Sarah Missiaen’s favourite thing to do had always been horseback riding. She never quite understood what her father loved so much about windsurfing – until she eventually tried it herself when she was 18. Since that day when she had her first face-to-face with the famous Maloja wind, Sarah has been in love with windsurfing and even took over the only windsurfing school at Lake Silvaplana from her father. Much to his joy - not only because he now has “more time to go sailing”. We talked to Sarah about her passion and the magic of Lake Silvaplana.
Sarah, when did you take over the windsurfing school?
My father founded “Windsurfing Silvaplana” 25 years ago. I started working for him in 2008 and took over the school with its eight employees in 2013. Before that I had trained to work in the hotel business and never thought that I would ever dedicate my life to windsurfing.
What does windsurfing mean to you?
Windsurfing is freedom. On the board you are all by yourself yet still surrounded by people who share your passion.
Lake Silvaplana is a mecca for windsurfers,; people like windsurfing legend Björn Dunkerbeck even moved to the Engadine. What makes this place so magical?
Well, for one we have this unique thermal wind that comes up at noon and disappears in the evening. And then the views: swarms of windsurfers and snow-capped mountains in the background. Everyone marvels at those sights.
Listening to the many languages spoken by and on the lake, you seem to attract quite an international crowd.
Yeah, there are people from Italy, France, Germany, Austria and all Switzerland, but also a lot of locals. In the last years we’ve had a lot of people who tried windsurfing years ago and now want to come back to it. Some had quite a hard time because the equipment has changed so much.
Windsurfing was booming in the 90s. Are the golden years over for this sport?
Well, I guess that period was unique. But I am convinced that people’s love for windsurfing will never die. We have even seen an increase in beginners in recent years.
And what do you do when the four months of the windsurfing season are over?
I go surfing!
You really never get enough of it, do you?
No, and I never will (lauhgs)! I teach sports students how to windsurf at Lake Biel twice a year. And when we close down Windsurfing Silvaplana after the season here, I jump in my VW T3 bus and head to a beach, to Sardinia, the South of France or Spain, wherever I can find the best wind. Life is what you make of it!
Aug. 14, 2017