2019 PWA Slalom World Champion
For years Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) has been one of the top racers in the world - finishing in the top 3 every year since 2014. However, up until this season the top prize in the sport had evaded him. Having come so close on so many occasions Mortefon made no secret of his desire to finally get his hands on the PWA Slalom World Championship and after a rollercoaster of a final event in Noumea, Mortefon finally made those dreams reality after holding his nerve in the final elimination to deservedly earn his first world crown after a titanic battle with Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne). After a life time of dedication - Mortefon’s - efforts finally paid off and after realising his dream we caught up with the Frenchman for an interview:
Hey Pierre, a huge congratulations again on winning your first world title after an epic battle with Matteo - how does it feel to finally become world champion and has it settled in yet?
After 2 weeks I am slowly realising it… It was just a crazy moment after all those years and all those different fights to finally get it. I am happy and it shows that work can pay off. I am also deeply moved by the reaction of a lot of people who are really happy for me, from my family to some other riders. Returning to France was crazy and the season is still not over for me ;) but it’s great.
You had a disastrous start to the event - being disqualified for dangerous sailing - do you think that was a fair decision and what was going through your head once you were disqualified?
I don’t want to speak too much about this. I am not a crazy sailor and when I go for it, it’s because I can pass. From many years, the tour is working with the no rules system and this action was normal for me. I fully agree that it was a strong attack, but it was not dangerous. Why? We were rail to rail, both boards were flat on the water and I even kept going after the gybe. The decision was the decision and I respected it completely. Maybe it made me stronger and helped me to be strong…
After that start you then bounced back brilliantly - qualifying for 8 winners’ finals in a row - which sent you into the world title race lead for the first time in the event… you then missed out on the top 8 in Elimination 10 - what happened to you in the semifinals?
Nothing really special, I had a ok start in the middle of the line. The chop was pretty hard in Nouméa especially on the first leg. We were powered on 8.4m & big board and I hit 2 pieces of chop in a row which made me lose speed on the first reach. Then I tried to come back but this time it was not enough… This is showing the incredible level on the World Tour…
That result combined with Matteo finishing second meant that there was just 2.7 points between you two… how were you feeling before the start of the last elimination?
I will not say that I was not nervous, but I tried to stay focused and to take this race as a normal race. Advancing through the heat, the last day was not an easy one as I was always on the lower part of the seeding while Matteo was on top which means he was passing into the winner final before me…
Both of you then qualified for the winners’ final… were you aware then you ‘just’ needed to be within two places of Matteo or finish ahead of him to win the world title? And what, if any, were you tactics in the final?
I didn’t count the points until the final where I had a small discussion on the beach with a friend where we count those points. This scenario was not the easiest but it was better than a full man to man, I had some room but not so much when you speak about a guys like Matteo. I just try to have a ok start, not too risky and then I was trying to look at him.
When you were rounding the final gybe ahead of Matteo - what were you thinking as you headed down the final reach?
After gybing the first one with him then the second one in front, I change a bit my sailing. It was not about him it was just about me. Going straight, no catapult and gybing smooth, maybe the last gybe was one of the longest of my life… After hooking in and putting both feet in the straps, I checked one time at the finish line, one time behind me then I started realising that I was going to be World Champion! My eyes were already a bit wet crossing the line…
For the last 6 seasons you have constantly been battling it out at the very top of the rankings - finishing as vice-world champion twice during that time… how does it feel to finally get your hands on the biggest prize?
It’s like a consecration! I finally show that I can be the best one… I was so close a few times, I am just so happy. The level is just crazy, we still have a part of the old generation and the upcoming one is fully motivated. I think it was one of the craziest seasons on the world tour with so much fight, ups and downs and the event victory decided on the last race… I am really happy and proud to win it!
How have you been celebrating your first world title?
AAAAh, it’s still not over! Don’t tell that to my neighbour, but this Saturday, it’s the big one! No seriously I came back home on the night of the closing ceremony because I wanted to be with my family to celebrate, especially my wife and son who are my biggest support! Then I had already few beers and champagne with some great friends…
And finally what are your plans for the winter?
Back on track, I will take December as a break. It’s fully needed! Then Tenerife in January for some testing and training with the boyz , I will fly to Japan in February and then come back to Europe. If it’s not too cold I will try to stay home and start also training in Marignane for the 1st stop. Lots of foiling is the plan but I will keep sailing my slalom board as I love it.
One (world title) is nice, but now I need to keep it!!!
Thanks Pierre. A huge congratulations once again! Enjoy the celebrations tomorrow!