Jaeger Stone - a name you may not be so familiar with, especially when thinking of Cold Hawaii, and the last few seasons of the PWA World Tour. The young man from Western Australia, with roots set deep in the windsurfing world, has just returned to the scene, after a few years off. At the moment, the 23yr old, Jaeger, is sitting pretty at no.3, on the current PWA rankings list.
So who is the “mystery man”, what are his roots, and why the long break?
“I began windsurfing when I was 11 years old, and was lucky enough to have my Dad (Stone Surfboards) shaping boards to my scale. Growing up in Western Australia, I was able to windsurf almost every afternoon in summer, as we have some of the best conditions in the world. After finishing high-school I planned to compete on the PWA World Tour for a few years, but unfortunately I injured myself. At that time, I decided that going to University and getting a Physiotherapy Degree was something that I would like to do and so it meant focusing on something other than windsurfing for 4 years - but I'm really happy I made that decision. I recently graduated as a Physiotherapist in November last year, and have been trying to windsurf as much as possible, back home, since then.”
On the 2010 and 2011 PWA World Tours, Jaeger finished 21st and 19th. Now he’s back, and his hunger and motivation seems bigger than ever. He has started this season with two 4th places, on Gran Canaria and Tenerife. This could turn out to be an historical come-back, within windsurfing, if the Australian’s year continues this way.
“Basically I've never competed on the whole PWA World Tour, so have never considered myself to have a ranking. I don't know if I would have finished higher or lower, in 2010 and 2011, but I finished with those rankings because they're based on the only 2 competitions that I did, being Pozo and Tenerife. I'm not expecting to finish high-ranking this year, as I haven't been to any of the next 3-4 events. I'm just hoping to learn as much as I can from each location, and to gain more competition experience.”
This season’s PWA World Tour sees a double-up of wave events, since the 2012 season. That’s a lot more travelling and a lot more competing involved. And this means that firsthand experience of the spots, will mean a lot to the sailors, this year. Knowing a windsurfing spot, for a windsurfer, is a big plus. If you have experience of how the wind and waves work, on a World Cup spot... then you’re already leaps ahead of the others. Jaeger has never been to Cold Hawaii, or the other wave events after Denmark.
“I haven't been to Klitmøller before, so am really looking forward to going to a new destination and windsurfing. I've watched the event online, in the past, and hopefully we get some really good wind and waves, like some of the previous years. Other than it being colder than Australia and the Canary Islands, I don't really know what to expect and that's the exciting part about it.”
Rejoining the World Tour, after time away, and now with a University degree under one's belt, and a few years older, definitely has it’s hidden challenges. The PWA has progressed, as well as the competition, and the level of the wave windsurfing, since Jaeger’s last PWA season.
“It's been really interesting coming back on to the Tour, after a few years away. Being a little bit older now, I look at things a bit differently, and I realise and pay more attention to things that I never have in the past. I feel like I'm much more prepared now as well, and I am really trying to take away as much as I can from each heat and competition. There are always surprises and upsets in competition - but it's a competition, and no matter what those surprises are, you just need to stay focused.”
Being the new kid on the block, or not - Jaeger seems very focused and determined, and taking things one step at a time. Maybe the years off, from the World Tour, have given him a break well needed. Keeping focused, and ready for the challenges AND the surprises, might keep him in the top 3… or even higher up, by the end of the year. Either way, Jaeger certainly knows how to make a big splash on the scene.
So, to all the other PWA sailors: Watch out. The “joker in the pack” may not be that much of a joker, after all!