Francisco Goya

In twenty-two years as a reporter, I never became emotionally involved in one competitor’s win

Francisco Goya, born in Buenos Aires on December 22nd, 1970, happily married to beautiful Tamara, is the new Pro Windsurfing Association (PWA) Wave World Champion for the year 2000.

For a 17 season veteran World Cup journalist like myself,  this simple agency news hides behind news of a special champion different from his predecessors. Pete Cabrinha, Robby Naish, Jason Polakow, and Björn Dunkerbeck were each the perfect prototype of a champion athlete when they won their wave titles. They are natural talents who reached top ranking at young age. Besides Pete’s brief appearance in the early ‘80 ties, Robby, Björn , and Jason dominated the following fifteen years due to a combination of superior skills, natural gifts, and direct help from parents.

Francisco is something else, his 2000 World Cup title is worth much more to me. He is the prototype of a basic kid, like one of us. He isn’t a superman. He never had technical support from his family, but had other qualities that helped him to work his way up. He was nothing special in his teenage windsurf years either. Simply, he had a strong desire to follow his passion and his dreams. To reach them, he fought against all odds. And finally, at a mature age, he reached the gold.

Un campione con passione. A champion with passion, a special man with a big heart and a positive attitude, able to share his success.

In twenty-two years as a windsurfing reporter, I never became emotionally involved in one competitors win—not even when my favorite girl was winning the Windsurfer Worlds, not at the first Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles, nor even when my closest pal, Alex Aguera, was number 1 in the World Cup. I got excited a few times for Robby’s comeback, that’s true, but never emotional.

For Francisco Goya I could not hold back my emotions. Am I becoming sentimental in my old age? No, I witnessed the sacrifices and the pain he went through before getting there.

I followed his last three months of training with Scott Sanchez in Maui before he advanced in Ireland and at the Aloha Classic. When he finally got the crown, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of joy.

His victory was the victory of many of us.


American Windsurfer: Two weeks have gone by since you won the PWA World Wave title. Are you still in shock? Do you wake up in the morning and think it was only a dream?

FRANCISCO GOYA: I haven’t really landed yet. I’m going to take off for a few weeks in Argentina with Tamara and maybe then I will realize that my dream came true.

AW: How will they receive you in Argentina, now that you are a World Champion?

FG: It will be different than here. Here in Maui I was celebrated by friends and windsurfing magazines. In Argentina I will get the attention of the National Media and Television. Windsurfing is at the center of attention in Argentina since Espinola won the silver medal at the Olympics.

AW: Were you afraid,  at the Aloha Classic, of missing the world title with a small mistake?

FG: There is always some fear at the end, until you reach your goal. But you can’t fear an important result. You don’t have to think, you have to go in the water just to express the best of yourself each time, without calculations.

AW: At the Aloha you seemed more brilliant in your first heats. As you got closer to reaching the final, you became a little more tense . . .

FG: True, up to my fourth heat I was very relaxed and just trying anything. Probably my fourth heat was the best. Then I had, back to back, Jason Polakow, Josh Stone, and Björn Dunkerbeck and I concentrated on my routine, making sure I had three good rides for the judges’ scoring. Conditions were not ideal for me to perform at my best, but you have to keep on going, you know. You have to concentrate until the last second. As a matter of fact, my success in the Final with Rush Randle came with the last wave ride and the last jump.

AW: Then the liberation . . . you won! What was your first feeling?

FG: I couldn’t believe it was over! I thought, “Is that it? No, there must be some more work to do. There is still the double elimination.” I was surrounded by people cheering me but felt it couldn’t be over yet.


AW: Your whole family was there. Did that help you?

FG: Sure. It was the first time they were all together with me at a competition. My father flew over from Argentina, my brother Alexandro from Los Angeles, and the rest of the family that lives in Maui was at the beach—my mother Marinnes, my sister Lorena, and my other brother Lalo.

FG: Who was the person closest to you, the one that helped you the most?

FG: Tamara, my wife. She is always the first person on my list. We have a dream relationship. We know each other seven years and we share everything in our lives together, even if we stay far away from one another for long periods.

AW: Tell me more about Tamara—how you met her, etc.

FG: She was the best friend of my brother Alexandro’s ex-girlfriend, Natalia. I met her once in Argentina and immediately liked her. Then she came that summer, in ‘93, to visit Natalia here in Maui and I thought, “This is the woman for me.” We have been together ever since. She was living in New York back then and after we met she decided to move to Maui. She’s in the clothing industry and gets her fabrics in Indonesia and eastern countries. So she travels a lot too. She goes twice a year to Bali while I travel for windsurfing. All the while, we can’t wait to spend time together again.

AW: Hold old were you when you first came here to Maui from Argentina?

FG: I was eighteen. I got hooked on windsurfing when I was fourteen and through high school all I did was think about windsurfing. I said, “Okay, I just have to finish school, then I can get out.” I love Argentina but I wanted to go to Hawaii, you know—the waves, and the wind. All I could see were the magazines and the guys doing all those moves, especially jumping. That was my motivation, what got me so inspired. The best moments in high school were when I went sailing and learned a new move. I watched the videos and subscribed to the magazines. At home I’d always be asking, “Did the magazine arrive?” That was my drive. Angulo, the Simmer brothers, Robby Naish, and later on Björn—I really, really looked up to them.

AW: What was it like when you first came to Maui? Did you know anybody?

FG: No. I didn’t know anybody. I barely spoke English. (Laughing) I feel that way now. It was different. It was great because I was on my own. It was like a new start, from the ground up. It was a really good experience.

AW: Did you have some hard times trying to break into the sport?

FG: Yeah, obviously, it doesn’t happen overnight. Mostly, I had a hard time with the level of the guys. When I first got here and was watching one of the events I was seeing these guys do amazing things. I said, “Oh man, there’s no way I can do that.” You hear people say, “You’ve got to go for your dreams.” But then I saw this and I said, “Well, that’s not true. I mean, this is frustration.” Life is your frustration. You like to do something, but it is impossible. For a couple of days I was thinking, “My whole dream of finishing high school, going to Hawaii, turning professional, sailing with those guys, being one of the guys pushing the sport, that’s not realistic. I’m not even close to what those guys do and there’s no way.” So a couple of days of that thinking and I finally got out of that.

AW: What made you turn around?

FG: You’ve got to live like that. If I were to start life with the wrong foot, then I could see all my life trickling down to that. Every time I have a dream I would have to turn around because it seems impossible so I didn’t want to start like that. Like I said it was a new start and I didn’t start with the wrong foot, turning down my dream because of my laziness or negative thinking.


AW: After a few days you just made up your mind, you’re still going to go for it.

FG: Yeah! Step by step, patience, and time.

AW: You saw how good these guys are, where you were. Did anybody help you along the way?

FG: Oh yes, my friends. My first friend here was Jason Prior and we really supported each other. He was at that time already sponsored and doing all these things. That was a great inspiration to have him around and see how he worked. He showed me a lot of things. He’s the guy who pushed me into doing doubles. He was the first one I saw doing doubles constantly. From Jason to my family who moved here, then in ‘93 I got together with Tamara, my wife, so many people! I got sponsors—Sailboard Maui, with the first guy that thought I could do something and had some confidence. He gave me boards and we traded. I cleaned the factory a little bit and helped him out with things. Shawn shaped me a lot of boards. So many shapers and sail designers . . .

AW: Was it a struggle financially before you started making a living as a windsurfer?

FG: Oh yes. The first season here, after the first six months, I went back to Argentina and they did not recognize me. I lost twenty pounds. I wasn’t eating properly. I was for the first time away from home and I didn’t really know how to take care of myself. I had a low budget and didn’t do my math right. I was like, “Okay I have $800 and I have three months. What do I do with it? I’ll buy a new board!” [both laugh.]

FG:Stupid things like that, you know? I was a kid. That’s what made me find me and really understand how much I wanted it. When things finally started rolling I really took care of things and I feel very lucky. It’s a good experience, almost like building a house from the ground up. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Things make you find yourself and you really come out.

AW:  Did you suffer a lot when your parents separated?

FG: No, it was better like that. I was nine years old and when I was in trouble with one, I had a chance to go to the other’s house.

AW: Have you always been so positive in life? Who, what, instilled this constructive energy?

FG: It’s like a vortex. You see positive and think positive and then you act positive. Then the people around you respond that way, towards you and towards themselves. I really believe in being positive towards each other. My wife started her clothing business. She was a fashion designer and designed for different companies and I said, “You have to do that.” I was really behind her and she did it and now she’s selling to over one hundred stores and getting in all the magazines. I believe everybody’s got a special talent and it’s up to him or her to believe in it and go and do it. Jason has probably been one of the two most influential persons I ever came across. He’s the most positive guy. No matter what everybody says, or what everybody thinks, or whatever happens, he’s always super motivated to go and do it and if he fails he tries again and he sticks with it. He’s a good guy who has multiplying energy. I’m not always high and smiling and things like that. I have moments when I’m deep inside with my thoughts and trying to figure out what I’m really doing here. “Well, should I be the winner?” I get in these really negative spirals and then Scott realizes and he kicks me harder.

AW: Scott Sanchez, your trainer?

FG: Yes. My family, my wife Tamara, and friends, say, “What are you doing thinking things like that, or looking like that, or acting like that, or doing this?” They keep me on track, other people around me. As soon as they see me doing stupid things or doing the negative spiral thing, they pick me up and lift off the weight.

AW: Speaking of weight, you seem to be pumping a lot of weight, doing a lot of yoga, a lot of physical stuff. Tell me more about your training.

FG: In ‘93 I started with yoga. It gets you in touch with your body and what you are able to be more of. What you think is closer to what you do, instead of, you think you want to move this way but you are moving that way. It is more uniting the mind and body so they work together. That’s why I work a lot with the body and mind with challenging exercises, not just on strength but also on balance. Bruce Lee said it pretty well:  “You think and you move and that’s freedom.” I believe in that. I think it’s uniting those two elements. That’s life.


AW: You’ve become famous for your double loops. Is it because of your consistency?

FG: I think because it’s a new move, a new maneuver. Well, it’s not super new but that we finally started landing it is new. There were a lot of waterstarts and finally the equipment is getting lighter, faster, and easier to handle so it’s a new maneuver. In that perspective, indeed of the angle sights, it’s being pushed right now. A lot of the future in windsurfing is in the air, on the wave, gaining more on the critical section at higher speeds, moving more, and also in height and different air rotations.

AW: Do you have any sense of, “Hey, this is getting dangerous. I’d better be careful?”

FG: If you try to do a double loop but you can’t even do a single one then it is dangerous. If you can do a single one with different combinations in the air like moving your hands, moving your feet, laying one hand there, this and that, you’re more confident with the single. Then you move into the double. But everything you do has to be step by step. It gets dangerous when you try to jump before you know how to walk. That’s when it gets dangerous.


AW: Did you ever think as an eighteen year-old—seeing these guys that were so much better than you, when you were discouraged that this is not the reality for you—that you’d be doing double loops?

FG: It all comes around. I’ve seen it all go around. I put in all the energy and thinking and combining, mixing it in, and in the future generations to come it’s a windsurfing gel. It’s like a family. You learn so much from all these guys. It’s so international. All these friends of mine from Hawaii, Barbados, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia—it’s amazing. It’s really such a wide variety of people, talents, and strong individuals. I’ve got a lot to learn from these guys. It’s good.

AW: When did you beat Robby Naish the first time?

FG:  In 1994 at the Chiemsee World Cup in Maui, the former O’Neill Invitational.

AW: Was that the year you started to court the World Cup seriously?

FG: Yes. I went on the European leg—Canary Islands, Tarifa, Greece, Sylt. It was the first time I was getting some money from the sponsors. Thanks to Miki Eskimo and Jason Prior, I got Chiemsee. That paid me $500 a month and then I had Naish sails paying some checks. When Robby approached me, I was really, really proud.

AW: ‘94 was also the year you guys started the Quatro business with Jason Prior, Keith Taboul, and Sean Ordonez.

FG: Correct. We were four enthusiastic newcomers that wanted to start something for our future. Keith and Sean were the shapers and I was their pilot and helped with design. We mainly invested in our image developing a custom board company. Now we are expanding and developing as a production brand.

AW: You had to wait a while before winning a wave event as a Pro.

FG: I won in Omaezaki, Japan in ‘96. Josh Stone was 2nd and Robby Seeger 3rd. We were sailing with 3.7 and 4.0 sails. It was really windy! Then it took a while before winning again. I did it again in ‘97 at the Pistol River, Oregon American Championship. That same year I got 2nd at the Trilogy in Capo Verde, behind Sean Ordonez.

AW: The World title in wave was still far away . . .

FG: 1998 was when I started to beat almost everybody—Bjorn in Maui, Jason, and Robby in Gran Canaria—but I still ended up 11th Overall in wave, because I was loosing some other stupid match. I wasn’t consistent yet.

AW: And your relationship with sponsors?

FG: I got O’Neill as a clothing sponsor instead of Chiemsee, but the biggest boost came in ‘99 when I became a main team member for Fanatic. Finally I had the opportunity to work with a big team in progression. I learned a lot working with people like Jurgen Meyer, Sebastian Wenzel, Craig Gerthenbach, Boris, and Karin. Everybody added his or her input to deliver the best product. I also have a great relationship with the other team members—Rush Randle, Sam Ireland, and Steve Allen.


AW: 1999, is the year you really took off . . .

FG: That’s the year I finally won a Grand Prix Grand Slam in Gran Canaria! It’s the victory I recall with most pleasure. I came back from the loosers’ bracket and I beat Bjorn twice on his home waves in the double elimination. Then we had a single and I won again against Josh Stone. I started to think that maybe one day I could make it.

AW: As a matter of fact, in Gran Canaria you met a very important person for your career, Scott Sanchez. His coaching has brought out the best of your skills, hasn’t it?

FG: I started to work with Scott right after Gran Canaria because I understood that I needed to have somebody with experience, who was able to guide me full time with nutrition, physical preparation, training, equipment, travel, and competition.

AW: You had to adapt to quite a severe schedule.

FG: I like the challenge, and I was ready for that change. Normally we are together every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Yoga, weights, physical training, by 11 a.m. in the water (wavesailing or surfing if there is no wind), and sometimes he brings me to the gym in the evening also. Many times during the summer, we catch the first flight to Oahu to sail Diamond Head, then we come back the evening of the same day.

AW: You see Scott more than your wife?

FG: Yes, but we get along together.

AW: So let’s get to this last season.

FG: It didn’t start well, you know. Last winter I injured my right leg after a loop, so at the beginning of the season I was in Canada and then Argentina for a two months rehabilitation. In April for the Da Kine, I wasn’t ready and also broke a foot. Though the season didn’t start well at all, you know how it went after that.

AW: You must have made a lot of money this season?

FG: Wrong. I spent all the money I made in equipment, travel, and training. I don’t complain, I know it will come back.

AW: Last question:  Who are your best friends here in Maui?

FG: Pio Marasco, the boss at Maui Fin Company, and his wife Donatella is my wife’s best friend. So we do hang out together once in a while. But I’ve met so many good people during these ten years in Maui, that even if you mention 100, there are another 1,000 who deserve mentioning.

Pietro Porcella has moved his family to Maui from Sardinia, Italy. He has been reporting windsurfing for over 22 years.

by Pietro Porcella

Pietro Porcella has moved his family to Maui from Sardinia, Italy. He has been reporting windsurfing for over 22 years.

photos by Jono Knight & John Chao