Body Flying !!


Continentseven:  Why did you decide to change to Body Flying?
Leo Ray:  I didn’t decide!! The passion for body flying came the same way the passion for windsurfing hooked me when I was a kid. I came back home after the PWA canaries events of 2011, I watched a Base Jumping video on internet and it suddenly made sense. I needed new challenges and this was a pretty interesting one. I had a new dream, I needed to do my best to make it happen.


Continentseven:  Skydiving, Speed Riding, Base Jumping, Wingsuit flying are risky. Did you think about that or did you have situations you were in trouble?
Leo Ray:  Yep, risk is definitely a part of those activities. When you are inexperienced and willing to learn and improve fast it can be tricky. I have learned the hard way that respecting different steps of progression is vital. I broke my right leg in several places 2 years ago on a rough landing while Speed Riding in Chamonix. Few surgeries and some rehabilitation time were necessary. It has been a good and humbling experience, which helped me – I believe – to take better decisions later when I started Base Jumping.


Continentseven:  If you compare both sports, windsurfing and skydiving. Are there any similarities?
Leo Ray:  I didn’t really think about that, but what I do know is that they both make me feel really good. You need to be driven by passion to do both I think. You have a dream and you do everything to make it happen. You get to go to new places, meet interesting people, learn new things and enjoy life.


Continentseven: It seems you still love windsurfing, hence your comeback. Can you tell us a bit more?
Leo Ray: I want to get back to the water more than anything else right now. I need to windsurf again. I want it to feel as good as it used to be. I want to do the things I used to do in the water (Wave and Freestyle) plus, I want to learn new things. I am getting obsessed with ideas of things I never did. And I am fully equipped by Fanatic, North, Ion and MFC. I want to thank those who are supporting me and making this new adventure possible! It feels like a rebirth!!!



Continentseven: Although you were not into windsurfing, you for sure followed the competitions and the development? 
Leo Ray:  Oh yeah, I have been watching loads of videos on the net as well most event live streams. I have been impressed by the Frenchies last year. I followed Thomas’s way to the stars, Nico’s Indoor King supremacy and the Slalom battle for the title. The level is pretty high in all disciplines for sure, but I have been very impressed by the evolution of the freestyle heats. The guys are landing the hardest tricks so consistently in all kind of conditions now. That is pretty sick.


Continentseven:  What makes windsurfing so special?
Leo Ray: The feeling of freedom, playing with the elements, pushing your limits. Windsurfing can be done in so many different styles plus the conditions are constantly changing. So you always get something funny to do or to learn.


Continentseven: What are your next plans?
Leo Ray:  My plan is to train as hard as necessary to be ready for the next swell at Jaws.  Riding big waves is definitively my main goal right now. I will be in Maui for the next two months. I hope some good swell will arrive soon. I have had 3 sessions there, it is for sure the best adrenaline rush I ever got in windsurfing. Plus going there is an adventure, dealing with the jet ski riders over there, working with a safety partner is something I am really looking forward to. I started training on breath holding here on Maui together with Davide Carrera, a world record man in apnoea. There is so much to learn, it is very interesting learning from him.


A recent Wave 360° at Hookipa


Continentseven:  Will go even more radical in waves now? Psychologists say people who are used to master extreme situations often have the “Siegfried syndrome” and think they can survive any situation. 

Leo Ray: Dealing with fear is a part of the game with Base Jumping. It will still be a big issue in the jumps I am planning to do in the future. Overcoming fears doesn’t mean that you are not afraid of injuries. It is the opposite actually. You must use this fear to get the best out of yourself and to avoid to make mistakes. Preparation and planning is what you must focus on. I am actually curious to see which changes it will make on my approach to windsurfing. I don’t think I go for crazy stupid things, but maybe I will feel that with some proper anticipation and training things I used to do in the water can be pushed a little bit further …


Continentseven: Good luck for your future adventures and thanks for the interview!

©continentseven.com 2015, Leo Ray, Jimmy Hepp, One more foto