THE PRO-KIDS By Eric Girard

After seeing Hot Sails starting a whole kids sails range a few years ago, Starboard comes up with a whole new range of boards for kids this summer. With the goal of seeing windsurfing grow and become a sport that is accessible to as many people as possible, Starboard have actually developed 5 types of boards that are totally dedicated to kids windsurfing. The idea came after Starboard received remarkable feedback from the Kiddy and the Starsurfer program, which focused on the entry level for kids 5 and up. For example, they saw how Connor and Ashley Baxter, the kids of Maui based parents Keith and Karen Baxter, excelled fast and started to outgrow the Starsurfer. Keith, who always has been a man with vision, wanted custom boards for Connor as he needed an advanced board, which was scaled, perfectly for his smaller size. Then Starboard understood the "reality" and started the development of a whole range of Pro Kids boards to simply insure that kids could reach their full potential on the water. The boards became thinner, shorter, and narrower. The fins smaller, stances shorter, and the construction lighter. Most of other sports have kids programs, so it was clear for Starboard that windsurfing needed one too.

It's possible to start windsurfing at about three years old, but then preferably in warm shallow waters, and under close supervision of adults. For instance, Juergen Saragoza from Bonaire started already when he was two years old and he is now at six years old windsurfing better than most adults ever will. The best age to get into windsurfing is probably in between five and nine years old, depending on the swimming skills.

On a recent trip to Maui, I got to meet with Svein Rasmussen, the president of Starboard. Svein is a man with one single mission: Helping the sport of windsurfing to grow!

Why do you think that kids should be windsurfing?
Windsurfing is a way to learn to find out more about yourself and your limitations, a great way to challenge yourself, and a ticket to freedom. The sensation of being able to hold the wind in your hands and sail away is addictive and gives kids a fantastic sensation!

What is your vision about kids windsurfing?
In a world that has "gone nuts", windsurfing remains as one of the most pure and exciting sports one could possible take part in. Windsurfing is social in a way that its not too competitive, and that one can enjoy nature and trips together with friends. My hope is that kids around the world will be able to share the same thrill of windsurfing as I had when I grew up. Windsurfing was my life, it also became my education as I did not find time to continue school. Without windsurfing I would not have been able to travel the world and meet all the wonderful people that has broadened my mind, true educational experiences that are very much overlooked in the current worlds fast pace.

What do you think kids need for windsurfing?
If you look at 13 years old Jaeger Stone from Western Australia, probably the worlds best wave sailor of his age, he needs a perfectly scaled down wave board to pull off moves which for instance saw him out sail most of our pro team this winter. Also a properly developed kids rig is essential.

What would you say to the parents who want to get their kids out there windsurfing?
I hope they realize how lucky they are, show their kids photos of other youngsters having fun windsurfing, and see if they are interested. I was totally hooked after seeing an article in the National Geographic's junior edition back in 1975 showing Matt Schweitzer and Suzi Swatek cruising along.

What is your ultimate dream?
To someday have kids and insure to often find time to go traveling and windsurfing with them, and their mother.

Could you please describe the kids products that Starboard has available?
1. For Freeriding we have developed the Pro Kids S-Type, a blistering fast free-ride board at only 211cm, which is great fun, and allows for freestyle moves.
2. In light wind and racing the super thin Pro Kids Formula is the ticket high performance with plenty of control.
3. For allround fun the Pro Kids Evo is a great board which goes great in the waves, and with its 62 liters also fits larger kids.
4. The Pro kids Acid at only 47 liters is the most radical board in the range and is the ultimate toy for kids that want to excel in wave sailing or high wind blasting.
5. For kids just getting into windsurfing the Starsurfer is key. (It has also become a favorite toy for many adults as well.)

There is a wave of very young windsurfers from all over the world that are taking over the beaches in places like Norway, Bonaire, France, Germany, Hawaii, Australia, Canada and the US. These kids are the next generation of windsurfers who will take windsurfing to a second level. Along with these "destination" kids, "real-world" locations are also getting into the act. More and more shop owners and windsurfing addicts are teaching their very young children how to windsurf! Beachgoers and windsurfers are amazed to see how good they are, and the word is spreading quickly that something incredible is happening. Kids are trendsetters for other kids. When they see their friends having so much fun windsurfing, they simply have to try it out.

Starboard has actually created a huge team of very young Pro-Kids from all over the world in aim to spread the word worldwide. Most of them are from families of windsurfers who really involved in the windsurfing industry. Each of the Pro-Kids parents transmitted their passion to them a few years ago and now, those Pro-Kids are just addicted to windsurfing and they are very efficient at promoting the sport they love!

Last April, Starboard invited to Maui the members of the Pro-Kids Team to participate to their annual photo shoot. It was the first time ever that kids were taking so much attention in a photo shoot of a windsurfing company. For ten days, the Pro-Kids from France, Australia, Bonaire and the US sailed at Maui's best windsurfing spots to show their magnificent talent to the cameras. It was very impressive to see those young kids shredding and jumping the waves. For most of them, it was like a dream come true. They got to sail with other kids of their age, they got to meet the pros and they have even been able to watch the tow surfers surfing the world's biggest waves at Jaws. I then took advantage of their visit on Maui to ask to some of them a few questions to discover what makes a Pro-kid. So, I would like to introduce you Connor Baxter, Bjorn Saragoza, Jurgen Saragoza and Jeager Stone.

Connor Baxter / Pro-Kid

Name: Connor Baxter
Age: 9 years old
Home: Maui, Hawaii
Years windsurfing: Just over 1 year and half
Favorite discipline: Slalom Racing and Wave
Favorite move: Tail Grab
Ultimate goals: I would like to be the best in windsurfing and surfing.
Favorite meal: Chinese food - orange chicken and noodles.
Favorite music: Hawaiian music (Brother IZ)
Favorite Windsurfer: Robby Naish
Best Friends: Kai Lenny, Ridge Lenny, Jake Gomes and Jurgen & Borjn from Bonaire.
Sponsors: Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine Hawaii, North Shore Fins, Da Hui Clothes, Master Line and Santa Cruz Skateboards.

Connor Baxter is a nine-year-old kid from Maui. He learned windsurfing only a year an half ago, and he has already reached a level that most people will never be able to touch. His parents have been in the windsurfing business for over 20 years now. Connor's mom Karen was a professional windsurfer. Connors dad Keith was a world champion in Hobie Cat catamaran.

At Connor's first steps on a windsurfing board, Keith decided to let him have fun first before letting him struggling with the windsurfing gear. So Keith took him on his GO board and made him hang on a water ski handle bar and lean back. They were able to go fast and plan and get the speed and feeling, which Connor really liked. (We all noticed once that little blond kid holding the water ski bar in the windsurfing magazines.) Connor quickly became know as the Starboard hood ornament.

Then later on, Connor saw his friend Kai Lenny having so much fun windsurfing that he decided to learn how to windsurf by himself. It took him a couple months to be able to get going. His father Keith and several friends had to spent a couple days working with him, and his father became known as the Caddy Daddy and had to carry Connor's board up the beach a lot. But he wanted him to have fun and he knew that some day they would be sailing together. So the walking up the beach all summer was worth it all. Now, Connor became a Pro-Kid and that makes him travelling to the best windsurfing destinations around the world. He loves competing a lot and travelling and this is really what he wishes to do in the future. Charging through some of the biggest surf of the winterů. Maui residents now frequently see Connor sailing right along side dad or his friends.

What school do you go too?
I go to Kula Elementary School on Maui, Hawaii. I am in fourth grade now. I started windsurfing in third grade.

What is your favourite windsurfing spot?
I like Kanaha Beach Park on the North Shore of Maui

Have you been competing before?
I have competed in a few events. I raced in the Maui summer series last summer after sailing 4 months. I also tried a freestyle event last summer. At the end of the summer I participated to a long distance race with 79 other sailors from Maui to the island of Molokai. It was a really long way and very windy. I was 8 1/2 years old then. My dad said it was 15 miles across. The winds were 12 mph in the beginning of the race, 20 mph in the center of the channel and 35 mph the last few miles.

What is your best result?
I was fourth over all in the Maui Summer Series and 3 over all in a slalom race in Taiwan. I had won a few races but needed to win more to be first over all. It feels really good and it excites me to do more. I love to race with my friends. It's not fun to lose.

You did great in the 2003 Taiwan event. Could you please describe that event?
It was my first international event to go to. It was a very long airplane flight. The food was very different too. I was the only one with blond hair too. It was very windy and a different type of sailing from Maui. Everyone was so nice to me and I made many new friends. The sailing was really rough. I won a couple of races and got thirds as well. I was able to try speed sailing too. That was the best. I want to go back next year with some of my friends from Maui.

What about your participation in the 2004 Hawaii's Pro Wave event? How was it to compete with the older pros?
It was my first PWA event. I was very nervous. Plus I never sailed at Ho'okipa before. It was hard to get off the beach sometimes. I knew most of the people, because they all know my parents, so I felt better. I am a friend with most of the pro's. They all helped me a lot. Everyone was watching out for me. I know everyone, so it was like everyday sailing.

Are you planning on making the PWA tour one day?
Yes, I want to be in the tour some day.

How do you manage windsurfing and school at the same time?
I try to do all my homework at school and then go windsurfing or surfing in the late afternoon. When I raced in Taiwan I had to take my homework with me and work on it everyday. It was really hard.

Do you think that the equipment is important in windsurfing?
Yes this is very important and has helped me so much. Everything has to be very light and balanced. Now there is very good equipment out for kids of my size. My new wave board Starboard Pro-Kid Acid 40 litres help me a lot!

Are you good at sports other than windsurfing?
I like many water sports. Windsurfing, tow-in-surfing, surfing short boards and long boards, skim boarding, wake boarding, snorkeling and swimming. I also like land sports like soccer, skateboarding, football, and baseball.

Would you sail forever?
Yes for sure.

Do you like travelling?
Yes! I love to meet new friends around the world. I hope I can travel more.

What does windsurfing brings to you?
Fun in the water. I like to be with nature. I love the ocean.

How many days a year do you windsurf?
I try to windsurf after school and on the weekends if we have wind.

How does it feel to be a windsurfing pro-kid?
It is new for me and I like it a lot. I also like to get other kids into the sport. I like to beat big guys, my dad or my mom.

Do you like having your picture taken?

What is your dream?
I want to learn how to do a back loop. I want to travel too.

Would you like to thank any one?
I want to thank mom and dad, and my sponsors.

Other things you wish to talk about?
I hope other kids get into windsurfing. It is so fun and thrilling to do.

Björn & Jürgen Saragoza / Pro-Kids

Name: Bjorn Saragoza
Age: 13 years old
Home: Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles 60 miles north of Caracas, Venezuela
Years windsurfing: 9
Favorite discipline: Freestyle
Favorite move: My favorite move is FLAKA, it is a difficult move, I have to put a lot of hours and bruises before I can made it clean.
Favorite meal: Fried Iguana, Fish and cornmeal and I love also corned beef.
Favorite music: R & B music
Favorite Windsurfer: Björn Dünkerbeck, I hope that I can see him someday
Best Friend: Kiri Thode from Bonaire
Ultimate goal: I want to be a world champion in windsurfing.
Sponsors: Starboard, Hotsails Maui and Bonaire Windsurf Place

Name: Jurgen Saragoza
Age: 6 years old
Home: Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles 60 miles north of Caracas, Venezuela
Years windsurfing: 4
Favorite discipline: Freestyle and Racing
Favorite move: I love the VULCAN, but I only can make it look very simple on dry - land and in my mind.
Favorite meal: Guiambo and cactus with cornmeal and corned beef with rice
Favorite music: I like most of all gospel songs
Favorite Windsurfer: My brother Björn
Best Friends: I have a lot of friends
Sponsors: Starboard, Hotsails Maui and Bonaire Windsurf Place

There is over 35 kid windsurfers from Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. Björn and Jürgen Saragoza were picked from the bunch to become part of the Pro-Kids Team that Starboard created to help on developing the kids' program.

Björn began to windsurf when he was 3 years old, when his father and uncle was building their windsurf shop called Bonaire Windsurf Place at that time. And Jürgen started to be interested in windsurfing at the age of 2 when he saw his brother sailing. He wanted to do the same as his brother and from that day he is still windsurfing.

Windsurfing is part of the Saragoz's family life. The mother is manager of a wholesale company and the father is a windsurfing instructor. He has been windsurfing since 1983 and was a two-time Olympian athlete (Barcelone, Spain 1992 and Atlanta, USA 1996) for the Netherlands Antilles. Windsurfing is such a passion for the parents of the Saragoza family that Bjorn was named after Bjorn Dunkerbeck who was world champion the same year as he was born.

Björn and Jürgen are following in their father's steps. Even if they are too young to be part of the PWA world tour, they just seem to be on a tour already. They are travelling like pros! They've been to several places to compete and to have their pictures taken in places such Hawaii, Florida, Aruba, Curacao and Cape Cod.

Is Bonaire the best windsurfing spot ?
Björn: For me yes and everybody coming here says that Bonaire is the best windsurfing spot, even all the PWA officials and also the professional sailors.

Jürgen: Yes, Bonaire is the best windsurfing spot, because it is flat water of 3 feet deep so it is very easy to learn tricks in it.

Have you been competing before?
Björn: Yes, my first competition was when I was 4 years old, and then after that I kept competing in some local and international competitions.

Jürgen: Yes, first I was giving more exhibitions during competition. But now I compete as well because there is a kids class for me.

What are your best results ?
Björn: 1st place (Jr- class) PWA King of the Caribbean 2003 (Bonaire)
1st place (Kd- class) King of the Huts 2003 (Aruba)
1st place (Kd- class) King of the Cape (Boston - USA)
1st place (Kd- class) Calema Midwinters (Florida - USA)
1st place (Kd- class) King of St. Joris Bay (Curacao)
And a lot more !!

Jürgen: 3rd place PWA King of the Caribbean Freestyle Super Session 2003

How does that good result make you feel?
Björn: It feels very good, this is why I work hard in every competition to win so that I can have that good feeling.

Jürgen: Very Happy.

How do you manage windsurfing and school at the same time?
Björn: My parents told me that school is priority and depending on the results of school I get more time to windsurf. This is why I do my best at school to get more time for windsurfing.

Jürgen: I go windsurfing every weekend and during school vacation.

What is your dream ?
Björn: My dream is to be a windsurfing world champion someday and to be an example to encourage more children into do this sport, like my father did to me by giving me the opportunity to start very young.

Are you planning on making the PWA tour one day?
Björn: Yes, I would love to make the PWA tour one day.

Jürgen: Yes.

What is your favourite board?
Björn: Pro-Kids Evo is my favourite board. I like the shape a lot and the balance of the volume is right and allows me to do my tricks on it. That is the board that helped me nailing my first FLAKA.

Jürgen: Pro-Kids Acid and Pro-Kids S-Type are my favourite boards.

Are you good at sports other than windsurfing?
Björn: Yes, I'm practicing track & field (I have won some medals for it) and swimming also I like to play soccer as well.

Jürgen: I like to go jogging with my father and brother.

Would you sail forever?
Björn: Yes I hope to windsurf forever.

Jürgen: Yes.

Do you like travelling ?
Björn: Yes, I like travelling a lot. But when I'm away I miss my parents and friends and my sailing spot Sorobon Beach a lot, but I enjoy making new friends as well.

Jürgen: Yes, I love travelling with Bonaire Team as well with my parents.

How did you like your trip at the Pro-Kids shoot on Maui?
Björn: That was my best windsurf trip ever. I saw many videos from windsurfing in Maui, and this was my dream come true. First I was afraid of the big waves but then I got used to them and I enjoyed it a lot. That was my first experience in such big waves.

Jürgen: I loved it. I didn't want to go back home. The only reason why I went back to Bonaire is because I left my mom there.

What does windsurfing brings to you?
Björn: Windsurfing does bring to me some new friends and makes me experience other culture.

Jürgen: New friends everywhere I go.

How many days a year do you windsurf?
Björn: I windsurf a lot, every weekend and during school vacation.

Jürgen: I windsurf only in the weekend and school vacation.

How did you get into windsurfing?
Björn: My Father got me into windsurfing. He was a two-time Olympian athlete. When he opened a windsurf shop I was 3 years old, and they had small rig and the first thing I said to him is that I want to windsurf.

Jürgen: I think I was born on a windsurf board. As long I can remember windsurfing was always part of my life.

How does it feel to be a windsurfing pro-kid?
Björn: It feels great to be a pro-kid and I like the idea to do some moves that a lot of top pro's can't do.

Jürgen: I feel very good to be a pro-kid.

Do you like having your picture taken?
Björn: Yes, it happens very often. When I see my picture in some magazine I show them to my friends to encourage them to begin windsurfing like me.

Jürgen: Yes I like it very much.

Would you like to thank any one?
Björn: First of all I want to thank GOD for my ability, my parents, my friends of Bonaire Kids and my sponsors to give me the opportunity to make my dreams come true.

Jürgen: I want to thank my mother and my father and my uncle for helping me in the sport of windsurfing.

Jaeger Stone / Pro-Kid

Name: Jaeger Stone
Age: 13, I was born on October 2nd in 1990
Home: Geraldton, Western Australia
Years windsurfing: Just over 2 years
Favorite discipline: Wave
Favorite move: Back Loop because it's so controllable
Ultimate goals: To become a professional, learn about design through dad, Ben Severne, and Tiesda you and contribute in all areas of sailing. There are so many ideas and different styles.
Favourite meal: Ice-cream with milo and chocolate topping.
Favorite Windsurfers: Robby Naish, Jason Polakow, Josh Angulo and Levi Siver.
Best Friends: Brent Lawler, Shay Connolly and my younger brother, Hendrix. We all surf together. Kai Lenny, and Connor Baxter, new mates in Maui.
Sponsors: Starboard, Severne Sails, Flying Objects and Stone Surf Design.

Jeager Stone is from a family based in Geraldton, Western Australia. His mom Deb is the head English teacher at the high school and the father Mark operates his own business as a Sail Board and Surf Board manufacturer.

Jaeger had always been little and quite shy, but was good in the pool at home from about three years old, so his mom Deb put him into a Swimming Club to build his confidence when he was seven. He was Champion Boy for the Eight Year olds in his first year. Later on he trained hard, his mom spent a lot of time at the pool and he won lots of medals. He started hating training and he would say, "I was having a good day until I remembered training tonight." His parents agreed it was of no benefit feeling that way, but he needed to decide upon another sport to pursue. Jaeger said he would prefer to put his time into learning to windsurf and he would like to be a professional. He was eleven. So, that's when he started to put his energy into learning the sport of windsurfing.

Jeager's father Mark built him a miniature rig, put him on an 80 litre board, and encouraged him to learn the hard stuff early. (water starts etc) Jeager spent a lot of time on pure sailing, so when he hit the waves, he did not get in the way of others, and he could focus on smacking and jumping those lips. Jeager is probably now the best wave sailor of his age. Recently he put down the whole Starboard pro-team on a major Australian wave-riding event. On his trip to the Starboard Pro-Kids shoot on Maui in April, he proved that he has a lot of talent. The way he adapted to the opposite tack, shredding waves, nailing forwards and back loops in four days was freaky.

As a family the Stones are learning together, some times laughing, some times yelling, words of encouragement of course. Jeager's father says: "While Jeager learns to sail, he learns a work ethic, which can be used as a guide for the rest of his life".

How did you get into windsurfing?
My dad started sailing and learned all the basics and then he started taking me down to the beach on the weekends and as I started getting better. All the good local sailors were giving me tips on how to do stuff.

Where are your favourite spots?
Coronation Beach for jumping and wave riding and freestyle on the inside because it's really smooth, and a secret spot that the locals call Spot X which is more serious wave riding. Gnarloo is 7 hours drive north, and Margaret River is 8 hours drive south, with more breaks in between.

Have you been competing before?
I've only competed once, Ben Severne asked my Dad to bring me to a comp he was sponsoring in Lancelin, Western Australia.

We heard that you won that major Australian event against the best Australian windsurfers including Scott McKercher. Could you please describe that event?
It was the Lancelin Windjam sponsored by Flying Objects and there were three events: race, wave and freestyle. There were heaps of photographers filming the whole event and at the presentations they replayed all the footage on a big screen. I won the wave competition and the overall competition. I was lucky enough to nail four perfect loops.

How does that good result make you feel?
Really happy because it was the first comp I'd ever been in.

How do you manage windsurfing and school at the same time?
My dad picks me up from school at 3:00pm and we head up to Coronation if the swell's big or Spot X if it's small, because it picks up the swell more. In summer it doesn't get dark until 8:00pm so we sail until then and I start my homework at about 9:00pm and go to bed as soon as I have finished.

What is your Ultimate goal?
To become a professional, learn about design through Dad, Ben Severne, and Tiesda and contribute in all areas of sailing, there are so many ideas and different styles.

What is your dream?
To be a world champion wave sailor.

Are you planning on making the PWA tour one day?
I hope so but I've still got a fair bit to learn.

What is your favourite board?
My 47 Litres Acid and Pro Kid Evo 60 Litres.
Do you think that the equipment is important in windsurfing?
Yes, because the better the gear the quicker you learn and it's so much easier when the gear is lighter. The bigger boards, like the Starboard Start can get you sailing straight away. My 40 Litres Acid and my Pro Kid Evo 60 Litres are my favourite boards.

Are you good at sports other than windsurfing?
I used to be good at swimming and I surf when there is no wind.

Would you sail forever?
Yes, because you never get bored. There are so many tricks I can learn.

Do you like travelling?
Yes, but I hate airports with all the security and sleeping on the concrete outside Honolulu airport for five hours.

What does windsurfing brings to you?
It gives me something to look forward to when I am in school. It keeps me fit and healthy, Dad and I have something in common, and summer in Geraldton is always howling Southerly so it gives me something to do. I have met lots of people and made new friends from around the world.

How many days a year do you windsurf?
Our windsurfing season goes for 8 months and I get about 25 days rest over that period when there's no wind and I sail when there's big storms in winter when it either blows onshore or starboard tack.

How did you like your trip at the Starboard Pro-Kid shoot on Maui?
It was really fun meeting heaps of other kids and watching the pros sailing in the Hawaii Pro at Hookipa. When I was there, there was a huge swell and Jaws was breaking so we watched all these guys getting towed in and where I live the wind is port tack so it was a challenge to do the stuff that I do in W.A on Starboard tack and now I can do forwards and back loops on both tacks.

Did you like sailing under the helicopter during the Starboard Pro-Kid shoot?
Yeah, it's fun because you can sail wherever you want to. It just follows you around not like photo shoots from the water where you have to try and sail in the same place and it's really hard when there's not much wind. I hate it when the helicopter gets too close, and it makes your sail go out of control because it's like this gust hitting you from all directions. You stack so badly when you're powered up, especially when you're really light. Some of the kids got really hammered. I think the pilot was new. It was funny to watch but when I was in the water I was nervous.

Do you like having your picture taken?
Not really but I'm getting used to it, we're stuffing around anyway, so you forget about the camera.

How does it feel to be a windsurfing pro-kid?
It's really cool to be able to sail with such young kids that love windsurfing as much as me. I can't wait to sail with them again, they are all going to be so good.

Do you have any friends who like windsurfing with you?
I try to get all my friends into it but some of them find it hard. My brother, Hendrix is getting better. They like to come camping though at Coronation with heaps of gear for them to use if they want. When they're having a good run, all the other kids learning throw seaweed at them to make them fall off.

Would you like to thank any one?
Dad for driving me around, teaching me how to windsurf and building my boards, Ben Severne for helping me with sails, masts and advice, Starboard for inviting me to their photo shoot in Maui, and all those people who have given me tips.

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