Rising Up: Julian Ricardo Diaz Castro
Young Baja wingfoil prodigy Julian Ricardo Diaz Castro grew up in the water under the guidance of his windsurf instructor dad and Slingshot’s Wing Brand Manager, Wyatt Miller, who himself has a wing center in that neck of the woods. Now he has a taste for travel too… Surely the world tour beckons?
Hello Julian! First up, tell us how old you are and where you live…
My name is Julian Ricardo Diaz Castro but everyone knows me as Juliancito! I am 14 years old and I live in La Ventana, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which is one of the top North American wind destinations. Our windy season runs from November until May and it blows 20 knots almost every day all winter long. The town is small, but it is growing quickly with all the tourism for wind sports. Everyone in town does wind sports, when I was younger I was the only windsurfing kid but now I have so many friends who wingfoil!
Is this where you grew up? And how did you first get into foiling?
I grew up in La Paz which is the bigger city, 45 minutes from La Ventana. My dad had a windsurfing school in La Paz, he got me windsurfing when I was about four years old. That's how I discovered my love for wind sports. On my 9th birthday, we moved to La Ventana where the wind is much more consistent and that is where I started to improve my skills in windsurfing. At the age of 11, Wyatt invited me to try a new sport called wingfoiling, right away I was riding a big 143L Shred Sled board, foiling both ways and helping out in the photoshoots for Slingshot, and that’s how I started to wingfoil.
Who have been your biggest mentors in the sport, and who do you look up to the most?
My biggest mentors have been my dad and Wyatt Miller. They have been helping me to get on the water every day after school at Wyatt's wing resort and have always supported me and continue to support me. I like to help all the guests get their gear set up on the beach and give them tips. It's super fun to have all the guests cheering for me doing tricks close to the beach. There are a lot of kids from the USA and Canada in La Ventana during the winter so we have a fun group who are always pushing each other. Chris McDonald lives there in the winter and so we are all trying to learn from him and he is super helpful with tips and encouragement. It really helps to have one of the world's best to ride with every day. We all are trying to reach his level… someday. Also winging with all the kids from North America has really helped me to learn English, now at school I help my English teacher to teach all the other kids in my school!
How do you balance your schoolwork with getting out on the water? Is it a struggle?
I have found a very good balance between school and sports since I am a good student and I like school, every day after school I go to the beach to practice wingfoil and at night I do my homework. I am trying to get more of my local friends to learn because there are a lot of opportunities that come from winging and the English is much easier to learn when you are winging and have friends who only speak English. There are many older kids in my town who kite and are now instructors and I think that the kids at my school can be wing instructors if they learn with me.
In terms of wingfoiling, do you have any goals you've set yourself?
In my life I have many goals but in terms of wingfoil I want to get better in my tricks and to have more consistency in them to be able to compete in the wing world championships. Consistency is very important to be able to compete, no one is more consistent than Chris McDonald… sometimes I think he never falls. This summer Wyatt helped me to get a US visa so I could come to Hood River for the first time. I got to stay a whole month and I really, really want to go back next summer. That place is the most fun I have ever had in my life. Wyatt has been telling me about it since I was born… but it was more fun than in all my dreams. When Wyatt picked me up at the airport in San Francisco there was a train that was only for inside the airport… I could not believe it. Then the first thing we did was to go straight to winging under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was so tall, going under it for the first time and looking up and hearing the cars above me was one thing I will never forget.
Then at Hood River I saw snow for the first time, rode crazy mountain bike trails with jumps everywhere, learned to double backflip jumping off the pylons with the kids at The Event Site in Hood River and got much better at pump foiling. There were so many new experiences for me in Hood River that I think I want to travel more.
Do you plan to compete in wingfoiling at any point?
In La Ventana we have some long-distance races that I did last winter and the new Grom Fest kids wing and kite competition. Those were my first contests. Then in Hood River this summer I got to do a lot of contests all in the month of July. The first was the Blowout which is a 17-mile downwind race. Then there was the Bridge of the Gods kids’ freestyle competition and a week later there was the Gorge Challenge which is a 10-mile downwind race and course racing the next day. I had so much fun doing all the competitions with all the other kids. In the Blowout, I won a skateboard that I brought back home and have been riding a lot.
What's your favorite wingfoil setup?
At Wyatt's resort, we have all the newest prototype Slingshot gear and I help test all the new gear they are working on. It is so fun. My favorite right now is my Slingshot Launch Pad 45l, mast 82, front wing 550, SlingWing V3 Hard Handle wings, and the Turbo Tail 340 stab.
Finally, tell us what your perfect session looks like…
My perfect session would be a day at The Wall, 40 minutes east of Hood River, with my friends showing our best tricks. There the river is narrow and the swell gets really big and very smooth in between. You can ride one swell for 1km downwind easily, but it is more fun to do big jumps close to the rocks where everyone is watching. It was my first time riding in fresh water and you dry so fast, after five minutes without falling you are completely dry and there are no sharks to worry about, only the barges that come by. It was super crazy to ride close to a huge river barge for the first time! I could not believe how close the other kids would go to the big barge, but after a few days I got used to them. When they come from upwind you smell them first before you see them. It is a little scary because they approach from behind you…