The undisputed storm chasing champion of the world
Last weekend saw the final mission of the Red Bull Storm Chase take place in Cornwall, southwest England. The third mission truly delivered epic conditions as winds of over 60 knots and 10 meter waves bombarded Cornwall’s coast. The beaches of choice over the third mission were Gwithian and the Bluff, each of which produced some amazing, if at times heart-stopping moments, but it was once again Thomas Traversa (Tabou / Gaastra) who produced the standout out performance. The Frenchman has consistently shown his appetite for huge waves and howling winds, and has finally been rewarded by being crowned the undisputed Red Bull Storm Chase Champion! Now just a couple of days after the final mission we managed to catch up with Thomas for an interview. Read the interview below:
PWA: Red Bull Storm Chase Champion! Huge congratulations, how does that feel?
TT: “Thanks!!! I’m super happy... I feel like this is my biggest achievement competition wise...”
PWA: You won in Tasmania and now in the UK! What is it about storm sailing that you seem to enjoy and makes you one of the best sailors in the world in such gnarly conditions?
TT: “I don t know, I think that this kind of event only gives me positive pressure. I am sailing against the conditions and not against someone else, and all what matters is to go big, so I am not stressed at all when going to the water, more like excited!”
PWA: How did the conditions on Saturday compare to anything else you have ever sailed?
TT: “Saturday morning was insane, we just felt like we were toys out there... As if we were sailing a normal side-shore spot but being ourselves at the wrong scale! The 3 other heats in the afternoon were held in more "human" conditions though...”
PWA: From the photos the whitewater looks absolutely huge, how tough was it just getting out the back?
TT: “It was kind of scary, and super hard as we had to go through those huge closeouts without even knowing what was coming behind. And behind every whitewater that we climbed the water was like a river trying to swallow you...”
PWA: Did you have and scary moments or big wipeouts?
TT: “The morning session on the first day was a bit scary, I really felt like a piece of floaty wood.”
PWA: Highlight from Saturday?
TT: “I had a big hit on a really heavy mast high barrel/close out, didn’t survive the landing unfortunately, got washed pretty hard and only came back to the surface to see Leon flying off a similar crazy close out, letting go in the last moment and getting annihilated!”
PWA: When you're sailing in storms do you ever get scared?
TT: “I dońt really get scared, it’s more like a huge rush of adrenaline, you don’t really have time to think much in this kind of conditions.”
PWA: If you do, how do you get passed that fear to still perform on a phenomenal level?
TT: “I just try to remind myself that it is a special moment, and that I have to try my best even if it looks scary. I kind of try to see only the good side of it.”
PWA: If you had to try and pick one moment, or your top three, what are the stand out moments for you during the RBSC?
TT: “The push-forward of swifty in Ireland was just insane, specially in this 60knots+ wind! For me the best moments happened in Tasmania when we scored these super clean heavy waves at BOL. That was pure fun!”
PWA: You've chased storms and big waves throughout your windsurfing career. Do you think this helped you come out on top in the RBSC?
TT: “Of course it helped me a lot, because travelling to a new place to ride good waves was nothing really new to me. This is probably the only advantage of living in a place where the waves never get any big.”
PWA: What is it about big waves and gnarly conditions that you love so much?
TT: “I like the challenge, the surprise factor and the adrenaline you get from riding big and gnarly waves. It is a unique feeling, to try putting yourself in the most critical position you can, and hopefully make a big turn or a deep late air on a wave you don’t really wanna fall in! It’s all about finding the balance in between risking it too much or riding in a conservative way.”
PWA: What equipment were you on?
TT: “On the first spot, I used my I.Q 3.3, it was very very strong! Then I only used my manic 3.7 for the rest of the event, on Saturday afternoon and sunday morning. The board I used is the same one I had on the 2013 PWA World Tour, a 65L round pin Tabou prototype with a quad fin set-up.”
PWA: Many people wrongly think that because you are one of the lightest sailors on the tour that you would struggle in howling wind and huge waves, but actually you are the one with the most control! Why do you think that is?
TT: “Because I am light, it is common for me to feel too much wind in my sail. And being a bit out of control is not such a big problem when you don’t need to get 3 different jumps and 2 waverides done in 12 minutes like we have to on a PWA even. For the RBSC it is all about going big, and to go big you kind of need to be out of control in a way!”
PWA: After your fantastic victory how will you be celebrating?
TT: “I am heading to Tenerife for 10 days of sailing and testing with the Tabou / Gaastra team, so hopefully we will celebrate there! And then of course I am looking forward to celebrate with Sophia, my family and my friends at home!! Maybe with the prize money Sophia and me will be able to go on a nice trip too!!”
PWA: Thanks Thomas, and congratulations once again! Have a great rest of the winter.