21 yr old French racer Florent Renard (FRA-5 JP / NeilPryde) won the Men’s Rookie of the year award for his superb showing in this years Slalom 42 fleet. Many say he’d have finished a lot higher than his 15th overall placing suggests had he been able to get to all the events. But, despite the hype, Florent’s keeping his feet on the ground and staying focused for a full season in 2007.
What did feel like to get the Rookie of the Year award?
I was pleasantly surprised by the nomination. It really enables me to end the season with a flourish.
Why do you think you have been so successful so far on the PWA tour?
2006 was my first experience of high-level slalom competition, as I used to sail in Formula Windsurfing before. The Canarian leg of the tour was a great experience, and the conditions were difficult. My scheduling didn't enable me to compete in Turkey, so I came back at Sylt where I was particularly comfortable with the light weather conditions.
How much inspiration do you take from Antoine?
I met Antoine several years ago when I began windsurfing and appreciate him much indeed. For me he is the example to follow for performance and versatility. I’d like to sail with him more often but our schedules are very busy.
Who else is an icon for you?
I can't pinpoint one individual really, as I respect all the PWA competitors, plus there is a very good atmosphere amongst us. For my training in France, I practice with a team at the High Level Funboard Centre situated in the National Sailing School. We’re a team of 8 racers, Antoine Questel, Tom Nagie, Johann Malaper, Sarah Hebert, Nicola Warembourg, Aurélien La Matayer, Julien Quentel and our coach Stéphane Krause. It is critical for us all to sail together for tuning, motivation, and competitive spirit...
Will you enter the waves next season?
I really love the waves and I'm training hard at home for this discipline. But for the moment I’m concentrating my energy for PWA Slalom 42. Nevertheless, I think I’ll enter the waves at Sylt.
Where will you train this winter?
This winter, I’m crossing the Atlantic to practise in the Caribbean islands - the weather is milder than in France!
How will you try to improve in 2007?
Top secret!! But my objective for next year is to maintain my position among the best riders in Slalom 42, and I want to do the whole racing tour. My sponsors JP Australia and NeilPryde are also helping to assist my performance get stronger.
© PWA / Brian McDowell