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Polish 88-year-old takes tilt at world's oldest windsurfer crown

Polish 88-year-old takes tilt at world's oldest windsurfer crown
Piotr Dudek, 88, carries a sail before windsurfing in Gdynia, Poland, April 18, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

GDYNIA, Poland — At 88, Polish retiree Piotr Dudek is hoping to officially become the world's oldest windsurfer — still relishing the battle with the wind and waves as he takes to the water and teaches children to enjoy the sport.

Dudek has been windsurfing for 40 years and is known by the nickname "Junior", coined for him by his friends when he was around 80.

"The challenge is to learn to surf and to control the elements, nature, because it is a struggle with the wind, with water, with a wobbly board. But if it all comes together and you’re surfing, it's a lot of fun," he told Reuters in his hometown of Gdynia on the Baltic Sea.

"I practise windsurfing for health and I believe that it is the perfect way to extend one's life. It is a sport that requires a lot of physical fitness," said Dudek, who was a sailor before he retired.

His one concession to age these days is to stay off the water when the wind gets too fierce, avoiding anything more than a moderate breeze.

But the fact that he could be the world's oldest surfer took him by surprise.

"I didn't realise that I was the oldest, but I was surprised that I had never met someone close to me (in age) on the water. And that got me and my friend thinking to check in the Guinness Book of Records," Dudek, who turns 89 next week, said.

Dudek said he needed to windsurf at least twice this spring to break the world record, currently held by an 86-year-old. He is hoping to be officially certified once the witnessed notification is sent off to Guinness World Records.

He is still sharing his passion with others.

"I enjoy teaching others, especially children. (Working with) children is very rewarding and they can learn quickly. I have a large group of students," he said.

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