PWA Rookies of the Year 2010

Duncan Slater

The PWA Unveil the 2010 world tour season rookies of the year.

The Rookie of the Year title has long been considered one of the most prestigious accolades to be awarded to aspiring windsurfers hoping to make their name on the professional windsurfing circuit. In the past years, the winners have included the likes of Philip Koster (Starboard / NeilPryde / Dakine), Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North) and Kai Lenny (Naish / Naish).

Joining this distinguished list of athletes, it’s with great pleasure that we announce the 2010 Rookies of the Year as Jamie Hancock (Tabou / Vandal) and Xenia Kessler (JP / MauiSails).

Jamie Hancock at Klitmoller
Jamie Hancock at Klitmoller

Hailing from the UK, Hancock blazed his way to 18th position overall in the wave rankings, and even secured a place in the notoriously elite lineup of the Cabo Verde World Cup. Both impressive feats for a tour rookie. Similarly, Denmark’s Kessler proved herself to be a force to be reckoned with after finishing 5th overall in the highly competitive women’s freestyle discipline.

Following the announcement of their awards, we caught up with both sailors to get the low down on their first seasons on tour.

PWA: First of all, Jamie, congratulations from all of us here at the PWA; what does winning Rookie of the Year mean to you?

JH: “Thank you!! I am obviously really happy as it is my first year on the PWA world tour. To achieve Rookie of the year is a huge bonus to a great year and really just confirms to me it was the right decision to step up and commit to the world tour.”

PWA: What was your highlight of the 2010 season?

JH: “It would have to be finishing 9th in Klitmoller. The conditions were not very easy and pretty unpredictable. So from a competition aspect, I was really happy to do well there. Also, to finish in the top 10 at an event in my first season was amazing.”

PWA: Historically, winners of the PWA’s rookie of the year award have gone on to do big things later in their careers, do you think you will live up to the expectation?

JH: “I hope so!! Really though, I am just enjoying my windsurfing. This is a great achievement but I also know the standard is very high and everyone will be giving everything they have got for 2011. Either way, I will certainly be improving and continue to do my best.”

PWA: What are your career ambitions in windsurfing?

JH: “I have always wanted to be a professional windsurfer, that is as far as it got. There is no elaborate master plan, if I am at a contest I will try to win each heat one at a time. Besides the competition aspect, spending time on the water is what means the most to me.”

PWA: What are the strongest and weakest aspects of your sailing?

JH: “I grew up sailing starboard tack so I think I am always trying to catch up on port.

”

PWA: What aspects of the tour have you found most challenging?

JH: “Financially it was a bit of a gamble. Investing into the full World Tour for the first time was a massive risk as I had no idea if I would just be making up the numbers. I realised either I do it or I don’t and that I had to start somewhere. At the start of the year I never thought I would have qualified for a place in Cabo Verde. But with good results in Klitmoller and Gran Canaria, I suddenly had to find the cash to attend or I would have wasted a chance to enter such a unique event that is renowned for being hard to get a place. I also wanted to try and maintain a good overall ranking. Basically, at the time the whole year was a huge gamble, but sat here right now I am really glad I did everything I have.”

PWA: How will you be preparing for next year’s tour?

JH: I am at home at the moment and waiting to see what the tour calender is looking like and what my sponsorship will allow. I will hopefully have a better idea in a couple of weeks. I imagine more port tack training will be important.”

PWA: How will you be celebrating becoming the 2010 Rookie of the Year?

JH: “In the pub.”

Xenia Kessler in Lanzarote
Xenia Kessler in Lanzarote

PWA: Next up, Xenia. Congratulations! What does being recognized as Rookie of the Year mean to you?

XK: “Thank you very much! I am super happy and proud to receive this title! It means a lot to me. An appreciation like this makes me want to improve more, and obtain better results in 2011. It is very motivating! I look forward to competing on the PWA tour in 2011, and hopefully to see more women doing the same thing.

”

PWA: What was your highlight of the 2010 season?

XK: “There has been a lot of good moments really. To finish top 5 on the PWA women’s freestyle world tour was for sure one of them. Also winning The Curacao Windsurf Challenge earlier this year was a great experience, and it was my first win on the international scene. But when I look back through 2010 there is a lot of nice memories; instructing on the JP Young Gun Camp, clinics in Denmark, training in the Canaries, training in Bonaire and a lot more. This was the year I got my first board sponsor as well, and my first ever new freestyle board. I’m still very thankful for that! Super sick!

”

PWA: Historically, winners of the PWA’s rookie of the year award have gone on to do big things later in their careers, do you think you will live up to the expectation?

XK: “I hope so, and I am gonna do my best! For sure this gives an extra push, and also a bit of weight on the shoulders, but I like it. It motivates me a lot!

”

PWA: What are your career ambitions in windsurfing?

XK: “I like to push and challenge myself, and I would like to move further up the ranking on the World Tour. I take small steps, and work my way up. Also I don’t want to forget how I got to where I am, and I really want to keep doing clinics, presentations, camps and loads of free sailing with all the up and coming windsurfers at home and around in the world. I want more people to enjoy the sport of windsurfing as much as I do it myself.

”

PWA: What are the strongest and weakest aspects of your sailing?

XK: “My strongest aspects are probably that I have a hard time giving up. I think that is important especially in freestyle. You have to really want it, and work hard, stay persistent. And I also like to just play on the water, and try new things, having fun with the surfers around me. My sailing style is pretty smooth but powerful when I am at my best. My weakest points are still my lack of real power moves, but I will keep on working on that.”

PWA: What aspects of the tour have you found most challenging?

XK: “The first year I was a bit shy. I did not know the girls so well, and there was a lot of new impressions and also practical things to learn.”

PWA: How will you be preparing for next year’s tour?

XK: “I just came home from Tenerife, where I spend some weeks in December to get some wind and warmth. My favorite spots at home are all covered in ice, so it’s amazing to get to some warmer spots. Next up is Bonaire, where I like to be training in the winter. It looks like I will go to Vietnam first though – I’m super stoked that women’s freestyle in Vietnam is being confirmed! So cool! I really look forward to go. Big ups to PWA and the organizers in Vietnam about this!

”

PWA: How will you be celebrating becoming the 2010 Rookie of the Year?

XK: “Ha, ha, besides being all happy and stoked, and super motivated for the coming year, I know my girls will be running for champagne when I tell them the news!

”

Here at the PWA we’d like to extend our congratulations to both sailors and wish them all the best for the upcoming season.

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