The German slalom sailor Oliver-Tom Schliemann reports from his journey to the 2014 Awaza PWA World Cup in Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea. And it is a journey into the unknown, a blind spot on the windsurfing spot map.
They say it is the first international sports event ever hosted in Awaza, Turkmenistan. Awaza is a modern tourism zone and one of the favorite projects of the president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The plan is to build 60 hotels until 2020, even a skiing center and a bike racing center are planned, with a total investment volume of 5 billion US$. While Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive and isolated countries, this newly built region should be the window to the world in the future. But until this region will be a flourishing tourism zone a lot of things need to happen and we hope that not only the environmental issues in the Caspian Sea will be solved until then.
Human Rights Watch 2014 Report | Freedom of Press Ranking 2014 | Article in Radio Free Europe about the PWA event | Article in Radio Free Europe about Awaza | Ecosystem Caspian Sea | Environmental Issues Caspian Sea | Travel Article about Turkmenistan in the UK Telegraph | “Jennifer Lopez performs in Turkmenistan” by Rolling Stone
Oliver-Tom is 23 years old and has won already several Youth World and Vice World Champion titles in different classes (Aloha, Formula, Mistral One Design, etc.). He has been on the PWA tour for some years and at the moment he concentrates, besides studying and working in his father’s windsurfing center in Eckernförde, on organizing his Beginner2Winner Academy for the summer.
Links: Facebook | Beginner2Winner Academy
Text by Oliver-Tom Schliemann
So, here we go another adventure starting for me. Turkmenistan, a country I have never heard of before and which wasn’t on my bucket list. But the PWA offer us the posibility to experience new countries and learn new cultures. Gunnar Asmussen and me left from Hamburg, where we got told that we probably will not reach Ashgabat, as the plane is fully booked. Our trip went over Istanbul, where we met other riders like Gonzo Costa Hovel or Pieter Bijl.
From there we went to Ashgabat with all other riders together. At Ashgabat the staff from the event was already waiting for us. I must say the organisation was excellent, everywhere a smiling face trying to help. We had to wait some hours to get the connection flight and saw already the amount of windsurfing gear waiting to get to Turkmenbashi.
We got picked up at the airport and drove about 35min to the venue. The resort is amazing, it’s one of the most luxury resorts I have ever seen. The riders are staying mostly in the staff accomodation which are 3 people bedrooms with a bath. The top 16 are living in the villas of the resort.
You really notice the Russian influence, but all people and workers are very friendly and helpful. There is a big organization team that helps you with any problem. All riders get treated like stars and we can use all facilities of the resort for free like gym, spa, cinema, internet etc. The food is amazing!! All competitors eat in the main restaurant of the resort, with menus or buffet. (Editor’s note: Not sure about the food, as many other riders are complaining about diarrhea)
The beach is well prepared for the event with some shade for the sails and sailors and they have a huge watersport station with all possible activities like wakeboarding, sailing, windsurfing, tubing, parasailing, etc.
The climatic conditions are very challenging. First of all it is very hot with temp between 35-38 degrees and the wind is very gusty. Not gusty like a gust, 10sec nothing and then the next gust, but like wind for 5 min then five minutes no wind and then again wind. The forecast doesn’t look so promising but we never know.
I added some pics of the resort and the beach and will tell more the next days about Turkmenistan, the sailors and of course the action.
So stay tuned for more