PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Q&A with Philip 'the kid' Köster
by Matthew Pryor / Karina Kold on 22 Sep 2012
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup – Klitmoller, Denmark: In his first major interview since retaining his world title, Philip Köster, the Boris Becker of windsurfing, answered questions sent in from around the globe by fans. The 18-year-old German windsurfing Wunderkind and 2011 and 2012 PWA wave world cup champion, revealed what makes him tick and how he makes time stand still.
Koster on the slide - 2012 PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup © John Carter / PWA http://www.pwaworldtour.com
Köster told a global audience, watching by livestream, how he felt the pressure this year, why he doesn’t have friends his own age and how he started doing his already legendary jumping after a stranger gave him their board on the beach. Köster, who thanked his parents for not making him do homework, admitted that the biggest sail he had managed a double forward loop with was a 7.2 metre slalom sail - but advised not to try this at home.
Host: Sebastian van den Berg
Sebastian van den Berg: After becoming champion in 2011 was there more pressure this year?
Philip Köster: I was under a bit more pressure than last year. Last year everything was new, I was out there not really thinking about it. I won every World Cup event. This year was also pretty amazing, I won in Pozo and Tenerife and now I’m second in Cold Hawaii. It was a bit tougher because defending your title is hard, you get a bit more stressed because everyone wants to beat you. But I managed to make it.
SB: In your final heat in Pozo it looked ridiculously windy what were you on?
PK: I think I was on a 3.7 metre board.
SB: A 3.7m? Take into account that this guy is 90 kilos. Will you have to go on a diet? Or will you be 110kg in two years?
PK: No, I don’t think so. I’ve been 90kg for over a year now.
SB: Do you think you’re still going to grow taller?
PK: I hope not.
SB: You were the youngest world champion ever in the history of mankind and windsurfing…?
PK: I think that was Robby Naish.
SB: But that was before wave sailing existed. Now world champion at 18, what’s your next goal?
PK: Defending it again and trebling. I don’t know, developing equipment. I haven’t really, maybe do the last year of school. I love to travel, so maybe do a surf trip to Fiji.
SB: Besides windsurfing, do you have any other dreams?
PK: When I was smaller my dream to become a professional windsurfer. I was at the beach in Vargas watching the world cups from my house. Three years there were world cup seeing all the pros. Then when I was 15 I won by first PWA event. Travelling.
SB: Have you seen the next great kid out there?
PK: There is one guy in Pozo, who is 11 or 12 and he is out there in every kind of condition even if I am on 3.7, he’s on a kid’s sail a three metre or 2.5m and he’s already doing forwards and having fun. I don’t know his name.
SB: A lot of top sailors live in Pozo, what is your connection to them?
PK: I live in Vargas and all the others live in Pozo, so it’s only 10-15km but I didn’t have a car and I had to ask my parents to drive me there. I didn’t want to ask them all the time so I stayed in Vargas. I didn’t have friends my age they were all 20-25, even 40. I was sailing with them and having a good time on the water and they’re pretty cool.
SB: I heard you train with John Skye (PWA world tour competitor), why him?
PK: His wife, Maria Alonza, is from Gran Canaria. She is pregnant, maybe she’s watching? She will have a baby in a couple of weeks. He’s a great guy, I ‘ve been training with him a couple of years and he was training me a little bit I think. I learned every kind of move with him, he showed me a lot. I was trying to beat him every time we were on the water. He’s a great guy. Now, he’s a little bit pissed (laughs) when I do everything good in front of him.'
SB: You dominate in side on shore port tack, what do you think is going to happen when the world tour get locations back like Cape Verde, Peru or Maui. Is that going to effect the overall title or do you think you have enough ability on starboard tack or super clean side off over mast high waves?
PK: Well, I’ve been travelling to Maui once or twice a year for years. I love it. I love to wave ride and side off is my favourite conditions. Off Gran Canaria it’s all side on so if you get side off it’s like dream conditions. It’s a dream for every windsurfer to be in side off conditions. Cape Verde is a great place and I hope to get there again. I was at the last PWA event there, but I was there a month and there was no wind.
SB: Now, we’ve got some questions from Facebook:
Marc Fokkinga: Are you doing the slalom tour next year??
PK: Yes, I will try to do Fuerteventura. I did a couple of slalom tours in the Canaries and came second place in one. I have to start somewhere.
SB: Will you be training with Björn Dunkerbeck, the man in the lead of the slalom tour? You live in the same place.
PK: We live in same place, but he’s travelling so much, I’m only there five times a year and you never see him there. You always see his caddy with his car driving around with his standup paddle searching for waves, but you never see Bjorn.
SB: He’s like a ghost.
PK: It’s hard to train alone. There may be some guys who train in Gran Canaria, they’re not professional but they’re also really fast. Maybe I’ll have to travel to do a bit of slalom. You need some guys to travel and train with in slalom, it’s really hard to do it alone.
Honza Mastfoot Vízek: What type of wetsuit do you use in Cold Hawaii and what´s your biggest gear??
PK: My wetsuit is a 5.4mm wetsuit it’s pretty warm and I really needed it because I was on the beach all day and it gets really cold with the wind. My biggest gear was a 5.6 metre sail and 87 litre board, but I think it’s a bit more, like 90 or 92.
SB: You have nothing bigger than a 5.7? If you had use something bigger than that you wouldn’t go out?
PK: Normally then I go surfing.
SB: How many boards did you bring with you? Landing double forwards you must break something every now and then?
PK: I brought 12 boards last year and this year nine boards. You never know how the conditions will be.
Morten Juul Madsen: What did you do, to come so far in such a young age?
SB: If you’d done your research you’d know his he started windsurfing when he was eight, his mum and dad used to run a windsurfing school. They were basically surfing before you were in born. You were basically windsurfing before you were inside your father’s body, right? Lots of people grow up in Gran Canaria windsurfing, but you become the very best, what’s the difference?
PK: My parents didn’t pressure me. I was doing what I wanted to do and with school they never saw it like I had to do school good to go windsurfing, so I went out when I wanted and I didn’t have to do homework every time and that was a good thing.
My parents helped me and my sister too. I was out on the water four or five hours a day when I was 12 years old and my parents didn’t try and bring me in to do my homework. I was totally free. My parents knew how it was they were windsurfers and they know the sport is great and you can’t really leave it.
Stefano Pavcovich: What size of board (length/width/volume etc.)and fins you used with such hard light wind on shore conditions?
PK: ?I don’t know the length, I think 2.28m or 2.26m.
SB: Did you develop this board with Scott Mckercher?
PK: He and Tiesta You, the shaper, give me some prototypes and if I like it we do a production but if not I say what I want to change, I send my feedback and they change the board and send it again. They are the main guys.
SB: On what kind of equipment did you learn how to windsurf?
PK: I learned on an old one, on a Mistral Energy, it was super slippery, but a great board for learning on. It was big. I was eight. A 2.0m kid’s sail. Then I sailed two years without a harness after that. One guy at the beach gave his board as a present, that’s when I started to jump, that really helped me and I think that’s why I’m here, because he gave me his board.
SB: Before you became a windsurfer, you were a swimmer?
PK: I had the Canarian 50m record for 10 years old. I’m super fast to get my equipment back after a wave.
SB: I got a question from one of the pros on the tour, what do you think of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria?
PK: It’s a great place. The best place for surfing is in the North, San Felipe, there are tonnes of waves you get lefts and rights. It’s 45 minutes from my house and I go every morning now I’ve got my driving license.
Gi Ibsganich: What's the largest sail size that you've ever tried a double front loop with??
PK: That was a 7.2m. I shouldn’t be saying that. It was slalom kit. Don’t try it out.
Renè Brinkmann: What would be the ultimate gear setup and spot to surf?
PK: That’s hard. I haven’t been to so many spots. Last year I was in Australia and I sailed Nalu, it’s a sick wave, it’s so long and you get so many sections to do airs and goiters. There my favourite gear was 4.5m and an 80 litre board and it was down the line. That was a perfect day.
Gi Ibsganich: I hear that you aim to do at least 15 double front loops in a good training session. Is this true?
PK: I think it’s more, but I don’t count them. Sometimes when it’s good and I don’t know what to do, I do three doubles in one run.
SB: I read you that you did a double front loop off the lip in Ho’okipa (Maui) and your explanation was that you didn’t about doing it before, it just presented itself.
PK: I think time is slowing down when you see the lip. I was thinking about doing a forward and I thought why not do a double.
SB: Did I just hear you say: 'time is slowing down?' So the moment it appears in front of you it becomes slow motion.
PK: Yes, I think so.
SB: That’s what Michael Jordan said. It’s called the zone, it’s like in the Matrix movie.
PK: Yes. When you do jumping moves too. When you do a push loop table, with the mast coming down that’s also a moment when you stop thinking about it. It’s a great moment, I have it there too as well.
SB: On which side - on the starboardside or portside - do you learn difficult moves first? What's the difference for you? Both sides equal? Or 60%-40%? Are there some moves that only work on one side but not the other??
PK: I think it’s about 60-40. Port tack I do it every day at home, starboard, I still have to learn some double moves. In Maui you never really think about jumping you only see the waves and do every wave move. But starboard is also important and I’ve put my time in.
Ane Cæcilie: How large an influence do you think your equipment has on you becoming the world champion again??
PK: A big influence. If the stuff that doesn’t work right you can’t win. If I feel confident on the gear I know I’m the problem if I don’t do it. If I lose an event I never really blame the gear, I think about me, what did I do wrong’?
Anja Hudoklin: If I and mine friends come to Pozo, can we stay in your house??
PK: Not really, it’s a big house in Vargas, but I have so much stuff in there, half the house is full of windsurfing gear. My parents say: ‘you have to clean up your house.’ For this, I’d have to clean up.'
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