The life of a professional windsurfer is a lucrative one, not many make it right to the top and are able to make a living just from competing. The dream for many is to live in a windsurfing mecca, work in an enjoyable job that offers progression as well as the much needed time on the water and flexibility. Now Boardseeker catches up with one man who has found a fantastic balance, with his own company on Maui Dan Ellis windsurfs, works and generally loves life.
All images credited to Darrell Wong and North Sails.
Name: Dan Ellis
Sail number: K52
Best results: 2008 IFCA Slalom World Champion, 5 times UK Champion, Asian tour Champion. 2012 Maui Race series unbeaten in the open men’s division, Top 10 in both the PWA and Speed World Cup rankings for a few years!
Born: in London!
Current residence: Paia, Maui
Occupation: I help run a custom wood work and design company Pacific Millworks here on Maui. We make some of the coolest kitchens, bathrooms and doors in the world, amoungst other things. You can check us out at Pacificmill.com. I also test with North Sails, helping on the Warp race sails.
How long have you windsurfed competitively for?
Oh boy a long time. I did my 1st competition in 1989! My oldest trophy names me as youngest entrant at age 11.
What are your windsurfing aims for this year?
I want to win the Maui race series pro division and help keep North at the front of the race sail pack by pushing forward with development.
How did you progress into the career you are now in? And how do you balance this to get maximum time on the water?
I’ve always liked designing and making things. From a really young age I loved helping my Dad and at school CDT and Art were my favourite subjects. In 2003 I got a degree in Design for Production from the University of Brighton and continued this path.
I then raced on the PWA tour for 7 years. Once I stopped full time competing in 2010 I put my effort 110% back into designing and woodworking and just windsurfed when there was time.
That’s the great thing about being in Maui. I drive past Ho’okipa twice a day and if it’s good I can normally sneak in a quick session, even if I’m really busy with work. Now that I’m doing more testing with North I just have to balance my time to I get plenty of sailing in and still keep my clients happy! We have a saying “Maui Midnight” which is about 8pm, you get up early and try and cram as much as possible into the daylight hours.
What would your advice be to someone looking to get into a similar career?
If you love working with your hands and using your brain then go for it, but whatever you do give it everything you’ve got. Good things come to those who work hard, it just makes it easier if you can have fun while doing it.
Alongside your work what other involvements do you have in windsurfing?
I’ve been doing more and more testing with North the last couple of years and it’s really interesting to be part of the team. Being involved with Kai Hopf and Peter Slate on the development really opened my eye’s to the amount of skill and effort that goes into making the best sails and it’s a pleasure to be part of it. As amazing as a good wave at Ho’okipa is, it’s still hard to beat a maxed out run on a slalom board hanging on for dear life and trying to inch out in front of your test partner. I’ve also been putting Mean Line fins and Bluesmiths clothing through their paces. There’s no point having a great sail in your hands if you don’t have a good fin under your feet and if you’re spending hours on the water ordinary board shorts just don’t cut it!
What are the best 5 things about your lifestyle?
1: I get to wake up every morning with the girl of my dreams, who also happens to be my wife.
2: I’m building a career for myself that I love doing and has endless possibilities.
3: Testing for North keeps me windsurfing competitively, motivated to get better and push the limits.
4: I live and work 5 mins from Ho’okipa and get to sail with the best guy’s in the world and dream of getting the perfect wave ride!
5: on the few days a year there’s no wind I get to throw a paddle board around on some pretty decent waves.
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Boardseeker Windsurfing Magazine » – Boardseeker Windsurfing Magazine
Click here to read more: Boardseeker Windsurfing Magazine » – Boardseeker Windsurfing Magazine
North Windsurfing released their F 2013 WARP elite-level Slalom racing sail.
Available in sizes from 5.2 to 9.6 below is the Press Release info.
SAILS DESIGNED TO WIN PWA SLALOM RACES HAVE DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS IN THE DIFFERENT SIZES:
1. Large sizes need to inflate very easily so that when you sheet in or pump the sails the power comes on instantly for immediate acceleration.
2. The smaller the sail the more focus is set on having the draft locked in (both horizontally and vertically) and the sail not moving around excessively.
Usually sail designers tend to use the same design parameters (twist pattern, aspect-ratio, sail foil tension) across the whole sail line. This results in some sizes being much more competitive than others.
For example our last years’ 7.8 was perceived as the most competitive on the circuit. On the WARP F2013 Kai went one step further. He and his team checked the best sizes of all competitor sails and then went into individually adjusting the flexibility of each and every size. This we call SIZESPECIFIC.FLEXIBILITY.
In general you can say that the smaller sizes (up to 6.3) have a lower flexibility. This allows for the board and rig to be placed in the optimum trim for top-end speed (locked-in characteristic). You just keep on getting faster and faster the harder you sheet in and the stronger the wind gets.
On the other hand the larger sizes have a higher flexibility. This improves the low-end acceleration as the deep profile pulls you onto a plane while the reactive top reacts as a “valve”. This higher flexibility also makes these sails much easier to pump. The outcome is simply amazing. The smaller sizes are even faster now.
The biggest improvements though were made on the larger sizes. The 8.6 is the most competitive sail we’ve ever made in this size.
It is much more flexible which makes it easier to accelerate and pump, yet the high-end control and v-max is on the same level than last years’ model.
The 9.4 got replaced by a 9.2 and a 9.6. This enabled Kai to individually design this biggest size of your quiver to the rider weights: riders below 90kg should take the 9.2 as their biggest sail as it still has an even better acceleration and low-end power than last years’ 9.4.
The new 9.6 is designed for heavy and powerful riders above 90kg. It is the most powerful slalom sail we’ve ever built.
> 01 New: SIZESPECIFIC.FLEXIBILITY Individually adjusted flexibility for each size to perfectly match the conditions and different rider weights.
> 02 PRONOUNCED.PROFILE.DEPTH for advanced camberrotation, deeper profile and more punch when accelerating, without compromising the handling
> 03 Radical weight reduction thanks to the 7.BATTEN.DESIGN makes it the lightest racing film sail on the market
> 04 MODERATE.CUTAWAY.CLEW Reduced “blow-out”effect for increased power and direct acceleration
> 05 INSTANT.ROTATION Much faster acceleration after shifting through HYPER.CAMS and modified batten profiles
> 06 Continued weight reduction due to minimalized MINI.PROTECTOR and super light iROCKET batten tensioners
> 07 INDEPENDENT.SHAPING.CONCEPT improves rotation, control and acceleration
> 08 TWIN.TRIM.CLEW allows for individual tuning increasing the range of use
“Across the board the sails have become softer.
Biggest changes are in 8.6 and bigger with the addition of 9.2.
The 9.2 was introduced as some of the team felt for their weight last years’ 9.4 was too
By the time racing occurs with PWA wind minimums they were already overpowered.
Goal with 8.6 and bigger was to drastically reduce the amount of force it would take to
inflate the sails.
This helps to improve the out-of-jibe performance and getting planing both static and
I believe we found the right compromise as going too soft makes the draft / center-ofeffort
Key to performance sailing is being able to trim your equipment to the optimum
position, having a rig where the center of effort is constantly shifting makes this task
What we have achieved on 8.6 and bigger is that you can pump yourself on the plane in
less wind then you can actually keep planing.
The smaller sails get more emphasis on the center of effort being completely locked in
making it even easier to find that optimum trim and holding it to continuously increase
“When developing the Warp F2013, we focused on improving the perimeter tension in
the smaller sizes (7.8m and down) and softening the bigger sizes (8.6m and up).
In the smaller sizes, we achieved the our goal by reducing the luff curve in the top third
of the sail, which improved the twist and keeps the fullness focused in the middle and
bottom of the sail.
In the bigger sails, we reduced the overall luff curve, and increased the negative
shaping to double down on softening the sail.
Testing against our 2012 Warps and other competitor brands, we are very happy with
the softness and increased ability to pump the bigger sails. The reduced luff curve and
new shaping allows for a very stable sail that is fast and light in the hands.
We are very happy with the Warp F2013, and are confident you will be too.”
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Click here to read more: Windsurf Magazine
Incase you have missed any of the news this week, here’s a recap of the best bits:
On Monday Andre Paskowski joined us for a LIVE CHAT, while Sam Ross sung us his mantra ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and Boards own freestyle coaches, Phil and Danielle from GetWindsurfing, shared their upcoming plans.
Tuesday saw the Boards print editor, Amy Carter, taking the reins on the website too.
In competition news, the weekend wind provided results for both the BSA in Weymouth and the Irish Speedsailing Championships, and we received a great report from the last SWA event of the season. The BWA are set for Wales and Ireland, which starts a week today.
The top news story of the week has to be from W4CR, with SunriseSunset this Saturday, windsurfers across the country will get together, for what is a worthy cause and an event to make all windsurfers proud.
And W4CR ambassador, Bryony Shaw, is live on Sky Sports Radio today (don’t worry she will upload the mp3 for those who miss it) a great opportunity for our sport to get some mainstream media coverage in the lead up to what should be a very successful year for the Olympian.
And don’t forget we have Dan Ellis reporting every day, from the PWA in Korea look out for this first update tonight!
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Boards Windsurfing » Windsurfing News
Click here to read more: Boards Windsurfing » Windsurfing News