Canadian Phil Soltysiak quits after 12 years of competing on the PWA World Tour – including seven years ranked top ten in the world. “I felt like my best years on tour are behind me!” says 31 year-old Phil.

We caught up with Phil to speak about the reasons behind his retirement from the World Tour.

Phil Soltysiak - Pic: Continentseven

Phil Soltysiak – Pic: Continentseven

Interview with Phil Soltysiak

Continentseven: After 12 years on the PWA tour you announced your retirement from the tour. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind your decision? 
Phil Soltysiak: Well I’ve been doing the tour for 12 years and it definitely felt like my best years on tour are behind me. There are so many young guys pushing the boundaries of windsurfing and to keep up with them you got to be giving it 110% every day. I had a great opportunity to move to a great windsurfing spot, live there, and have a more regular job, while continuing to represent my sponsors. It was a great opportunity at a good time in my career, so I very gladly pursued it and here we are today! I now work with Sailworks who are headquartered in Hood River.
And does the decision still feel right? You had a guaranteed place for 2019 with the 12th overall from 2018.
I feel great about my decision. I’m stoked to live in North America’s windsurfing capital. Hood River is North America’s best and most popular windsurfing destination, and I’m happy to have it as my back yard. 
As far as being qualified for the tour there are many deserving the riders that will make good use of this opportunity to have me forfeit my qualifying position.
What positive experiences did you make in these 12 years?
I have endless positive experiences from my years competing on the PWA. There is no way I can account for them here, but they definitely shaped me into who I am today, and I’m proud of that. I have no regrets pursuing the PWA World Tour for the years that I did, and would not trade the experience for anything else. 

Phil Soltysiak at Hood River – Pic: Bob Stawicki

What will you miss most?
When I think about it I do miss hanging out with all the riders on the tour, they’re a great group with a ton of energy, dedication, and they’re always pushing themselves. They know that they have an open invite to come sail with me in Hood River, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more freestyle pros training and making video clips on the Columbia River. 
 What were the most disappointing moments?
The most disappointing moments are whenever you are held back by injury. I had multiple shoulder dislocations earlier in my career which were always serious setbacks, but luckily I found excellent doctors to help me move beyond those problems. I also had a few other minor injuries that were disappointing, especially when they affected my performance at competitions. 
Did you fully recover from your shoulder injury and are you 100% fit after so many years on tour?
Yes, I fully recovered and am thankfully 100 % fit and healthy. 

Phil Soltysiak | Arlington Rooesevelt

What were your biggest successes on tour?
I’ve had many successes on tour and I won’t ever forget them. For example I sailed out of my skin in Lanzarote one year to finish the event in 4th place. I also managed a final in Fuerteventura one year, and a 5th place overall at the end of 2016. 
I also once managed to check in 4 extremely overweight and oversized board bags for free, which any pro rider will tell you is a great success and a moment you will never forget.
When you look back, how many days of training did it need to keep your level in freestyle?
When you compete at the pro level and want to do your best you train every day. Every decision you make is with your windsurfing in mind. Days were never wasted, if I was not windsurfing or training physically, I was either purposefully resting or traveling to train or compete. To compete on the PWA World Tour and do your best you have to dedicate your life to the sport. 
You not only competed, you as well were very active within the PWA board. Do you feel you could change things positively? 
I hope I contributed positively to the discipline. I put a lot of time into the live scoring system and I’m happy to see it used. I was also for lowering the fleet to 32 riders and to limit heats to man on man only. I think it’s better for competitors and spectators alike, and the riders who are not qualified have the opportunity to apply for wildcards if they believe they so deserve or to qualify through a very successful European Freestyle Pro Tour. I hope the freestyle riders continue to take responsibility for the betterment of the sport and the discipline, and I look forward to seeing future improvements to competition, scoring and sport structure. 

Phil Soltysiak | The Wall

How important is the discipline of freestyle for windsurfing?
Extremely. Freestyle catches the eye of the younger generation and attracts them to the sport. It also greatly influences wave and freeride equipment development, and entertains the entire windsurfing world. 
Is there  a chance you will return on tour in the future? 
I plan to continue competing in North America in freestyle, Slalom and wave events, but I will no longer be competing on the PWA. I do not plan to return. 
Many world class freestyle riders started a career in waves. Did you think about that?
I love wave sailing too but I don’t plan to start a new career in waves. 

Phil Soltysiak | Home Valley

What are your plans for the future? You have a few trips on your wish list  and you not only like windsurfing.
I’m on my way back from the OBX-Wind event where I won freestyle ahead of Youp Schmit and Aaron Etmon, and did well in Slalom and long distance. I’m back to Hood River this week to do some work for Sailworks and windsurf. If there is no wind I will mountain bike, and on the weekends I’ll try and get some wave sailing days in on the coast. My friend is sending me photos and telling me the skiing is still excellent on Mount Hood, but I think I’m putting my skis away for the season. 
Will you continue to train freestyle to keep your level?

Yes I will keep sailing every day and keep pushing myself. 
Thanks for the interview and good luck for your new chapter in life!