Ross Williams is one of those rare sailors who competes on the wave, slalom and formula tours at the very highest levels.
Going from wave heat to formula race is one heck of a change but Ross takes it all in his stride and fresh from the PWA events in the Canaries, he headed out to the Allegro Cup in Poland and became European Formula Champion*.
The new Gaastra sails seem to be having an impact with you & Steve Allen coming 1st & 2nd in Leba. Is there anything unique about them compared to previous models and other brands?
Ross: First of all I think that the fact we have Dan Kasler as our sail designer has made a massive difference to our whole sail range. I believe him to be the best designer we could dream of having. The last few years (with his sails) have seen all the Gaastra riders have great success in all disciplines. From the first year he made our Formula sails we had the best 12m on the market. Since then we have worked at making the other sizes a little easier to handle and each year we feel we have made steps forward. Now all the sails are working sick and also we have the Gaastra Vapor Formula which has all the best parts from the other boards on the market, so I think that’s why we are seeing the Gaastras on the top of the Podium.
What do you think makes YOU a good Formula racer? Weight? Tactics? Speed?
Ross: I am a good weight for Formula for sure; around 86 to 88 kgs I think is the best for most conditions. Tactics? Well I have always been pretty good on tactics due to my RYA training first with the Aloha and then with the One Design. This year I feel I am really fast so all this together can help you mentally when you are on the race course.
What improvements have you seen in Formula kit over the last few seasons? Is it still getting better and in what direction?
Ross: The biggest improvements have been in the fins. Kashy have made some really great fins over the last two years. They are very easy for all sailors to use. Now other brands are bringing out great modes again so the playing field has again become more level, thanks to the Hurricane and the new R20 from Deboichet. Formula seems to be staying quite a big class and a lot of people enjoy this type of upwind racing, so as long as that is the case we all continue to test and make improvements to all areas of equipment.
Do you think if you jumped on a RS:X and did a proper campaign you could challenge for the top spot?
Ross: Maybe. I have a lot of respect for Nick (Dempsey) and Bryony (Shaw). They are both really talented and have given themselves 100% to go for the Gold medals out in China. For me to say I could challenge for a top spot in the RS:X class would be foolish. I really wish the best to both our sailors out in China and anyone who puts themselves through an Olympic campaign has my total respect.
Do you think Formula should become the next Olympic class and if so, how do you think this can happen?
Ross: Not sure really. I think maybe it’s better to keep it the way it is and just encourage Formula to grow as an independent class so that whether you are an Olympic sailor or a PWA sailor you can have the choice to come do the events if you want. There are sailors that only do Formula racing and make a living just from this as well.
Finally, do you think we will ever see PWA Formula events again?
Not yet, but who knows. Maybe if JP brings out a formula board.....ha ha ha!