Event Preview: The powerhouses of the windsurfing world set to raise the curtain of the 2014 PWA World Tour in spectacular fashion

The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived. After eight months of hibernation the elite of the slalom world are ready to dust off their equipment and return to the race course, as they prepare to raise the curtain of the 2014 PWA World Tour in spectacular fashion with pulsating, high octane slalom. 

From the 27th May to the 1st June the world’s fastest sailors will once again descend upon the beautiful white sand beaches of Costa Brava for six days of intense racing, as another long and fascinating season begins.

Costa Brava is situated 150km northeast of Barcelona. The Gulf-de-Roses, which consists of four beautiful towns - Roses, Castelló d'Empúries-Empuriavrava, Sant Pere Pescador and L'Escala - have become synonymous with the world of windsurfing thanks to its stunning white sand beaches, stretching 12km’s and and its clockwork like sea breezes during the summer months. Add to this the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the jaw dropping backdrop of the Pyrenees Mountains and you quickly realise why this is an idyllic playground for any windsurfer. However, whilst offering an astonishing backdrop, the Pyrenees Mountain’s can also transform Costa Brava into a white knuckled assault course - when the ferocious Tramontana wind whistles down the mountain range in excess of thirty knots - ready to test the mettle of any world class sailor.

Ones to Watch

As the reigning PWA Slalom World Champion and victor here last year Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) will enter the first event of the season as the favorite. The big Frenchman is a lethal weapon in both light and strong winds, meaning he possesses all the armoury to cope with whatever Costa Brava has to throw at him. Expect to see Albeau gunning for the top as he aims for back-to-back victories in Costa Brava, whilst making the perfect start to his title defense as he goes in search of a famous hat-trick of world crowns.

As last year’s runner up Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) will be coming out all guns blazing as he tries to go one better in 2014. The Italian is blisteringly quick in a straight line and he’ll be looking to blow away the rest of his opponents come the end of the week. The Italian was plagued by tendinitis towards the back end of last season, but seems to be fighting fit for the first event:

“I've had a hard winter fighting with the injury that last year almost took me out. This forced me not to train for a long part of the winter. Luckily I got back in Garda Trentino, my home spot where I grew up, and got constant amazing winds since I'm back. I’m confident of my speed and I'm very much looking forward to the first event and to challenge again for the top spot.”

​Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde) completed last year’s prestigious podium and he will be in the thick of the mix again. The twenty-eight year old is lightning quick and incredibly consistent. In 2013 Quentel grabbed a podium place in three out of the four events, exactly the kind of consistency needed to challenge for top honors. Will 2014 be Quentel’s year?

After a slight blip in 2012 Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne) looked back to his brilliant best during last year’s campaign and he was rewarded with fourth place overall. The fiery Frenchman has performed well in Costa Brava in recent years and we expect to see him challenging for the podium again over the coming week. Moussilmani will be eager to make a quick start to the season as he tries to re-establish his place in the overall top three for the first time since 2010.

Flying Dutchman Ben Van Der Steen (Tabou / Gaastra / Mystic / Different) recently changed board sponsors to Tabou, and it would appear he has made a seamless transition to his new boards after his recent success at the IFCA Slalom World Championships, where he came out on top. Van Der Steen will be full of confidence coming into the first event of the season and is undoubtedly one of the quickest sailors on the tour. Expect big things from the thirty-four year old, who could potentially go all the way.

In 2013 Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) made the brave decision to completely change his equipment setup. The Argentinian was quickly rewarded with a top ten finish in his first event of 2013 - sixth in Korea - before going on to secure sixth place overall. Costa Hoevel has a wealth of experience and he’ll be drawing upon all of it in Costa Brava as he sets his sights on breaking into the top five and beyond.

Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) were almost inseparable last season as the duo finished on equal points come the end of the year. They will both be looking to make quick starts as they look to improve upon last year’s seventh and eighth places respectively. 

Completing last year’s top ten was Josh Angulo (Angulo / Gun Sails) and Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North). Angulo has all the experience and skills to go all the way as a former two-time PWA Wave World Champion and will undoubtedly be in the mix again. Whilst Iachino, is one of the rising stars on the tour. At just twenty-four years of age the Italian is already making waves through the slalom world and he’ll be one to watch very carefully both during the coming week and remainder of the season. 

The legendary figure of Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) will be looking to quickly erase memories of last season, by putting together a trademark, ruthless performance in Costa Brava and sending warning signals to his fellow competitors. The Terminator is the most decorated sailor in windsurfing history, and we expect to see him back to his best, challenging for the top of the rankings where he belongs. 

The slalom fleet is unbelievably competitive at the moment and there truly are a whole host of sailors who could potentially win the first event of the year. For example Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) will enter Costa Brava full of confidence after his recent success at the Formula World Championships, whilst slalom legends Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) and Peter Volwater (Starboard / KA Sail) are never too far from the action.

Slalom used to be a game purely for the more experienced sailor, however 2013 saw an emergence of up and coming stars who could cause a shock. The likes of 2013 PWA Youth Slalom World Champion Tristan Algret (Patrik / Loft Sails / Mystic), twenty-year old Jordy Vonk (F2 / Point-7), twenty-two year old Maciek Rutkowski (Patrik / Point-7), twenty-three year old Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) and twenty-four year old Enes Yilmazer (Starboard / Severne) are all waiting in the wings and thriving under the pressure of competing against their idols. 2014 could be the year when youth prevails over experience. 

The first event of the year is always an intriguing affair and this one shall be no different. Expect to see incredibly close, exciting racing, mixed with highs, lows and plenty of drama as tempers flare and the early front runners emerge. Don’t miss any of the incredible action by tuning into from the 27th May to follow all of the action as it happens.

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