Pathways featuring Florian Jung
Join us as we dive into the life of Florian Jung, the German-born waterman and professional windsurfer.
Florian Jung’s journey to becoming a professional windsurfer, and ultimately, a professional waterman has been a remarkable one, filled with personal challenges and triumphs. He has found his second home in Cape Town, South Africa, where he connects with the AK team to reflect on his incredible journey…
Florian Jung – The Interview
Where did you grow up, and what did you do for fun?
I grew up in a small town in West Germany, which is basically 500 kilometers away from the ocean.
Because I didn’t have an ocean nearby, I started putting a sail on my skateboard and learned how to windsurf and how to jump in parking lots. I also used to jump over a ramp into the river, which was the only water there was in my hometown.
Transitioning from landlocked Germany, did it take you long to pick up windsurfing in the ocean?
I learned really quickly because I knew all the movements from being this kid on the skateboard that just uses the forces of the wind, but having the lack of water.
I remember one day in Hawaii, where I had never ridden a wave before, and I went out. It didn’t look that big, but once I was there on the reef, I realized I have never seen a wave like that in my life. I got washed, tumbled, got held down, got stuck in my foot strap, and my mast broke, and I remember, is that it? Do I really drown here before I have ever even ridden a wave in my life?
These kinds of experiences shaped me quite a lot.
What made you dream of being a windsurfer, and all-around waterman?
I love having wind around me, which is unnatural because humans usually like to have quietness around them. When I grew up, Hawaii was the mecca of windsurfing, the center stage of the sport.
I knew that if I wanted to make it, I had to go to Hawaii. It was as simple as that. So, one day, I saw an article in a magazine about this ocean school in Hawaii and I told my dad, this is where I want to go. And he’s like, yeah, dude, you can go there for sure, but you have to find a way to get the money first. I’ll pay half of it.
I came to Hawaii because I wanted to be the best windsurfer I could be.
At what point did you realize that you can make this dream a reality?
Competing was one way, the only way, to actually be a professional sailor.
I had a lot of good moments while competing, while winning competitions, but I think my greatest achievement in water sports was finding ways to get more and more into the state of flow. Into the state where I really enjoy being me and by adapting to the elements, by always going deeper into my passion, by learning with different sports, with swimming in the ocean.
Although cold water swimming doesn’t sound like a cool idea, it takes a lot of willpower to go in the cold ocean in the morning and then swim around for 30 minutes and come out and shivering and being cold for another hour.
So, a lot of these things enrich my life.
Was there a real low point, or perspective shifting moment in your life that you can tell us about?
I had two ACL injuries, then fractured my foot a couple of times.
I was out of the water for nearly two years once, and I had a piano in my room that I started playing again, and then came up with creating new songs. I realized that there’s actually a lot of things you can learn outside of the water, as well and just the process of learning which is so important. It enriches your life in so many ways if you learn how to learn, so to say.
Why do you care about the environment; what does it mean to you?
When it comes down to environmental issues, I think it starts with education.
From this, I thought about ways to make people more aware of what is going on in the oceans, and started projects like an Atlantic expedition with scientists, or sailing in front of glaciers to show the melting. Here in Cape Town, we came up with this concept of the Inspiration Hub, which is a school that teaches kids to be successful in life, but also to integrate these tools so that they will be leaders of tomorrow.
We have to change our thinking. It’s actually a privilege that we live on a planet and find ways not to destroy it.
Tell us about your journey from your introduction to the ocean, becoming a professional windsurfer, to the introduction of foiling and what it means to you?
Growing up with my kids here in South Africa was the beginning of hydrofoiling for me.
I smiled at it in a way, then when I felt this weightless feeling of flying over the ocean, I realized that foiling, or all of these sports that come up when you use different techniques or different boards, give you a wider perspective or wider picture of what is possible out there.
It made sense, a lot of sense, to start something new and continue learning from it…
Mitchell Doyle Markgraaff
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