Martin Møller Hovda is 19-year-old slalom windsurfer from Norway and one of the youngest PWA riders on tour. He lives for the sport and has big dreams of winning a PWA World Cup. Read the interview we did with him.
Born, raised, age?
Born 12th of October 1998 on an island called Karmøy. It´s located on the west coast of Norway. I am 19 years old.
How did you start windsurfing?
I grew up on Karmøy and my house is 70 meters from the beach. My father was also doing a lot of slalom racing back in the days and he wanted to share his passion with me, my older and younger brothers.
He took us out every day it was windy, and we loved it. The best thing was that we could rig our sails in the garden and go straight out to windsurf after school. I remember I was sailing many years on this super old beginner board and it was maybe the slowest board in the world. I tried as hard as I could to get that board planing, but it was just impossible. In 2009 I and my bigger brother got a Starboard Formula Prokids for our birthday. I remember that first run with that board as it was yesterday, it was just unbelievable. At that time, I was doing a lot of soccer and alpine skiing as well so I was going from one training to another every day. It was fun and I learned a lot about training, competing and also how to work in a team.
I started to compete in windsurfing when I was 11 years old. I was competing in the raceboard class with a Starboard Phantom 320. I did that for 3 years and won almost everything in the national competitions and in the Nordic in my age division. After almost 3 years on the race board, I started to compete in Formula and stoped with the raceboard. I really liked the formula competition and I made some good results there. I became 3 times Youth Nordic Champion and I made it to the podium two times in the World Championships. One in U15 and one in the youth category. I stopped competing in formula in 2016 because there were almost no youth sailors that did it anymore. Then I decided to go all in with slalom. I trained a lot and the results were slowly getting better.
Here I am today, still have a lot to improve and still have a lot to learn, but I am working hard every day to reach my goals.
How were your first years on the PWA Slalom tour? Why did you choose the slalom discipline?
My first years on tour have been great! I feel competitive in windy/wavy conditions, but I still have a way to go in those super lightwind conditions like Costa Brava this year.
The reason why I chose slalom is that I have always loved to compete in high speed. I did a lot of alpine skiing when I was young and downhill/ super-g was always my favourite discipline.
You are not the heaviest / biggest guy on tour. But still faster than many bigger sailors. How important is the size in slalom sailing, and what’s your trick?
There is no doubt that I am a lightweight sailor on tour with my 77 kilos. I feel that the weight is not so important when it is super windy and wavy like Korea this year. But when the water is flat, the heavy guys have for sure a big advantage.
I don’t know if there is a trick I can share, but I am not afraid of going out with the same sail-size that the heavy guys are using. I am also not afraid of going fast when I have no control. It does not matter what I do, I always go full power. When you really need to use all your power to push the sail down and your board just want to fly like a bird, that is when I like it the best.
How do you handle cold water sailing? Any tips?
I don’t do anything special actually. I grew up in the cold water, so I am used to it. But when it is super cold I normally put my hands in the water before I rig. That gives less pain and I don’t freeze that much on my fingers when I am sailing. Cold fingers are normally the biggest problem…
You live on the beach where you train in Norway. Do you always sail alone or do you have someone to train with most of the days?
I normally sail alone. There are quite a few slalom sailors on Karmøy, but the general level is not that high, yet.
What would a typical week in Martin’s life look like?
Travel, sail, go to the gym, work with my sponsors, hang out with friends (when I am home), check the weather forecast 20 times a day, and check that everything is okay with my gear.
The most memorable moment on the water?
Winning the U21 at the slalom men World Championships in Hvide Sande 2018.
Worst moment on the water?
Breaking my ankle on an over-rotated forward loop on the day before Christmas 2016. I ended up walking 4,5 moths with crutches and two operations with five screws added into my ankle.
To win a PWA World Cup in slalom.
Next competition is PWA World Cup in Sylt. How do you prepare for this event and what are your goals?
We had the Norwegian championships in slalom this weekend where the conditions were perfect and we got a lot of sailing. I won it and feel comfortable, I just hope I can feel as comfortable at Sylt as I do at home. The conditions are pretty much the same so it should be ok.
After Sylt, where are you going next?
I will go straight home and spend some time with family and friends. I will also enjoy the waves with a lot of wave sailing. I don’t know how long I will stay at home before I leave again, but I will start planning after Sylt. Last year I was 6 weeks in Tenerife for the winter training. I have not decided where to go this year. Maybe combine Tarifa and Tenerife. The time will show.
Thank you Martin, and good luck in Sylt!