For it is in their soil that the roots of a home grown hero are found.

It was a matter of time before the twelve year reign of Björn, the Terminator King would come to an end. In the years of his rule, the sport’s organized competitions diminished to mere shadows of their former collectivity. World Class events withered with wayward funds, and disheartened competitors were whisked away by overwhelming coast. The follies come out at night, as an industry, blinded by their high-tech seduction, clung on in the fading light of their uncertainty.

What was left behind by the occupying force reveals itself to the newly crowned prince. This is the inheritance. Where the weak and the opportunists may find it a hollow victory, the followers consider it a timely deliverance.

For it is in their soil that the roots of a home grown hero are found.

May they always ride the glory of his ascent. May they always catch the wind they desire.

American Windsurfer:  What’s it like to be on top of the world now.

Kevin Pritchard: Oh, pretty good. It’s definitely a goal accomplished, a lifelong focus, or not lifelong but at least the past five years of focusing and working towards it and really putting a lot of energy and effort into it. It feels good to work for something and then accomplish it.

AW: Did you read what we wrote in the 8.1 issue? Was it accurate?

KP: Yes, I read it. I don’t think it was at all accurate, in my opinion.

AW:  Let’s clear the air then. Give your perspective.

KP: Obviously the Björn thing. We’ve always been competing for the last three years or so. At first we were on the same team, then the next year we were on different teams, and then this year I finally got it (World Title) after working away, chipping away, and he didn’t say two words to me. I would’ve expected a little more like, “good job”, or something like that or at least a handshake. To not even say anything is pretty . . . you know . . .

AW:  According to what other people reported, sounded like he was pretty magnanimous. It wasn’t the case then?

KP:  No. I really don’t know him at all. So, I don’t know. I’ve probably spoken about 1,000 words to him in my entire lifetime. We obviously come from different cultures and as far as the attitude he’s given to me it’s a little bit . . . If someone wins, you can say, “good job”, or whatever. But I didn’t win it for him. I won it for me and for what I wanted to accomplish, so it really doesn’t matter to me too much. I was stoked he was there, otherwise it would have been kind of by default that I won the world title. I was happy that he did compete. I think a lot about the perception too that, “Oh he didn’t really train this year.” In the past two years that I was with him, he never trained either. We kind of developed his sails and handed them to him and he went out there and won. That’s in my opinion, of course. He’d come down the week before the races and go out there. I think with racing too, if you’ve got it in your mind how to win and you have the equipment, you’re going to win. He had everything going for him for ten years. He had the confidence. He had the experience. He had the equipment given to him and he just went out there and won, connected the dots, you know?


AW: I’m sure there were some skill involved too, but what happened this year?


KP: I think they didn’t have the best test team working on the stuff before he got it. The week he got it he said, “Oh my sails were better last year.” That was pretty key and also our testing was huge beforehand. Our preparation, knowing we could win, knowing we had the best stuff in the world, as well as having the confidence of four years’ racing experience and how to be mentally focused and mentally strong and go out there and connect the dots.

AW:  You must have gone through some tough times when Neil Pryde didn’t sign up the Team and you had to decide whether to stick with the Team or to go out on your own with Pryde. Some gutsy decisions, weren’t they?

KP: Yeah, I had the big dollar sign right in front of me and it was like, “What do I do? What do I do?” But in the end, it kind of worked out for the best.

AW:  Tell me, what went through your head? Neil Pryde offered you a big contract, but they didn’t want to keep the Team.

KP: They just wanted to sponsor me individually and in years past, our success was working with Barry (Spanier) and working with Phil (McGain) and my brother (Matt) and Scott (Fenton), so there was a lot of momentum in the whole thing and to that point that was what helped. It is pretty obvious now too, as far as Björn. His success came from working with Barry and working with the right designer and working together. We wanted to stick together because that’s how we progressed so rapidly. The first year on the tour I think I was 15th. The next year I was 5th and the next year I was 2nd. That was a pretty rapid growth spurt. And then there’s kind of the rivalry going on in Neil Pryde between Nils (Rosenblad) and Barry. As sailors we kind of stood out, stayed away from that. There was definitely tension in the company. They weren’t focusing and working together, which was causing conflict as a corporation.

AW:  Once you decided to keep the Team together, you guys really had to create some options. It’s not like another company came in and said, “Okay, we want you! Here are the funding and resources.”

KP: We sat down and talked about it and what we were going to do and how we were going make it work. We looked through different companies and how we might come through the company. We actually thought of doing our own line of sails and pitched that around. We had some financial backers who were willing to work with us and then we talked with Gaastra and that made the most sense of everything as far as having distribution, and a name set-up. Their sail designer was leaving. I think Pat (Goodman) went to Neil Pryde and Willem Blaauw went to Arrows. Gaastra was at a stage where they needed a new direction and focus, so it was pretty good timing for the change. It was almost like it was meant to be. It was the best option for everybody and a good challenge, and something we were interested in. We worked in a unique direction.

AW:  So how does it feel now to be on top? Do you feel any different when you walk down the beach?

KP:  Not too much different. It is definitely something I checked off my list of things I wanted to do in life but other than that, I’m still focused on doing it again and it doesn’t really feel too much different to me.

AW: What’s happening with the PWA and SSM? (Stuart Sawyer Management group) Seems that the relationship between the sailors and the management group are on rocky grounds.

KP:  It seems like they are definitely going through some internal problems. I’m not really certain what’s going on with it, but the sailors want to have more control. I don’t really know, but I know it will work itself out in the end.

AW:  Do you feel bad now that you are top, and the racing in PWA seems to be falling apart?


KP: Not really. I’m confident that we will have some competitions and a tour and stuff like that still. Whatever happens, there will still be something. I mean right now it seems like the sport is really getting specialized. If you’re just a team rider or something like that, you’ll be out the door pretty soon. You have to be creative and work with a company. It is not just, “What can you do for me?” but, “What can we do together?” That’s pretty important at this time.

AW:  What about the Team and the accusations that you guys race as a team?

KP: I read about that and all that interference stuff. If you’ve ever been on a race course, with a slalom-type experience, you are going so fast that there’s really no room for team sailing. Especially if you consider Scott, who was 3rd in the world, and Phil was probably, I don’t know what he was, 5th or something, but I can see if there’s one guy who is in 40th on the team and he was just the hit man. When we go out on the racecourse, it is every man for himself. When we are on the beach we are definitely a team and we’re definitely pumping each other up and sharing all our secrets, like when we saw ourselves wavesailing on Phil’s video and we talk about what we needed to do better. That helped us focus on stuff we needed to do better. As far as team racing, it’s impossible to do.

AW: Do you guys share your prize money among the group?

KP:  No. We all reap the benefits of winning and doing well.

AW: You know, we tried calling you guys but couldn’t get through to confirm some of the things we wrote.

KP: It’s a busy lifestyle. This year I’ve already been to Australia, Singapore, Sai Pan, Margarita, Germany, France, and California. It’s definitely a lifestyle that is busy and more work than most people think. Not that I’m complaining at all because when we’re here, it’s a dream lifestyle. You don’t have to do anything, really, if you don’t want to, but that’s what really keeps us going. We want to do stuff and we want to get better and keep the drive going.

AW:  Do you think you’ll continue to compete in the Formula class? You tried it in Singapore but have had limited success. Do you think you will stay with that?

KP: If there are good competitions to do, I’m going to be definitely into it. I’d really like to see it go into the Olympics because now as a group we are developing equipment more to what the whole general sport is doing and I think the Formula, being on a short board, seems to be the right direction as far as that. Now that we’ve got the boards so we can use them and win, down to five knots and still planing, it would be good. Right now I’m developing some boards for the Formula.

In Thailand I didn’t really have any input on the equipment. I just hopped on it. I had just come off the World Cup and wasn’t focused on it at all. It was kind of like a big load off my shoulders to win. Formula racing, I think it is a good thing. More people can access the sport as far as having less equipment. You don’t have to have a board for every sail and all this stuff. I think it is a good thing.

AW: It must be pretty tiring for you to travel around the world with so much gear.

KP: Definitely, like when we would go out of the Canaries, with the whole team having something like fifty bags, it’s pretty crazy. It taught me how to negotiate. You come up to the counter with fifty bags and you’re like, “Okay, check them in.” And they’re like, “No, you can’t do that.” “Oh, come on!” We went through the whole process, staying calm in a tough situation. It’s all a good learning experience.

AW: You always strike me as a pretty shy guy. That must have been a challenging experience for you.

KP: I’m not Mr. Outgoing, but sometimes you’ve got to get in there and throw your—whatever—around.

AW:  Now you can tell them you’re the best in the world. Will that get you in?

[Both laugh.]


AW:  Seems most windsurfers on this island (Maui) have girlfriends. How come I never see you with a girl? Are you too focused on windsurfing?

KP: No. I had a girlfriend for about eight years, kind of my high school sweetheart type of thing. At this stage, I’m definitely more focused on the goal of being World Champion but . . . I don’t know . . .

AW: [Chuckling] Blown away by the wind, huh?

KP: Yeah. She and I shared a lot of special times together, and it’s hard to get over something like that. She wanted to do her thing and I wanted to do my thing. I wasn’t ready for being committed to somebody totally. We’re still good friends and everything like that. We still keep in touch. As far as not having a girlfriend . . . deep down in my heart, she always has a place.

AW:  So becoming Overall World Champion is something you’ve checked off your list. Do you have other things on the list you want to tell us about?

KP: I’ve been burning through them pretty fast! I wanted to go to Fiji, Australia, and different places in the world. Skydiving was one of the things that I really wanted to do. Now that I’ve won the world title, I guess it is a matter of keep on doing it and to enjoy it. You can’t go into this and focus too much on it. You’ve got to have a goal but you also got to enjoy the ride that takes you there.

AW:  Have you done Jaws?

KP: I sailed Jaws twice but not super extreme at it, a good rush to see that power. It’s pretty crazy—the ocean and the wind. That’s one of the things that draws me to it. The wind is something you can’t see or touch but you feel the power of, especially windsurfing. To be able to harness something you can’t see and propel yourself, is a pretty neat feeling.


AW:  When you’re out there on a big wave and the wind’s perfect, what are you thinking about?

KP: We’re into motocross right now and people are like, “How can you do motocross? It’s so dangerous, so irresponsible.” When you’re riding, you just think about nothing. When we’re out windsurfing, it is so second nature to us that theres no longer the demand on focus. We can think about whatever. Our minds are always working. But when we’re on a big wave, we’re not thinking about anything. We’re just kind of blank minded, really focusing on what we’re doing. When it’s big out there we’re pretty on edge and I guess the key is to be calm within yourself that you’re going to be okay.

AW: Do you find that calmness helps you win races as well?

KP:  I think so. Having a level attitude. I feel like I’m a pretty level person as far as like when something goes wrong I can handle that and when it goes my way it’s a great thing. Having a level mind and being able to stay focused through the ups and downs is pretty key.

AW:  What are some of the most memorable windsurfing experiences for you?

KP: The first time I ever got on a windsurfer was pretty memorable. It was in Palm Springs, in the Ponds, and it was a short board and I hopped on it. I remember taking off and I never windsurfed before, just kind of watched for a while. I remember getting going so fast! My board was swerving and I got halfway down on my first run. I kind of beach started and took off then crashed and fell in. Everyone told me, “No, you’ve got to learn how to uphaul first.” I was only eight so I couldn’t pull up the sail because I didn’t have a kids’ rig. Everybody told me, “You can’t do it that way.” I said, “Dad, just let me try it. I just want to try it this way.” Sure enough, I just took off. From then on I was hooked. My whole family was out there, so I wanted to be out there too. Probably the next most memorable would be the last race we did on the Aloha Classic.


AW:  When did you know you won it all?

KP:  Well, they didn’t announce whether they were going to do another round but I’d won every race, through every round, throughout the event. It was one of my most solid events of total domination every race. Every race I did I won. I felt really good. You kind of get the hairs on your neck raised up a little bit and you’re like, “This is what all the hard work’s for” and it paid off and it felt pretty damn good.

AW:  Maybe some people don’t understand what the title is. Can you explain what it is and what it involves?

KP:  I won the overall, which combines the racing and the waves put together as well as the racing discipline of five events around the world. We had a couple of no wind wave events but other than that, it is a combination of all the events throughout the world tour.

AW:  You were World Champion in a discipline already, right?

KP:  No. This is actually my first year winning a full-on PWA Grand Slam event. It felt pretty good. I had a good year from start to finish even at the smaller events I went to, like Singapore, Sai Pan, Japan, and Texas, and started building my confidence and momentum.

AW:  Were the smaller events part of the winning strategy?

KP: Yeah. I started to build it up, just knowing I was winning and it all started flowing together. It was a solid year from start to finish. It started off here with the DaKine event, that is the first PWA event. I went out first heat, lost my first heat of the wave contest, and then came back all the way through fourteen heats. I don’t think anybody has done that ever in windsurfing. That was a pretty good feeling to know I could win so many heats. It was a good learning experience and one for getting the ball rolling.

AW:  So how do they view you in Europe now?

KP: They’ve definitely seen a lot more of my name, a little bit more recognition. But I’m kind of the quiet type so I don’t really go around and boast that I’m Number One. That’s just not me. As far as huge recognition, I don’t know if I’m getting that level but I’m more visible than ever.

AW: Didn’t quite a few U.S. magazines do articles on you?

KP: Yeah, I’ve been in different interesting, kind of weird magazines. Outside did something, Sailing World and People magazines too. I was also in Cosmopolitan Magazine and Women’s Own as well. It was pretty interesting, some different kinds of stuff though. It’s cool.

AW: You come from a very tight knit family. You’ve got your brother being your best buddy and your parents who brought you guys up as windsurfers. I remember you guys as a family going around in the northwest and going down to Baja. How did they feel when you won the championship?

KP:  My mom was pretty excited. I could hear her over here yelling. Yeah, we’re definitely a tight family. We grew up enjoying the same things. My dad windsurfs, my mom windsurfs, and we were always doing fun stuff together and it kind of kept us tight. We were always into some sport and we all have the same interests. I definitely had a good up-bringing and was fortunate to have parents who loved to windsurf.

AW:  How old were you when they got you windsurfing?


KP: Eight. My dad kept going every weekend—windsurfing—and I had to go along with them because they couldn’t leave me at home because I was too young. I got sick of sitting in the car so I finally went out there and tried it and started doing it and started loving it and started progressing into it. As far as dreaming of being a World Champion, it has probably been in the last six years. When I was growing up, we’d go to the Gorge for a summer and come back home and just be normal people. The first year up there we saw all those junior kids racing around and we were like, “Oh, we can do that.” We had no concept of what went on and we went out there. I was nine years old and finished 10th, in the Gorge Pro Am and we were like, “That was pretty easy.” We actually learned how to do it while racing.

AW: Your brother, unfortunately, got hurt last year and wasn’t able to compete towards the end of the season. Now that you’re Number One, is there a little friction or jealousy?

KP: No, he’s pretty good like that. He was pretty stoked for me to win. I’m sure it was really tough for him to go through a season of being out, especially one of the best seasons I ever had, so it was definitely tough.

AW:  He had a chance at the title too.

KP:  Yeah. He’s definitely got all the experience and all the goods to do it too, so I think this year it will be pretty interesting with him healthy and determined.

AW: So what will happen if you guys are neck to neck down the line? Will that create problems? [Laughing]

KP: Oh, I don’t know. We’ll cross that road when it gets here, but hopefully we will just become closer for it. That’s what got us so high to this level—being brothers and being competitive with each other and like, “I can do that”, “You can do that”, well, “I can do that better”. That raised our level up quite quickly.

AW: Do you stay up at nights thinking, “Gee, I’m the best windsurfer in the world?”

KP: Hah! It feels pretty good. The one thing, you asked about those big days. You go out and get on big challenging conditions. That’s one that has always scared me. When you’re the best of the best in the world, who’s going rescue you when you need help? I mean, there’s nobody better so . . .

AW: Well maybe Big Brother thinks he’s better.

[Both Laughing]

KP: I’m sure he’s thinking that . . . we do look out for each other.


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