It hasn't all been plain sailing for Greece over the last few years: economy in crisis, political chaos, bearing the burden of mass immigration from the war-torn middle east . . .
But it's been a very different story for one young Greek windsurfer, who has sailed his way to an incredibly successful year and a very promising future. For Alexandros Kalpogiannakis it started twelve months ago, at the Techno 293+ World Championships in Liepaja, Latvia, where he finished in the silver medal spot. Next came his outstanding gold medal performance at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then he flew straight home and battled through jetlag and the rest of the fleet to win Techno293 European Championships gold, a doubly pleasant experience given that it was at his home spot, Varkiza, south of Athens. An unforgettable year and a name to watch (and make sure you pronounce it correctly!).
He's back at the Techno+ World Championships this year, starting this Sunday 21st April, on the south-west tip of Europe in Portimao on the Algarve, Portugal, looking to ride the Atlantic waves all the way to the top step of the podium, and the title of World Champion to complete his set. But all that with his head screwed firmly on, just taking each competition one at a time, never looking too far ahead, thankful to have found what he says is very much his favourite race class. Which hasn't stopped him experimenting with other classes, like the recent RS:X European Championships.
Techno 293 and 293+ continue to demonstrate their worldwide appeal: there's a strong European entry in Portimao, obviously, but also competitors from Japan and Australia making the long flight over to Portugal. In Japan, Techno is very strong among the university student population, while down-under in Australia, Techno (especially Techno+) is helping revitalise a windsurf scene that had been in a bit of a backwater in recent years and in need of a boost.
As usual, we know we can rely on all the young sailors present to uphold the great spirit and traditions of the Techno classes, and deliver us great racing, with great champions at the end of the week.
Techno competitions are about equal opportunity: everyone using the same equipment, skills and execution make the difference. If you've never been to or seen a Techno event, and you're wondering why it's now the biggest windsurfing class in the world, or if you just like watching cool windsurfing videos, take 2 minutes out of your life to check out this cracking short
, which will explain exactly what it is your kids are hassling you to let them do. Put them out of your misery, let them live the dream. Do it!