Angela Cochran has been an avid windsurfer for over 30 years, competing in contests around the world since 1986, and this year’s Aloha Classic marks her return to the sport after a long break. In this interview she talks about what it felt like to get back in her gear and on the water and how the sport of windsurfing has changed over the years.
How are you involved with the IWT/ Aloha Classic?
I am only involved as a last-minute entrant. I recently had a momentary thought that slalom racing at Kanaha would be fun, and I registered just a few days before the contest started. I actually drove around with my gear in my truck last week with the intention to sail, to see if I remember how to windsurf enough to compete and not feel too silly! I sailed for a couple of hours and after remembering how painful—I mean fun—windsurfing is, I registered.
What are you most excited about for this year’s Aloha Classic?
I had way more fun on Sunday than I expected to. I haven’t been in waves of any size for years, so I was a little chicken to be honest. I was asked if I wanted to go early or late in the day and I said, “Either way.” That’s so unlike the old me! I was always one of the women who said “Yes! I’m going!” I’m very happy I did go out as it was great fun. It would be nice to have a couple more heats of big waves with only a few of us on the water. And it would be fun to go through a heat or two against the “old men.” I know it’s not likely, but it would make me laugh.
Can you talk about the “days of windsurfing past” vs. the present?
I haven’t been around the current windsurfing scene much, so I’m not sure what it’s really like, but I do notice that everyone is so nice! Back in the day, I don’t think we were all that nice, but maybe it was just me. The more I think about it, it’s not that we weren’t nice, there were just more of us, and we were all fighting for time in the spotlight. There was camaraderie, as we all were friendly, but it still felt really competitive. Also, everyone seems so young now! I feel like a grandma. A strong grandma but….
I wish I had more appreciation back then of what an amazing life we were all living; traveling around the world doing this sport that we love. I think I did understand how privileged we were, but looking back, I realize it was truly an awesome experience. Back then, we sat on beaches for DAYS with no cell phones or internet. I think I read a lot and made a lot of jewelry. I also solidified a lot of friendships, having all those days on beaches around the world, waiting for wind.
I learned to be very independent and figure things out on my own or with the help of my friends. When we learned a new trick we had to watch someone do it, ask a lot of questions, and crash a lot. It’s definitely a different scene than it is today, and I am very grateful for my experience. I made some amazing friends and I live in a community of people that I feel like I grew up with. Even though I am not still close with everyone, there is something very comforting living here on Maui with a group of people I have known off and on, in competition and not, for the last 30 years. And now there’s a new group of really nice people who I might get to know… I like that!
What are you looking forward to next year and in the future?
Maybe I’ll go to Peru, who knows? Until then, I’d like to stay strong and healthy, maybe start windsurfing more, enjoy my kids and support whatever they are into, and basically be grateful, be happy, and be alive!
Anything else you would like to add?
Take care of your skin—especially you youngsters! Use sunscreen free of chemicals and wear leggings and long sleeves (you will thank me later)! The best bit of advice I got was from Barbara Kendall. I was 23 and when she discovered how old I was, she said, “Wow you look weathered!” Needless to say, I started using a lot more sunscreen after that!