Words: Justin Dennington
Pics: Justin Dennington, Jaanboy Photography, BWA
Justin Denninton is one of the most enthusiastic windsurfers you could meet. Ever present at his local beaches, Marazion/Gwithian, you can be sure that if there’s a decent forecast JD will be on it, checking in and letting know other sailors what’s what (before hitting it himself that is. We tapped up the Windjunkie owner for a goss.
Tell us where it all started for you.
I first tried windsurfing when I was in Cyprus with the forces, I was about 20 at the time and one of the guys used to race for the Army, I then had another go about 6 months later back in the UK when we were at a small training camp near Saunton Sands, the kit then was heavy tie on booms etc and huge long boards, I did enjoy it but it pretty much fizzled out as I was doing a lot of other sports like football and drinking. I left the forces a few years later, moved back home to Cornwall and continued with surfing which I had done from about the age of 9. At 30 I built our house in Marazion and had some money left over from the build, so decided to invest in some windsurf kit, for the first 5 years I was a weekend sailor sailing at Stithians lake. I taught myself to water start (spending hours just floating in the middle of the lake) and getting in the harness, and straps with help and tips from the other guys who sailed there, but will never forget that feeling of the board getting on the plane for the first time, the acceleration….and the buzz!!!
Do you still sail at the same location or is that old hat?
Stithians has changed a lot now from the old porta cabins, and has an excellent water sports centre offering tuition etc for the new generation of up and coming rippers. I don’t sail at the lake now as after that 5 year period my ability slowly (after many weekends) allowed me to venture to the coast and I started sailing at Marazion Beach, and getting
into the waves and jumping, which was a whole new chapter of learning things and meeting new friends.
What about your first piece of windsurfing equipment, what was it? Do you still have it?
My first board was an Alpha 190, and a 6.5m NeilPryde sail with cams, going to pick that kit up was hilarious, as I had a rusty old escort cabriolet and I had bought the kit as a complete package, including a one piece mast, how I didn’t have an accident or cause an accident on the way home with all that kit rammed in the car with the top down is a mystery. I don’t have it anymore as like most people in the sport, we have to sell what we have to fund the newer stuff.
Tell us about your current gear and why you love it.
I’m currently a team rider for JP/Pryde, and the the kit is outstanding, I use the 89 Thruster Quad as my bigger wave board, usually set up as a thruster as it gives me plenty of release, especially when its more cross on This board also has a more traditional tail sohas a bit more volume under the back foot and is super quick. My smaller wave board is
the 83ltr Radical Thruster Quad, set up as a quad, I love this board, when the waves are cleaner and the DTL, this board is insane, with the wingers it feels more like a 73ltr under the back foot which is amazing on a clean wave. Both boards are tuned up with K4 fins, I use the Ezzy fronts on both boards but change between stubby, flex, Leon and Scorcher in the rears depending on conditions, I always used to think a fin was just a fin but as my sailing has progressed, I can feel the difference the different fins give me on a wave, they are an awesome combo. For my sails I use the NeilPryde Fly 3 batten, I’ve been using 3 battens sails for quite a few years now and although I don’t think they are an around sail for everybody, to me they just feel great, light, responsive, sometimes when its DTL you almost forget there is one on the mast, I love the neutral feel on the bottom turn, and the wind range is huge with the natural twist off the 3 batten offers, and I can seem to hang on to it when other are changing down.
If there’s one piece of gear you could bring back what would it be and why?
I love the look of the old retro 80’s/90’s kit. I think everyone should have an old retro board and rig in the shed and bring it out once a year for a retro day or comp, how cool would it be seeing all the old retro kit with the lightning bolt graphics etc, on the water again.
Where do you mainly sail and what attraction does your backyard hold?
I live in Marazion, north to south coast for me is 15mins, which makes it one of (if not the) best places in the UK to be a windsurfer. Maza, Praa Sands, Gwithian, The Bluff and a few other spots I’ll not tell you about….haha. There is not a wind direction you cannot sail here, we can have amazing cross on starboard tack jumping conditions on the south coast, but also Praa can offer DTL, and is a super fast hollow wave which can pack a hefty punch if you screw up, and then we have G, which on its day is a world class DTL sailing spot.
Which is your fave location globally, and why?
As my main business (Plusprint) takes up a lot of my time, its difficult to get a week or more away from it so have not travelled that much globally, I’ve had a few trips to Gran Canaria, but I do go regularly to Fuerteventura which is my favourite destination. I’ve been travelling back to Fuerte every summer for the last 7-8 yrs, I have made some good
friends there and with its trade winds is a great summer training ground when the UK is pretty windless. The north coast reminds me of Cornwall with its diverse locations of DTL and jumping, my favourite spot would be Punta Blanca on the north coast, for me it’s like a rocky version of Maza.
And in the UK?
My fave UK location would be Gwithian, Cornwall, pure DTL heaven when its on! But the Bluff comes a close second as it can offer an insanely long wave ride.
Talk to us about your local crew. Who do you sail with and enjoy après beers with?
There’s a great local crew here and all super friendly that I sail with, the usual’s are Jan Sleigh, Andy and Steve King, Blackie, Andrew Fawcett, all super talented sailors who go big when the conditions go big, the banter in the carpark is always first class as well.
You work in the windsurfing industry, owning and operating Windjunkie. Tell us more about your business and how this fits into your windsurfing life.
….the business, it kinda came about after I had a few cheap deck plates failed on me all within a month. The first wasn’t too much of a drama, the second left me at G on a big day in the impact zone and rip taking numerous sets on the head, and all but wrecked my sail. That £20-£30 saving on a cheap deck plate was now the difference between the cost of a new sail …or not. The nearest shop is Mylor which is a good 45min drive from the usual beaches, its amazing really to think that this area is a destination for windsurfers, yet no local shop If you want anything you would have to order it online. Windjunkie was born, in an attempt to bridge that gap of having a local shop and an online shop, but more importantly stocking and selling products we believe are some of the most durable on the
market. I hold as much stock as possible and carry spares in the van, which have been welcomed over the past few years at the beach. As I drive past Marazion beach every morning to work I put up a beach report on windy days to give everyone a heads up. The business fits well into my windsurfing life as already being self employed I am able to be at the beach regularly and if anyone needs anything it’s there in the van or close by at my workshop.
How do you see the windsurfing industry as a whole? What do you think’s being done right and what could be improved?
There seems to be more people windsurfing now than there were 10 yrs ago, which I think is testament to the R&D being done in the industry. We’ve seen the progression in user friendly beginner kit and is really evident in the last 5 years or so with foils and the new shorter parallel rail boards, social media has also had a big impact on the industry which has allowed us to all post up pics and videos of our killer sessions, which is great along with things like live streaming on global events. I think the only negative is the release of new kit every year which dramatically devalues the very same product, although I don’t see a way around this from a trading perspective. On the up side this does have a positive effect on the second hand market, if your looking for second hand kit, there’s plenty about and at a good price.
If you could change just one thing what would it be and why?
I would love to change the age that I started windsurfing, we all know that learning and progression is quicker and easier the younger you are, I would love to turn the clocks back to that first time on a board back in Cyprus, as I would certainly make sure that was the start to my windsurf life and not wait another 10 years making learning and progression as slow and painful as it has been. My daughter tried windsurfing on a trip to Fuerte 6 years
ago,….. we found out she had a bit of natural ability, but at her age (14) it was sickening the pace she picked it up Gibson pretty much had her planing on day 2!!, we got back to the UK, and a friend taught her to water start in 2 hrs, I mean c’mon!!!, I spent weeks sat in the middle of that bloody lake learning to water start…
Give us a snapshot of where you see windsurfing in five years.
Hopefully Windsurfing will keep growing as it has done steadily in recent years. We are also seeing huge development to the foils from a few years ago, and seeing what Kai Lenny is doing with a foil on waves ….…..who knows?? I think there is a lot more to come from the foil tech in all areas of sailing.
Who inspires you and your sailing?
I get inspired a lot by the guys here at my local breaks, many of whom are pro level and also the guys I compete against at the BWA events. I love going out when say someone like Kingy is hitting huge backies, it fuels me, I pretty much sail the whole day with a ‘can do better’ attitude, it pushes me more and more with my own sailing.
Anyone in particular help you along the way and got you to where you’re at now?
Yeah for sure, there are many guys here locally who have all had an input at some point as my sailing has progressed. Recently Andy King has been super helpful with the backloops, but Fuerte Amigo Stephen Gibson is where the rotational jumps all started, he taught me to forward a few years ago now, although at the time I didn’t think it would ever happen. I pretty much spent the whole week bailing (I have pics…haha), and then quite literally on the last day of the trip the wind was marginal, it looked like it was all over, but Gibson gambled and we hit Punta early on a low tide and……….well the rest is history as they say!!. He has also helped me with my backloops on recent trips.
If you weren’t a windsurfer what would you be?
If I wasn’t windsurfing I’d probably still trying to play football (but not too many are at 46).
Got any burning windsurfing ambitions still to tick off? If so, what?
A trip to Maui is still on the cards. I would like to hopefully learn at least a few more jumps and moves before I fall apart (and hopefully not fall apart trying) and just be as competitive as I can at the BWA events for as long as I can.
What are your plans for 2018 windsurfing wise? Any trips planned for instance?
I won the BWA Masters wave title back in 2016 and that fuelled me even more to compete, I was hoping to defend that title in 2017 and was training hard, but had a bad knee injury early in the year which resulted in an operation later in the year, hence I’ve been off the water quite a bit over the last 12 months. But I am hoping to come back to competing this year, if the knee is strong enough. I’ve already booked to go back out to Fuerte this July for some training, which hopefully will be a good test for the knee prior to the BWA Tiree and other 2 UK events.
Any final thoughts on UK windsurfing in general?
The UK is a great place to be a windsurfer, we may not get the consistency of prolonged periods of trade winds etc but for me the UK has always delivered a good mix of conditions, and has some amazing locations that are mostly within everyone’s reach for that few days on a forecast trip. At 46 I still have that same passion and excitement about
going sailing, if not more so now than I ever did. I don’t know of any other sport where I just switch off from everything else that’s going on, I totally get immersed in the moment, from the pain of the crashes to the euphoria of succeeding a new move, it never gets old, you never master it, there’s always something new to try or learn, maybe that’s the attraction, the endless search for perfection. For me a bad session on the water will always beat a good day in the office.
Thanks and praise?
I’d like to thank all my sponsors past and present for their amazing support over the years. All the BWA masters who make the fleet so competitive year in year out, you all rip!!. Most importantly a big up to Tracy my wife, who has been such a supportive windsurf widow all these years, allowing me to spend so much time doing this great sport, supporting me at events, nursing injuries, (especially recently helping me with my knee rehab) and generally listening to windsurf jargon that she really didn’t understand. She has recently started her own business as a SUP and SUPfit instructor, and I’m super happy to be spending even more time with her on the water……..obviously when its not windy!
For more JD info check out – http://www.windjunkie.co.uk/