“Blast from the Past” Interview with Jamie Hawkins

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN AGAINST THE MAN WHO BEAT NAISH?!

Never one to rest on its laurels, new for NWF 2014 is the ‘Blast from the Past’ – an opportunity for NWF competitors to take part in fun race on Friday to win the opportunity to compete with the speed and slalom professionals of today and yesteryear. If you fancy your chances, polish up your quickest kit and come along – you could gain bragging rights for life just for being on the start line next to racing legends!

One of the speedsters who will be lining up is K-96, Jamie Hawkins, or ‘J-Dogg’ as he is known. One of the UK’s top professional sailors back in the 90’s, among a string of titles, Jamie can lay claim to three production World Titles, victory in the Tiree Wave Classic and an unforgettable heat win against Robby Naish on the wave tour. I caught up with J-Dogg to see what he’s up to now and how he favours his chances in the line-up at the NWF!

j hawkins

JAMIE HAWKINS

  1. Your nickname is J-Dogg. How did that come about?     It came from the early nineties when me ‘n my pals like Nik Baker were all into dre n Snoop. J I even had a jdogg number plate in Maui!  

2.        What was your first experience of windsurfing? My dad taught me when I was 10. What inspired you and how did you qualify for the professional circuit?  I just loved it and was pretty good at it too, so it was a natural progression. Which disciplines did you compete in? All! 

3.       You competed notably in racing and wave. Which is your favourite and what do you love most about windsurfing?   Naturally, as I’m 6’ 4”, I can’t be slow on a board! So racing came easier. Waves is the most fun.  

4.       How would you describe the disciplines of Windsurfing with which you were involved? How does the kit and the competition in the ‘90s differ from today and what challenges did this throw up?    The racing kit, in my opinion, evolved to race in lighter winds, closer to the beach, which is good for spectators – and so the sport. But the race kit in the 90’s was faster on most angles of attack. What are the stand-out things that have changed over the years? Personally I hated the intro of formula kit, I was pretty strong then but struggled to muscle the kit round a course. How do you see the future of windsurfing developing? Everyone realised windsurfing got a little lost a few years back and now it seems that everyone is clear on what is fun and appealing to the kit-buying public. As with anything in sport and society it’s all about the ‘kids’ -they are the fresh blood and talent and without them there is no tomorrow. 

5.       You have 3 production board World Titles. What does it take to be the best in the world?      It takes everything you think; talent, focus, knowledge, equipment – but mostly true grit. If your parents are always rigging and de rigging for you, for example, you haven’t got a chance! If you won’t rig ‘n de rig on your own, you haven’t got a chance either!! 

6.       You won a heat against Robby Naish in the wave tour. Talk us through how it happened and how it felt!     Well in honesty, I had been training in Pozo for a few years and got quite comfortable in 40 knots there. I sailed at my top level; Naish sailed pretty good too, apparently.  I thought he ripped there at the time and was – and still is – a total and utter Ledge! The scores had me ahead on wave riding, more than jumps, which I thought was cool. It was just one heat, though a proud moment nonetheless. One of the the W4CR charity auction lots at NWF this year is Robby Naish’s sail. Will you be bidding to claim another bit of Naish as a trophy?! Job would love trade mark pink Naish sail if that is the item for auction. 

j hawkins 2

7.     With your racing pedigree, do you have any top tips or cunning race tactics that might give NWF competitors an edge in the Master Blaster races?!      Yes – but no tips if I’m racing in them too. 😉  

8.       What is your experience of the NWF? You are taking part in the Pro-Am Slalom event planned for this year – are you planning to put to bed any old grudges with your contemporaries from back then or are you planning to show the young whippersnappers how it’s done and that every J-Dogg has its day?!      Well, I did a few NWFs, the last only about 4 years ago. I won the races and loved the format. Even if it’s a fun race, I still wanna try ‘n win. However, you can’t just jump on and win, you never have been able to and I doubt I will have the kit and time to train. Given that time n kit, I could still kick some butt and win!

9.       Being a windsurfing pro and getting paid to do what we love seems like a dream to most of us. What positive or negative effects has having the sport you love as both your pleasure and your work had on your enjoyment of the sport?      Mainly all positives. I love the sport and always have. There have been times of less interest, but mainly that’s due to conditions not being enough to give you a buzz. 

10.   Gary Numan said that he had achieved everything he had ever hoped for when he became a millionaire at the age of 21, so as a new challenge, he overcame his fear of flying to become a pilot. You clearly achieved great success at a young age. How can life afterwards live up to world titles, international success and an incredible lifestyle pursuing the sport you love?      Ha Ha! It sometimes makes normal a little tough, as things came easy, but not without hard work. If you translate that hardworking sports attitude of preparation and never giving up, business can also be similar.

11.   A number of your contemporaries, such as Naish, Polakow and Dunkerbeck still compete at the top level. Many pro windsurfers who quit the circuit and go on to work in the sport, but you opted for a complete change and opened up Coastal Coffee, the Seahorse Café and Coastal Music, a music promotion business which has worked with an impressive list of musicians, such as Dean Friedman and Dr Robert of The Blow Monkeys. Tell me how it came about and why you chose not to carry on in windsurfing as a profession, when it is clearly a passion of yours?       The reason I stopped pro windsufing was simply that sponsor money was suddenly low. Most of the jobs were taken in the industry, so it wasn’t really an option to go into the business side. I wanted to have my own business and cafes always appealed to me. We have just opened Coastal Watersports, which specialises in Paddleboard and kitesurfing tuition on the beach at Littlehampton. 

12.   What are your best and worst windsurfing experiences? What is the funniest thing that has happened to you? One of the worst was almost being beaten up by a mad Hawaiian local with Dave White, ‘coz of Dave’s driving! One of the funniest was having our house in Hawaii broken into by Dave White and having water thrown on Timo and I. We then cat chased him down the road, cornered him and pelted him with our paintball guns point blank, he was just in shorts!  

13.   Who do you most admire among your contemporaries in the sport, then and / or now? Probably Naish, he has to be the ultimate windsurfing, kiting, SUPin’ ledge. There are many ledges as they are all still around.  

14.   Describe which windsurfing move you found the most difficult to master? The one handed flat water goiter.

15.   Where is your favourite / local spot to sail? What would your fantasy windsurfing day be? LA (Littlehampton) or Witts (Wittering) on a good day. All time would be Hookipa with no one out. Actually we went to this spot in Cape Verde this year that was a cross between Lanes and Hookipa with no one out, it was mind blowing. 

16.   You kite, SUP and surf- alongside your other commitments, do you compete or feel compelled to take these sports to the same level as your windsurfing? I try to take ‘em to the same level. I generally need waves in windsurfing to get the full joy, so generally I kite up to 25-30 knots and windsurf above that. Unless I go somewhere the waves are real good – then I would be out there windsurfing! 

Jackie Lambert

You can catch up with Jamie (if you’re quick enough on a board!) at the NWF; if not, links to his Coffee Shops and music business can be found at http://www.coastalcoffee.co.uk/ and Coastal Watersports in Littlehampton at http://coastalwatersportscompany.com/

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