This week we met up the Norwegian action family, the Odegaard's. Pal and Kristin with their two kids Ola and Lisa are all avid windsurfers. Last year they packed up their house in Olso, Norway and moved to Western Australia to get some world-class wind and waves. Sounds pretty sweet right!  


Simmer: Hi Pal, your kids are basically brought up on windsurfing boards. How does it work combining family-life with windsurfing?

Pal: It works fantastically well! Going windsurfing together as a family is a huge win-win! You get to windsurf a lot without feeling that you are “leaving others behind” AND we get to spend more family time together doing what we love the most. Too easy,- as they say here in Western Australia! ?? Of course, it takes some effort from everyone to make sure the most inexperienced get up at the next level, but as soon as that is done, it runs so smoothly. There are so many skilled windsurfers with families out there. My biggest advice would be to get your kids, wives, dogs and everyone else into windsurfing as soon as possible! It has never been a better time than now with the great gear available and the global weather predictions forecasting more wind and milder temperatures!


Simmer: Last year you guys took leave from work, took the kids out school and packed your board bags for West Oz. What made you take this decision?

Pal: Well first of all, it is the best decision we have ever made. The family had for years been dreaming of living in West Oz, exploring the fantastic windsurfing and embracing the Aussie culture. Actually my wife learned to windsurf for real at Coronation 18 years ago, and I remember driving towards Geraldton in the sunset after the sailing, claiming “ We have to live here once in our life”..  . So it took some time before it happened but together with my company we worked out a solution for staying a year.  Knowing that the kids ( 11 and 15) really wanted to have a year abroad helped a lot too! Having good friends within the windsurfing family “pushing me” and advising how to deal with practicalities was also key for making it happen. 


Simmer: How has your experience in WA been so far? 


Pal: Absolutely incredible. We love every single day! The Australians are welcoming, open-minded people always willing to help. Talking to a local windsurfer after a session in Perth, he heard about my plans of going to Gnaraloo and offered me to borrow all his camping gear so I could make the trip on the good forecast coming up! This included a fridge to keep the beers cold while sailing! What a legend and now a good friend!


Also a big shout out to Jesper and his team at Simmer Style WA who has been so helpful with gear and advising on where to sail etc. They run a fantastic windsurfing shop where you can get all the Simmer gear you can dream of and a nice chat on the forecast and best spots!


Simmer: Everyone in the Odegaard family are keen windsurfers, how did you guys all get into it?

Pal: Well, for me it all started with a divorce…  ( as Jens Henriksen's interview last week ). My parents divorce, that is..  My dad and I went alone to Mallorca when I was 10 and I hardly saw him for 14 days as he got absolutely “hooked on windsurfing”.  As we returned I followed the same path and it has been my number one passion ever since. My wife was not a windsurfer when I met her more than 20 years ago, but she was into other water sports and has never stood back from physical challenges. We decided to do a «round the world tour» with the main purpose of getting her hooked, both to the harness, but to the sport in general. Needless to say, we spent most of our 6 months of leave in Western Australia and Maui windsurfing. Ever since windsurfing has been part of our lives, and I cannot remember a single family vacation we have been on without windsurfing being a key ingredient.....Naturally, both my kids are brought up on windy beaches, and I guess it could have gone either way. But with a bit of incentives (read candy and the odd prize) they both got into when they were 9-10 years old. Kids take it so easily these days. Windsurfing is the most positive addiction there is!



Simmer: How much gear do you need to cover the entire family’s needs?

Pal: Good question! I meet a lot of people who think it is great that we all windsurf but think it is impossible to get the whole family windsurfing as you need so much gear! That is a big myth…. You do need a beginner set for the first year/season, but in my experience, after that you all swap around on the gear that you pretty much would normally have anyway. (plus/minus a mast and boom) We normally sail 2 or 3 people at a time as the others are having a break. Of course, there is a lot of “what… have I been out for 2hours… I really had no idea” when the conditions are great, but generally, we respect the “swapping system”. ??  As we are different weights and sizes we generally feel that the three eldest of us swap around on 2 sail sizes.


It is of course key to have most gear from one brand as masts, booms, and sails are easily compatible. in Australia we use the BlackTip Sails from 3.4 to 5.3 and we got the Flywaves 78 and 85 plus the Helix 95. We also have a foil for the light wind days which is great fun.


Simmer: What are your best breaks for the entire family in WA?

Pal: There are many actually but I think Coronation Beach, Geraldton is a clear favorite with our family.  At this spot you can have parts of the family sail in nice waves on the outside and others work on their jibes on the flattest water ever on the inside. The spot could not be designed better in a dream…. Lancelin, Greenhead, Avalon, and Safety Bay are also all great options for the whole family.


Simmer: Would you recommend other family’s to use windsurfing as a family activity and why?

Pal: It might sound like a major cliché, but I believe there is something in the saying “Families that windsurf together, stay together” ?? Seeing how the kids develop their skills and much more importantly, are having a great time, is really rewarding. For people not windsurfing it might not sound very appealing but I cannot think of any better family quality time than eating a late dinner straight off the beach, totally worn out after a long day on the water, sharing the best moments of the day as you try to mobilize for the next day…

Simmer: Have you had any good trips up and down the WA coast?

Pal: We have had so many amazing trips already! If you know how to read the weather forecast (Seabreeze) and you are not afraid of driving a bit… you will pretty much be able to score great conditions most of the time. Been having great sailing at Coronation (Geraldton), Lancelin, Avelon, Green Head, Margaret River and of course, the nirvana of wavesailing.. Gnaraloo. What an incredible wave in the most remote location there is! As we are talking we are about to plan a trip for the next adventure; Esperance.

Simmer: Mahalo Pal!


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