In the middle of winter we meet windsurfer Georgi Vassilev or Gofko, as he is known in the community. We talk more about this new discipline in surfing, where we can practice it and how the sport is developing in Bulgaria.
Tell us more about you? Who is Gofko?
My name is Georgi Iliev Vassilev from the small picturesque seaside town of Chernomorets. This summer I will turn 30, and in 12 of them I do kitesurfing. The first summers I taught kite in Greece, on the island of Limnos, and my goal was to spend more time in the windy place, which would allow me to progress. As a child I studied art in Burgas, where "Gofko" was born - a nickname invented by local skaters. I was small and the only one who drove with my right foot, which we called "Goofy".
How was your passion for surfing born?
I started working on the beach at the age of 13 as an assistant at the school of the legendary Lucy from the Garden - we rented jets, pedal boats and windsurfers. My father used windsurfing and tried to teach me several times, but I found it a rather boring sport. One summer he had given me a skimboard, until one day the board broke in two on the beach. I remember that day well - there was an earthquake around Cape Emine, which meant only one thing - there would be waves. Excited and looking for a surfboard or bodyboard, I waited for the big waves. It is clear further.
In 2017, my girlfriend Iris and I moved to Fuerteventura so we could surf. The first summer on this unique island and on the way to work (then teaching kite for ION CLUB - a large chain of schools around the world) I saw a poster for a competition. I immediately contacted my then sponsor, SurfShop Burgas, who without hesitation did everything possible to register and participate. Out of 24 competitors, I finished in 12th place, really driving with the best.
The following year, 2018, there was a strapless freestyle competition in Gran Canaria. Then out of 26 surfers, I finished fourth and this motivates me at the end of the summer to move forward with competitions and training.
A year later I went to Tenerife, where I discovered a new sport, namely wingfoil.
Have you been practicing a new kind of wingfoil lately - tell us more about it?
Wingfoil is a variant of hydrofoil, the evolutionary growth of windsurfing. It uses the same equipment as for windsurfing, the difference is in the board and the wing. Everything with this new sport began to develop quite quickly, because it already lies on an established structure as a water sport. It was interesting for me to start doing it, because I had the opportunity to follow its development over time, something that kitesurfing could not do. Over time, the foils became thinner and faster, which gave impetus to the downwind foil (riding a wind or normal wave, flying over it and using the constant slope in the direction of its movement). All this was combined and "introduced" as a trend by Kai Lenny, gradually began to enter more and more into the life of, until yesterday, kiters, for example.
Is wingfoil entering Bulgaria?
It is starting to enter as if, but it will take time for people to break down and take the sport seriously. With the evolution of the equipment, the big wings are quite powerful and work very well in low winds. I am sure that the Hungarians in Bulgaria are counted on the fingers of both my hands, but I think they will become more and more. We don't expect kitesurfers or windsurfers to go winding, but rather people who are afraid of kite or windsurfing to start riding.
For every beginner I recommend a large inflatable board and a large hydrofoil and practice.
What do you think about the development of surfing disciplines in our country?
Honestly, I'm quite surprised. I haven't lived here for the last five years, but I've been following social media and seeing a lot of interest in water sports. More and more people are going to Greece or Turkey for the weekend, for example, to go kite or windsurfing. The search for good conditions means only one thing - there is interest, and if there is interest, there is development.
We lack more enthusiasts and enthusiasm for wingfoil, maybe. For now, we have everything we need to start practicing here - a place to get equipment like SurfShop Burgas, where there are a lot of brands and price range and a lot of spots - be it lakes, sea…!
Where have you traveled the world to surf and where are the most brutal waves?
I haven't traveled that much, but I can say that I feel at home in the Canary Islands. I have been to all seven of them and each island is different in its kind from the previous one. My favorite ride is Fuerteventura, and in particular the spot of Puerto Lajas, where there are waves for everyone and quite clean wind.
For now I live in Tenerife, and in particular in El Medano, where 300 days a year we have wind and it is great for practicing all kinds of sailing with a variety of conditions.
And here? What are your three top rides and why?
My first is Chernomorets, because of the two beaches with different winds - Vromos and Garden.
The second favorite is Burgas, because of the constant wind.
The third is Arkutino - this is the local live spot with a very nice beach and playful waves.
From now on? What's next professionally?
After so many years, the wind finally blew me in the right direction and I created the Gofkoooo Wings.
I have been developing our first Wing model for a year. My idea is to develop my brand and participate in wingfoil competitions.
I consider it a hobby to organize several camps in the Canary Islands with multi-sport training, something like a multi-surf guide. I can't help but include my partner Iris, who will be a yoga instructor and responsible for the video recording for the analysis after dinner. It will be a lot of fun with us!