Liam Dunkerbeck: the young windsurfer is following his father's footsteps | Photo: Red Bull

Junior world champion Liam Dunkerbeck is eager to follow father Björn into record books.

Liam Dunkerbeck got into watersports young. So young in fact that, to begin with, he struggled to lift the sail of a windsurfing board.

So, it is no surprise that he is already a junior world champion in the sport where father Björn has won an astonishing 42 world titles.

The 16-year-old, whose mother María hails from Gran Canaria where they live, started out winning Spanish junior surfing titles before switching to windsurfing.

He made his debut in the PWA Wave World Tour in Sylt, Germany, last year, aged just 15.

And in September 2020, Dunkerbeck won the Under 17 gold medal at the Noerstick Cold Hawaii PWA Youth Wave World Cup in Klitmøller, Denmark, despite challenging North Sea conditions of 20-35 knot fluctuating winds.

Here is what Liam had to say after his latest Danish win as he looks to finish school, push on, and become a winner on the senior PWA World Tour circuit.

With your Dad's background as a world champion, were you around water from an early age?

Dad put me on a bodyboard when I was three. I then started windsurfing from four or five. My father showed me how and I went from there.

When you are that small, the windsurfing sail was too heavy for me at the start! I also did surfing, paddleboarding, and skateboarding to improve my balance on another type of board.

I have also been surfing with a shortboard, and then windsurfing free ride.

I then liked how other guys were jumping high, and I started training that and wavesailing is now my main focus.

How difficult was it to lock into windsurfing more than the other watersports?

It was not easy as I also do the Gran Canaria surfing championships where I have won the U12, U14, and U16 title.

Last year though, I started competing professionally in windsurfing, but I was doing surfing, slalom, speed, and wave, and it was way too much.

I started focusing on wavesailing, and from January this year, it has been my main focus.

How long do you train for? And where?

I have been training the whole summer for around four hours a day, pretty much every day. I think I am getting better and better every session.

I want to improve generally because I want to have good all-round skills. I train in Gran Canaria, where we have wind almost every day.

If you don't have wind in one place, you have it on another. It is very nice with all-round conditions.

When did you start competing with the professionals?

I already started competing with the pros in the main field last year when I was 15 in Germany.

This year I was going to do the whole tour with the professionals, but with Covid, I was not able.

Liam Dunkerbeck: his dream is to win the PWA World Tour | Photo: Red Bull

Does your Dad, a legend of the sport, give you much advice?

My Dad is an inspiration. He knows exactly what to do in the perfect moment, and that is cool.

The main advice he has given me is not to forget everything we have done before. All the important steps that we did when I was learning with him are still crucial.

Will he still compete alongside you?

He mainly competes in Speed, while I mainly compete in Wave.

Next year when I go to every wave event, technically he can race in the over-50s and professionals in Speed, and I can race in the juniors and professionals in Wave.

We will see!

You recently won the U17 title at the Cold Hawaii Games in Denmark. How was that feeling?

It was exciting because the whole world had been in quarantine, and we didn't have that much time training. We only had one event and, because I won it, it was super nice.

What are your future ambitions?

I will train hard to become a senior world champion.

I am 16, and I will make this my career, but I also need to have something as back up in case something happens, which is why I will continue at school for the next two years.

Have you got other heroes alongside your father that you look up to?

For windsurfing, it is Philip Köster. He is super good in strong conditions.

He has the best jumping on the whole tour and Marcilio "Brawzinho" Browne because he is super good on left and right wind conditions, and that is an important point.

You need to be good on both tacks and show you are the best. Kai Lenny is an idol because he can do everything!

Are you happy about the growing public exposure to the sport?

It was difficult to watch before, but now you can easily see a live stream online. Every move you want to practice, you can find videos, and it has the steps you need to follow.

Do you try and pack as many tricks into each run or just do a few tricks really well?

It is important to tweak your strategy. Normally in competition heats, you usually have 12 minutes to do two jumps, and two surfs.

It is not that easy because you need to show what you have learned in the whole year, just with that amount of time.

What other hobbies do you have outside of windsurfing?

Surfing, skateboarding, mountain biking, and foiling, which is becoming a really important part of the watersports world.

I tried for the first time in Hawaii, and I will keep pushing that also. It is a new sport that we need to know how to do.

Do you enjoy watching other sports?

I like to watch important football matches, skateboarding at the X Games, and Formula One and MotoGP, which are really nice too.

Dani Pedrosa windsurfs pretty well. He doesn't want to compete, though, because MotoGP leaves your body quite destroyed.

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