Cheeseroll History

By Cesare Cantagalli i-99

1986 – 17 year old Cesare Cantagalli from Italy unleashes his talents in Hawaii completing the first forward rotating loop at the Maui Aloha Classic that ultimately played a huge part in determining the future of this extreme sport. Before then the only jumps that scored were high jumps, long jumps and some tabletops and backloops!

The ‘cheeseroll’ is an acrobatic move that seemed to go against the laws of physics: the cheese roll (literally “rolled cheese”, but nicely associated with the name of Caesar-roll turned into cheese by Hawaiian friends).
The move consisted of a jump with a complete board and sail.

From there were developed variants now known to all wave and freestyle enthusiasts like looping or the ‘forward loop’.

Cesare’s original story: The ‘ why and how ’

I will try … but it would take a book to tell the detailed full story…

Who knows one day, even that’s a dream in the bag!

During my first period spent in Hawaii in the mid-eighties I developed confidence and a good wave riding technique. I then began to participate in the first Hawaiian wave events such as the Ocean Pacific Classic on Oahu and the Maui Grand Prix on Maui.

During these competitions I struggled to get through heats limited by (what I thought to be) unfair judging. This sure was a hard reality for a European rider to break into the ‘Hawaiian Myth’ and impress the judges.

At this point I thought that the only way to climb up the rankings was to be able to get an indisputable score through something highly technical and totally spectacular. Something no one else could do…

At the time the back loop was the most radical jump and the first aerial rotation. So I thought to myself that there could be a way to rotate forward and the idea I came up with was the vertical front loop just like springboard diving.

So in the summer of 1986 whilst sailing at Diamond Head in Honolulu with friends from Italy I remember that the conditions were perfect, a so-called ‘rare day’ for Diamond Head, with strong trade-winds and a perfect swell for jumping conditions. I threw myself into this full blast downwind-run to perfectly time a perfect ramp on a steep wave and delivered a very high jump. Imagine what today we would technically call ‘a stalled forward’ … well .. the difference is that conceptually I thought that after reaching the peak of my jump it was crucial to rotate at the highest point to clear the length of the mast. So I completely sheeted out and released all the power from my sail and projected my body forward to allow the axis of rotation of the mast during my vertical descent.

Of course today we know what that means when you “sheet out”…you won’t rotate!

So when I started dropping down in full gravity mode I became aware of being in free fall without any control… the crash on the flat sail was not pleasant and I still remember that scary moment today. I thought I broke my neck and was completely paralyzed on the water for few seconds. I returned to the shore thinking it was not possible to make that move, and I will never try it again.

In October I left Honolulu and flew to Maui for the upcoming legendary events, the Maui Grand Prix and Aloha Classic. During the O’Neill Maui Grand Prix, I won the qualifiers and lost against Alain Cadiz in both the winner and loser rounds.  As we all know how subjective judging can be…all you need is everyone on the beach to tell you that you did better to consider the possibility of unfair judging.

The Aloha Classic was one week away so at the start of the event I decided that I had to try out my new move again and make it work somehow. In those days my brother Sergio and photographer Gianni Squitieri arrived from Italy to attend the events with me. On the island I had established a close friendship with Mike Eskimo, whom I met at Lake Garda in Italy a few years back. He took me to a secret spot called Little Bay (Baby Beach) to take action pictures with some French photographers and to get away from the crowd. I decided that this was the ideal place to try again to develop the forward rotating technique and fine-tune the jump making sure no one could see it before the event … and so it was to be.

Following the negative experience form Diamond Head I decided to go for a safer solution by helping to ensure the rotation of the sail with the wind pressure. I therefore decided to rotate downwind anticipating with my body right on the peak of the wave impact during take-off and taking advantage of the wind to then rotate the sail.

The first attempt worked and got me around the rotation even though I had to refine the landing technique. Miki was right there that day and was the first one to see the move. I remember the enthusiasm when I came back to the shore… “this is KILLER LOOP !!!” he exclaimed… and so that is what we called it right there.

In the evenings, together with my brother Sergio and Gianni, we would try to perfect the rotational technique and how to refine the landing.

Fast forward to the Aloha and I started my first heats and performed the Cheeseroll for the first time in public. When I returned to shore, Mike Waltze and Matt Schweitzer both came to me with so much enthusiasm and congratulated saying: “this is the most radical and amazing move ever invented in the history of windsufing … you did it !! “… Wow! For me it was a miracle to hear this from my heroes…

But from there followed an intense time with an increase of enthusiasm and energy as I continued to climb up the ladder against legendary names such as Alex Aguera (current World Champion), Ian Boyd (the new generation) … until I lost in a close heat with Mark Angulo, who at the time was the most creative young talented wave-rider in windsurfing. My 9th place was a very successful result for me coming from no where with very little experience. But the result itself came in second place. I had already marked an important chapter in the history of windsurfing and from there I began my professional career filled with success and great satisfaction for me and my parents, who received their part of the reward for letting me live my dream!

During the 1986 Aloha Classic, I was approached and invited by the organizer of the Gunston 500 event in Cape Town, South Africa. This was another important moment in my life, as I won my first big international wave event and fell in love with a beautiful country. Here I became “the Cheeseroll Man” … so called the ‘Caesar-roll’ and from then the name was baptized as ‘cheeseroll’.

The reaction of the worldwide media and fans was massive and soon I was all over the magazine covers and from there windsurfing started taking a different angle to soon develop forward rotations and combined moves in jumping, wave-riding and today’s freestyle moves on flat water.

In 1988 in Barbados for the first time in an event I won the final heat performing a double Cheeseroll, which froze the public and media around the world. Wonderful moments!

Cesare Cantagalli