by Chris Yates
The penultimate day of the PWA Catalunya World Cup turned out to be a largely frustrating affair as winds of 5-13 knots teased the competitors for the duration of the afternoon - so despite several sailors checking the conditions - the wind never quite materialized enough to resume the racing. The sailors were eventually released shortly after 7pm, and now all attention is firmly focused on tomorrow’s forecast in order to complete elimination four, to try and gain a discard.
Peter Volwater - 2013 PWA Catalunya World Cup
Although there was no competition today, there was still an amazing atmosphere surrounding the event area as the crowds arrived for the weekend and a Volkswagen Festival took place at 5pm with an impressive 564 VW Campervans turning up to mark the tenth anniversary of the festival. With plenty of downtime today we caught up with the man that has been making this fantastic event possible for the past fifteen years - Panxo Pi-Sunyer.
PWA: When did the event originally start?
Panxo: 'I’m the owner of the Surf-Vela Windsurf Magazine - which is the Spanish windsurfing magazine. The owner of the campsite approached me twenty-nine years ago to tell me that Costa Brava is very windy and that many German tourists are windsurfing here - he wanted to advertise in the magazine to try and encourage Spanish windsurfers to get involved. At that point windsurfing was only just entering Spain. I originally suggested not to make an event, but instead to hold windsurfing weekends with all the equipment on offer to attract people, we also invited Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz) - when he was very young - and on the tenth anniversary we invited him here again and he saw the new bungalows etc. It was then that he suggested that we should organize a World Cup event. I was thinking no because it’s very expensive, but then the owners of the event said no problem, if you can organize the event then we will talk with the tourist board. So at the beginning the tourist board were involved.'
PWA: Over the 15 years of the competition, what have the main changes been? If any?
Panxo: 'The biggest difference comes with regard to disciplines. We started with freestyle then Super-X and now slalom. I am very happy though as I got to see the beginning of Ricardo Campello [JP / NeilPryde / MFC], Kauli Seadi (JP / MFC), Taty Frans (Starboard / Maui Sails / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins) and Tonky Frans (Tabou / Gaastra) careers. It was one of their first events with coaches, so that was pretty special. For me slalom is the most impressive discipline and it brings a lot of publicity to the sport. The most impressive thing for me this year was seeing the number of younger sailors here. I can remember Bjorn saying that it was impossible for anyone that is 95kg to win the world title, when Kevin Pritchard was competing, which proves that the sport is always changing. I think it’s different now with the competitors too as many of them are training in teams.'
PWA: Do any of the years of competition stand out in your mind over others?
Panxo: I remember two or three years ago we had 45 knots for three rounds of crazy slalom... I can remember Bjorn and Jimmy [Diaz (Starboard / North)] coming to me and saying we can’t sail anymore because they are too tired, but the race director (Juan Aragon) said no you are professionals and you must compete if it’s windy, ha! If we can finish three rounds we will finish three rounds.
Marc Pere - 2013 PWA Catalunya World Cup
Pablo Ania - 2013 PWA Catalunya World Cup
Perfect cruising weather - 2013 PWA Catalunya World Cup
Ross Williams - 2013 PWA Catalunya World Cup
The forecast for tomorrow looks much better than today, so with that in mind the skippers’ meeting has been called for 10am with the action commencing from 10:30am.
PWA World Tour website