Fearless and fun-loving, Phil Horrocks is one of the best wave sailors in the UK, his natural talent to catch air has catapulted him into the realms of greatness. Phil became hooked on windsurfing aged 11 and his passion for riding giants was born at the mecca for wave sailors the welsh jewel of Rhosneigr in Anglesy, this still remains his favourite spot. Phil has an impressive trophy cabinet that is creaking under the weight of all the titles, medals and cups he has won over the years. Addicted to the buzz riding a wave gives him, he has always remained grateful for all the opportunities that have blown his way and with his chilled outlook on life, these days the family man is more than happy to go with the flow!
By Emma Nicholson
I started off asking Phil when did he first try windsurfing? He said: "Age 11, my uncle gave me a go on his gear at a lake in France one summer holiday, later that trip we rented some gear and spent all day going back and forward on a duck pond, I was hooked!
"The buzz you get from riding keeps you coming back for more! It gets in your veins, its a drug! But a good one!"
Can you talk me through your windsurfing journey, right from the beginning, right up to today? "I had a few goes around 13- 15 years of age on Bala lake, my oldest brother learnt to drive so he’d take us along. Then around 18 I started at Plas Menai and got planing, I was loving it! After a few years working there I hit up Rhosneigr and loved the waves! I knew that’s where the future was! I progressed to competing and went from the UK tour to PWA tour, then family, kids came along and I decide just to compete in the UK.
What is one of your best windsurfing memories?
"Riding big waves in Maui, Cape Verde, South Africa, Ireland, so many epic days!
What is your biggest motivator? "Riding waves! I also surf, I wing-foil, whenever there’s waves the buzz you get from riding keeps you coming back for more! It gets in your veins, its a drug! But a good one! What is your favourite type of gear? "I really like my Simmer Style Blacktip wave sails, they are superb! If I had to pick one, it’d my 4.5 on my Simmer Flywave in side offshore conditions!
What do you think the benefits are to people’s mental health by windsurfing? "Every time you go in the water you can truly switch off, its has a massive effect on me, if I don’t go for a week or two I get grumpy for no reason, something just feels wrong! I get out there ride a bunch of waves and I’m buzzing again, it certainly puts me in the best frame of mind.
What is your biggest achievement with your windsurfing? "I guess multiple British championships is good to be proud of, beating a couple of big names as I was breaking into the World Cup scene was satisfying too, but I think ending up where I am is the biggest achievement. The discovery of the windsurfing lifestyle and to still be doing it and loving it!
"Every time you go in the water you can truly switch off, its has a massive effect on me."
What is your favourite spot to windsurf? "Rhosneigr of course!
British Champion at the Tiree Wave Classic that is an amazing achievement, how did that feel? "Great, I can still turn it on at times! What impact did the lockdown have on your windsurfing? "I was pretty content staying local, I work local, sail local, so nothing really changed, ok we missed out on our annual wave trips to Chile or South Africa, but you feel pretty lucky when its really crap for lots of people and you can kind of carry on as normal in your own little bubble. How important is windsurfing to you? "I love it, but I think I realise more now its the riding waves and being in the sea that really cleans your mind and whether its surfing, winging or windsurfing, as long as I can do it a few days a week I’m happy.
Why do you windsurf? "All the sports I do are good, but a good days windsurfing in proper conditions you can’t beat! Smacking a lip on a windsurf board rules! End of!
When did you decide to compete on the wave circuit and why? "Around age 21, I was sailing with Ben Proffitt in Rhosneigr a bit, he was always better than me back then so I guess I was motivated to learn and compete against him I suppose. Who inspires you? "Weirdly, some of the old boys at our local beach who are the 50-60 year olds who are mad keen! They’ll literally be out 5-6 hours a day, loving it! Even when its crap, I don’t know where they get their motivation? What is the biggest lesson you have learnt throughout your windsurfing career? "Practise, practise, practise! Video coaching is a good tool, but above all its the experience, the time on the water, every time you go out you learn something, if you don’t know it!
What type of watersports do you like to do in your spare time for fun? "If its good, I’ll windsurf! If its average, I’ll most likely wing-foil, I am loving the Armstrong gear of course! We get lots of onshore 20 knot days with waist to head waves that aren’t that epic on the windsurf, and that sort of stuff is killer fun on the wing-foil, and I’m learning every session. Occasionally I’ll surf, but is rare we get surf without the wind, I like surfing with my kids, but that’s a whole different dimension, that’s 100% sharing the strike of riding waves, my kids are already loving it and hooked!
"You can’t beat! Smacking a lip on a windsurf board!"
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into windsurfing? "Get lessons, learn the right way, as in coaching if possible, on the right kit, in the right conditions and you’ll progress so much quicker than years of windsurfing on your own.
Where is your favourite wave sailing spot? "Chile, The waves are insane! The future what does that hold for you? "God knows! I’ve never had a plan and still don’t! I've realised it too late to make one now, so just enjoy everyday!"