An Interview with Toni Gil Vicens

Name: Toni Gil Vicens | Age: 17 | Craft: Surfski- Team THINK paddler | Country: Spain | Youtube: Toni_Surfski | Insta: @toni_surfski

Tell us about yourself. How old are you and what are you into other than surfski?

Hi, I am Toni Gil Vicens, I am 17 years old and I paddle for TEAM THINK. When I am not on the water training with my surfski I am working on my social media platforms; Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. I find these platforms a good way to show surfski to people that otherwise would have never seen it and help the sport grow and spread around the world. Apart from training and social media I also go to school, currently I am doing my A-levels, getting ready for university next year. There I will study Sport science in order to expand even further my knowledge of my body and training to therefore improve my performance on the water and outside the water.  

Toni, you have been paddling for a while now, when did you start and what got you into it?

I started paddling when I was 8, I had practiced many sports before getting into surfski- golf, tennis, karate, football etc… however I didn’t see what I saw in surfski and dropped them eventually. The summer I turned 8 I decided to go and check out the local surfski club in a nearby town. I had a friend that practiced surfski there and he told me about it. The first moment I got on a surfski, it was love at first sight, since that moment I have never looked back. I started paddling only on the weekends, however I was so hooked to this sport that after a couple of months I started to paddle during the weekdays after school.

How often do you train/paddle?

I train 6 days a week. The training I am following is done by the best in the business, mr.Sean Rice. I have been following his #HUKSU training program for 6 years already and the performance I am managing to get is outstanding. I am really happy with this training and I surely recommend it to everybody who is practicing surfski out there, whether you are a beginner or an advanced paddler, the training is adapted individually to each paddler to suit its needs.

You have won some races and competitions? What do you like about racing? What is your greatest achievement so far?

The races I have won include: 1x Eurochallenge U16 champion and 2X Spanish cup champion. Racing is a feeling that I love, that feeling of standing on the start line ready to give it all once the horn goes is amazing. It also gives me a chance to prove to myself that all the training I have done leading up to the race has paid off. Races do not always go as planned, sometimes you are not feeling good, or sometimes conditions are not suited for you, however I have always managed to get the most out of my races. My best achievement so far for sure is joining TEAM THINK and finishing 3rd in the 2019-2020 junior world ranking. This motivates me even more to keep pushing and improving.

You are based in Spain? Is Surfski popular in your area? Do you train with a club or friends?

Yes, I am based in Spain. Surfski is getting more popular over time, however it still has lots to grow, I do think it is heading in a good direction. I train in a club in a nearby town, REAL CLUB NAUTICO DENIA, here I follow my personalised training plan done by Paddlelife. I also paddle with the club’s training squad which always makes it a bit more fun.

Have you paddled in other countries and places? What is your favourite place you have paddled?

Outside of Spain I have only paddled in Portugal for the Nelo Summer Challenge, it was an amazing experience with a superb organisation of a phenomenal downwind. I have also paddled in Lanzarote a couple of time and raced in the Atlantic Ocean Surfski race, this race is also an amazing race and I surely recommend people to go and check it out.This years 2021 Surfski world championships will be held there, this is also a bonus for people to go and check out their amazing location and superb organisation of the event. My favourite place I have ever paddled would be Lanzarote, doing the 40km race is an unforgettable experience.

You have received some professional coaching? Would you say that coaching has been important to your development?

I have received coaching from the best of the best, Sean Rice, and I would say that this has surely had a major impact on my development as a paddler. The training I have been following up to date has not been focused on extreme performance but rather on creating a solid and good base ready for the important senior years where I will develop my full potential.

Who are your role models within the sport and why?

My main role model would be Sean Rice, he has proved he is the best in various occasions, he has won a molokai to oahu crossing, he has been 2x world champion and his dedication to the sport and contribution to its growth with Paddlelife is surely unique. He has done paddling coaching all around the world promoting surfski paddling.

We understand that you paddle for team THINK. Has paddling for THINK changed your life in anyway?

Yes! Definitely, this is more than just a Team, support from every member since I joined was incredible. I was suited with an incredible boat and given loads of help with every aspect of paddling. It is just a dream come true.

What would you say to people when they are trying to select a ski which is suitable for them?

When it comes to choosing a ski I would always recommend to never sacrifice stability for velocity, this for me is always the number 1 rule. You must be comfortable on your boat at all times, for me the THINK boats manage this very well, they have incredible stability and manoeuvrability but without giving up any speed, this in the long run really pays off.

Have you got your eye on any particular trips, downwinders or crossings?

I am really looking forward to going to Lanzarote this summer for the world champs, as I said before this is an amazing place to paddle and with the added bonus of it being a world championship, there is nothing else to ask for. Also in the future I would like to travel more to races outside Spain such as the gorge downwind champs or the Doctor in Australia. 

I believe you are a downwind addict like myself. What is your favourite part about downwind?

My favourite part about downwind is the way in which you harness the oceans power and use it to your advantage, the top speeds that are achieved on a surfski are usually when your paddles are down, and for me, this is the magic of downwind paddling. I also believe that downwinds require much more attention due to waves always moving in front of you, in order to achieve good average speeds you must always be thinking a couple of waves ahead of the one you are on, this for me is the factor that dictates which person will come first on a downwind.