LA TORCHE PWA GRAND SLAM
The second day of the La Torche PWA Grand Slam, saw the glorious golden sunshine continue together with the waves, but unfortunately the wind remained absent again. To keep the crowds entertained Jules Denel (JP / NeilPryde) and birthday boy - Antoine Martin (JP / NeilPryde) - attempted a bit of wave tow-in with varying degrees of success, as Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) took control of the jet ski.
Before Albeau took to the water, we caught up with the reigning slalom world champion, who currently sits second place in the rankings:
PWA: How does it feel to be in this position at this time of the season…It’s quite unusual for you?
AA: “Yeah, but you know I have made two big mistakes this year. My first mistake was in Turkmenistan and then again in Germany. This year we will only have one discard, so what can I do you know… It’s ok because it’s really close at the top, so I think I just have to be in front of Cyril (Moussilmani), but Pierre (Mortefon) is still challenging, he has some good points. If Pierre can put together another two good events, here and in New Caledonia, he can also come back into first place, for sure. Anyway, I don’t know, Cyril can also make one big mistake too… you never know what can happen. For now I have no stress…maybe its even better to be second just before the end.”
PWA: So, this is a change for you?
AA: “Yeah, just like a few years ago with Bjorn (Dunkerbeck) you know, I was second coming into Germany and I won the event which gave me the world championship there, so we’ll see…”
PWA: So maybe it’ll actually fire you up a bit then?
AA: “For sure. I’d prefer to be number one - to have a bit of an advantage - but that’s how it goes you know.”
PWA: Often you seem to arrive at an event and seem pretty relaxed, even if at the beginning of the event things haven’t quite gone to place, but by the end, once you have the heats rolling, you normally come back…
AA: “Yeah, that’s true, but the problem is that we didn’t do so much slalom in Germany, we only completed one elimination.”
“It was good, the last slalom elimination we did, it was only Cyril who was qualifying for the final and Julien (Quentel) and Arnon (Dagan) - who was leading the event - had been eliminated. Pierre (Mortefon) was with me in my semifinal, so I think we were the only 3 to have the chance to win (that elimination). Then we couldn’t finish… it was a shame, but it’s like this! Hahaha, you cannot fight this!”
PWA: Moving away from the world title to this event; what are your thoughts on the waves we have here and slalom racing in waves?
AA: “For me it’s okay as I like being in hardcore conditions, so I would love to do it in the waves. I’m not sure it will happen as you need at least a little bit of wind to do it, because if we go with the 9.5m and it’s super light wind, it’s probably super hard to validate something in the waves, but outside it will be fine.
“No no, we need to have some more action in the slalom, because at every event we do the same kind of format and why not do something in the waves you know… I think it would be good to mix things up and try something different.”
PWA: So, do you ever, on your slalom kit, go out and train or practice or just windsurf in these wavy conditions?
AA: “No…I sail waves when I can, so when you sail in the waves, you get used to it anyway. You know how the wave works, so when I’m with my slalom gear, maybe it’s actually easier to go out because the slalom gear is much quicker, you go faster, you can jump over the whitewater and with the wave kit, you don’t plane so quickly, it’s a little bit more heavy on the water… But now the slalom boards are more straight, with less rocker, so you can nose dive a little bit more…hahaha.”
PWA: So that brings me onto; ‘back in the day’, the famous one here was ’86 and sailors were using/had open equipment regulations, so they could use anything they liked…nowadays, trying to do the same thing - can you even do it on the modern dedicated slalom kit?
AA: “Nah, we can use the gear we have already. But in ’86, if I remember the video, it was super windy and the guys were on wave sails I think, no? They had super small sails and for the boards…what did they use? I don’t know? Maybe some were on wave boards…”
PWA: What are your thoughts on the conditions for the rest of the week in La Torche?
AA: “I think there is some wind on Tuesday and Wednesday, so maybe we can do waves, it’s not going to be the peak of the swell, this is for sure, but if it’s planing conditions it’s almost always wavy here in La Torche, so you can at least do something. But there’s going to be some wind after too.”
PWA: To finish up, is it nice to have an event here in France?
AA: “For sure it’s nice! Did you see me yesterday, moving the French flag?! No, I missed it, ahh! Hahaha…it was like this: (massive arm movements).”
“It was good I enjoyed it. I think it’s a good organisation, it’s the first one from Christophe Boutét and it’s a big event, I think he has done a really good job. We have all the bars and tents - with tents for all the brands to show their gear and for the competitors, I think its good. I also think it’s an excellent location. A lot of people are visiting the event and it’s only the first one!”
PWA: Thanks, Antoine, good luck for the rest of the event.
Light winds are predicted for tomorrow, but the forecast still looks good for Tuesday, so hopefully after one more lay day we will see either the wave or slalom competitions begin. The skippers’ meeting tomorrow will be held at 10am, with the first possible start for the wave at 10:30am, whilst the first possible start for the slalom fleets is 11am. Don’t miss any of the action by tuning into www.pwaworldtour.com.