JP Tobin started boardsailing as a 7-year-old and his dream is an Olympic podium finish - hopefully in London in 2012.
Veteran boardsailor JP Tobin has had more than his fair share of disappointment in his sporting career.
Despite twice being ranked No 1 in the world, Tobin's Olympic dream remains unfulfilled after twice watching four years of hard work go down the gurgler as he failed to meet the qualifying standard for the Games.
But these experiences have only steeled Tobin's resolve as he eyes the London Games.
The 32-year-old's immediate focus is retaining his national title in Manly next month, while he also hopes for a strong showing at the world championships in Denmark this year.
Tobin has recently taken up mountain biking and is proving to be rather handy at it as well, enjoying success in a couple of endurance events.
But his primary focus remains windsurfing and his mountain bike training helps him once he is back out on the water.
What are your sporting goals for 2010?
They're pretty simple really. It's to defend the national title, which I won last year, and the other main regatta in the year for me is the World Championships, which are in Denmark at the end of August.
What inspired you to embark on a career in sport?
I guess it was just a natural progression. I was just a typical Kiwi kid really, growing up at Ohope Beach I was always around the water and my parents were pretty much into windsurfing, so that's how I got into it and I just went through the steps like youth worlds and things like that until eventually it became a fulltime thing.
Has it always been windsurfing for you or like most young sailors did you start out in the dinghies?
No, I was straight into windsurfing, which is a little bit unusual as well. When I started it was more the blasting that you see people cruising around Auckland all the time. So yeah, if you can imagine me as a little 7-year-old doing that.
It must have been pretty tough work physically for a 7-year-old...
Yeah, it's a lot easier now because the equipment has changed so much and has become so much lighter. Back then it was usually quite a mission just to find things small enough.
When you were growing up were there any other sports you fancied yourself as a future star in?
Not really. There were a few team sports I played along the way, but the windsurfing was really what captivated me.
What's the best thing about your sport?
Every day you just never know what you're going to get. You know, you're training in the gulf and some days nothing will be happening, it will be just flat and calm and then another day there might be a 30-knot northerly. The other day a pod of orcas came through as we were training, so it's just really fun never knowing what will happen on a daily basis.
And the worst thing?
When it gets a bit chilly it can be a bit tough out there at times. But living in New Zealand it never gets that nasty. I have people I compete against who in the winter literally can't sail because the lakes are frozen, so they have to do something else.
You've taken up mountain biking lately - is that a competitive endeavour or more of a hobby?
I have been competing quite a bit - especially this time of year the mountain biking season comes on line - so I have been doing quite a lot of races on the bike too. Because a lot of fitness training [for boardsailing] is on the bike, it's been quite nice to develop that side of the sport as well.
Have you won any races?
I won The Dual last year [Motutapu-Rangitoto traverse], which was a bit of a surprise, and I've done quite well in a few other smaller races here and there.
What's tougher - boardsailing or mountain biking?
They both have their challenging aspects, but they are both really quite different. The mountain biking is a bit more mechanical where you just need to put your head down and go, whereas the boardsailing is much more intensive and you need to use your judgment a lot more. You can be pumping and sprinting to get to the next gust, but you also have to try and keep your head around you a little bit and pay attention to what is happening with the wind and think tactically.
Have you had any big spills on the bike yet?
No, I haven't yet - touch wood. But the Olympic managers at Yachting New Zealand wouldn't be too pleased to hear about it if I did, so I'd make sure I keep it out of the papers.
What's been the greatest achievement of your sporting career?
I've been ranked No 1 in the world on two occasions so that kind of rewards a consistency across the year. But I don't think there's one really big standout, there's been some good performances in world championships and in a few other events, but I think, to be honest, the reason I'm still in the sport is because I still haven't got that one result or performance where I've said "yeah, that was it". There's always a desire to continue and to try and better yourself in the sport.
What has been your darkest time?
I would say every Olympic trials, which have not gone my way. That would have to be the toughest time for me, because it's four years culminating into a couple of events and to come close and miss out is really tough. With there only being one spot per country in boardsailing it's pretty hard.
The last time I missed out I was seventh in the world and couldn't go to the Olympics, which is a really tough position to be in. In that instance my compatriot [Tom Ashley] had won it, so there was no room for me. Those are the darkest moments when you have to get yourself up off the floor after dedicating four, eight and even 12 years to a project and then deciding if you want to do it again and then refocusing and recommitting and moving on.
So are you going to put yourself through it all again to try to qualify for London 2012?
Definitely. I would say more so than ever. It's interesting though, as I get a bit older I've taken a different approach.
What's the one career ambition you'd like to realise before you retire?
Well, that's it. It's going to the Olympic Games and standing on top of the podium. I've been involved for a long time, and I even coached [Finland's Tuuli Petaja] at the last Olympic Games, which was a great experience to actually see it all from another side.
Who were your sporting heroes growing up?
In the early days it was the pioneers in the sport of boardsailing like Bruce Kendall, Barbara Kendall and Aaron McIntosh. But now I get inspiration from all sorts of sporting greats, and not necessarily my own sport.
* Won national RS:X title, beating 2008 world champion and Olympic gold medallist Tom Ashley.
* Finished 11th at the World Championships in Weymouth, England.
* Won The Dual mountainbike race on Rangitoto.
* Finished seventh at the World Championships in Takapuna, which doubled as the New Zealand Olympic trials. The only spot for the Beijing Games went to Tom Ashley, the winner of the event.
* Won Sail Auckland, an ISAF grade two event and finished second in Sail Melbourne, a grade one event.
* Achieved a world No 1 ranking in the RS:X - the new Olympic sailing class.
* Controversially missed out on the Athens Olympics after finishing behind Tom Ashley at the nationals.
* First ranked No 1 in the world after winning three ISAF grade one events in the Mistral.
* Finished fifth at the Mistral World Championships in Noumea.