As slalom gear becomes ever more closely matched across the brands it seems that the one way to gain an advantage these days is both on water time and hours spent in the gym. Both of which are being heavily achieved by many of the top PWA athletes in Tenerife right now. We caught up with seasonal resident Jordy Vonk for his take on the training and plenty of nitty gritty details from behind the scenes.
El Medano has been seriously firing this year! There are a lot of good guys who have been dropping in and showing face throughout the winter season and so the training has been constantly pushed. In fact it has been pushed so hard that we’ve seen broken boards, ripped sails and even a mast snapping across somebodies head!
So who is looking fast? Well it’s a big group we’ve seen on top in our practice races. Matteo Iachino has been here for a while and is definitely looking fast again, Malte Reuscher also had amazing days, Maciek Rutkowski showed some really good racing, Pierre Mortefon had a short visit and showed that he is one of the best. Enrico Marotti and Bruno Martini are also very quick and I think I do my best sometimes to give the guys a hard time…
Aside from who is fast it seems everyone is becoming much more aggressive and so the board repair shop has had a very busy winter. Haha, it’s funny to see that nobody wants to lose, even when there is nothing to win. As I’m organising the training out here I have to tell the guys a lot that we should take care for each other and the equipment. Despite this we’ve seen fins destroying boards, boards destroying fins, boards getting cracked and guys literally catapulting over each other on the starting line. Luckily nobody has had a serious injury during all this drama! Although I think Laurence Carey was super dizzy one time after Andrea Ferin broke a mast on his head, which retrospectively has to hurt quite a bit.
Going into more detail about equipment, in particular the fins. This year the TWS center has an amazing collection of Z-fins to try. All models (SL, SF and SLM) were available in 9 different sizes, which has been nice to try in a competition format. It’s quite a different matter testing a fin with your buddy just going out and back then testing it in a competitive environment.
For anyone who isn’t into Slalom racing it might be hard to realise how much we actually change in between races to get more out of our equipment.
However, as we do 5 races back-to-back (which means no time to go to the beach) we can only change the following things whilst still on the water:
– Downhaul (#inlovewithNorthpowerXT)
– Boom height
– Mast base position
However, sometimes between these back-to-back races we also have some short breaks, then it’s possible for us to change the following things:
– Foot strap positions
– Other board (for example, taking the 8.4m sail on a medium board instead of big board).
Now try to imagine that if we change just one of the above it can affect all other factors within the feel of the gear. So there are a lot of options when it comes to tuning and it’s very very time consuming. For me personally it’s funny to see that we’re working a lot on our gear so that once we are on the start line we can feel much faster, but if you are one second too late, you’re pretty much last anyway!
So here are some statistics for you from 33 days of training. They are quite amazing.
Total starts: 1,175 (mostly 2 groups starting)
Over early starts: 305
Starboard tack starts: 626
Port tack starts: 244
Total amount of riders: 64
Amount of guys in the start boat: 1, the legend!
That’s it for now but tune in next time when I plan to cover more details on nailing the perfect start.