Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup
Day 4: Blazing sun provided a hot but frustrating backdrop to day four, as the wind firmly refused to blow.
With the wind failing to deliver the goods, day four of competition was spent waiting patiently in the hope of suitable conditions arriving to start race 5. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and another day passed with no racing completed.
During the afternoon’s wait, we talked to 3 x PWA World Slalom Champion and current event runner up, Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) about competition and the season that lies ahead.
PWA: You’re currently ranked second here in Austria behind Ross Williams. Would you be happy to finish there, or are you only satisfied when you win?
AA: “No, I would be happy because second is a good place to finish, it’s not a disaster you know. And it shows my new board sponsor, JP, that I can go fast as well, and that I’m still in the game.
For sure Ross is racing good, but Bjorn also won one race you know, and for example in the first three finals there were only three guys who made all three. It just goes to show that the level is really high. The most consistent guy will be first at the end of the year, so second here would be really good.”
PWA: With such depth and such a high level within the slalom discipline, do you think retaining your title this year will be harder than previous years?
AA: “I think the general level of sailing is coming up, but it hasn’t been easy winning over the past three years. It’s only the start of the season, I need to practise more, and work on the tuning of my new boards and for sure I’ll start getting quicker. Before this event I hadn’t really had a chance to measure my speed over a slalom course. It’s only when you get on the race course that you see how quick you really are.”
PWA: Who do you think poses the single biggest threat to you this season?
AA: “I can’t really say as it’s the very start of the slalom season, but it seems that Ross is the quickest guy right now. So far we’ve only raced here on a lake, where it’s really gusty, and all the other events are on the sea, so it’s really hard to tell, but right now I would say Ross, for sure.”
PWA: Now you’ve switched board sponsor to JP, do you feel pressure to deliver them a World Title?
AA: "I don’t feel any pressure, I mean for sure there’s always pressure on you when you’re racing, but I’d say the people who have the most pressure are the ones that have moved to Starboard, because I won three Slalom World Titles with the Starboards, so everybody thinks that they are the best boards. A lot of people have moved to Starboard and now they have no excuses. I think that with my new JP boards, I will show that with another brand’s boards, I can go fast.”
PWA: You got knocked out in the first round of race two here in Austria. Can you tell us what happened?
AA: “In the first round, the level isn’t so high so it’s normally not too hard to make the top four and qualify. Even if I have a bad start I can normally catch up, but this time I think I took too much of a risk, I don’t know why. I was going quite downwind and Manev was going upwind, and his mast hit my boom, which made me over sheet. I didn’t fall off, but my 9.5m fell fully in the water downwind. I almost came back, but it wasn’t enough.”
PWA: Last year in Pozo you won eight out of the nine races completed there, are you disappointed to see racing removed from a location you clearly dominated at?
AA: “I’ve been going to Gran Canaria every year since I started competing on the PWA, and I’m really disappointed to see that slalom won’t be happening this year. It’s one of the best slalom locations because the conditions are really tough, and it’s really windy with rough water and we can go really, really fast. It looks like it’s going to be a tough year for the industry, we just have to go with it and hope for the best in the future.”
Thanks to Antoine Albeau for taking the time out to speak to us. Tomorrow morning’s skippers meeting is scheduled for 8.00am (8.30am first possible start) to take advantage of a promising window of wind forecast for the morning.
PWA / Andrew Buchanan