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Interview with Toomas Pertel

If you think you have passion, well meet Mr Passion! Toomas Pertel is our Point-7 distributor from Estonia. It’s wavy? He will be out wave-sailing, it’s not wavy? He will be out slalom sailing. It’s cold…meaning freezing cold? If it’s windy he will crash the ice to go on the water!

Hi Toomas, you are one of those distributors who are not giving up any minute to windsurfing if it’s windy. How did you get into windsurfing, and why you decided to become involved in the industry?
I got the very first taste of windsurfing back in 2005, when my highschool classmate Margus came to Hiiumaa during his Summer vacation and he had his beginners windsurfing kit with him. Obviously i wanted to try it and after long time of just uphauling the sail i got to windsurf for 200-300m or so. I was hooked. And eventhough i didn’t windsurf any more that year, in 2006 i bought a second hand kit and it escalated from there. I made quite quick progress during the next couple of years, mostly due to my stubborness. I always used boards too small for my skill level so i always had to learn a new skill quickly to be able to enjoy it. I was using 103L board by the end of the 2006 and switched it to 94L next year. It was fun to bump and jump, but at some point it all became stagnant. My main hobby at that time was actually music and i played guitar in couple of bands. Windsurfing was somewhat in the background. I still windsurfed 20-30 sessions a year, but it was kind of superficial. In 2013 i was a part of the organising team of Estonian wave competition and some kind of switch went on. It was so inspiring that suddenly i wanted to become a better windsurfer and start wave sailing at some point. At that time i was making 10% of jibes on starboard tack only, port tack jibes were something of science fiction. So i decided to search for some winter destinations where to participate in some kind of clinic. I found some info about Tenerife online and decided to go there for a couple of weeks. My buddy Peeter joined me and so we went. We were fortunate to meet with Musso and even get a couple of lessons from him and it was a major boost to our motivation. The whole Black Team was training in Tenerife at the same time and Jordy was actually working at TWS centre. So we got to know the brand a bit more and after coming back home we decided that why not take this adventure a step further. The most impressive factor was the Team based mentality and that’s what got us.

You sail in every condition and in every time it’s windy. Looks like Estonia is a windy place. How are the spots there, and how many people like you also sail in the cold winter you have in your area?
Last year i had about 150 sessions in Estonia so i guess you could say it’s a windy country, especially if you have the slalom gear. I’m living on the island called Hiiumaa. We have plenty of spots here for all the disciplines, but the most magical spot is obviously Ristna. Most probably it’s the best wave spot in Baltic Sea. It works with so many wind directions and with S-SSW winds it’s perfect port tack side-off shore. When it’s firing, people from Finland, Latvia, Lithuania etc. come here to ride the waves. I guess conditions wise you can compare it to Klitmöller. Regarding waves, there’s another very good spot called Vääna on North shore of mainland Estonia. But it works only in side-on direction. For slalom and bump’n jump conditions we have a ton of different excellent spots all around the country, i just wish there were much much more windsurfers to take advantage of all the goodies nature is providing us.
Most seasons we can windsurf for about 8-10 months a year but it includes Nov/Dec and Mar/Apr when the temperatures are way below 10 degrees, very often just 2-3 degrees. Add a bit of windchill and it’s freezing. And this is actually too cold for most people. It’s a huge challange to go and battle in waves in 2-3 degrees. We wear thick wetsuits, thick boots, gloves, hoods etc. and it demands quite a lot physically. And the brain freeze hurts like hell when you get washed not to mention how fast you lose the energy when you’re swimming. As i said, it’s a huge challenge but when you hit that lip at the most critical time and ride out of it, makes it all worth it.

You are also organize events in Estonia. How are you involved and how many people turn up?
I think that the event we are most proud of is the Ristna Wave Classic. It’s a wave competition for Estonian Championships and Fun Wave which is for “Pro’s” and “Amateurs” respectively. I think the best turnout was back in 2015 when we had 15 competitors in Championships and 8 in Fun Wave. But we do a few other events aswell such as FUN Race series Hiiumaa stage where the average attendance is about 30 people, the season opener together with one hour race with about 10 people. During 2008-2014 we did the Hiiusurf windsurfing camp. It was a supernice event and the latest years over 400 people were there attending. It started out as a small event between our own club and a group of friends and grew into the huge event. That was actually the main reason we stopped, it became more like work and less like having fun with friends. For us windsurfing is all about fun.
In addition we are trying to to do as much as possible to develope the windsurfing in our country. We are proud sponsors of Estonian Slalom series.
And we are sponsoring and supporting a few young and very talented riders and trying to help them to reach the PWA level.
From this year i’m the responsible board member for slalom in Estonian Windsurfing Association board.
So i guess you could say i have quite a bit of windsurfing related stuff on my plate 🙂

You travel a lot also for windsurfing and you also always take a group of friends with you. Which are the places you run away too?
To be honest, I don’t travel that much for windsurfing as i get to windsurf at home for almost 10 months. But ever since the first Tenerife trip back in 2014 it has become kind of an annual tradition to go there for about 2 weeks. The first year there was just two of us. The second year it was already 6 people and the year after 13. So more and more friends wanted to join the trip and it actually makes it much more fun. El Medano has kind of become our winter home, you know every corner and every locale 🙂 Lately i have been thinking about other destinations aswell but it’s the most South destination where we have a direct flight (to avoid all the hustle with the gear baggage) from Estonia to and the Winter weather in Medano is exactly the same as Summer in Estonia. So it’s all very convenient and familiar. And the spots are great, for all the different levels and disciplines with quite consistent winds, so i’m afraid i’ll be going there for many years to come.
Also, this year i managed to escape to Lake Garda for a week due to Point-7 distributor meeting and i was actually really amazed. The small towns are pretty much the same as home and the windsurfing possibilities for freeride and slalom are just amazing. I managed to go windsurfing 6 days out of 7. I definitely want to make this trip as an annual tradition aswell. Other than that, if you live in a paradise you don’t really have a need to travel for windsurfing a lot 🙂

How important is it to spend time on the beach windsurfing and not only in the office when working with windsurfing? How do you see the mix.
Actually, I’m fortunate to call everything regarding windsurfing a hobby, even the business side of it. I’m running a wood processing factory as a day job, we produce the products such as floorings and wall panelings. And since my children are already grown up i can consider the windsurfing as my mid life crisis 🙂 I really enjoy everything about it. To be part of the brand such as Point-7 is a true pleasure, it’s like being a member of the family. And it allows me to get really deep into the industry. I’ve always liked to get into deep in everything i do, especially if it’s something i really enjoy. I want to know and learn all the smallest details about everything. Sometimes it feels more like an obsession instead of the passion but that’s who i am and that’s how i do things. I really take every opportunity to go windsurfing and fortunately, the main slalom spot is just 3 minutes away from my factory, so in most cases i don’t even have take the time off from work. Ristna is a bit further, but still only 45 minutes from home. The only time we take time off from work is in Autumn, when it gets dark early and the conditions are sick.

As you are doing all disciplines in windsurfing, have you thought of foiling as well?
What a nice question 🙂 I’m doing waves and slalom these days. Regarding the foiling, it’s really not my cup of tea. I like to be in contact with the water, feel the waves and the chop. But you never know. 3 years ago i was all about waves and slalom seemed like too much work to me and look at me know. Training hard during winter to be able to take the full advantage of the season and to be as fit as possible.

Tell us the story of when you found your sail you had lost at sea, after months.
Yeah, the Christmas day 25.12.2015 was a dark day. Wave and wind conditions were epic. I made a mistake during a top turn and the white water just ripped the gear out of my hands. I tried to swim after it but the current was so strong and the cold water drained my out of energy so fast that i couldn’t catch it. At one point i had to decide to stop swimming after the gear and swim to the beach before i would be in trouble. I had a little rest, took my bigger board, rigged a 3,6  as the wind had increased and went in again. I landed a jump on the rock, catapulted and broke my ankle as the front foot was stuck in the footstrap, broke fins, the fin boxes and the footstrap inserts. And the worse part was that our annual Tenerife trip was only 8 weeks away. I had a cast on my leg for 6 weeks and after it was removed, i worked really really hard on the rehab during the remaining 2 weeks before the trip, doing 5-6 rehab sessions a day to rebuild the muscle. My only goal was to be able to windsurf on that trip. And believe it or not, i windsurfed for 6 days out of 8 windy days during our stay in Tenerife. Of course i tried to be as safe as possible, using the ankle support all the time, not using the foostraps during the first session etc. but by the end of the trip i was planing around in footstraps, jibing and even riding waves, obviously backside, but still. It was a hell of an effort and it shows that nothing is impossible.
And then, exactly 3 months later, hikers that do an annual around-the-island hike in Hiiumaa, found my gear lying on the shore, 26km downwind from the spot it went away, completely in tact and in supergood condition. In retrospect a lot of things went right that day. The wind direction changed, the sea level dropped after it was washed on shore, and in a week the snow came so there wasn’t even any sun damage on it. The bigger board got repaired, the ankle healed so the bottom line was actually that there are happy endings after all.
The clip about finding the gear is here:
https://vimeo.com/160441789

What is Point-7 for you?
To me Point-7 is windsurfing. And it’s all about windsurfing. It’s the passion or obsession for windsurfing if you will. I feel like we are part of it instead of being a business tool. We have grown together and the connections has become tighter and tighter. I try to share the same feeling to all the Point-7 friends in Estonia as well. We are a Team, the Black Team!

 

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