Women/In the Spotlight
Sarah-Quita Offringa - Interview with Continent Seven
Sarah-Quita Offringa won 8 Windsurfing World titles, has been competing for 11 years and recently changed her sail sponsor. She is fully motivated for the upcoming season and will compete in Freestyle, Wave and Slalom. We thought it was about time to catch up with the exceptional windsurfing lady for a bigger interview.
Continentseven: 2015 started already, 2014 is history. Wasn't it a wonderful year winning another title or competing on Maui or rocking the tow in event at La Torche?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yes it was indeed a wonderful year! It felt like a "break out" year for me. Because I finished my studies and was able to compete in everything I wanted to. Three disciplines and quite some new locations for me. With all the stops combined it was definitely a fun, challenging and excitement filled tour! You definitely named some of my highlights, but I have to add a few more highlights: Finishing 3rd in waves in Tenerife (WHAT ?! That was beyond my expectations), Indoor in Poland was an absolute rush! Let's keep pushing for these events!! And New Caledonia, the surprise event of the year. Who would have ever known we would have such a great event in such a beautiful location to end the year with?
Continentseven: You had a very hard crash just a few meters before the finishing line during the last Slalom event at Noumea. How are you doing right now?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yes I did! I didn't want to settle for a second place finish and pushed too hard, but then lost control right before the finish line. I overextended my back during this crash. Now about 6 weeks later, the stiffness in my back is gone but it's still sensitive. Apparently that's because I still have an inflammation in one of the disks in my lower back. I went back to Maui after NC and sailed the whole week. Now that I'm back in Aruba I've been going to the physiotherapist and chiropractor. I can go windsurfing if I like but just need to do extra core exercises. All good.
Continentseven: In 2014 you had no sail sponsor. Was it a strange feeling, being 7 times World Champion and no sail company was interested to collaborate with you? What were the reasons you were not able to seal a deal?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yes, I went solo in 2014. I didn't seal a deal simply because it was the end of the year when I contacted other brands and there was no more budget left. Not even for me ;-). It wasn't a strange feeling. I realized there was a possibility of not having a sail sponsor for the next year. And it actually happened, so I had to bear the consequences of declining Gaastra so late in the year. I don't regret any of it though. This whole year I was hustling for equipment, but I was also able to try out different brands. It was a big eye opener for me and I've learned a lot!
Continentseven: But having no sail sponsor, means also less pressure, less responsibility, too. Did it feel differently having no sail sponsor? More free?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: I think, that if you're in the right team it shouldn't feel like you have pressure to perform anyway. When you're in the right team you're happy with the responsibility you have and proud and motivated to sail for that brand. The pressure I felt this year came from my self I think, and mostly from not being organized with my equipment. It's hard switching between brands. Nothing works the same and it takes time to get used to. But then again that's just because I wanted to do all the disciplines. If I had stuck to one discipline for the year it would have been a much smaller issue. Mostly I was just praying for my booms and masts not too break, because I didn't have any spare ones hahaha. All in all it worked out just fine!
Continentseven: You have been competing for 11 years and won 8 world titles. Has your life on tour become harder or easier, if you compare it to 8 or 10 years ago?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: I've done the full tour for 9 years now. Yes things have changed. I'm a few years older now! I was 15 when I started coming on tour. Back then my parents were always with me. Which was easier because I only had to think about windsurfing. I am very grateful that I had my parents with me ! But now I think it's more fun! You get to do everything yourself. Which can be tiring but being able to organize what you want, when you want is way more satisfying. By now I know how everything goes on tour and l feel like the PWA is my family. I love this tour and the people in it!
Continentseven: What are the difficulties nowadays compared to the difficulties in the beginning of your career?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: At the beginning of my career I only needed to focus on windsurfing. If I think about it now, the hardest part was separating competition from whatever was happening on the beach. I would lose my focus on the water sometimes. Now I'm able to fully focus on my heats no matter what. The hardest thing for me now is basically managing all the travelling and competing by myself. I do get home sick when I'm on tour. But at the same time when you get to your destination and surround yourself with all your windsurfing and travelling friends, it puts it all in perspective and makes it worth it.
Continentseven: In 2014 you sailed on many different sail products. In Slalom you used Jordy Vonk's 2nd set of Point-7 sails. In Freestyle or Waves you were on Severne, Sailloft Hamburg and Gaastra. But, none of these brands will support you in 2014. It is NeilPryde. How did this come about?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yes…! Well I had already corresponded with them during the year. But in Maui I saw Robert Stroj and Arnon a lot. And from there I had a talk with Robert Stroj and the team manager about possibly joining the team again.
Continentseven: NeilPryde is not really new for you, as you were sponsored by NeilPryde from 2006-2009. How does it feel being back on Neilpryde?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: I had to leave back in 2009 because they had to make a big cut in their budget. But during the time I sailed with them I never had a problem. The relationship was easy and good. Based on that and the chat I had with the team manager and sail designer I felt like it was the right way to go. Also, the team riders are very inspiring to me: Arnon Dagan, Robby Swift, Antoine Albeau, Antoine Martin & Olya Raskina just to name a few. I feel happy and motivated to be back on the NeilPryde team.
Continentseven: Will you participate in all three disciplines? Wave, Freestyle and Slalom?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yes! I won't be able to help myself. Windsurfing is so much fun. Every single discipline is. It was a great challenge this year to switch between disciplines, but I loved it. And I admit that I have a harder time getting on slalom equipment, but I think after New Caledonia I'm more motivated than ever before. Let's do this !!!
Continentseven: Which sail model will you use and did you already test some sails?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: For freestyle I'll be sailing The Wizard. I'm hoping this sail will take me to Steven van Broeckhoven's level this year. Hahaha… nah, I'm kidding. But it looks really powerful and that's what I like in my freestyle sails ;-). The Combat for waves as it's the most versatile in the wave sail line. The EVO will be my mean machine for racing.
Continentseven: What's your plan for the winter or the upcoming months?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Big travel plans for a small island girl! My focus is on improving in waves. Between now and April I'll be travelling to Australia and Maui for that. In between I'll stop in Aruba and hopefully Bonaire to focus on freestyle and slalom. Australia has been on my list for a while so I decided to just make it happen. I'm going to baby sit for Laure Treboux so she can go sailing and train for the upcoming season. Hahaha.. wishful thinking !
Continentseven: And did you set any goals for 2015, yet?
Sarah-Quita Offringa: Yeesss 1 big one. PWA DOMINATION IN ALL DISCIPLINES. Muahaha…Actually… my goal for this year is spilling over to 2015 and maybe even longer. Getting my bachelor's diploma was my biggest goal last year. Now I can focus on my dream travelling to places I haven't been before and I hope that in the mean time I can progress and learn more in windsurfing….The secret goal that has been creeping in my mind though: Doing double forwards… what do you think ?! Gotta think big no !?
Continentseven: Yes, that's a goal. Good luck for 2015!
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