“We are maxed out. I have an over-sized sail and it is super-hard to hold down. The other guys are on a slightly smaller kit and they’re loving it, thinking ‘This kid is finished’!”
Somehow on the last mark Mitchell Wagstaff manages to pull a sweet inside move.
“I was blowing foul, but I managed to take the wind from the guy just below me! That was it, I was just holding on with everything I had and just hauling butt to the finish line!”
The 20-year-old South African champion has had many unlikely victories in his thriving career, but there’s nothing unlikely about his shot at windsurfing stardom.
The Port Elizabeth boys might choose to differ, but if they can’t win when windsurfing at home then their opinion doesn’t really carry much weight.
“Winning there was mindblowing. They weren’t expecting that one at all,” laughs Wagstaff.
He competed in three championships in South Africa this year before claiming the crown of fastest windsurfer.
It was almost inevitable when considering his dedication and sheer talent.
His journey started on the motocross track, but by the age of 11 he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“Motocross became a bit expensive for me and since my farther’s been windsurfing for 21 years I decided to join him one day. I had no idea what I was trying out and I got absolutely destroyed, but that was when it all started,” he remembers.
Fate would have it that motocross’s loss was windsurfing’s gain. More particularly the slalom division’s gain.
“Slalom is just a race discipline. The standard is known as “downwind slalom” where you zig-zag your way downwind.
“We synchronise four minutes and then an imaginary gate opens, so you could be 20 feet back or right on the line when it starts. It’s very much about skillful tactics.”
When asked to elaborate on these tactics, Wagstaff first touches on “positioning”.
Basically one should always try to be upwind of one’s opponent, who might as a result be slowed down by “spin-off” (turbulence). Another tactic involves the turn, or the “gybe”.
The master-gyber explains: “You can choose different lines, but your goal is to enter the buoy really high and exit on the buoy so that there is no space for anyone else to get in.”
He sometimes trains with his nemesis and friend, Sunset Beach’s Peter Lumley, but when he just wants to relax he goes for a bit of wave sailing off the coast.
“The slalom is more meticulous and edgy, but when I go wave sailing it’s just me and the wave.
“Rig up my smaller sail, go 10 to 15 feet in the air and the wave disappears beneath you.
“When you’re up their you’re hovering you just manage to pull in this little forward loop and do a quick roll and sail away with a big smile on your face.”
He has been invited to participate as a wildcard in the Professional Windsurfer Association’s World Windsurfing Tour in Turkey from 19 to 24 August.
He has also been invited to represent South Africa in the 2013 Mauritius Indian Ocean Championships.
Go to http://www.tygerburger.co.za for audio/visual material about Wagstaff.

For more info go to his Facebook page “MitchwagstaffSa1111”.