Chris Pressler is a well-known name in the windsurfing community. He has spent a big part of his life windsurfing and competing. He is one of the persons behind the website www.continentseven.com and has shared windsurfing news, moves and clips to the whole world for many years. We had a chat with him about work, windsurfing and life.
How did you get into windsurfing? And how much has it been involved in your life?
When I was a kid we used to travel to Croatia. Most of the days were calm during the summer and we went snorkelling, fishing or had a ride on our little sailing boat. But when a storm arrived, most of the people at the campground, including my family got nervous, almost hysterical. I never understood why. I loved the wind and the waves crashing on the rocky coast. One day, I was 10 years old, a big Yugo storm hit the coast and a few Germans braved the elements on their sinkers and jumped a few meters high and I was fascinated. I asked my parents if there’s any chance to step on such a windsurfer one day. I got no answer. But I remember the day my parents bought a kids rig and we travelled to Corsica and I was fully hooked.
You are doing the webpage of www.continentseven.com. What is the history behind Continentseven?
We are three people working on Continentseven. Besides me, it’s Kerstin Reiger, my girlfriend, who is also working as a photographer and her brother Florian, who is a radiologist. We started to think about Continentseven back in 2000. 2000 was the year we bought our first video camera, a computer with editing software (which was not so easy back then) and travelled to Fuerteventura, where we filmed some moves at the World Cup there. 2000 was also the year when Florian had the idea about the name. We were at Lake Garda, and Kerstin and I were on the water at this time instructing students at Conca d’Oro. When we came back from the water Florian said: „Hey, what do you think about the name Continentseven, a continent for windsurfers.“ Like that, Continentseven was born. The idea behind was as following: five or six continents already exist – depending on how you count. The continent number seven should be the continent of water, of the ocean. So, we had all these moves filmed from Fuerteventura and Kerstin was in the middle of her academic sports scientist study and learnt about psychological and mental training, and how to learn movements. So we broke the moves apart and produced sequences with screenshots taken from the videos. We showed these sequences to some riders, like Kevin Pritchard at the Freestyle World Cup in Austria and they wanted to have the prints. Instead of giving them the prints, we decided to put them online. And on 24.12.2001 we went online.
From the beginning on we were fascinated by the incredible moves and variations in freestyle windsurfing. It became a kind of passion to collect the moves and share them with our community. We filmed thousands of different moves, at the beginning on Digital 8 and Mini DV tapes and later on cards. Sometimes we were lucky and filmed move premiers like Web Pedrick’s Swayze (later Flaka), the Funnell by Ricardo Campello or Gollito Estredo’s Killer in Gran Canaria. We are now in our 17th year and are still driven by our passion for windsurfing.
Where is your favourite place to sail?
At the moment it’s any place as time is limited. I like to windsurf in our lakes in our surroundings like Lake Neusiedl or Lake Balaton. But of course, if I can choose, I would call a wave spot my favourite place. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the Canaries, in Morocco, in Vietnam, Oahu or in Alaska. I like uncrowded places and I like to travel by van, too. Croatia or Sardinia are nice locations and not so far. I don’t like to travel to places just for a few days if they aren’t close. The subconscious appreciation for sustainability grew over the past years a lot. We are just guests on our planet earth.
How was it to compete in the PWA Slalom World Tour?
It was a privilege. It all started in 2005. Challenger Sails my former and actual sail partner produced two prototype sails, a 6.0 and a 7.0. I took the sails and the German Starboard importer borrowed me a board. In the beginning, I had no idea how to rig this sail. Imagine, you start with something new at the age of 30 and you have no clue about it. I had one board, one fin, an aluminium boom, two masts and two sails. After eight sessions on the Slalom gear, I didn’t feel ready for my first Slalom World Cup participation, but my little Austrian fan club forced me to register. It was more exciting as expected. It took me a lot of hours to pick up the basic skills honestly. But thanks to a lot of practice, support from many people, especially pro riders and industry partners, I got better and better. Unfortunately, I had to stop due to physical problems. Numerous slipped discs in my lower back caused a lot of pain. That was in early summer 2011. The recovery was a long process and I continued for three more years. But in Sylt 2015, I had a big bruise on my thigh, couldn’t move well and I lost motivation. It was about time to focus on my roots again and windsurf on the freestyle and wave gear more. Sometimes I still cruise on freeride equipment and compete in local fun events. But honestly, nothing can beat a free session on an 80-litre board and a 4.5m sail. When I decided to stop with competitions it was a big change. When you stop with something you did for many years you need a few years to get a certain distance. Arnon Dagan told me last year in Fuerteventura: „Chris, your passion for racing will return.“ I said I don’t think so. And it still didn’t change. I discovered the passion for other things like Yoga or Skitouring and I have more time for other things again.
Which person is your biggest inspiration?
Any person, who is a creator. Just yesterday I watched a documentary about a French man, who set up a waving mill for traditional styles in Laos. The mix of tradition and modern design, but as well the contact with his local workers inspired me a lot. I am inspired by people who create something in their life. Good taste, creativity and a little bit of spirituality make the difference.
Where do you see windsurfing going in 10 years?
I really hope that windsurfing will return more to where it was in the 80´s, to real funboarding. The technical developments are important but don’t influence the sport as much as many people think. I think people are seeking more simplicity again, back to the roots, the feeling of gliding/planing, the connection with nature and the simple life at the sea, lake or river.
I hope that windsurfing will be considered as board sport like surfing, snow- or skateboarding in 10 years. Windsurfing isn’t a „cheaper“ sailing class. I like windsurfing in good conditions and starts with 105-litre board. I don’t need to have a glide in 5-6 knots at any price.
Which riders have been the most fun watching growing while your time in C7 and in the windsurfing community?
Oh, this list is long and every rider is special. There were many careers we followed or witnessed from the beginning. When Josh Stone showed up with Ricardo Campello at Lake Garda and Ricardo won the Prince of the Lake in 2001 it was easy to predict a great career for him. When we travelled to El Yaque in 2004 to film „Seven Sons of Freestyle“ (our movie) we met Gollito Estredo for the first time. Gollito turned 15 years during the filming of the movie and we already saw his commitment and a huge willingness to improve his skills. We wrote the English sentences for the movie on a sheet of paper and he had to read them, as he did not speak English yet. Sarah-Quita Offringa was one of these incredible riders, too. Tanja Emig sent us photos from 12-year-old Sarah-Quita doing spocks in Aruba. Now 14 years later this girl won 15 world titles and we are hanging out together!
Worst memories from windsurfing?
A broken mast right below the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. The current was pulling me out and there were only huge tankers around me. A sailor with a little boat picked me up and brought me back.
Best memories from windsurfing?
Oh, I have many best memories and it is difficult to mention just a few. One of my best memories was when Michi Schweiger taught me the forward loop in Sardinia or windsurfing with 15-year-old Boujmaa Guilloul in Essaouira. Exploring unknown spots in Peru with Kerstin and Roman, and go windsurfing in front of glaciers and sail with whales in Alaska in 1996 together with Thomas Miklautsch, a great friend, mentor and film maker. Windsurfing in tropical Vietnam (thanks Pascal & Starboard) was great. Filming a brilliant double forward loop by Marcilio Browne in La Torche was a big moment too. A winter session with Philip Köster and Jorge at a secret spot in Gran Canaria, and beating Antoine Albeau at my home spot in a slalom heat or a freestyle heat at the King of the Lake against Jason Polakow in 2001. And many more…
Photographers: Kerstin Reiger, Richard Pichler/New World Spirits.