Laurence is New Zealand’s 2012 national slalom youth champion. He also came 5th in the Open Men’s division, leaving 25 men in his wake. And he won the youth division of the AWA Auckland freestyle champs in 2011.
We asked Laurence some questions.
How old were you when you began windsurfing? What attracted you to the sport?
I started windsurfing when I was 14 as I had an interest in sailing. I had done sailing for the previous 2 years and skippered a 420. I however had a thrill for speed and a little bit more impact. When I saw windsurfing on the TV, with people doing forward loops and speed runs, I couldn’t not get involved.
This led to my dad trying to teach me and us not talking every night. So I ended up getting lessons at ‘The Auckland Windsurfing School’ in Pt Chevalier. This is where I have done most of my sailing and training and is where I now teach also. It is defiantly my windsurfing location of choice. Pete Smith has taught me from beginner and still helps me today with his vast experience from coaching overseas.
What gave you the motivation to join in? Did you get much encouragement from the adults?
In most competitions there is always a youth presence other then myself, and it is growing. However, as there is often not enough to create a fleet of youth, we often race and compete with the open men’s. This however I find it very beneficial as it provides a high intensity, and great training.
My main motivation was the fact in order to improve. You have to compete to see where you need to improve. This has lead to me doing events I do not do all the time, however the variation improves my sailing as you can learn things from wave and freestyle which help slalom etc.
What was it like competing in Curacao with other juniors, and again in Maui?
Curacao was an amazing trip which was only made available due to people’s generosity to help me get there. Although we only had one day of sailing, the trip was definitely worth it. I recommend people to do as many international events as possible, as that is where you truly see how good you are. My best and most useful trip however was my trip to Maui, this gave me access to amazing conditions and invaluable training with pros.
Do you want to make windsurfing your career?
Windsurfing is definitely something I take seriously. I don’t plan to make a life long career out of it, however I do plan to do as many international events as possible, and also do the PWA for at least a year. In order to do this I not only windsurf as much as possible but I also cycle and go to BTS gym. I find that to do well you can’t just do one sport, as you get bored. This is why cycling and the gym are good, as I can still do it to help my main sport, windsurfing.
What gear do you use? Why do you like it?
The sails I use are North Sails. They feel the most comfortable and have the largest wind range of any sail I have tried. I use Carbon Art boards. These are definitely my first board of choice after trying all the major brands. This is because they are again very comfortable and are amazing to gybe. You can also rely on them as they are not just another board made in Thailand! My fins are Meanline Fins which are designed by Kai Hopf. They are the fastest and most controlled fin I have tried. I find that when it gets windier they sail better and better, and when you are overpowered they almost get more comfortable.
What is your favourite kind of windsurfing?
That would have to be Slalom as I love the speed and the fact there is a definite winner. However I enjoy doing all styles from wave to formula as they each give an insight into something new and different.
Do you find enough opportunity for your windsurfing in New Zealand?
Windsurfing in NZ provides many opportunities to compete. There is the Auckland Slalom Series, Wellington Harbour Blast and also the Slalom Nationals, to name just a few of the slalom events. Then there are all the wave events like the Taranaki Wave Classic, and the Wellington freewave. However, sailing overseas is always very beneficial, as it is not your comfort zone and you have to learn very quickly.
What kind of support do you get?
I am supported by North Sails, Carbon Art, and Meanline Fins. I am sponsored by BTS gym, which has helped me out a lot over the past year. I am involved with ‘Team 10’ also, which has made things much easier. This is a group of windsurfers who all ride the same gear and train together, which provides great testing. If it wasn’t for Team 10 and the generosity of the organizer, I don’t quite know how I would have access to so much gear.
Have you met many obstacles along the way?
Of course I have had obstacles, however you need to make those obstacles something you can use to improve.
Edited to add: The most recent results just in: Laurence came 2nd in the Gold Fleet in the Auckland Slalom Series, competing against the adult men.