In recent years the slalom scene has been dominated by the likes of the reigning world champion Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde), his arch nemesis Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) and Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails). However, Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) bucked this trend in the opening slalom event of the year, as the Italian became the youngest winner - twenty-eight years old - of a PWA Slalom event in several seasons, proving that his winter of grueling training certainly paid dividends. Is this the start of a new era of slalom?
In the past several sailors have threatened to break the stronghold at the top of the rankings. Most recently, Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails), in Korea last year, came within touching distance of claiming his first ever victory, however a miss-timely error - sailing to the wrong mark - ruined his chances as Micah Buzianis stole the limelight, perhaps due to his greater experience, which is so pivotal in slalom. Fast forward almost exactly twelve months and a magnificent Menegatti managed to do exactly what so many others have failed to do in the past, as he rewrote the rulebook to inject a much needed dose of new blood into the realms of slalom. After achieving such an incredible feat we caught up with Alberto to find out more about him and his inaugural victory on the PWA World Tour. Read the interview below:
PWA: Firstly, congratulations on your first ever event victory, you recently moved to Point-7, did it take you long to adjust to your new sails and do you think they played a key part in helping you to victory?
AM: “My equipment helped me a lot in the first event for sure. The sails played out to be very fast, and super efficient and in combination with the new 2013 Starboard iSonics they were just a great match. As soon as I sailed on the new sails and boards I had a great feeling, of course it took me some time to get the best out of my kit, but this happens with anything you jump on. The final bit was given by my fins ZFINS, that allowed me to have the extra turbo speed when needed.”
PWA: Many recreational sailors are interested to know what size fins you sail with, with each sail, can you tell us which fin sizes you use?
AM: “The sail, board or fin itself are good, but the real potential comes out when you have a good set up!! It is always a matter of combination.
My best combos are:
127 iSonic 2013 with 9.3 AC-1 and 48Z SL if wavy / choppy or 48Z SF if the condition of the water are flatter
107 iSonic 2013 with 8.6 AC-1 and 40Z SL if wavy / Choppy or 40 ZSF if flat
107 iSonic 2013 with 7.9 AC-1 and 38Z SL if wavy / Choppy or 38 ZSF if flat”
PWA: What boards did you register for the PWA Tour this year and why? Please explain each board choice. Which board did you mostly use during the Ulsan event?
AM: “In the previous year with Starboard it was always easy since you knew the board to take were the 127, 107 and 87, if you were not to heavy you could go for the 117 as light wind board. This year Remi and the Starboard team made an amazing job, having new boards such as 110, 97 and 90 all performing very good! It took me long time to make a good selection then, but the ultimate choice went down again for 127, 107 and 87! And I'm sure what ever the conditions are like I'll be covered!”
PWA: We noticed you had unusual mast base settings with an extended mast track. How did you come up with these settings? How does it work for you?
AM: “I'm the only Starboard rider that is likely to use the mast foot position 3-4cm fruther back then recommended. My set up is very physical and not easy to hold but I find it extremely fast and this is why I go with it. In order to move the mast track so far back I need to have an extended mast plate, otherwise there is a risk that the mast base will come out while sailing. Few tried to do a similar set up, but so far no one could actually went with it ;-) Let's say I have a unique set up!”
PWA: You are part of the new generation of slalom sailors using a waist harness. What are, in your opinion, the advantages of such a harness compared to a seat harness?
AM: “Well the waist harnesses from my experience allows me to hook in and out for a gybe faster, making it easier in a race. At the same time, I find the waist harness more technical and this is for me very nice, because depending on conditions and strength of the wind I change my position on the board, where I put the weight and the pressure. In each moment I can play with it. With the seat harness I feel strapped on and can't move, and especially when the conditions change quickly I believe you have a disadvantage with a seat harness.”
PWA: Your latest video shows some intense winter training, both on and off the water. What did you work on and why?
AM: “Guys like Antoine [Albeau] and Bjorn [Dunkerbeck] have such a big advantage with the experience they have gained over the years…And the knowledge they have is just huge…
I decided if I wanted to get anywhere near them I had to push harder…In the winter I trained a lot in the gym and doing aerobic exercises with a specific program built up by my trainer Roberto Actis. At the same time I was tuning my kit to the max, and I engaged together with the P7 team a Team training in the water. This was consisting of real racing, with real starts and gybing with all the team all day long! All of it made this possible in Korea!”
PWA: If you had to pick one piece of windsurfing equipment you couldn’t live without what would it be?
AM: “Everything has a time…Now would be my slalom stuff 107 iSonic 38Z and 7.9 AC-1 …I'm sure in 10-15 years from now there will be a big fight between my slalom kit and my wave kit!”
PWA: Favourite food and drink?
AM: “T-Bone Steak, Fillet, Sushi…But I'd probably eat almost everything…and lots of it! Except cheese, I just hate it!!”
PWA: What would you be doing if you weren’t windsurfing?
AM: I would still be an athlete, but my life would be for sure a touch more boring…even if I would probably be more wealthy… ahahhahahahaha!”
PWA: Describe your perfect days sailing?
AM: “Second day racing in Korea when I won the 1st Elimination, this was exactly the perfect day sailing! Hopefully a lot more perfect days will come!”
PWA: Favourite location to sail?
AM: “Torbole / Trentino / Lake Garda in the Summer is just perfect. Regarding winter I'd say Cape Town!”
PWA: Thanks a lot for your time Alberto and congratulations on your victory again. We look forward to seeing you on the water in Costa Brava.
The 2013 season is now beautifully poised, make sure you tune into the next installment of frantic PWA Slalom when the men return to action in Costa Brava between the 11th to the 16th June, to see if Menegatti can sustain his charge for the top or whether the old rearguard will return with a vengeance.
To see a glimpse of what Alberto Menegatti’s winter training consisted of click here.