interview: Iballa Ruano Moreno

photo: Hornbaker/Roxy photo: PWA/Carter photo: Hornbaker/Roxy
attack, attack, attack

Iballa Ruano Moreno is one of the most amazing "windgirls" around the globe. In a detailed and exclusive interview the twin talks about friendship with the ocean, unfairness on the PWA tour, small affairs and the "university" of life. And she provides inspiration and advice for new female blood in the sport.

(Questions by Andy Aichinger & magazine readers via windgirls forum & email).


Matt Pritchard has been quoted in Sports Illustrated WOMEN like this: “They (Iballa and Daida) go forward without regret, not thinking about anything else but getting radical. Even off the water it’s ‘attack, attack, attack.’” Agree?

Yes… He knows me very well. He is one of my best friends on the tour and he knows what he is talking about. But: He has never ment it in a sexual way. :-)

Talking about these magazines: Some years ago you said that you would never sail in a bikini for the media. What has changed your mind?

I might have said that a long time ago. I can't remember anymore. But it is true, I was more conservative in the past than I am now. Since I have got the sponsorship of Roxy, my ‘lifestyle’ has changed. Using nice clothes was really good for us! Now I believe that if I feel comfortable with it, why should I not sail in a Bikini? In contest I won't for sure, since I would be more worried about avoiding to show my parts than about the competition! But for fun or pictures in a nice warm place... feels good.

Do you like your - really - sexy photos in “Men's Journal” and other magazines? Would you pose nude for the “Playboy”, too? How does it feel to know that mostly men will buy these publications and have some good time watching you?

I don’t think about it. I also don’t think the pictures in the "Men’s Journal" are so bad. They are really good ones, we worked with very professional people. I don’t think I will pose for free in the playboy… What somebody does with his/her body is his/her business. I am proud of being in this kind of magazines and to be able to promote windsurfing in general.

And now to something completely different. We still have winter here... Imagine living in a country with very cold winters, not having the money to travel. How would you spend your time without windsurfing?

I would finish school, find a job, get a lot of money and travel for the rest of my life. Travelling is the best thing one can do. You gain so much experience in life. You only live once. And I think it's important to do it.

Of course being a successfull professional windsurfer has changed your life. You give interviews like this one, you have photo shootings, a lot of fans admire you. But what has changed in your personal behaviour? Are you more self-confident, do you feel more sexy? Have you been spoilt in any way?

OK. Life always changes and never stays the same. I look back and I see myself being the girl that was hanging out with the boys after school and loving the water, catching waves and so on. But everyone's life changes always in one way or another. Being a professional windsurfer has changed our lives for sure. But I don’t think in a negative way. I have learned lots of things in life. But it’s never enough. Everybody gets more selfconfidence by getting older. It’s a normal thing that happens to everyone. I don’t think I am spoilt. I am working really hard to be where I am at the moment. But I thank god for this beautiful lifestyle.

There are not too many girls competing in some PWA events. Are you afraid that you might end up one day with nobody to compete with?

No. I don’t think this will ever happen. I know there are lots of girls out there who would love to have the chance to compete. Every year we are getting more. I know that in those years when Jutta Mueller, Natalie Le Lievre and all those girls left, not so many new blood entered the tour. But then it were Colette, Tony Frey, Karin, Daida and me… And right now there are more and more girls who try to enter the tour, and hey, they deserve respect. I believe the future is going to be always better. We just need to stay together and work hard to promote the sport and push the girls into the sport for a good future.

Do you envy Daida for being more lucky concerning injuries? How do you deal with sitting on the beach while other girls are competing or improving their latest moves? Or do you think injuries can make you even stronger?

Yes. Injuries are not only hard for your body, but also for your mind. We all know women are naturally weaker than men. But in all this years of injuries I have learned that injuries can make you even stronger mentally. It just depends on how you look at it! I had bad injuries and I can tell you it's not funny to see my sister improving more and more. But once I was back in the water I was more motivated than ever. I still have some time to catch up, but that’s life and we go on. Just have to keep pushing myself.

photo: PWA/Carter

photo: Darell Wong

Can you describe your feelings when the PWA freestyle worldcup 2002 has been decided in Bonaire without you and Daida, because your mother had died? Did you expect the other girls to step back from the competition, too?

Then I was more busy to think about my family and also to be with my family. For me, I had already missed all the events of the year because my injury in summer. For Daida it was more sad to see how she missed becoming world champion so easily. In Bonaire there were only 4 girls and I don’t think it was fair. But life goes on and there are more competitions to assist!

You gain much more attention than other “windgirls”. Is there sometimes something like a feeling of guilt or feeling sorry for them? Or not at all?

Uhh… I am aware of the fact that the attention on us is a bit higher than on the other girls. It must be the fact of being the best sailors and also being twins what the media love. But at the same time, I believe its not only good for us but for all of the girls. And of course it is good for women sports in general. So I don’t have any guilty feelings about it. We have worked really hard to be here. Everyone has to find his/her own way. And never give up!

How would you explain your feelings when you are windsurfing to someone who has never tried it?

When you are able to go out and feel the rush of the wind through your head and the speed, then you will realize that windsurfing is more than a normal sport. Just go out and try. You will never regret it.

Do you ever get sick of training and travelling all the time? What motivates you the most in windsurfing? When did you start professional windsurfing, and was it hard to get sponsors?

I never get sick. But sometimes I have so much pressure on myself to do good that I stop raising my level. It's then when I really have to push myself. I think this is the moment where a lot of people give up. I push myself and think about all the positive things windsurfing has given me during these years and all the years to come and how wonderful is to do what you really love. Not so many people have the chance to live their dreams. But we have. - Sponsoring was hard and it is hard, but I believe that pushing ourselves and raising the level every year is what our sponsors really like. But it's definitely not easy to get sponsors nowadays.

Have you made friends with the ocean? While on the water – have you ever felt that this is the only possible thing to do, the only thing that really matters? Has the feeling of surfing changed since you started?

Well. For me the ocean is more than just a friend. We are partners as well. For sure at the beginning I never thought of being a pro windsurfer and windsurfing was just a hobby and fun on weekends or after school. After I became professional, the feeling changed with the years. But it is still really good. Sometimes it feels like a job, and sometimes it feels like the best job in the world. Again, the fact of doing what we love as a career is something not so many people can reach in life, for different reasons. And we are grateful to be among these. And for that reason we wont miss our chance of being better and better every year and we will push ourselves to be the best we can be.

I love my waveboard very much (the little red mistral with the blue wave) and can't think of surfing and jumping with any other waveboard. But if you have a sponsor, you probably have to use the latest products of this company. What if you don't like the new equipment and you can't windsurf with it the way you are used to?

Ok. This is something important and not so many people know about. I believe in progress and that’s what has helped us to become better and better every year - especially concerning the equipment Every year the mistral team - team riders and shapers - work together to develop the best boards. A few years ago, the red board was a good board. But now if I compare it to for example the Moreno board, it is totally different. It is so much easier to sail with the new gear. Lighter and easier. That’s an important key to become better in windsurfing.

We have to keep in mind that the sport of windsurfing is a very young sport and there are big changes in equipment every year. We, the team riders, work really hard to improve the equipment. And to send it to production in time so that at the beginning of the year people like you can try the latest equipment. Since I windsurf, every year the equipment has become better and better with big improvements. I believe that the fact of using new gear every year has helped to improve our windsurfing a lot. If you have the chance, please try to use for example the Moreno board, you will easily find out what I am talking about. At the beginning you will perhaps feel weird, but I am sure you will end up liking it even more and you will be more motivated to go sailing every day and try new stuff on the water. Try it and let me know.

How did you experience your first competition? What did you feel? Was it hard to enter the PWA world tour?

My first experience in the worldcup was in Pozo Izquierdo, Gran Canaria, the place were I am living since I was 8 years old. So I was really nervous to compete. I didn’t really understand the contest thing and I was just in the water going crazy. But it was fun. I raced and did waveriding. But my fin cut my foot I was even sailing with 8 stitches... The same year, 1997, I did Fuerteventura and Germany. It was not hard at all to enter the events. It was good. All the girls were really nice and I felt like being at home since the first event.

And what do you consider to be essential for a perfect party? What is REALLY important?

To be with your best friends, to be in the mood. And good music! The most important! I am not a party girl but once a year I travel somewhere to meet my friends and party just for one night or two.

photo: PWA/Carter Iballas first banana cake -

What about the future of windsurfing? Which moves do you train right now? Where will freestyle go?

Freestyle basically is the hardest discipline. Right now the boys are going soooo far! And its hard to catch up, but we don’t stop and we keep trying. I practise as much as I can and always the latest freestyle moves. There are like 20, and all have crazy names.

What kind of music do you prefer?

Everything but the girl, Jack Johnson, House Music, R&B… It depends on the moment.

How is a normal day in your life?

I wake up in the morning, have breakfast, check my emails and go sailing! Have lunch, work a little bit on the computer and go sailing again! That’s when I am at home. Normally I am doing promos, travelling and competing.

When you were at university and not yet a professional windsurfer - did you have time to study everyday? How many hours did you dedicate to exercise at that time, when your goal was to finish your studies?

Yes I had time to study. We started university at the age of 18. And we passed all the exams we went to. But we decided to go for windsurfing 100 percent, but before that sailing was after school and on weekends only. Concerning your second question: I don’t know… Everything happened so fast. I think we were sailing everytime when it was windy. In winter for one hour or two, the studying from 5 to 10pm. And in summer it was windy every day. This was good, because in summer we had no classes.

Did you enjoy going to classes?

Yes! Only highschool was hard. But being at university and studying what I loved - sports - everything was easier. I really loved going to classes.

What are your dreams for your life after professional windsurfing? Have you ever thought of settling down, having a house of your own, pets and kids?

I don’t think about the future right now. Life is so fast and now I want to try to enjoy the rest of my days with something that I love. And I already have two apartments. So I am on my way.

Do you want to have kids one day? What would be the most important thing you want to teach them?

Yes… one day… If I find the right man for it. I would like to teach them everything I know from life. I am at the university of life!

Do you have a boyfriend? Having small affairs? Or enjoy just being young, free and single?

Right now I don’t have a boyfriend. I had one for almost three years. But I never had or liked small affairs, I hate those! And right now I am just free and enjoying it.

How important is sex in your life? And: Would you agree to those who say that a perfect down the line windsurfing day is even better?

I believe everything in general is important. But sex is not important if you don’t share it with the person you love.

If a wizard or an angel came and gave you a free wish – what would you choose?

I would choose to get my mother back.

Iballa, thank you very much and best of luck!

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 photos: Wong, Hornbaker/Roxy, PWA/Carter  windgirls 2004