Antoine Albert (Goya Windsurfing) was born and raised on the beautiful island of New Caledonia and made his debut on the PWA Freestyle World Tour in 2012 and has steadily improved over the last few seasons. The 23-year-old produced a superb display in Sylt - 5th - in some of the toughest freestyle conditions ever seen which saw him break into the world’s top 10 - 7th overall - for the first time in his career. As well as making his mark on the freestyle scene Albert has also started merging into the waves - competing in both Gran Canaria and Tenerife. After a break through season we caught up with Antoine for an interview:
Hey Antoine how’s it going?
Cheers, all good.
Last year you enjoyed your best season so far on the freestyle world tour - breaking into the overall top 10 - how was the year for you?
This year has been great for me, finally to be part of the top 10 is amazing, although it has been a short year for the Word Tour with only two events. Luckily I was able to also participate in the European tour so when I arrived in Fuerteventura for the first stop of the World tour I already had 3 events in the bag, so the competition mood was awake and I was way more confident.
In Sylt we saw some of the hardest freestyle conditions ever - how hard was it to sail there?
Sylt is always a challenging spot to sail, whatever the discipline you’re doing. It’s very unpredictable, gusty, shorebreak and a strong current is running along the beach. You have to deal with all those elements by reading the spot well and sailing smart by adapting your freestyle repertoire and not come too close to the beach to avoid a close out section which can destroy you. Sometimes it was also a bit scary as the swell was huge and waves were breaking everywhere completely randomly, even far outside.
You were one of the sailors that seemed to be able to cope with the extreme conditions - what do you think helped you the most with still being able to perform in such conditions?
I’ve always been used to sail in super choppy spots with big sails (4.8 / 5.2) in New Caledonia and when I moved to France it was for my studies (in Brittany the first year and Marseille since the end of 2013) so when I was going to sail it was often after school so I didn’t have time to look for the best spot around but just go to the closest windy one before it gets too dark, even if it was the worst one. The first year I was in Saint-Malo (north east side of Brittany) and I cruised around a lot the whole of Brittany where it’s often side-on shore wind with current and cold weather. Then I moved to Marseille and spent 90% of my windsurf sessions in Carro where the 360° wind direction can blow in and where you learn how to sail between big steps, waves and current. As soon as there was more than 12kts, it doesn’t matter about the wind direction, waves or flat, you would have find me in Carro (that’s why I was often alone on the water ahaha). I also wave sail a lot, that means you have to read a spot properly, to sail smart, I think all those factors combined together plus a bit of competition experience helped me in the North Sea.
You’ve also started to compete on the wave tour - do you plan to try to complete on the full wave tour and is it some times frustrating when you don’t receive a place in the trials - like Sylt for example?
I love wave sailing! I started it at 13-years-old on the Caledonian reef and since then I never stopped. This year I got the chance to attend both Pozo and Tenerife and wished to do Sylt also but I didn’t even get a place in the trials. Of course it was frustrating because then I didn’t have a ranking in the wave this year so it will be hard to get in again… In the Canaries it went not that bad for me, at least I managed to advance one round in both single eliminations but I’m missing a lot of experience in the wave competition to perform well… Also I’m not a very good jumper, so I need to practice on this point. We’ll see this year if I can enter in the wave tour.
You’ve been with Goya for a couple of seasons now helping to develop their freestyle range - how do you like working on the development side of windsurfing?
I love the development side, especially with the Goya crew as they are super reactive and they translate my thoughts into amazing products. It’s very interesting to test different stuff, to know what you like and what you don’t, learn about the gear. But sometimes it’s also hard to see small differences that’s why it’s also good to have other feedbacks from different riders like Yarden [Meir].
Where in the world are you at the moment and what does the rest of your winter training look like?
I’m in Cape Town till mid march right now, everything was going well until last Saturday where I injured my ankle… Doesn’t look too bad, so I hope to only have one week to 10 days max recovery, let’s see. Then I plan to go to Morocco in Moulay.
Goals for 2018?
My goals would be to stay in the top 10 in freestyle and be able to do the wave tour. Also I would like to do more video stuff and have a lot of fun.
Thanks Antoine. All the best with the recovery and hope you are back on the water ASAP.