NoveNove Maui Aloha Classic
With another lay day being called on day eleven of the NoveNove Maui Aloha Classic we took the chance to catch up with the newly crowned 2016 Men’s PWA Wave World Champion — Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / NorthSails / MFC / Shamal Sunglasses).
Fernandez’s Road to the Title
The Spaniard started the season in irresistible form and won the opening two events in decisive fashion to establish a clear lead at the top of the rankings — with Fernandez’s supreme blend of powerful, stylish wave riding and clinical world class jumping setting him apart from the rest of his rivals and he looked just as dangerous in Sylt.
However, a narrow semifinal exit was further compounded by his closest rival Alex Mussolini (RRD / RRD Sails) going on to secure the event victory, which saw Fernandez’s lead at the top of the rankings reduced for the first time this season.
Heading into France, Fernandez still held a commanding lead, but had to endure a long week of waiting for the wind and waves not playing ball in La Torche, meaning he would have to wait for another chance to secure his second world crown.
With it not being possible to gain a result in France, Fernandez took a stranglehold over the title race, as heading into the final event of the year. here in Maui, the only way he could be denied was by a Mussolini victory.
Musso faced an uphill challenge after a third round exit in the single elimination and despite showing glimpses of brilliance in the double, the 31-year-old was eliminated in Heat 41 meaning the wait was finally over for Fernandez and he deservedly finishes the season as the world champion — adding to his previous success from 2010.
PWA: It’s been a few days since you officially became world champion for the second time in your career — has it sunk in yet and how are you feeling?
VF: “It feels amazing, it’s been a really hard journey to get here and a long year because we had two events without wind, so there’s been a lot of waiting. The start of the year for me was amazing particularly in Pozo and Tenerife and Sylt also went well. Here on Maui, it was really tricky on the first day because it was massive and my first heat went really bad with me ending up on the rocks, which meant my chances in the heat and in the single were over.
In the double I felt like I was sailing better, but in my third heat I wasn’t quite in sync with the conditions and couldn’t find a wave to properly connect together so I ended up losing in that one, but thankfully I didn’t have to wait to long with Alex [Mussolini[ being eliminated in his next heat and that brought me my second title.”
PWA: Does your second world title feel any different to you first and do you think it was easier or harder?
VF: “I think every year it’s so different. It’s six years ago since I first won, but I think the first one is maybe always that little more special, especially because I had already come super close, after finishing twice and just missing out.
This one is also unique though because being crowned the champion on Maui — the home of windsurfing — is special in itself particularly with this being the last event of the year and a 48-man fleet featuring the best of the current generation, the new talent and also some of the legends of the sport. I’m really stoked because it’s never easy to win with the level being so high on the tour.”
PWA: Since you won your first world title in 2010 you’ve never finished out the top 10, but couldn’t quite add any more titles until now — did you approach this year any differently?
VF: “I felt like I was really well prepared for this season. I think spending a lot of time in Maui during the winter for the last four years has really helped me with my overall sailing. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with Kai Hopf (NorthSails Sail Designer), which has really allowed me to tune my sails and I also spend a lot of time with Klaas (Voget) and the Fanatic Team testing boards. Spending winter in Maui means that I get to spend a lot of time on the water, but it also allows me to follow my normal training program with easy access to the gym, healthy eating and going to bed early. I think by being able to stay in a healthy routine it improves my mental mindset as well as allowing me to improve my level on the water, which makes a massive difference come the end of the year when the margins between success and failure are so small.”
PWA: The conditions at this year’s Aloha Classic were pretty extreme again with massive waves —what’s it like sailing Ho’okipa when it’s like that?
VF: “It’s really difficult - especially on my mind as I didn’t feel 100% ready to surf this wave. I’ve sailed this spot for many hours with the best guys in the world, so I feel like I know the spot really well, but those conditions were so extreme that most people don’t even sail Ho’okipa when it's like that, so if you aren’t quite in the mood it’s really tricky to perform. The waves were so big the whole time that the channel was just closing out almost 100% of the time, so it wasn’t even easy to get out. You also had to try and calculate how much risk you can take because if you end up on the rocks the heat is pretty much over, but that’s how it was and this is the world tour so you have to be prepared for everything and be good at everything in order to win.”
PWA: You always look very composed when you are competing — Do you ever get angry or upset when you lose a heat?
VF: “Yeah, of course, you are never happy when you lose, but as long as I’ve given everything I could and the other guy has just sailed better then it’s fine for me. I don’t beat myself up about it. You know I’ve been competing for many years now, so I’ve experienced some painful losses and many enjoyable wins. That’s just how competition works. Sometimes it's someone else's time on that particular day — sometimes you may lose by just 0.01 of a point, but that’s just the way it is. I think you could see that this week with just two waves counting, that each heat becomes even closer and there’s almost no room for error with the level being so high.”
PWA: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
VF: “I always wanted to be a professional windsurfer, so for me, it’s like living a dream.”
PWA: Do you believe in life after death?
VF: “Ehhhh maybe something you know, but to be honest I prefer to live this life just in case.”
PWA: How about aliens?
VF: “No, not really… I like watching sci-fi movies, but that’s about far as it goes.”
PWA: What’s one thing that annoys you?
VF: “Hmmm… missing a connecting flight on a long haul journey and then you have to reroute and stay overnight, that’s pretty annoying and tiring.”
PWA: If you had to choose one factor that has contributed most towards your success what would it be?
VF: “I think I’d have to say, family and friends. Without their support, it wouldn’t be possible.”
PWA: Finally, how did you celebrate?
VF: “I want out with my wife and a few friends and just had a few beers (and a Nutella crepe, which I haven’t had for two weeks since I got here). On Sunday at the closing ceremony we will celebrate a bit more, let’s see.”
PWA: Thanks, Victor and congratulations once again.
Both of the pro fleets have been released again for tomorrow with another official lay day being called this evening.
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