BS: Top 3 at the first competition of the year, you must be stoked, tell us about the event and if the waiting game played with your head at all?
For sure it fees good to get a podium finish. I’ve only ever gotten 2 in slalom and the other was also a 3rd and it was here in Korea, so hopefully I’ll be able to expand on this a bit 🙂
As for the waiting, I’m more or less prepared for it and used to it. It used to get to me more. I’ve been travelling with Micah for a lot of years and I’ve learned a lot and one of the things is just creating and sticking to your daily rhythm. We don’t change our wake up time or eating schedule really, even if the forecast is bad. Just create a rhythm and stick to it through the event.
BS: To kick off the year with a third is always a confidence boost, does this motivate you for the coming year and do you feel fired up to reach out for those two higher places in the upcoming events?
This result for sure has me fired up. Whether you do good or bad you need to try and stay fired up, but it definitely gives a confidence boost and helps you feel like you are not just wasting your time. Over the last few years, I’ve been leading events and dropped the ball, I believe this really was just a culmination of getting a bit more comfortable in my “slalom skin”. Although I’ve been competing forever, it’s only the last few years that I’ve really focused on the slalom side of things and I’ve been through the transition years with Gun, they went from having just one slalom sail, to now being one of the most competitive, dialled in rigs on the market. I’ve also been involved in the process of getting Angulo boards literally “up to speed”. So although I’m one of the older more experienced guys on tour, my whole support crew side of things is now really falling into place.
BS: So what was the secret, why did you go so fast, more training, better/improved gear, tuning or a combination of them all?
Well, to expand on what we were talking about above. I can say it’s been a few year process. Within the the Gun Sails management I’ve really been getting behind and believing in the whole slalom project, which has included more emphasis and support to Renato Morlotti, our designer for working on the slalom sails, and also the involvement of Pieter Bijl , an amazing tester/development expert.
This combination combined with some very focused test/tuning sessions with Renato and Pieter as well as focusing on my personal rigs, to squeeze the maximum performance out of them through ideal rig settings and mast combinations, has helped me get my rigs to a really comfortable platform.
Our boards have had small but important tweaks that have increased the top end a bit, but mainly got them riding a little higher whilst keeping trim. There’s also been some significant gybing improvements in our 115l board, which definitely helped in the funky mixed up chop on the outer buoys in Korea.
I’ve also continued to develop the Streamlined race boom with Dave Dominy and I believe our unique curve and weight reduction is paying dividends.
Finally, my trusty Kashy fin quiver takes out the guesswork.
So, in summary, it’s about getting the gear to work in a manner that is efficient around the course. Sometimes I have to opt for a mast that’s not as fast in top end but pumps better, for example, so in the end, you want to first and foremost take out any anxiety of whether you can get around the course in an efficient and least draining way possible.
BS: Do you feel like the level has got much closer this year, especially with the likes of A2 winning the event but not a single race?
I think Antoine is still a bit more of a machine then everybody else. Also, all those things I’ve mentioned above he’s been doing for years, not to mention having a level of confidence that is head and shoulders above. In saying that, there’s a whole group of guys that are pushing him and each other.
Cyril almost won last year.. It was pretty close, right to the end. The whole French contingent is pretty dang strong and then you have those really good racers like Ross, Ben, Micah, Arnon, it’s just a question of a few things going their way and those guys are all world title contenders. One of the cool things is the overall respect level for each other’s skill and equipment, etc. I believe on a whole the level is very high, it makes for some very intense racing.
BS: Looking across the field who do you think could cause big upsets this year?
I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a breakout performance by Jordy Vonk. Pierre Mortefon is turning into a full on contender, so he could be hassling Antoine quite a bit. Also, don’t be surprised if you see a mix bag of results now and again. Consistency will be the key to success.
Be sure to join us tomorrow when we will have a micro-feature from Josh Angulo about tuning and what it involves exactly.