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Breakfast With Josh Angulo
By Eddy Patricelli
American Dreams: Interview with Josh Angulo
2003 PWA Wave Champion Josh Angulo speaks candidly about life, addictions and why he's just an average Joe.
Just for second, imagine your Josh Angulo. You grew up on Maui. Your older brother Mark dominated wave sailing in the early 90's. Your dad Ed is a famous board shaper. You love to windsurf. It?s what you know.
Flash forward to 2003. You're competing in Sylt, Germany. You've battled drug and alcohol addiction for 10 years. You can?t recall when windsurfing's spotlight didn't follow your every move. You've found faith in God, gotten married and left Maui to a remote island off the West Coast of Africa. You've started your own board line and opened a vacation resort. In some circles, you?ve been all but written off from the competitive windsurfing scene.
Your feet sink into Sylt's heavy sand. You're staring at the competition ladder board. You realize guys like Jason Polakow, Vidar Jensen, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Kevin Pritchard stand between you and winning a title that many people expected you to win long ago. But it's not about that. In fact, it never was.
Windsurfing: Growing up in a famous windsurfing family has put you in windsurfing's spotlight since you were 10-years-old with some big expectations riding on your shoulders. Is this win a relief in any way?
Josh Angulo: The only expectations that existed I put on myself. My dad was never a dad who said, "You gotta win." And my sponsors support me regardless if I win or lose. They just want me to be me with customers and other people. But because I was in the sport at such a young age, I did expect to reach world cup status and I had dreams of winning.
But when people ask me what the first thing I felt when I won I tell them "relief," especially after sailing in heats that everything was riding on. There was also a big relief winning for my newfound home in Cape Verde. Nothing against my support crew in Maui -- they've been great. But ever since I moved to Cape Verde there there's been a great pressure to win from the locals on the beach to the customs agents I haggle with when traveling with gear, they all want me to win.
WS: David Ezzy of Ezzy Sails claims that it wasn't too long ago that people had written you off in regards to windsurfing, instead fearing for your life as you battled drug addiction. What allowed this dramatic turn-around?
JA: Well, the dramatic turn-around was a long time in the making. It wasn't a day-to-day thing. Instead, it was a long time of bottoming out and a lot of years of wanting help but not bottoming out enough to use it. Once I got sober things started change and rebound quickly. That year I got second in the world. But I was so blown away by being sober I wasn't really focused on winning as much as just being happy to be near the top. That was like the little Pink Cloud like they call it in AA.
Then you kind of realize you've got this disease for the rest of your life, that you're going to be tempted and that you'll struggle to deal with yourself in a sober manner which is always a challenge because you see all these other faults about yourself that drugs and alcohol hid before. What you could use drugs or alcohol as a cop-out before no longer could be an excuse. You might realize that maybe you're just a dickhead ? that it?s not the drugs.
Then I started settling into my shoes and my life and what it is. Pro windsurfing has been a sideshow to my wife, my daughter, my board business and staying sober. When I do have time to focus on the windsurfing I have a ton of energy for it. Even my little sail session in Cape Verde that are 10 minutes, maybe even a hour, are just intense. I'm so into it. I'm very motivated now.
How difficult for you is it to be on the PWA tour and its party-driven environment drug free?
It's actually amazingly easy now. With my wife traveling with me it's different. When we won the title, my wife was very involved -- we didn't even go out. We're so over that whole party, clausterphobic bar scene. It's more difficult for me to stay sober at the family barbeques with the old uncles, that's when I'm tempted to kick back and suck a few rather than the whole hu-rah party atmosphere.
WS: The final showdown in Sylt saw light winds, which in the past have put you at a disadvantage over smaller, more lightweight sailors. Have today?s improved large wave sails and wave boards play a role in leveling the playing field?
Most definitely. I've been really focused on tuning my light-air gear. It showed in Sylt. I felt I had a huge equipment advantage. All I sail on in Cape Verde is my 5.5, 5.8 and 6.3 and my light-air board, so I was dialed. And Verde saw some storms this year that made for onshore sailing that's identical to Sylt.
WS: You have a strong bond with your family here on Maui. Where do you consider home these days? Maui or Cape Verde?
JA: Home is Maui and Cape Verde. Immediate home is Cape Verde, but I have deep roots in Maui. Even though the roots are younger on Verde I feel I have a strong bond with the whole island. The island is small and very involved in the water sports community. Everybody knows everybody. It's tight knit and I find support from them.
WS: Has Cape Verde been your Trump card for training?
JA: Honestly, it has now. I mean it's shown. Training there is so different than here on Maui. I sail more port tack over there. I live in a dream-like place. I can dream up world titles I can dream of connecting waves from the outside to inside. And when you sail all these places where you don't see everyone you're mind just opens up. There's no finger-pointing and jealousy that sometimes exists in the Maui pro community. I'm outside of all that.
WS: How has the role of windsurfing in your life evolved? Is it work? An escape? Both?
JA: It's both. Windsurfing is probably 100% work 100% fun. I guess I've really learned to appreciate how awesome this job is. Therefore I feel like there's really no time to play around. Obviously when I get into heavy conditions I'm really focused on what's going on with a wave just so I don't get hurt and do the right thing. But most every sailing session I'm working with a photographer, working with a sail, a fin or a board, trying to get the shots for the photographer. If I'm not in the water I try to extend myself to any clients to offer help.
WS: You?re a rather vocal minority of pro male sailors who support women on the tour. Explain why.
JA: I guess I've gotten that reputation, but I don't really know why. I support the whole deal. I'm not really out there chanting "Pro women" but I'm definitely not anti-either. Women are vital to the sport. You know the Moreno girls are really getting us men into shape. I support that so I guess I support women and my wife would kick my butt otherwise.
WS: Robby Naish once said, "Josh would win everything if he just got his head screwed on straight." Is this win a sign of what's to come?
JA: I believe so. I'm fired up for the next few years. Now that the pieces have fallen into place and I know the formula and what needs to be done. I know I have the capabilities and mental capacity to win, that's what's motivating me big time.
Josh Angulo is sponsored by Ezzy Sails and Angulo boards.
Get Wet Now with Angulo boards and Ezzy Sails:
http://www.windrider.gr/catalogs/2004%2 ... ementS.pdf
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