Interview with Tonky Frans
Tonky grew up with his grandma and grandpa in the neighborhood of Playa Pabou, two streets away from the ocean. He was a genuine ocean boy: he had perfect swimming and fishing skills. At the age of 11, Tonky was introduced to the sport of Windsurfing.
Tonky participated for the first time in the Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) Tour at 2001, year that saw him crowned King of the Caribbean in his backyard at Sorobon in Bonaire. Since 2001 Tonky Frans (NB-7) has proven to be unstoppable! An iconic figure of modern freestyle. At the last PWA event in Fuerte Tonky claimed a well deserved third position, ending behind Gollito and Steven Van Broeckhoven, impressing everybody with his performance. Doing an interview with him was something we wanted from the very first moment that this blog has been published. So enjoy some Tonky in the following 1300 words!
Where are you at the moment?
Tonky - I am in Holland now to relax a bit, and do other things other than windsurfing for a few days. I came here because it is closer for the next event, that will be in Sylt that I need to go through Hamburg. So it is closer to get to Sylt from here….
It’s been almost ten years that your name is among the top freestyle riders in the world. How profitable was this for you?
Well to be honest to you I know I’ve been in the top 10 for more or less ten year, but is feels like not so long and I did not expect it either. It is not easy but, it’s a result of everyday training and keeping up with the new school moves. How profitable? Well not at this moment, I do windsurfing for the fun and I live a bit from it but not at the fullest… And I can not lie and say yes that I do make money out of it, I make but not enough for the good living and what I can say is that I try very much to be in the podium most of the time so than I can have a bit prize money to get around and honestly it is not so easy…
I think that you do not often say “I go training”. Instead you seem to prefer the word freesailing. Do you really feel it this way, are you still soul rider or there are times that you feel that you shall go out and train?
Yeah ! Well it is difficult to say how I go sailing, as I grow up with the thing in mind that, I always wanna try something new to show the whole world that what it’s impossible to make it possible ! And that is what I have in mind when I go sailing … And maybe for other’s that see me sailing or others sailing trying and big crash and things like this it is training but at the same time you try something that you wanna make possible and this is the way we see it in competition that you can win with it and yes is hard to explain it but in mind is more that I go try to make everything that I can do with this board and sail …
The heat between Gollito and Kiri at the 2012 PWA Freestyle Fuerte event was one of the most controversial ones. If you were among the judges to whom would you give the ticket to the next round?
My way to see this kind of heat depends on the conditions and what the judge’s wanna see at that moment. They both sailed really good in that heat. Gollito have more the spinning and the air moves and Kiri have the same but there is missing something that I can’t explain until he shows it in the heats and that he can win… if you see the whole heat you think that Kiri took it but at the end Gollito wins. It’s because of the rule that we have to do 7 moves per tack, 4 best are counting. Gollito focused on that 4 moves, and Kiri could do that too… to be honest I don’t get it either but that is what I think.
When you are sailing you have a unique style. You are nailing super hard moves and at the same time you have a smile on your face. Do you really enjoy it so much after all these years?
Yes, I still do and I will keep doing this till I see that is enough. For me some moves are very easy or maybe I know which is the right time to pull them. And it is more like having fun but I know I am in competition and it is the more fun you have like you have everyday the better you sail and I think that it is the style of person I am.
Even thought your sailing level is sick, when you were competing against your brother, you kind of suffered from a “can’t fight my brother” syndrome. But to everybody’s surprise this year at Fuerte you impressed everybody with an amazing performance against Taty. What has changed?
I don’t know but my brother Taty is a good competitor as well and everyone can have a bad heat. It can be either me or him and there are more heat as well that you see that both sailors had a good heat but one is better and it can be me or him. In Fuerteventura I really had a good motivation and sailing full power. Don’t forget it is one of my favorite spots!
Honestly how can you not break your boards during that massive bongas?
…. It’s because I have so much control in the forward loop. I do this move everyday since I was 16 to 17 years old and yeah now I am 29 years old. Every time I go sailing I do at least 15 maybe max 20. Now my landings are very smooth. It is like I have find the key to make a massive forward and have smooth landing as well. In the rotation I know exactly where I am. Now as the flakas came along I have combined these two moves together. But I have broke some boards before becoming so smooth with the landing of the forward loops. I think that I have got it from learning it doing it in flat water…
Talking about boards Tabou’s 2013 freestyle board Twister range undergo a massive makeover, introducing a super thick tail and a single fin replacing the twins. What led to this change?
Well after trying the Tabou Twister last year I liked it, especially when it is really windy the board was sailing very good but I needed a better one for the new school moves. I was after a new school board, something a bit different… So I went to Marseille in France to Fabien Vollenweider and we have made some changes on the boards together with Davy Scheffers and Antony Reunes.
What fins are you using, are you changing them depending on the wind and the chop and where do you usually put your mast base?
I don’t chance fins, I use the same one for all conditions, it doesn’t really matter that much for me. The size that I use is 18cm, it is the Sashimi that comes with the 100 liter Tabou Twister, but I use the 90 liter Twister. I keep the mast base always in the same position and that is more or less in the middle of the mast track of the board.
I rig the 2013 Gaastra Pure sails with less outhaul and I pull the downhaul until the leech loosenes in between the first two top batten. In the 2013 sails we have stretched the dacron panel more so that made the sails tighter and because of this you don’t have to pull a lot of outhall.
The 2012 Pure, yes you need to pull a lot outhaul and less downhaul but it doesn’t really matter much compare to the last year sails.
Do you still have the longest sliding willy skippers out there?
Yes I still do the long sliding willy skipper. Actually I have a movie cooking out soon and will have some scenes of some long willy skippers….
Lac Bay in Bonaire has been the birthplace of at least half of the new freestyle moves. What shall we expect to come out in the following months?
Well till now I can’t tell you if there will be a new move but a lot of combination moves is something we can expect for sure. The smoother the moves become the better the combinations will be and we will see what will come out soon
Maybe no promise but I know everyone like surprises so stay tuned
Big thanks for the interview man!
Welcome ! THX to you ..
All photos are used under Jacob S. Jensen – designfordi.dk licence and were shot during the Waterz International multiple water board sport event located around the beautiful city Hvide Sande on the west coast of Denmark.