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The feint sunglass tan around Yilmazer’s eyes tells years of stories on the wind and the waves. Yilmazer, now 26, first took to the sport of windsurfing in his hometown of Alacati, Turkey, the third best windsurfing spot in the world. It started one summer when one of Yilmazer’s dad’s friends was headed out to windsurfing school and took him along. He was 12 years old. That summer, he practiced. But when school came back in session, it wasn’t until the following summer that Yilmazer returned to the sport at 13 and realized he had found his passion.
Alacati Bay is one of the world's top windsurfing locations due to the Meltemi wind that sweeps throughout the extended summer, with the local coastal mountains, resulting in a Venturi effect (named after named after Italian physicist Giovanni Battista Venturi), which creates a funneling and accelerating wind across the bay. Yilmazer explains that this bay is so wonderful for windsurfers not only due to this effect, but because of its depths. It goes from 5feet then drops immediately to 100 feet. This shallow area is conducive for beginners, and the deep part for the more learned.
One with the Sea
It didn’t take long before Yilmazer became one of these “more learned” in the sport. In 2006, The Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) came to his hometown, and in the youth division, Yilmazer grabbed third place. He says “This was my ‘Ah Ha!’ moment.” And so the competitions began.
For nine years now, Yilmazer has been competing in the PWA. He admits that in 2009, after placing first in the IFCA Slalom Youth World Champion for 2 years in a row, others began to really notice him. Yilmazer should have come in first place in 2007, however, due to a technicality, he came in second. His “street cred” was identified, and he began commanding a level of respect by professionals much older and with years of experience on him. He just recently finished the 2015 PWA World Tour ranking at 26th place. Yilmazer says he’ll make top 20 in the 2016 world tour.
For the Love of Corpus
Yilmazer decided he wanted to move to the states. He honed in on Corpus because of the wind, the warm weather, and he wanted to get a good education!
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi welcomed Enes Yilmazer, their new full-time business student on a scholarship in August 2007. The university that supported his endeavors, and he could train during the winter and study business. Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree in December of 2013, Yilmazer knew he wanted to stay in Corpus. The water sports were aplenty, and Yilmazer found a love of real estate.
So he began the process of attaining a green card. He hired a local lawyer to help him get his EB-1 Visa. This is a green card given to those with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.” Very few people get this Visa, Yilmazer explains, because “you have to prove to the government that you’re in the 10% success rate of whatever you’re doing. My immigration folder was 1,200 pages long, created by my lawyer,” Yilmazer says.
As he got close to graduation he applied, but he didn’t get it. So, he applied again and again without any luck. Yilmazer not only had an extraordinary portfolio and meet more than the necessitated criteria, he also had reference letters from some of the most influential leaders in our community, such as Council Member Mark Scott, State Rep. Todd Hunter, and Mayor Nelda Martinez.
In an effort to stay in Corpus, he applied to the master’s program at TAMUCC so that he could stay as a student and continue to try to get his EB-1 Visa. Realizing, perhaps, he needed to go a different route, he hired a new attorney in California who redid his portfolio. He got approved for his EB-1 Visa within 5 days of applying without so much as an interview. Three months later, the green card arrived, and Yilmazer quit school.
Yilmazer is tenacious and will work tirelessly for what it is that he wants. His persistent personality is what has made him successful in everything he puts his mind to.
“I learned, buy the best one you can afford at the time,” when referring to his law experience. Unfortunately, he’s had to put this lesson to the test with a surgeon, too.
His “Achilles Heel”
At the beginning of 2012, Yilmazer endured an injury due to an accident out on the water. He was out on Packery Channel and got too close to the beach. He predicts that he was roughly 7 feet up in the air when he went straight down on his right foot onto the sand. What made this injury unique was that nothing was broken, but the ligaments were torn to pieces.
Yilmazer tried to power through, but it just kept getting worse. On the first event of the 2012 world tour, Yilmazer admits to just breaking down and crying as he was so crippled by the pain.
This prompted him to head to Houston to meet with one of the best ankle surgeons in the world. Due to the rarity of the injury, this specialist had only done the required surgery 3 times. Because there was no break, just torn ligaments that had expanded beyond recognition, the surgical approach was to double them up, make them extra tight, and stitch them up again. During physical therapy, the ligaments will then loosen. The struggle here is that there’s no way to know exactly how tight to make them as there’s a slim predictor as to how much loosening they’ll do, and also that a full recovery could take years.
Three surgeries later and 3 months in a cast proved to be one of Yilmazer’s most challenging times. “As an athlete, it’s devastating to hear that your recovery may take years,” Yilmazer confides. For 50 days, Yilmazer was unable to move entirely. But by the end of 2012, he was recovering. But at a cost…because his ankle was still mending, Yilmazer used his back for compensation and support. Once again, he found himself again in tears over pain, only it was back pain this time. Through it all, he missed the first event of the PWA that year, but did manage to win nationals, and then rank exceedingly high each year thereafter.
Although Yilmazer is a shark in his windsurfing career, it doesn’t mean he’s one with them in the water. He says he’s not afraid of them, as the nature of the sport he’s not actually in the water much, and when he does land, his large sail and gear makes it pretty clear from beneath that he’s no seal. But just here in our own coast he’s seen two sharks in Port Aransas, one in the Packery Channel, and one in South Padre. The two in Port Aransas were big and were off the pier, one of which was a mere 30 feet in front of him!
One particularly strange day, he was out practicing in the Corpus Christi Bay, and there were swarms of stingrays. He inadvertently hit one going full speed, broke the stingray straight into two pieces, causing his mast and sail to break upon impact. Not only was the stingray now shark soup, but Yilmazer had to swim 2 miles back to shore, which took him nearly 3 hours. But the odd events pale in comparison to what the sport has provided Yilmazer. The opportunity to travel to the most beautiful and exotic destinations imaginable, to do what he loves, and most importantly, it has lead him to his forever home, Corpus Christi.
Staying On Top
Aside from a personal trainer at Pinnacle Fitness that Yilmazer visits to stay in tip top shape, he also enjoys yoga, surfing, and running. Seeing as he’s one of the best in the world at windsurfing, there’s no benefit to Yilmazer having a windsurfing trainer. “No one can teach me anything I don’t already know,” teases Yilmazer.
Yilmazer will continue to windsurf and prove his excellence in the sport. He has also found a passion for property projects. He puts much of his windsurfing proceeds into real estate endeavors. Both windsurfing and dabbling in real estate will keep him in Corpus Christi for the unforeseeable future.
“Do what you love and don’t think of it as work. Life is about reactions, so whatever you put your time in, that’s what you’re going to get back,” reflects Yilmazer. He lives to the extreme, expressing that “I don’t achieve ordinary, I achieve extraordinary.”