Ozone Germany team rider Susanne Schwarztrauber started off as an amateur in the 2019 Mauritius GKA World Cup. Before the competition on the island state, she was in the overall standings in fourth place.
Raphael Späth from Süeddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) got chatting to Suzanne after some fantastic training sessions:
SZ: Mauritius is also regarded by many kite surfers as a surf mecca due to the famous "One Eye" spot. Does that also affect the interest of the audience in the World Cup?
Susanne Schwarztrauber: There is definitely a lot going on. This year, a luxury hotel is the main sponsor of the event, so many tourists and locals from all over the island come to the beach on this huge complex.
Due to the sponsor, the World Cup does not take place at the "One Eye", but in Bel Ombre, 10 kilometres away. Is that an advantage for you as an amateur?
Definitely. We were all a bit disappointed at first because we love "One Eye", I myself was there four times. However, we now find it quite good here in Bel Ombre, because no one really knew the waves before and therefore everyone has the same opportunities. The pro surfers on the tour are constantly training on "One Eye", and especially with waves over a reef, as is the case here, it takes a while to get back in the zone. Everyone has the same cards here.
Mauritius is also loved by the kitesurfers because of the waves, some of the waves reach a height of six meters. As a European, you are not used to such monster waves. How long does it take to adapt to the conditions?
It's true that even I got some doubts in preparation. One day last week, a guy who took a big wave looked like an ant. Then I also thought: right, it can't get much higher than now, otherwise it will be too uncomfortable. When we arrived at the beach, the Australian James Carew was asked by a local how it was out there. His answer: "The waves were a bit small, but it was really cool." Once there, the spit was gone. But he really said it with conviction. It was everyday life for him, he could have had a few more feet. My home spot is in Holland - if you can ride a three-meter wave there, you've got the golden day. But I have bitten the bullet here and I am now so far in.
How much respect for such waves should you go into the water?
That's a good question. We put it this way: you are out of place with fear, because those who are afraid make mistakes. Respect is actually the right word because you are still focused. The important thing is actually to be consistent. If you decide to take the wave, you should do that too. From the moment you begin to doubt, you have lost. If I notice that the wave is getting too steep for me, I prefer to retire.
Earlier you mentioned that the venue this year is over a reef. How big is the risk of injury?
Already relatively big. Of course, the organizers have taken every possible precaution to intervene as quickly as possible if something goes wrong. But I would not recommend anyone new to the scene to ride this wave. You have to take into account so many things, such as the tides. If there is a lot of water on the reef, it is less dangerous, because you then have a slight buffer between reef and human. At low tide you fall directly onto the reef. Then the organizers are a little more gracious with the girls and let the boys go first.
How would you rate your chances this week? After all, you are fourth in the overall ranking.
It's true that surfers who grew up with such monster waves - be it in Hawaii or in Australia - have a clear advantage here. I will definitely do my best. At the moment, I can not imagine grabbing a podium place because the girls here are extremely good. But it's a competition and you can never predict what's going to happen there. Of course, luck is also part of the draw. We are surfing against each other in the co-system, you can meet a newcomer or the World Champion directly. But that is also what makes it exciting. I'm here to have fun and learn something, everything else is the cherry on the cake. To become third in Sylt as a newcomer was so great that I'll take everything that comes now with a smile.
You have to pay the entire travel expenses out of pocket, as the only German who participates in all World Cup stations. After Mauritius are still on Morocco and Brazil. What does your planning look like?
After the competition, I'll be training in Mauritius until September 25, after which I'll head straight to Morocco for the next World Cup. However, I have to fly back to Africa via Amsterdam, because it is cheaper. My ecological footprint is getting bigger and bigger. That's not really climate-friendly.
A natural sport that pollutes the environment.
Yes, that is a huge conflict for all of us. The people who ride here are all really nature-oriented. However, I am also very grateful to get to know so many cultures through my sport. The more I travel, the more I learn how little it takes to be happy. I've been travelling for months, with a board bag and five T-shirts, and I'm the luckiest person in the world. I do not have to worry about anything and I really appreciate that. Of course, this sport is expensive, but it also allows me to see the world through different eyes. And that is priceless.