The rise of Alberto Menegatti is probably one of the most interesting success stories of modern day windsurfing. For those that have been keeping an eye on the slalom scene may have noticed that at the start of this year Menegatti opened the PWA show with an upset that threw one almighty spanner in the works of the top 3. Is it time for the slalom legends to step back satisfied with their multiple world titles or is Alberto going to have to fight his way to the very peak of professional windsurfing excellence? That highly acclaimed PWA slalom world title.
The second day dawned and I woke up with a complete new mindset, I wasn’t here to get just an ok result…
At the moment Antoine Albeau is the man to beat, it is already certain that Albeau will take, at worst, second overall, so there can only be one contender for the title at Sylt this week – Menegatti. The boys will know this and so it could perhaps be the most fierce battle of all to watch out for. With a showdown that could be equivalent to that of the recent America’s Cup, this is certainly not one to miss out on. We caught up with the man himself to find out more about his rise to success, what he had to overcome this year and where it could be leading him, over to Menegatti.
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When the first event in Korea happened I was very ready for it, I had prepared a lot both in and out of the water, training hard. Mentally I was focused and all went well and I was super happy to win. The second event [Costa Brava] I was also very prepared and I felt strong after my success at the beginning of the year, however I was in one race with Ross Williams and we went to the wrong mark and got disqualified and then just to add to my misfortunes, in the last round the front end of my boom broke and I crashed out. Despite this I managed to finish 8th, not my best result.
…at one point I couldn’t even hold a glass!
I was even more ready for the third event of the tour in Turkey, which I really like for the conditions, but just over one and a half months before I got quite badly injured. I had a really bad inflammation of the wrist, some infection of the tendons, at one point I couldn’t even hold a glass, after a full month of physio I was still unable to sail and it was just 15 days until the competition. Then one week before the event I decided I should go anyway, it was a big decision, I didn’t know if I would be able to windsurf, let alone race at such a high level. Nonetheless, I went for it and decided I would give it my best shot. When I got there I tried to sail for two days, the first day was actually quite ok, but this just set the inflammation off and I woke up the next day like it was six weeks earlier! It was not looking good and I only had another five days until the competition kicked off. I had to rest, so the next days I didn’t even go near the water, right up until the day before competition. I knew I had to tune my gear, I hadn’t done any of this for more than six weeks and when I hit the water it felt very strange, I felt a bit out of sync with the settings I had used before and also I was not physically as ready as I had been earlier in the year. I’d lost 4/5 kilos and I just didn’t feel as ready for it.
Anyway I started the first round with a positive mind, or at least as positive as I could, but straight from the first start I could already see that it was not like usual. I finished up the first race in 18th and I was quite down after it. My wrist was painful, my result was not what I wanted and I knew I had to go out and do it all again. Altogether it was not looking like it was going to be the best for me. I reminded myself that I had come to this event to minimise the damage, to try and finish the year with an ok result, knowing all the time that it was going to be hard to windsurf let alone to achieve what I wanted. During that night I was thinking a lot over it, in the end I said to myself it is not going to be possible that I will throw away this event so easily.
The second day dawned and I woke up with a complete new mindset, I wasn’t here to get just an ok result, it wasn’t going to be the end of it, I would do everything I can to change, to flip the page. This next race I finished seventh, then I soon realised that I could do this as I came home with a third after the next round.
I was literally putting the ice on my wrist 30-40 times a day, which lead to my nickname behind the bar as the ‘Ice Man’
As the days progressed I saw I was getting better and better, I could still compete at the level I wanted despite the tearing pain in my wrist. I was completely loaded up on non-inflammatory’s and all day at the beach I was putting ice on and off my wrist. I was literally putting the ice on my wrist 30-40 times a day, which lead to my nickname behind the bar as the ‘Ice Man’. I guess there were some fairly warm cocktails being handed out to the guests that week…
On the overall rankings for the event I climbed from 18th to 8th to 5th but I knew I had a lot more to give. I never felt so motivated as I did on that last day, I woke in the morning with a huge amount of will power, to get what I wanted, my new goal, to win. As the day progressed and I clocked another good result I knew that I had to be ahead of Antoine Albeau by three places to win. All I could do was win the final race and hope that he was far enough behind.
That’s when second place feels as much like winning than at any other time, it felt amazing
The start gun went and I shot off the line and into the first gybe mark in the number one spot, but with this pack of windsurfers wanting to be exactly where you are more than any I knew I couldn’t let down my guard. I pushed as hard as I could but as the race continued it soon became apparent that Antoine was sitting just behind me in second place. The top spot on the podium was out of reach, then I reminded myself why I had come to the event, just to reduce the amount of damage to my overall position. That’s when second place feels as much like winning than at any other time, it felt amazing, especially after starting with such a bad vibe and a not so good first race. Even though that was the situation to climb up and fight back, not against the others but against myself and my own injuries, made this event all the more rewarding. Leaving Turkey, I knew I have what it takes.
I’m hugely thankful to all my sponsors, to Andrea Cucchi and Jan Kosmina. Jan was a huge help at the event, rigging my sails when my wrist was in too much pain to pull the downhaul and generally being a seriously good caddy. Andrea helped me to take the bags to the van to take them back to Italy, it was great to be part of such a team that stepped in to help ease my pains. At the end of the day I did the event, but I could not even drag my own bags!
I’m stoked with my second place, it is the best possible result I could have got considering the condition I was in and to finish the last race with a win was more than enough motivation. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can get in to shape for Sylt!
Image credits: PWA WORLD TOUR/JOHN CARTER