Words: Jacopo Testa
Pics: RRD International, PWA/JC
The second instalment of our ‘making it’ series features RRD sponsored rider Jacopo Testa who spent 2017 jumping from one event to the next (EFPT, PWA) whilst trying to squeeze in the odd bit of windsurf training. Fortunately this paid off for the Italian wave sailing trickster who was crowned European Freestyle Champ. We caught up with Jacopo to see how being a professional rider is for him.
You’ve had a full on year of competition. Take us back to the start and tell us how the season began.
It has been a busy year of competitions and travelling. The season started at the Neusiedl am See in Austria where I got a third place at the initial stop of the EFPT. From there it was straight to super windy Tarifa, Spain, for the second round where I placed third again. Following the event I spent a month training before going to the Canaries by car. Once the van was in Lanzarote I flew back to Lake Garda where I won the fourth national freestyle title. Then it was back to Lanzarote where I won the EFPT there – big satisfaction!
I then had the chance to compare my level with the wave guys at the PWA comps in Pozo and Tenerife. Back to freestyle and in Furteventura I achieved a fourth place whilst over in Sylt I placed third giving me third overall, which I’m stoked about. Then it was onto Holland for the final EFPT comp, which was a great finish to the season. I was also crowned European Champion there!
Did you have any specific things you were going to focus on to help achieve your results?
This year I didn’t work as a windsurfing instructor. I focused entirely on my personal sailing. I windsurfed at home in Sardinia, in Cape Town with a few other Italians on the tour, Maui and Tarifa. All those places, with their different conditions, helped my training. Riding with friends saw me improve a lot and be ready to any kind of conditions.
Doing both PWA and EFPT events must be a slog. How do you cope with competing in so many events? What do you do to unwind and prepare for the next?
I participated in eight international events and it was not easy to organize every trip because some are attached to one another. Many times I would come to an event the day before the start. I’d then head straight out to practice – I almost never had time to rest. I think I’ve been windsurfing every day during the season. My training schedule was two sessions a day for about 1 hour or an hour and a half with a lot of stretching in the evening. This was on top of any competition.
Also doing wave and freestyle must be tricky. Did you find it tough balancing the two disciplines?
I still find wave sailing difficult to perform 100%. I do not score many sessions per a year and usually end up with big breaks in between. I felt rusty at some comps, especially with the riding side of things. Freestyle is the discipline that I have been practicing for more than ten years now and I’m comfortable in all conditions. Riding in waves has improved my jumps which is good as some FS events, like Fuerte, Lanzarote and Sylt, all have this element.
How do you feel your level is when compared to other pros – in both wave and freestyle?
Competitions are a good thing to compare yourself to others. Personally I watch all the riders during heats or when in training. I spot different ways to approach a move or a wave ride that I never think about normally. I get inspired by them – everybody can teach you something.
Do you think you can take the overall title in either (or both) disciplines?
I don’t know, the level is high and close between each rider. I’ll train hard to improve my skills in both disciplines though. In time we will see.
What will you be focusing on in your training to be ready for 2018?
I will focus on some training out of the water, making stronger a few parts of my body that are weak. And lots of stretching because some muscles and joints become stiff following crashes. In terms of moves I’m gonna train in the right spots that can make me improve faster and help me learn what I’m missing.
Have you had to make sacrifices to be a competitive windsurfer at the highest level? If so, what?
When I was 18 I decided to leave my studies, move from my home town Milano to Sardinia where I was working 6 months per year, sailing in my free time and travelling during winter. Slowly I started competing on the EFPT, later on the PWA, with better results year on year. In 2017 I quit my job as a windsurfing instructor because I knew it was right for full time competition. Everything has paid off – my expectations have been exceeded!
Do you find it hard being a pro windsurfer? In particular what aspects are tough?
It takes a lot of willpower. Sometimes we are discouraged when we do not see the results we hoped for. I’ve always taken windsurfing seriously. At the same time there are no instructions to do it well. Friends give good advice but it’s not easy to go out all by yourself and make it work: many of us have jobs, then travel and train around this. Some write articles, post photos and videos on social media, organise events, while a bunch are always searching for new sponsors. Some riders help develop new gear. In the end it is not easy to be a manager of yourself but you have to learn – it comes with time.
Tell us how you plan to spend the rest of 2017. Any specific plans or is it now just time to rest up?
The European winter is at our door for sure. Daylight is getting less and few storms are arriving in Sardinia at the moment. I feel it is time to migrate to Cape Town, probably at the end of November until beginning of February.
Thanks and praise?
Thanks to my family and friends! And thanks to my sponsors: RRD, JungleSurfShop, NaturalBoom, Al360 and DaniloLanteriFins.