Matteo Iachino (Starboard / Severne / Starboard Foil) headed into the final Foil and Slalom events of the season as the world tour leader, but couldn’t quite add to his sole world title from 2016 on this occasion with the Italian falling short in the end. However, 2019 will still go down as an excellent year for the 30-year-old after being crowned the Slalom vice-world champion and 3rd in the Foil.
The race for the Slalom world title couldn’t have been any closer between Iachino and eventual champion - Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / Duotone / Chopper Fins) - with the title being decided in the very last race of the season. We recently caught up with Matteo to talk about just missing out on the title and that infamous moment of hitting a sea snake in the semifinals on the last day, which cost him a place in the winners’ final and potentially changed the course of the title race, plus a few other things. You can read our interview with Matteo below:
Hey Matteo, congrats on another great year on tour - finishing as the Slalom vice-world Champion and third in Foil - how was 2019 as a whole for you?
It has been a great racing season. Starting so bad in France and getting two amazing results in two disciplines.
You obviously came so close to a second world title with the title race coming down to the very last race of the year in New Caledonia - how tough was it to just miss out?
It has been pretty bad. As I said in 2017 and 2018 I was close but not so close as this year. I felt ready for it and there was something that was missing as I raced as good as I could with just a few mistakes and some really bad luck in some moments. And that’s why I felt it worse than the previous two years, but this is racing and we gotta love it for what it is because it’s great.
In the first race, on the final day in NC, you hit a sea snake in the semifinal, which effectively cost you a spot in the Winners’ Final - could you believe what happened? And how mentally tough was it to then continue fighting for the title as that then put you on the backfoot?
I couldn’t believe what was happening. I’m a guy who kind of never hits anything in the water and I’ve been sailing in New Cal for so many times doing long distances, cruising for hundreds of kms etc… and it felt so weird hitting it during such an important moment…. But I got over it quite easily with my mind somehow.
On day 4 you completed a hat-trick of race wins, which was the first time you had done that since 2016… how special is it when you manage to achieve that feat?
It’s an unreal feeling. You know… in any sport you have days when you are 100% and days when you simply are not. This day everything was working great, you feel incredibly well and it’s such a high for a sportsman that if conditions don’t change all goes smoothly in your direction and everything gets easier.
Having been so dominant on day 4, you then didn’t manage to win another race for the rest of the event - did you change your approach at all or do you think that’s some times just the way it goes?
I was performing better on my medium gear while Pierre has been really good the whole season on the big gear. On day 4 we were powered on medium gear. The wind got lighter on the last two days and I broke the base of my best fin for light wind. Then I hit the snake and the last race I was underpowered all the way…
Out of all events, which one was your favourite this season and where do you think you sailed best?
Denmark by far. We got to sail every conditions and it felt great winning there after such a great event. I always love Fuerte too.
Next year will see Foil and Slalom merge together with sailors been given the choice whether to foil or use a normal fin? What do you think about this change? And do you think it could cause a mix up to the results with different faces potentially at the top?
I guess it’s really good. I think for light wind it’s the future of our sport and foil slalom in light wind is just pure fun. New faces coming up? Might be… It would be cool. Our sport is evolving and we need lo let it evolve in the best way possible, but continuing to race in the most entertaining way possible, which is slalom in my point of view. It’s going to be interesting.
After a long season of racing - what have you been up to since the end of the season and what are your plans for the rest of winter?
I’ve been one week on vacation in New Cal with all my friends from there wave sailing and surf foiling and then I’ve been in Bali chilling and surfing until now.
But in the meanwhile I’m organising everything for my other big step. I’ve opened a windsurfing centre in Tenerife. It will be the first Severne Experience Centre in the world and it’s located in Cabezo Bay, right upwind of the wave spot on a nice beach perfect for launching with any kind of gear. I’ve been working on it in the second half of the year and we should be ready to launch at the beginning of January.
Thanks, Matteo. Congrats once again on a great year and good luck with your new centre!