At the young age of 26 years, Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard/Neilpryde) already made it to the all time ranking of the most successful windsurfers ever. The sailor from Aruba is undefeated in the freestyle discipline for ten years in a row and also holds several world titles in slalom, whilst consistently also making it onto the podium in PWA wave competitions. Sarah-Quita is also the reigning European Freestyle Champion of 2015 and 2016. Since we are approaching the final event of the EFPT and therefore also the EFPT ladies freestyle battle, we caught up with the Starboard/Neilpryde rider to talk about women in the windsurfing sport, the DAM-X 2017, competitions and her most memorable moments as a surfer – both, good and bad.
EFPT: You are 10 times freestyle world champion and two times European freestyle champion – so you are more than routined in competition sailing. The European Freestyle Championship for ladies will take place in Brouwersdam, Holland from the 12th – 15th of October 2017. There is always a struggle to find enough girls, who want to compete. What do you want to tell the freestyle ladies out there, about competing at this event to motivate more ladies to show up?
Sarah-Quita: Hello! I’d like to invite girls to come and check out the event here. It’s a great stepping stone to getting into competition sailing. Brouwersdam is a great spot to improve your windsurfing skills as the water is quite flat. More importantly though, I think it’s a great experience sailing with more girls. I sail with guys most of the time, but sailing with girls motivates me like nothing else!
Besides competing there are many more activities and it’s just a good time. In the end to me that’s what windsurfing is about. Having fun together and sharing this passion we have for wind and water!
EFPT: How would you describe the DAM-X event?
Sarah-Quita: What I love most about DAM-X is how the emphasis is on promoting windsurfing amongst the youth. There are so many kids there that sail amazing. It’s great that they are able to meet each other there and sail together.
Combined with the EFPT contest it’s a mix of serious competition and fun as there are other activities like SUP polo, night suping and of course a night out!
EFPT: What would you like to see in the future, concerning ladies freestyle?
Sarah-Quita: I think there are many women out there with a good level in freestyle. But maybe just a bit intimidated to compete. However I think the past summer, we’ve had some ladies competing for the first time and it looked like they had a great time on the water and were motivated to do better and get better.
I think the main thing is that we need more opportunities to showcase or level. With this one event in Fuerteventura, which is by far one of the hardest places on earth to freestyle, I understand that some girls rather not sail there. Having more events with flatter water would allow more women to show what they’re capable of. In the end, for me the goal is just to inspire more women and girls to get into this sport, or any sport. It has given me so many great experiences and gives you a sense of fulfillment when you finally stick a move that you’ve worked so hard for.
EFPT: How does it feel to be SO good in such a male dominated sport?
Sarah-Quita: Well I always want to progress. I’ve learned that the fun and excitement in windsurfing is really endless. The better you get the more fun it gets. I don’t see windsurfing as a male dominated sport. Rather a sport that is fun for everyone. Of course the guys level is higher, but what the guys were doing a couple of years ago, we are now doing as well. So I don’t put any limitations on myself as a woman. But rather strive to get to that higher level as well. Just because it seems the better you get the more fun you have. I’m usually exploding with excitement to go windsurfing because what if I make it to that next level that session!?
EFPT: Would you want to compete with the men?
Sarah-Quita: I compete to improve myself. It doesn’t work for everyone, but competition pushes me to do better. I don’t need to compete against men necessarily. Just compete against whoever is better than me so I can get to that next level as well.
Q & A
Favorite person to sail with and why
Kiri is one of my favourite sailors to sail with. He’s always there to give tips but also to show off haha.
Scariest windsurf ever?
I think that one time I sailed with a friend to one point of Aruba, and when we came back the winds was dropping and it switched so while coming back in we were sailing so far out that we were near the “tankers”. Those ships are HUGE and it means you’re really far out. We made it back but I was shaking.
Slalom, freestyle or wave?
Freestyle and wave for free sailing and slalom for competition. Switching it up keeps it fun!
Best windsurfing experience ever?
You know it’s hard to pick out a windsurfing experience. But maybe one of my latest sweet experiences was sailing Pozo in 3-4 meter waves on a 3.3. I was overpowered, scared to jump, got washed, but also had some sick turns! It was a special session because I have never seen waves like that there and I was out of my comfort zone. But looking back that was amazing.
General goals in life:
Oh I just would like to make the most of it all. This opportunity I have of travelling and windsurfing is amazing. Hopefully I can inspire some people along the way to do the things they dream of doing.
Goals as a windsurfer:
I want to get sooo much better at everything! But for now my main goal is improving my wavesailing on both starboard and port tack. I want to be able to hit every lip and float over the sections at ho’okipa, rotate through doubles and backloops in Pozo and sail some nice spots in Europe!
Most supportive human beings:
Mom, dad, brother, cousins and some friends that have had my back through everything.
Best moment on tour:
A great moment on tour was winning the aloha classic last year 2016. It was unexpected. On the last day the wind picked up and we were able to finish the double elimination. Ho’okip destroyed me the week before but in the double the waves were a bit smaller and I could handle it much better. I couldn’t believe that I managed to win that.
Worst moment on tour:
Ohh I had a slight breakdown at one of the events in Europe in 2014 after competing and being away from home too much. I’ve learned to handle and balance that a bit better now.
Best people on tour:
Too many people to name !! We have such a great group of girls in freestyle and wave. Very supportive but also motivating each other. Besides that in general everyone on tour is a character and a good time to be around.
Best travel memories:
One of my best travelling experiences was during filming for my movie Cabeibusha. Driving through Iceland and Australia was challenging but amazing!
A slalom crash where I catapulted and let go of the boom while still hooked in. I over extended my back. NEVER LET GO!
Shaka, Kono, one handed burner, a perfect forward.
Moves you are working on:
Backloops and stalled forwards in wavesailing, the double popping moves in freestyle like spock culo, double culo etc.
Your dream freestyle heat would include:
Skopu, one handed burner, culo, spock culo, kono, starboard tack
Shaka flaka, double spock, culo, kono, loop, ponch Port tack.
Challenges you would like to face:
Oohh like everyone else, I still would like to compete in a 10K run or do some marathon or climb the mount Everest haha. (No, at the moment I don’t want to sail Jaws)
EFPT: Thank you Sarah and all the best for the upcoming competitions!