2016 Slalom PWA World Champion - Matteo Iachino’s (Starboard / Severne / Shamal Sunglasses) - season didn’t begin in the fashion that he would’ve wished with the Italian suffering his worst result since 2012 - after finishing 25th in Marignane, France.
Granted there was only one race, which took place in tricky conditions, but that result still placed huge pressure on Iachino heading into Asia with the Italian not being afforded any more room for error in order to keep his world title ambitions alive for 2019.
The 29-year-old is one of the most composed sailors on the world tour and in Asia, in a scenario where it would’ve been easy to become flustered, you would never have even known that he was under any pressure at all to record a top result. Iachino sailed with a calm head throughout and after no wind in Japan for slalom, Iachino bounced back brilliantly in South Korea by winning for the 3rd time in Ulsan. Iachino was the only sailor in the fleet to qualify for every winners’ final and that victory sees him ranked 10th overall heading into Fuerte.
Meanwhile, after bouncing back with victory in South Korea, the Italian then secured the final place on the podium in Costa Brava (Foiling), which sees him top the overall Foil ranking after the opening two events, while excelling in the Slalom Foil format. We recently caught up with Matteo for an interview, which you can read below:
Hey Matteo, congrats on your recent victory in South Korea and 3rd place in Costa Brava…The start of the season wasn’t particularly easy for you with a disappointing and probably quite frustrating result in France - which was your worst result since 2012 - was it a tough result for you to take?
It’s never easy to take a bad result. But getting it at the beginning of the season, it’s even worse. The conditions in my heat were really poor and the wind dropped so much from the heat before mine to my heat that was almost impossible to plane. The competition actually stopped on the heat after mine due to lack of wind…. A small mistake and a lot of bad luck brought this and I knew it. I just wanted to compete more and I knew I would’ve been there.
You then faced quite a long time to be able to erase that result from your memory with light winds in Japan and then the wind not arriving in South Korea until the second half of the event - was that mentally draining for you and how did you cope?
I was disappointed because there was no wind but I was ready to compete and I knew I was competitive. I wasn’t particularly stressed… Just wanted to compete hahaha. The key to win in our sport is the right mindset and I kind of learnt how to keep it through the bad moments.
When the chance came you grabbed it perfectly - bouncing back brilliantly in South Korea to secure your 3rd event victory there - How pleasing was that for you?
Well, it has been great. Finally, we had a couple of good days with nice conditions and I was eager to compete. For the first time, I was actually focused more on winning the event than winning a single elimination. Especially in the last elimination I just focused on Jordy [Vonk] as he was the only rider able to get in front of me and it worked out.
You then secured 3rd place in the Foil in Costa Brava with a late final day charge, which puts you at the top of the Foil rankings for now… how did you find the event in Costa Brava?
Well, I didn’t really enjoy the light wind races. I don’t enjoy them in general and going upwind on the second lap for me it’s always just pumping. But we got a high wind day and we kind of tried something different, then we got a couple of normal days and at the end, we tried slalom foiling and I loved it. I think mixing it up has been cool and kind of useful to check what we can actually do in a foil competition.
Obviously, there was the day with the Tramontana - what was it like trying to Foil in such strong winds and before that day what was the windiest conditions you had foiled in?
Before that day the windiest day I had foiled in was 3 days before in Costa Brava hahaha, right before the event. It was actually fun. More surviving the downwind than racing against the others, but still something different and a lot of adrenaline.
For the first time on the world tour we experimented with Foil Slalom in Costa Brava - what are your thoughts about it?
It felt amazing in the water and it was super nice to compete in Foil Slalom. Not only was it really fun, but I think that the kind of racing/competition that was had in such light winds was amazing. The emotions that you get out of it is also quite unbelievable because usually in those kind of conditions we would be waiting on the beach waiting for slalom conditions.
I guess it is the natural evolution of the Slalom discipline - in light winds obviously. When it gets to 7.8m fully powered then for me regular Slalom is better, but overall I loved it!
If you just look at purely the results from the Foil Slalom then you would be the top ranked sailor after those 3 Eliminations with a first, third and a fourth - is downwind foiling something you have trained a lot?
No, not really. Actually, I didn’t foil that much at all because I was slightly injured when I was in Australia during the winter for the Starboard & Severne photoshoot and some sail development. After I came back from Australia I had to have a 1 month break and after that I focused on Slalom. Of course, I did a little bit of Foil training, but I would say 3, 4 maybe 5 times maximum. As soon as I had the gear on a reach though it felt amazing and just worked! The only thing I did was add more downhaul to the sail to open the leech a bit more.”
Now you have about 6 weeks before Fuerteventura - what will you be doing between now and how will you be preparing for Fuerte?
I’m now relaxing at home. Next Sunday I’ll fly to Guadalupe for a project with Tristan [Algret], and JC will be there shooting. It will be pretty cool. Then when I’ll be back I’ll train hard to get ready for Fuerte. I can’t wait to be there in strong winds again.
Thanks Matteo - congrats again!
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