Children: 2 (Shamana & Bradley)
|From: Kiel, Germany|
|Current Residence: Haiku, Maui|
|Occupation:Pro Windsurfer |
|Years Tow Surfing:8|
All over Europe/ Hawaii
Favorite Big Wave Spots:
Jaws is close to my House
Favorite Tow Spots:
Wherever it’s glassy and uncrowded
and big enough to justify the use of the PWC Intro:
By Diane Haecker
in Germany, raised in the world of professional windsurfing, and evolved into an
all-round waterman in Hawaii: Robby Seeger's journey resembles a gigantic swell
complete with big storms, high peaks and low valleys, death-defying drops and
horrendous wipe-outs, yet always powerfully riding the beast called
If there were only one word to describe Robby Seeger, it would be
intense. Everything he does is driven, full on, go hard - no matter what the
consequences are. Seeger's intensity hides behind a warm smile and an infectious
laughter, but shows in the confident - sometimes over-confident - way he carries
himself. His burn-the-candle-at-both-ends approach to life reminds of the
red-hot lava streams running underneath the black rocks of Kilauea volcano,
smoldering under the surface of Seeger’s Herculean physique. Add water to this
mix and you have one of the most explosive windsurfers in the world.
Although he’s been around the professional windsurf circuit for 17
years, living in the limelight of our small water world, under the scrutiny of
media and his peers, his personality remains elusive, shrouded in a fog of
contradictions. Gentle giant on one hand, ferocious competitor on the other.
Dedicated father and husband, yet a lone wolf and addicted waterman drawn to
ride ridiculously huge waves. Boisterous and strong-willed. Underneath his
intimidating and commanding outer appearance lies a vulnerable spirit. Putting
up a massive wall of ego to protect himself, it’s obvious that inside the
fortified shell hides a whole different story.
Robert Carl Seeger was born to
Karl and Dorit Seeger on a cold November day in 1969 in Kiel, Germany. Growing
up, young Seeger was always attracted to sports, swimming, playing soccer and
softball. Eventually he and his sister Christine, three years his senior, would
get into horseback riding and competition, tasting the excitement of competitive
sports. Fairly early in his life, the desire to become a professional athlete
formed in his mind. "I didn’t care what sport it would be, I just wanted to be
an athlete", Seeger remembers. Then, in 1982, a fateful family vacation in Gran
Canaria exposed him to the concept of windsurfing for the first time. At age 12,
the line backer build teenager saw a young, pretty girl windsurfing graciously
through the shore break and he knew: whatever she’s doing, I’ve got to learn
this. Two weeks later, he sailed next to the girl and found the sport that would
shape his life.
Back in Germany, the mood was quite different. The Eighties
were characterized by a bleak attitude of ‘no future’ among teenagers. It was
the time of passive rebellion against the establishment, punk, safety pins
pierced through noses and cheeks, black outfits, pale make-up and lots of booze.
But you wouldn’t see Robby Seeger among the kids in black. He was obsessed with
windsurfing. His father had presented him with a windsurfer and whenever the
wind rustled the treetops, young Seeger was out sailing, ditching school and
all. His homespot: Postsee. A lake 300 yards wide - minus one hundred yards on
either shore to give room for fishermen - he had only one hundred yards to sail
around the middle of the lake. In wintertime, to the dismal of ice skaters, he
broke the ice and windsurfed in sub-zero temperatures. "That is how I got into
tricks. The lake was just so narrow that sailing back and forth was not really
an option", Robby says. "Key was, not to fall off. As the wind shifted and
whirled around, I came up with different moves just to stay on the board. I
wanted to be like my hero Robby Naish, never falling off." Thus was born his
love for tricks and his dream to become a professional windsurfer.
Unfolding of a dream:
"I didn’t pick the
career, the career picked me", Robby laughs, " windsurfing was just the best
sport I’ve ever done." Participating in the Euro Funboard Cup from 1983 until
1985 however blew the bubble. Racing and slalom, sailing against amateurs had
nothing to do with Seeger’s passion: "I hated it." He wanted real competitors,
the real thing, going up against the big guys like Naish, Cabrinha and
Hoenscheid. Robby was hungry for battle, impatient to waste his time with
friendly games. It is the year 1986. He’s at the height of the Age of
Immortality - and behaves like it. Robby Seeger has, to this day, little
patience to walk the road well traveled.
He’s got to have it his way and
at a young age developed the art of talking himself into competition. Seeger: "I
went to Stefan Zotsches, WBA manager at that time and said, I wanna do the World
Cup. He didn’t say anything, and a few weeks later he called me up and gave me a
wildcard for the World Cup event in Sylt." Already touted as a young, hot
German, he blazed through the heats, only to lose against Alex Aguera, finishing
17th in his first World Cup appearance. "I was heartbroken", Seeger on losing
the heat. But he left his mark, the media -otherwise occupied with a young kid
named Bjørn Dunkerbeck- took notice and the legend of the underdog was born. In
1987, Seeger turned pro and competed full time in the World Cup. "I had no clue
what I was doing, I followed my passion and the dream was unfolding as I was
living it." The promised land:
dream involves Hawaii. Shortly after his high school Graduation party, Seeger
found himself on O’ahu. The cocky 17-year-old was sleeping, eating, and
breathing windsurfing. Sharing his pad with five other guys, existing on a diet
of Jack-in-the-Box and Ramen - all for the delicious luxury of windsurfing
exquisite waves in consistent winds from sunrise to sunset. Living the dream. In
1988 he moved to Maui and a time began where everything was easy. Sponsors
flocked to the young up &coming superstar. The media couldn’t get enough of
the good-looking and brazen but charming German. And a woman entered the scene.
Seeger: "I thought, I’d live forever." Life started slowly but surely to chip
away at the sharp edges of his youthful arrogance. At 22, Seeger got married,
only to divorce his wife at 23. The fat years of windsurfing continued.
Living in Hawaii, he discovered the endless possibilities of ocean
sports. Intrigued by the ancient connection of Hawaiians to the sea, Seeger
opened up to the spirit of the islands and expanded into other realms of water
pursuits. The ocean suddenly was more than just the medium to windsurf in. It
became alive; it instilled an unnamed spirituality in him. In light wind days,
you saw him speerfishing, canoeing, snorkeling along the reefs or surfing as his
world cup colleagues rigged big and practiced course racing. Banking on his
talent alone, Seeger was never one for a rigid training program. Growing
complacent, the world title never really was his goal. He was one of the most
feared competitors and he placed in the top 3 almost effortlessly. But the world
according to Seeger was a fun place and he rode the wave of easy living as long
as it lasted. Fall from grace:
boredom that which killed Seeger’s passion for competing in the World Cup. Bored
with the same places, the same beaches, and the same faces, traveling nine
months out of the year. Bored sitting at airports and waiting. Bored hanging out
at windless beaches and waiting. With the same intensity he used to slay waves
and rip it up, he spent the whole winter of 1994/95 on the couch, stuffing his
face with sour candy and playing video games 24/7. The black hole called inertia
sucked him in, deeper and deeper. Seeger financially supported his roomate so
that he could play video games with him. "I got pretty good at those games,
though," Seeger jokes now. But it wasn’t funny back then. Hopelessly out of
shape and overweight, his friends and shapers stopped by, trying to get him off
the couch. "What are you doing?" they said. "You could be world champion, if you
only tried!" they said. And one day, Robby answered: "OK, next year. Tell
everyone to get ready." He got off the couch and back into the water. His trials
were over, but the real life-changing challenge was about to come. Suicidal devotion:
Just as a wave
at Jaws demands full commitment, so does life’s wave called relationship. As
Seeger turned his attention more to riding big waves, both windsurfing and
tow-in surfing, he found himself with the same suicidal devotion committed to a
dysfunctional relationship. To the union between him and his girlfriend was born
a beautiful daughter, Shamana Seeger. Little did he know back then, what he was
getting into, again, full throttle. Devoted to his child, he took the year 95/96
off from the World Cup, experiencing every moment of his girlfriend’s pregnancy.
Yet, Jaws beckoned.
On one of the biggest days at Jaws ever, he took a
horrendous wipeout, was held down for two waves and about to die. "The thought
of my baby being born kept me alive." Counting 22 strokes swimming through the
darkness back to the light. His head popped out of the whitewater 80 yards from
the impact zone, he climbed into his boat, retrieved his demolished windsurf
gear - and went home to engage in different battles. After five and a half years
of trials with his girlfriend, the pair split up and war began. It was a time,
when he learned most about himself and painfully matured into a man and father,
who began to grasp the concept of responsibility and the meaning of
unconditional love. Hercules crumbled and cried. And then stood up and fought,
burning through tons of money, losing friends and sponsors left and right, until
there was only the bare Robby Seeger left. "My world championship title was,
when I was awarded full custody of my daughter," Robby concludes. "It was the
first time in my life that I really worked hard for something."
Even the biggest swell eventually subsides and a period of calm
and peace comes back. Having tested his limits in and out of the water, Seeger
never wavered in his belief that there is a compatible woman for him somewhere
out there. And knowing that he still gives the freestyle young guys a run for
their money - any day in any condition - there was little left to prove to the
world or himself. As he made a comeback in the World Cup, winning the
prestigious King of the Lake twice, teaming up with Australian surfing legend
Cheyne Horan for his tow-in pursuits, he also found his companion and partner
During her pregnancy with now one and a half year old
Bradley, the whole family traveled all over Europe, from one event to the other
until Seeger realized: "This is the end of my World cup career. " Powerplay is
the word of the next chapter in his life. Robby: "It describes my personality:
Powerfully playing, being passionate and living 110% in the moment." Going back
to the roots of just having plain fun out there in the water, inspiring people
with his creative intensity, giving back to the sports that have given him his
passion for life. " I am looking forward to riding the biggest waves on my
windsurfer and experience anything Nature throws at me."
Towsurfer: Your love and passion for
the sport of windsurfing is so evident in your career. Do you have the same
desire to grow into the sport of tow-in surfing?
I just love being in the water. Tow-in surfing
gives me the chance to ride big waves more often than on my windsurfer. Many of
the bigger swells in the last years had no wind. That was one of the main
reasons why I actually got into the sport. Teaming up with Cheyne made it a
little bit more serious. Nobody knows what the future holds. I get turned off by
over regulations. On my windsurfer I don't need to ask anybody if I am allowed
to go out. For you, what is the highlight of having the ability
to be an extreme crossover sport athlete?
I do about every water
board sport there is. Maui brings that out in people with a lot of time on their
hands. Every day here is something great to experience out there. It’s all about
fun in the end. I am not a gym person, so I do it all. It makes me stronger and
I end up spending more time in the water. Have you ever been in the throat of big Jaws wave while riding a
There have been a few attempts for the tube out at
Jaws. But it is not very practical, very expensive and every try is the end of
the session. Our line is way different than surfing. I always come from behind
the peak, high on the face, drop down with the main section and go into a cruise
control bottom turn. Windsurfers can do filthy carves on giant faces and the air
we get is pretty sick. It makes up for not pulling in. It would
seem pretty intense and almost impossible to get barreled while windsurfing, and
When it’s big enough the barrel at Jaws on the west set
is wide open. You could fit five rigs inside her. The danger is that we ride the
wave front side on our windsurfers. You pull in, the sail is between the wave
and you. The consequence is that with any error you get to eat your rig. Trust
me, it doesn't taste that good. Tell us when and how tow-in
surfing started for you.
We used to windsurf out at Jaws before the
Strapped crew showed up for their first tow-in trials. It was kind of their
sport. I gave them the respect of exclusivity. And I was stoked on windsurfing
out there. One year there was no wind and plenty of good days up at Pe’ahi. It
was like "sorry guys".... it just looks too fun to be standing on the bluff.....
You and Cheyne Horan have a pretty strong partnership going on.
What type of commitment has it taken to get this partnership to this level?
Mutual respect is a good start. We have a great time together out
there. Cheyne and I both have accomplished a lot in our careers on the circuits.
We are not starving for the ego boost out there. We are not competing against
each other. We are learning from each other. We are very colorful. He is Aussie
and a regular foot and a surfer. I am German, goofy foot and a windsurfer. Its
all about working together. Where have you traveled these past
few months and what plans do you have coming up?
where to exciting to talk about. Cheyne and I were going to hook up in South
Africa. We might still go down there if a big one comes. Life is moving slower
at the moment. What are your thoughts on the whole Jaws Tow-In
World Cup Contest?
It was an honor to be a part of it as a
competitor. Especially the Hawaiian blessing will always be in my memory. I am
not too keen on contests anymore. Politics and all sorts of other B-shit gets in
the way of the real experience out there. On the other hand if I don't want to
get a real job one of these days I will go with the flow. It’s great surfing
Jaws with only 4 guys out on a macking day. I give a big hand to Rodney Kilborn
and his crew for a job well done. Him and his Family did the legwork for years.
Were you disappointed they never pulled it off this past
Not really. I was actually quite relieved because Cheyne
and Paulina had their son Chicane around the time and he couldn't make it. I
surfed the expression session with a borrowed driver and had some fun lefts.
Share with us the evolution in growth and equipment designs
between windsurfing and tow-in surfing. Which of the two seems to have evolved
faster and more m ainstream during each one at their beginning stage?
There is no comparison. The legwork is already done. The same goes
for Kitesurfing. It is incredibly easy these days to integrate the R&D
immediately into the production. Tow-in Surfing and also Kitesurfing take on a
lot of designs from already existing details of the older sports, like
wakeboarding, windsurfing and surfing. Plus you catch so many more waves with
the help of a PWC that you know quicker what you like and what not. The
mainstream interest is created by the media. It's radical and people watch it
all over the world. The regular guy doesn't care if you make the wave. He wants
to see someone die on camera. But it will never be a sport for the masses.
Give us your latest and most recent specs on your tow
My Jaws Board is a 6’2" and my Fun Board is a
5’8". Jeff Timpone is making all my boards now. He is on the cutting edge of it
all with the great help of David Kalama. My baby is my foilboard. Jimmy Lewis
built this super awesome 4 footer that looks like the landingbase of a sea
airplane. What are your thoughts with respect to Hawaii’s new
State Tow-In Licensing Course requirement for all tow-in surfers?
think Archie and Brian, Ken and the others have good intentions with the safety
issue at hand, but it will be very hard to regulate. A lot of foreign surfers
will have bench warrants when they don't show up for their court dates. The
question of liability remains. If I get issued a license for tow-in surfing here
in Hawaii by an official state entity, who will I have to sue when something
happens to me out there? I will definitely get one if I have to. Just because I
live here and I hate going to court. What kind of training and
diet program are you currently on?
I play as much as I can in the
water. The heritage of the waterman from the early days translated into our fast
pace, PWC driven modern world. Kiting, windsurfing, a lot of speerfishing and
yardwork. My biggest mental training is given to me by my baby boy Bradley
growing new teeth every day. Lots of Red-bull in the morning to get my wings for
the day. Taco bell is a must also... Share with us in detail
your worst ever experience while windsurfing out at Jaws?
experience out there was probably breaking my knee while getting huge air with a
big gash alongside with it. Having to swim to the boat between sets. Getting the
anchor up, getting the boat on the trailer and driving myself to the hospital.
Now share with us your worst experience while towing out at
I have had a few uncomfortable wipeouts. But it has been
pretty mellow compared to the windsurfing hold downs. I think the flotation
vests have made life a lot easier when pushed into the black. And there is
always a PWC around to pick you up eventually. In the early windsurfing days you
had to swim like hell or end up on the rocks. I feel like I have had my own
pre-leash days out there in our times. I am wearing the vest now when I am
windsurfing. Before it was only one stubbie swimfin on the harness. But I will
always have those too. Now share the importance of training and safety while out in
giant surf while pushing yourself over the edge.
Safety is no.1,
good teamwork creates a larger safety net. I try to always have two skis out
there when it is big. Physical fitness is your key to know that you have done
your homework. But the wipeout is a mind game for me. Fear is good to the point
where you become more alert. Too much fear translates into panic and then you
are in trouble. If I am afraid I like to get my first fall early in the session
and that way I know if I am done for the day or not. Which sport
in your opinion is more physically and mentally demanding and challenging,
windsurfing or tow-in surfing?
Definitely windsurfing. When I am
windsurfing equally big waves as towing, I am working with the waves and the
wind. It is nonstop. There is no downtime, no sitting on a sled, drinking a can
of red-bull. None of that leisure stuff. After each ride I have to beat back
upwind. When the wind is gusty it takes a lot to position yourself for the drop
with no leeway for errors. There is nobody else to blame but yourself when you
miss that perfect wave. Who are some of the top towsurfers that
you have been inspired by?
Cheyne, Laird, Ross, Poto
What’s the next chapter for Robby Seeger?
show up at places like Mavericks, Cortes Bank, Channel Islands, Todos, Belharra,
Shipstern's Bluff, Western Oz when its big and windy, choppy and nobody wants to
surf on it. Then I get to have it all to myself on my Windsurfer. I dream of
Windsurfing big waves up in Ireland. I love the people and the culture and the
beer of course. So who do you think will ride the biggest wave
in the future, a windsurfer or towsurfer?
Seeger: The media buzz is
defenitely around tow-in surfing. Nobody has brought big wave windsurfing to the
mainstream attention. I can already prove that we have ridden bigger waves in
the past on our windsurfboards compared to surfing. I think that a windsurfer
can ride a massive, bumpy face safer than a surfer and not only survive but
perform on it. A 3 foot crosschop on a 70 foot face is not a deathtrap for us.
We can do 40 foot chophops over it quite safely, using the sail as a wing. To
answer your question who will ride the larger wave in the future ? It might be a
Towsurfer on his Windsurfer........ Sounds like it’s time for a
cold one right now! Thanks for the interview Robby!
Thanks Eric for
your time and commitment to the sport.
If you or your company would like to contact Robby Seeger, you
may drop him an e-mail at:
more photos of Robby during a session at Jaws on a very rare and strong Kona
Wind day, click here.
© Copyright 2003 Towsurfer.com/Eric