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: 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.

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