Lena Erdil is a professional athlete, works for the Starboard marketing department and launched MyWindstories.com to provide a platform for women in the windsurfing sport. Apart from regular blog posts about female personalities in the sport and industry and a forum for exchange between fellow windsurfing girls, the two ladies behind it want to lift womens windsurfing levels to new heights by offering camps in various locations. Even though 2020 has hardly been on anyones plan the way it evolved, there are still exciting things to come in 2021.
EFPT: Lena tell us about your new project? What was the idea behind it, who is in your team…
The MyWindstories team at the moment is my good friend Katharina Seelack and me. We got to know each trough sharing the same appartment in Hamburg and it was “friendship at first sight“. Kathi as well is a passionate windsurfer and works as a physiotherapist and athletic coach. Last year we made a windsurf road trip together where we realised that both our expertise and passions for what we do is the key to build such a project together.
The name MyWindstories was born out of our believe in the power of sharing stories as a means of building a community. Windsurfing and the stories created through the process of learning to windsurf, travelling, exploring new spots, meeting new people and most importantly sharing this common passion are very powerful binding aspects. A common love for windsurfing deeply connects us to each other without even knowing it.
Through windsurfing I have met and become friends with so many inspirational women, while also having witnessed a lot of discrimination against women. During my career as a professional windsurfer I have become a bit tired of constantly being in a minority. So the idea for MyWindstories has actually grown out of the need to do something to get more girls onto the water and help build a stronger community amongst the girls who are already windsurf addicts. At the same time I had the desire to connect all the amazing women athletes that keep inspiring me on my own path and be able to share their stories all in one place.
Our windsurfing camps and future events should make the circle complete in that they give our community real live events where we can meet, connect and learn from each other. I think there is something very empowering about the feeling of belonging to a community and I hope that MyWindstories will be able to create this feeling especially for those girls who maybe are missing it when they are in an environment surrounded mostly by men. I love windsurfing with my partner, my dad or training with other guys, but windsurfing with other girls pushes me on another level and it would be amazing if with MyWindstories we achieved to share this feeling amongst more girls and help to grow our community.
EFPT: You are an athlete, work for Starboards marketing department and now launched ‚My Windstories‘. When do you sleep?
Having taken on a part time job for Starboard and created MyWindstories within the same year has definitely had a big impact on my ‘free time’ – that is I don’t really have that anymore 🙂 Well my time that I spend training on the water now seems like free time 🙂 ! Especially at the beginning, new projects always demand a lot of time, so I am putting in the hours and learning new skills while I’m at it. I am lucky that all my jobs feed into each other and skills that I learn for one can easily be applied to the other. I’m also flexible with my hours and all of my jobs leave me plenty of space to be creative, so despite the many hours I feel really lucky to remain flexible.
I think many people also underestimate the work athletes have outside of the hours training on the water or the gym, emails such as interviews and communications with partners, producing videos and photos for sponsors, making travel and living arrangement to and from events and training camps with small budgets, nutrition and eating healthy all takes a lot of time.
EFPT: Do you have a personal connection to freestyle windsurfing and will there be coaching clinics run by ‚My Windstories‘?
A personal connection for sure, talent I am not so sure haha. I love to try new moves but since my love affair with waves started I have chosen to spend all my freesailing time waveriding so I haven’t had any progress in freestyle sailing in years! Still stuck with only my Vulcan and Spocks. At the moment we haven’t planned a freestyle specific clinic.
A cooperation at the moment will only be possible in that we promote other girls Camps, which we are definitely keen to do. I think we will leave the freestyle coaching to Arrianne, Sarah or Oda. Actually Olya Raskina was also doing windsurf girls Camps called ‘windsurfing beauties’ so maybe she would also be keen! With Kathie and MyWindstories we want to focus our camps on free riding, slalom and foiling for now.
EFPT: What is the best part of being a women in this sport?
Wow that’s a difficult question I never felt a specific advantage because of my gender. I guess it is easier to get attention as in many environments there are fewer women than man. I would also argue that it is still easier for women to get to a internationally competitive level then it is for most men, surviving at that level is of course an entirely different question.
EFPT: What do you think is the worst part of being a women in this sport?
The financial disadvantages and having to deal with the outdated ideal that men deserve to get payed more. It’s getting better and of course not all men are like that but having lived through many situations were fellow man competitors openly argue that women are worth less than men has really sensitised me to this subject.
I feel that in race foiling being small is a clear disadvantage for carrying the equipment especially when there is a shore break. But that is the same for small men. Being less strong in general can be a disadvantage, but we just need to make up for a lack in strength through technique. That’s also why I think it can be really helpful for girls to learn from other girls.
EFPT: If you could change certain things in the windsurfing world / industry, what would it be?
I would introduce equal points on the constructor ranking of the PWA and equal price money at all events. When more women are able to be professional windsurfers and support themselves financially through the sport I am sure that the pool of women will grow as well.
EFPT: Who inspires you?
Many people inspire me in different ways, but most of all those who are fearless enough to follow their own path and dreams. I am actually on a mission to introduce all the women that inspire me on the MyWindstories Blog. So make sure to become a member, men are of course also welcome! When you sign up you can post on the forum and you get notified when we make a new post on the MyWindstories Blog. Other Girls are also welcome to send us stories for the blog or can apply to become guest bloggers.
EFPT: What should be emphasized more in this sport?
Equality for sure. I feel like all our equipment and technology has become more and more progressive yet we are stuck in this outdated world where men allow themselves to say that it’s ok that women earn less for performing the same because we are fewer in numbers. It actually still deeply shocks me each time I think about it or am faced with a situation where it becomes apparent. We humans quickly adapt to most situations and accept them as the new normal, but it is up to us to talk about where things need to change and point things out. It’s also up to us women in windsurfing to stop taking on the victim roles and living with the attitude that we deserve less then the guys because they are stronger, jump higher or sail faster.
We need more women in the sport so that we can compare and compete with one another and stop comparing ourselves with men. More women in the sport will also help to grow the sport in general which will be great for everyone involved.