Friday, March 7, 2014

Fun. Health. Energy.

It was in spring 2006 that I first met Nina Tanhofer and Žiga Hrček, a Slovenian windsurfing couple, joining one of their windsurfing camps in El Tur, Egypt. They were bursting with passion and energy, willing to share with us whatever they knew. In one week I have learned more than in years trying to do things by myself. Today, after much time has passed, and I have much more experience under my boards and sails, I still think I would profit from joining them again sometimes. And for beginners - by all means, they are one of the best you can find around if you want to learn windsurfing and having a great experience while doing it!

This is an interview with Žiga - one of those lucky (but also deserving) persons who managed to make a living from windsurfing.


SWS: Who is Žiga Hrček?

Žiga Hrček is a windsurfer! Defined by my education I am a psychologist, by the skills I have learned I am a graphic designer, by the papers a certified windsurf instructor and trainer but defined by soul: I am definitely and simply a windsurfer!

SWS: You are one of the rare individual I know who made a living from windsurfing. Is it right? You are full time professional? How did you manage to do that and do you think you can continue with it for life?

You could say I live from windsurfing. Once I have started to run our windsufing school together with Nina Tanhofer it seemed like all life events and decisions in the past got sense: traveling, taking part at competitions, teaching and working in summer months in windsurfing center in Bol... How did I manage this? First of all with choosing the right partner. I had experience, vision, professional knowledge ... but still without a motivator and someone who pushes you to strive for your dreams and without a perfect organization you can't run a professional windsurfing school. And Nina is a good motivator and a perfectly organized person. With years she became an experienced windsurfer too, and on the other hand I became more organized because of her. :-)

Žiga & NIna
SWS: I attended couple of your windsurfing camps and I was delighted with the service, the professional approach and, of course I learned a lot. What is the secret of your teaching? Why people love to join your programs?

The main reason is teaching on the highest possible level. We teach on a basis of the knowledge that we gained through thousands of courses we made in the past. We use different technical approaches, different accessories, different up-to date video supported techniques ... But at the end I would say the secret is to combine all that with relaxed and encouraging atmosphere which is present all the time...

SWS: If we set aside your work as a windsurfing instructor, how about you as a windsurfer? Why windsurfing? Can you tell us the reasons why this sport became the focal point of your life? Why not skiing, or... sky gliding, or whatever? What is so special in windsurfing?

Well, you are right, I also started to ski very young, much before windsurfing. But thanks to my parents having a small holiday cottage on the Slovenian coast, I spent every year only a week or two on the snow and almost 4 months on the sea. I was five when I got my first windsurf and my father taught my brother and me some basics. And then all summer months changed totally…

SWS: If you imagine a perfect day on the water, how would it look like?

Of course as any windsurfer I can be picky with the conditions like good wind, nice waves, warm sun etc., but what really brings a smile on my face is a good company. To windsurf with good friends together for hours… this would be my perfect session.

SWS: Soulwindsurf.com gained quite recognition for pointing out an inner side of this beautiful sport. What do you think about it? Do you experience something like "ecstasy" or "the Zone" when you are out there on the water, with the wind?

It is difficult or impossible to describe the feeling that windsurfing brings to someone who never tried. And there is no need to describe it to someone who experienced it. :-) I could say pure joy, adrenaline, speed, action etc., but I will never say enough.

There are many other ways to get more speed, but still rarely you can feel it so directly like planing on the water. The same is with jumps and maneuvers. But after years and years of freestyle and wave windsurfing it happens that I am still fascinated about the feeling of planing only caused by a wind.

SWS: When you are not windsurfing, do you enjoy in some other sports? How do you prepare yourself on physical level? What is your favorite non-windsurfing training?

My favorite "hobby" sport is stand up paddling. I love it so much I can't even call it a sport though it is a very good physical fitness. Lately I started to practice cross country skiing and badminton while my bike and snowboard wait in the garage for their time to come again. :-)

SWS: Let say I am a 25 year young. I want to learn windsurfing. Why would I come to your school? What is there to make my young life interesting?

By that age people still need strong and different stimulus. And windsurfing as a sport could offer much more than many other sport. It combines travel with new experience, new experience with effort, effort with frustrations, frustrations with success, success with happiness ... At every step of learning to windsurf there is a challenge and because of that, every success is more deeply appreciated. For this, it is important that an expert takes care that you improve fast and in the right way and that you avoid errors in learning. It sounds like a serious training but still there is a relaxed atmosphere. At the same time, through all this you manage to meet new people with the similar goals and at the end with the similar experience as yours. So... you get to travel, you get to get the tan, you get to see places, meet people, party at the evenings and yet you exercise, do sports, learn new things, beat yourself in your goals and by doing all that, having a blast in flip-flops.

SWS: On the other hand, let say, I just turned 40, never been windsurfing, and I wish to start something new, something exciting. Why would I choose to come to one of your camps? What will I experience? Can I come? Is it too late for me?

Some things about windsurfing go for all ages. All about traveling, meeting new people, facing new experiences and reaching your personal victories is the same for people of any age. As for the party part ... That is normally not a priority. :-) It is never too late. Actually average students in our courses are between 30 and 40.  In this age people usually achieve the biggest success in their careers but they are still young by soul and need fun and exercise and the feeling that they improve also in physical way. In our camps they meet other people in the relaxing environment. They make new friends, connections or if they are single maybe find even life partners.

SWS: When you will be 65, do you think you will windsurf? :-)

Ha Ha… Sure. I never doubt about that… My father is almost 70 and he is windsurfing. My oldest student is 75 and still every time he is trying to land an air jibe and his goal is to land forward loop on his feet. So… the better question would be how old shall I be when I learn the last move or maneuver.

SWS: In the end, write 3 words that best describe the soul of windsurfing; what is windsurfing all about for you?

Fun. Health. Energy.

***

Well, in three words Žiga said it all: if you want to have fun, be healty and have aboundant energy, you know what you have to do - go windsurfing! :-)




Žiga Hrček is one of the founders of Quicksilver windsurfing school which grew out of passion and love for sea, wind and  waves. They welcome windsurfers of all levels - from total beginners to advances sailors, who want to acheive perfection in their skills.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Boa Vista

piše: Davor Stančić

All limbs healthy and accountable? Well... if you think about see creatures – there are plenty of them in Boa Vista and you can eat them all the time. They serve them for dinner. Every single day.

Who knows how Cape Verde got its name... there really is not much greenery. Maybe climate has really changed drastically from time the first sailors came there. Or they came in August when it’s rainy season and desert blooms. Or, maybe it was just some kind of irony. Whatever it was, the wind blows on Cape Verde, day and night. No matter, down or sunset – it’s windy, anywhere from 17 to 28 knots. It’s gusty, and it’s always from the same direction.

Cape Verde is some 600 km from the west coast of Africa. It was uninhabited until pirates made their home base there. When the Portuguese succeeded to root them out, Cape Verde was made a slavery trading port. The population is mixed, mostly black, speaking many African dialects. The official language is Portuguese. Tourism brought increase in population, which are now around 700,000 souls.

From the very beginning I made some comparisons with Dahab and other spots in Egypt. Life conditions are similar (below European standard), but you can immediately sense that social atmosphere in Cape Verde is more relaxed. I believe, it is mostly due to the fact that women here are free to work, move around and show their sexy bodies in very tight clothes! (I got an inspiration to sing the praise of beautiful buttocks and charming almond colored eyes of Creole women there!)

One interesting thing is local dance called Funana. It is quite erotic, maybe even more than erotic. The ladies tale a stick under their squirts and then make a well-known movements and sounds imitating the intercourse. The Church tried to ban the Funana, but fortunately, it’s still there!



Windsurfing

Well, back to the topic... Cape Verde is good for windsurfing from mid October to mid May. I was on Boa Vista, bigger, but not so much visited place, from the two main islands in Cape Verde.

Since I was satisfied with All Planet Sport Center in Dahab, I went to their place there, too. On Boa Vista there are only two windsurfing Centers. Unfortunately, the number of boards, sails and the rest of the equipment is not as I expected (half the numbers from, let say, Dahab). I was informed that on Sal, the other touristic island, 60 km far from Boa Vista, the windsurfing centers are much better equipped.

During my stay in Boa Vista, two last weeks in January, there was only 5-6 of us in the Center, and maybe some 10 more in neighboring Center. Kiters were in somewhat larger number. Even with such a low visiting rate, there was a shortage of larger sails. We used mostly 5.5 to 6.5 sails. There was only one sail in 7.5, but sometimes we needed it.


Flat zone in front of the Centre is cca 700 m in length. On the other side of the reef there are some surfs for wave riding. Temperature was like during spring in Europe. We used short sleeve wet suits, or even lycra. However, in the afternoon the temperature dropped due to clouds, so I found full wetsuit more comfortable.

Very attractive Czech woman who leads the Center explained to me there are sharks around, but since the water is shallow and there is not much food for them, only smaller specimens (1.5 m in lengths) sometimes come near the shore. The bigger beasts are usually on the south side of the island.

Unlike the other places I’ve been, you have to carry your equipment from the Center to the beach and back. The two "bellboys" there are mostly spending their time sitting and watching. Well...

All in all, if someone is longing for a warm and windy destination in December and January, Cape Verde guaranties everyday windsurfing in shorty. But, you will have to settle for poor equipment offer (or take your own with yourself).


Expenses

The whole package costs (via Italian tourist agency from Verona) between 1700 and 2000 euros. That includes travel expenses from Zagreb to Verona, two nights in Verona hotel and 14 nights in Cape Verde (4 or 5 stars hotel), all inclusive, parking on airport in Verona, flights, visas, transportation from airport to hotel, health insurance. Flight from Verona takes 6 hours directly to Boa Vista.

Latter I heard about another option Zagreb-Lisbon-Cape Verde for 1000 -1400 euros.

Renting of windsurfing equipment was 400 euro for two weeks (including transportation from the hotel to the Center – otherwise you have to walk for 40 minutes; taxi for that time would cost me cca 70 euros)

The hotel was very cozy, relaxed, with self-service for three meals per day. I usually skipped launch, because I was out there, windsurfing.

Since the arrangement was all inclusive, there was not much need for extra spending. Fish is very cheap, but the rest of food comes with European prices. There is no food production on Boa Vista – everything comes in with ships.

Is it expensive?

Well, I was thinking about that while watching other guests in the hotel. Mostly, they are fat, looking sick and lazy. They work for years under who knows what kind of stress, and then they buy one or two weeks off in such a place.

Local workers are getting 100-200 euros monthly salary. But they are looking much healthier, relaxed and livelier. They live without modern civilization, with the nature. (Well, in spite of that, their smartphones were better than mine!) In villages, there is no water in the houses. However, it is warm, they do not need heating. Basic expenses are low. You can talk and make love in the dark, too.

And when you expose yourself to the experience of endless sandy beaches, hypnotic rush of the waves, unlimited power of the wind, the broadness of the see and the sky... all that makes you think about the purpose and meaning of life; about how small you are in comparison to the Universe.

Your worldview expands and you notice how small is the very planet you are standing on, in the middle of the vast space. The breath stops. The thoughts stop, too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Eat Well and Windsurf Better!

by Domagoj Primužak

My dear windsurfers and all of you who feel like it, it's about time to bestir ourselves from the winter lethargy and startup preparation for the 2014 season.

I guess most of you spend winter days or nights in front of TV, eating all kind of delicious food, especially during the feasts. Some do it to drown windsurfing sorrows, but nevertheless, we all know an old windsurfing saying: „junk food is not good for planing“.

Therefore, the first thing I recommend to everybody is to reduce the food intake and to plan the menu carefully. Instead of 1 or 2 big meals per day, split the same amount of food across 5 to 6 meals along the day and thus speed up metabolism.

While eating several small meals throughout the day, our body gets signal there is enough food coming on regular basis and there is no need to store it in reserves (fat). Instead, food intake is used to maintain homeostatic state of our body and activates we perform during the day.

Now, if we reduce the amount of calories in these 5 to 6 meals, our body will receive regular but smaller food intake. Since it will be less than before or needed, body will start to consume its reserves (fat). This is the first step to get in better shape.

Next step would be to bring in cardio exercise as a weekly routine, at least 3 times per week. It could be cycling, skating, race walking, jogging, etc. This will speed up metabolism (fat burning).

Third step would be to fine tune daily diet to achieve nutrient rich meals rather than calorie rich meals. A few examples are listed below:

  • Use carbs with lots of fibers and low GI like oat meal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Personally, I have very good experience with whole wheat burger.
  • Combine carbs with vegetables. Let vegetables be represented with 50% on your plate and give priority to seasonal vegetables.
  • Don't forget fruits, apple is essential; one apple a day keeps doctor away ;-) Banana is good, but makes metabolism work slower.If you don't mind ethics, meet is very important as it provides essential proteins for your body recovery. Choose chicken breast, turkey, veal, beef, salmon and hake. Vegans and vegetarians already know how to enrich their menu with soy, tofu, beans, grains, etc.
  • Eat fish rich with oil; salmon, tuna and mackerel are typical examples.
  • Vegetarians and vegans can boost protein intake with superfood like hemp protein powder as well as hemp oil that speeds the recovery and repair of soft tissue damage.

Do your best not to eat late, consider 19:00 to be the time for your last meal. After that, relaxing walk session would be more than welcome.

And, never, but never forget to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.

Finally, once a week, Sunday or any other day that suits you best, it is necessary to have cheat day - the day when you will eat everything you like and eat as much as you like. Can’t believe it, but this will help body to boost metabolism and lose fat!

These were the tips how to reduce weight and improve our capabilities. But that is not all we need to plan. It is necessary to improve endurance too and this is exactly what we are going to talk about in the next article.

Monday, February 17, 2014

First time in 2014.

There was some very windy and beautiful days already in 2014. However, my sails were safely dry, while I was pursuing means for paying my bills. First windsurfing happened this Sunday, on light wind (12-15 knots), but enough to make me happy and smile. Košljun bay, island Pag, Croatia. Can't wait for the next time!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sun Salute

Previous article from the same series: Dart Vader Ujjayi Breathing

The Sun Salute, or, as called in Indian tradition - Surya Namaskar, is one of the most efficient warming up exercises I know.

This exercise stretches the whole body; warms up the muscles and prepares you in a balanced way for your beloved sport activity.

Before your training, as a warming up, you can do 10-15 rounds of surya namaskar, at fast or increasingly faster pace. Surya namaskar is also a very good cooling down exercise. After your training you can do again 10 rounds, this time at a slower pace, with longer stretching poses.

You can connect – actually it is good that you do it – the movements with a rhythmical breathing. If you can do it with Dart Vader Ujjayi breathing, even better.

In my experience, the Sun Salute decreases the time spent in warming up and preparing for windsurfing. For example, 5 minutes of good, fast rounds of Sun Salute, together with ujjayi breathing, is equal to 20 minutes of classical warming up with stretching, running, jumping, or such things. Actually, when on the shore most of the time you don't have enough space to do proper warming up. For Sun Salute all you need is two square meters of space!