Here is a little double interview me and Ben did for www.wwwindsurfing.com. We only got to see each other's answers when it was published:)

WWW.WWWINDSURFING.COM:
The windsurfing community has witnessed as Justyna has recovered miraculously from a horrible foot injury and everybody is now following the recovery of Ben from his separated shoulder accident while training in Western Australia. As the windsurfing couple has just returned back to Europe we felt it was perfect timing to catch up with the duo.

We asked the same questions to both sailors and they answered without letting the other see their answers...so with the publishing of this interview they will also get to read what the other half had to say!!

 

Full Name: Benjamin Andrew Proffitt; Justyna Sniady

Date of birth and place: 20/01/1978, Shrewsbury, England; 31.08 1985 Warsaw, Poland

Current residence: All over the place..but main base is back in Shrewsbury; Suitcase

Sail number: K-800; POL-1111

Sponsors: Ben - Simmer Sails, Simmer Boards, Simmer wetsuits, O'shea Clothing, Funsport Windsurfing Shop; Justyna - Simmer Sails, Quatro, Mystic, Powerex, Surfadviser.com

When did you start windsurfing and what got you hooked?

Ben: I started when I was 9 years old. I'd been sailing boats for a few years so when I got on a windsurfer it was obvious I wasn't going back on a boat!!

Justyna: I stepped on the board for the first time when I was 7, but it wasn't until I was 12 that I spent my first week on the board. Back in the days I was obsessed with horse riding - I broke in a horse at the age of 13 and wasn't keen on windsurf that much. However, having an older brother and wishing to be as good as him in everything I got on the board again when I was 12. I got planing for the first time, my eyes opened wide from excitement and I was hooked ever since. I lived 500km from the seaside and only got 1-2 weeks windsurfing holiday a year so you can say that it was quite a platonic relationship in the beginning - limited to reading every windsurfing mag I could find and watching all the videos. When I had few days at the seaside I wouldn't leave the water - we even sailed at night. I did most sports you can think of (motoX, skiing, snowboarding, even kiting) and nothing can come even close to windsurfing. Of course it takes time to get to a level where you can truly appreciate what it has to offer, but I think it's also the constant challenges, having something to learn always and not being too easy to learn (like with kite, snowboarding, wake-boarding, etc) what makes windsurfing so special to me.

Current status on injuries?

Ben: I have a separated shoulder (AC joint is F@&©led) which means my collar bone now sticks out my shoulder...so looks like all my modelling jobs will now dry up!! haha. It's a very common injury for rugby players and cyclists that fall off. Landing on an out-stretched arm or directly on your shoulder can do it.

I did it by hooking in on a Pushloop tabletop ...and as it wasn't a massive one and I also didn't have much forward momentum it meant I would have to really push out to finish the move...which is kind of hard when your hooked in...even with 34 harness lines. So I sort of got to the top really inverted and tweaked, went to push out and ..Shhhh&%T and that was pretty much how I landed...head/shoulder first bang on the sail/boom! I actually thought I'd broken my collar bone at first as it hurt like a mother and felt strange!

Justyna: My injury was one of the worst foot injuries you can get. I broke (or more shattered to pieces) 5 bones and broke my lisfranc ligament (which was the main problem) as well. Some people never come back from this. The surgery was very complicated and most surgeons I visited didn't even want to risk touching it not to get bad publicity. I am so happy that I found a true committed Doctor Piotr Piekarczyk - who took the risk and put the effort in - and instead of going the easier way and fusing my joint, he restored the whole joint surface in my foot! My foot will never be 100% but it's already good!

Well.. let's just say I heal like a dog! I've just seen my surgeon yesterday and he said he cannot believe how quickly I got back on the water and to be jumping! I still can't bend my toes fully and my ankle joint hurts quite a bit. After a session on the water I usually limp for a while, but I am not complaining since I wasn't supposed to be walking normally ever again! I still have another operation to come to take all the metal out of my foot, but I think I will suffer through the season before I let them cut me again. I wouldn't stand another season on the beach!

Ben, 18th in waves for 2012, 13th in 2011...what's your game plan for 2013 to get you back up there nosing on the top 10?

Ben: I was pretty happy with how I was sailing last year...but I didn't really get the breaks. Its such small margins your dealing with and some times it just doesn't go your way...you never know I might end up with better draws this year as last year I kept getting Koster in the 3rd round! But in saying that there are not that many easy draws out there so I've decided this year I'm really going to push harder in the heats more like free sailing...so we'll have to see how that works out!!...shame about the injury really...but thats the way it goes!

Justyna, 10th place in 2011, obviously a disappointing year in 2012 with your injury although a remarkable and strong comeback now. Do you feel confident to enter into the competitions again in 2013?

Justyna: I don't even wanna bring up how gutted I was about my injury last year!! I was really feeling strong and ready for the best season of my life and then..almost lost a chance to sail forever! It was terrible.. but I could either listen to all the horrible scenarios or try to get back into it slowly. Hopefully it work out quite good. Considering that I still have problems walking downstairs, can't wear heals and I limp a bit - it's amazing that I got back to frontloops, got my first fully controlled backloops this season and can actually wave-ride again! I am super stoked and fired up even more than before. Some friends were trying to cheer me up after the accident by saying "well maybe it will give you extra motivation when you get back".. we all had to laugh about it as I always spend every possible minute sailing in any conditions and was the last person who needed to learn to appreciate the time on the water. However, I think that in a way the injury did help me. Before I was going for everything full on - I was jumping as high as I could and crashing really hard sometimes. Now, because of my injury I had to learn to be more "careful" and focus a lot on technique - seems like it paid off. We still don't know how my foot will react to really choppy strong wind conditions in places like Pozo, but whatever the result I will definitely enjoy competing this year more than ever after watching all the action from the wheelchair last season.

You have both witnessed (being commentators) some of the efforts put in place by PWA to allow the sport to reach a wider public and to make it a bit more mainstream...do you feel more can be done by PWA and the rest of the windsurfing community to increase interest? If yes, got any ideas?

Ben: Well, I think the live stream is awesome especially with the new live scoring system in place. So I'm really looking forward to that this year. For me I'm probably windsurfing's biggest fan...actually probably 2nd behind Ms. Sniady so its hard to see why windsurfing can't break out there. But I truly believe the live scoring will be a big breakthrough and as I've said before who the hell would watch Tennis, darts, basketball if you didn't know the score...very hard to get excited when you don't know who is in the lead..or what is needed to win! We now have the perfect tool to really create the tension and really build up the heats...Plus we have killer action! It's awesome but we still need some one big to take it on (red bull as an example) and really promote it...people will watch it but it needs to be in there faces!...its funny really as there is solo much Shite on TV these days!

Justyna: The good thing is that more is being done as we speak! Live scoring has been introduced and I think that made a tremendous difference in making the events "watchable" for the wider public. Along with Ben on the mic it makes it just a fun, action-filled show full of anticipation and tension as you never know if that one wave or jump will come in last seconds to change the result of the heat! There is so many people watching ASP live - I think windsurfing is even better because you don't have such long waiting periods between the waves. There are a few people on the water catching waves and getting air so it never gets boring! I hope that soon we will be able to put the reports from PWA competitions on TV. More can always be done and work is in progress on introducing more events this year with Cape Town and Chile coming up. Windsurfing is on the rise again and I am excited for the future or our awesome sport. There is heaps of people on the beaches sailing. I think windsurfing just needs more publicity in general media to attract bigger, outside sponsors - and we are on the right track! I think that what is happening thanks to Philip Köster with VW adverts, etc, is just awesome! I am so stoked that I can buy a redbull 4pack with a windsurfer on it!!

What was the highlight of 2012?

Ben: Well, there were a lot of lowlights haha...but the highlight for me was seeing Justyna getting back on the water! She had been told that might not be possible and would all ways walk with a limp etc etc...so to see her back on a board and not only back on a board but ripping was awesome! So happy for her...although I shit myself every time she leaves the water...or wipeout!! I really hope I don't have to commentate on any of her heats this year...I'll be a wreck!!

Justyna: My first time on the water after the operation. You have to understand that 99% of all surgeons I've seen said I have to prepare myself for never walking normally again and that I can forget about even wearing high heals - not mentioning sailing or jumping! That was probably the hardest part of this injury for me. I wouldn't find out whether the surgery was successful till months afterwards. When I wobbled out in Tiree for the first time (after whole season on the wheelchair) tears started running down my face. When I managed to jibe with my bad balance (my injured leg was 6cm thinner than normal) and then do tiny cutback on a little wave on the way back I started crying for good. I was so happy but also relieved. I had to come back to the beach cos I couldn't catch my breath from the excitement! I was crying and laughing for another 20 min! All the frustration, fear and hope was coming out.. It was an amazing feeling of relief and joy! Definitely a highlight of 2012!
There was one more incident that came close to be the highlight of my year if the injury wouldn't happen. A massive wipeout in Margaret River on the Main Break - and not drowning! I had a mast and a half wave collapsing on me! That was the biggest wipeout I ever had - even in nightmares haha! It was fallowed by 2 more waves spinning me round and round! It took all the energy from me as I needed to swim forever to get to my kit as well.. It took me 10 min on the beach to catch my breath but I was surprisingly stoked about this experience. Living through it gave me much more confidence. An extra bonus was providing good entertainment for people on the beach who were clapping for me as I came back and even had a cold beer ready!

You have both just come back from Australia and we've all seen the nice footage through videos and images...is Australia your preferred winter training destination and if yes, why (comparing with SA for example)?

Ben: For me I'd love to combine Australia and South Africa as that would be the perfect destination...South Africa for the price, distance between spots, consistency, price, bars, steaks, beers, not living in a van...oh and did I mention price!! Australia for the lack of crowds, conditions (when they are on), warm water, less chance of being robbed and living in a van (it has its moments).

Justyna: Well it's my first and only winter destination so far! I never used to sail in the winter. I was a summer sailor solely as I was studying and working in Warsaw (500km) from the sea. I always dreamed of living in a place where I could go sailing at least on the weekends or in the afternoons, somewhere on the coast. After I finished my Bachelors degree at Warsaw University I applied for Uni in Perth, Australia. That was supposed to be a way to get more windsurfing in! I was excited when I got accepted. Unfortunately, Australia wasn't that kind to me in the beginning.. I had a head-on car crash just during my first month there that I almost died in! That took an opportunity to finally windsurf more away from me for a while. After that I had many more stories of tough luck and it's amazing I can now smile looking back at all this. Somehow I survived few years - managed to finish my MBA there and after living in the van or on friend's couches and working in the most ridicules places (from disassembling PCs and TVs for recycling with a big hammer and a screw driver, to sampling vodka in bottle shops in high heals!) I finally got a proper office job, rented my own room and gained some time off to windsurf. It was awesome! I was able to spend winters in Australia and even save up a bit! Since I am in a process of getting a visa to be able to keep my job there I'm not sure if and when I will get an opportunity to spend the winter elsewhere. It would be great to visit other winter destinations, but I really can't complain because WA has some of the best spots in the world!

What are your plans for the coming weeks and months until the first wave event in Gran Canaria?

Ben: Getting lots of physio to get my shoulder right so I can hopefully get to Maui for the Simmer photoshoot...then back from Maui and I might be heading to Korea to commentate on the first PWA Slalom event. Then straight home and a couple of days later the British wave tour kicks off at my home spot in Rhosneigr.

Justyna: My life story of unexpected dramas taught me not to plan too far ahead haha.. saying that we just booked tickets to Maui for the Simmer photoshoot! I can not believe it!! I'm soooooo excited! It has been my life-long dream to go to Maui one day and now it is turning into reality! It's going to be an around 2 weeks trip starting the beginning of April.
From mid-May we are starting the BWA tour with events in Wales and Ireland. After that (beginning of June) I will already start working in Gran Canaria, so I will have a chance to tune in with the conditions and see how my foot reacts to super strong winds before the first PWA event in July.

How did the two of you meet?

Ben: I was in Pozo...It was a lovely day, the birds were singing in the trees, the sun was shining and a slight breeze on the water...hahaha..actually...it was more like it was blowing 50knots, trees were being uprooted, birds were getting blown out of the sky...the sun was shining though!! She told me I was jumping too low...haha...good job she's got killer eyes and the best smile ever!

Justyna: Well.. Ben said he saw me in Tenerife ages ago - but I don't remember him I remember chatting few times in Sylt during the PWA. I actually asked him about it and why he didn't chat me up earlier! He said that he thought I was 16! I was 22 so big + for Ben here haha... It wasn't till PWA in Gran Canaria that we properly met for the first time. It must of been the duck tape helmet I had on my head after I broke my eardrum with a forward few minutes before my heat that caught his eye - it was quite a sexy look;) I'm pretty sure I was giving him a hard time about his age and he was giving me a hard time about how much I talk! I actually had to run after him for a while, but he finally got convinced that you can get used to all my talking and we lived happily ever since

How does a normal day in the life of windsurfing couple Ben & Justyna look like?

Ben: A normal day..hahaha..I'll let you know when we have one!

Justyna: Haven't had a normal day yet! But I can tell you how our typical day over the winter in Australia looked like.
Wake up in the van with the sealing 15cm above our heads as underneath the bed we had all the gear. Feeling hot.. as the sun is up already. Even though it's 6am - temperature is already 30°C! We squeeze out of the van and look around. We are usually on the side of the road (saving on ridiculously expensive campings in OZ). The van is so full of stuff that we need to move our bags from the front seat back on the bed to get going. We drive to the nearest beach - lets say Corronation. Then we start a long process of getting the breakfast - need to get the food out of the plastic containers. Everything is sealed as we get intruders (mice) every night otherwise. We eat breakfast and then (since we are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by the desert with no phone range) we try to find something to do to kill the time while waiting for the wind.
Stretching, reading, sometimes going through the footage to learn what to improve. Once the wind kicks in we are on the water all day till the sunset - taking turns to film a bit. By the time we de-rig it's already dark. Pitch black actually as we are in the bush with no lights or civilization anywhere close. We put our head torches on, take out the little gas cooker, crack a beer open and cook a meal chatting to all the others about the best and worse moments from the water that day. By the time we finish and clean everything to put it back in the plastic boxes it's usually 9-10pm. Since we have no electricity and it is literally pitch black all we can to do is go to bed! We are knackered enough anyway - especially that we will have to get up early cos the sun will get us out of the van quickly.
A windsurfing trip to Western Australia is free of parties and going out to pubs etc, but it has it's own amazing nightlife. The sky is great to watch - since there is no lights around you can see the stars like nowhere else. There you have it - a ‘normal' day in Australia - doesn't sound like much but it's like a dream day to us

 

 

Thank you so much from all of us here at World Wide Windsurfing, it has been truly been a pleasure making this interview with you both and we do hope you enjoy reading each other's answers! Take care of each other and we wish you both all the best for the 2013 season!!

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