by Chris Yates
Racing in the PWA Sotavento Fuerteventura World Cup 2012 is set to get underway tomorrow but today, the slalom sailors registered for the 27th consecutive edition between 1pm and 3pm. The world’s fastest sailors are now fully prepared to commence battle in what is sure to be an enthralling day of action.
Antoine Albeau and Julien Quentel
The event site was surrounded with a sense of excitement and a buzzing atmosphere as hundreds of people encompassed the surrounding area to soak up the carnival atmosphere. Many were also able to gain a sneak preview of what to expect over the coming ten days as the slalom and freestyle sailors crammed in a bit of last minute training.
In the morning the PWA took a wander around the equipment storage to catch up with a couple of the sailors before the racing begins. First up we spoke with the current leader of the PWA Slalom Tour, Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde).
PWA: When did you arrive in Fuerteventura and what has been your secret to enable you to do so well here in recent years?
Antoine Albeau: 'I arrived three days ago and I’ve sailed every day, mainly on 5.8, 6.4, 7.0 and yesterday morning on 7.8 so I’ve had the chance to test all my gear and I feel good. I like the strong and tricky conditions that we get here in Fuerteventura. The gybing is really difficult because it’s so wavy but I think I cope with the conditions well here.'
PWA: Are you happy with how your season is going so far?
Antoine Albeau: 'Not really because I still haven’t won an event this year. I’m leading and I’m involved in another big battle with Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Mystic / Dunkerbeck Eyewear / Chris Benz). After this event I think we probably have a discard and when that is factored in maybe he (Dunkerbeck) takes the lead. I just have to concentrate on myself and make sure I win here, that’s the only solution. I will just try to do my best and try to avoid making the same mistakes that I have done in the previous events.'
PWA: Aside from Bjorn Dunkerbeck, who else do you think will be your biggest rivals this week?
Antoine Albeau: 'There’s quite a few I think, Ben Van Der Steen (Starboard / Loft / Mystic / Different Eyewear) sailed really well here last year, Micah Buzianis (JP / MauiSails) has done well here in the past and I’m sure he can do well again this year. Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) can be extremely fast too. There are a lot of guys who can do well because they are really good in the strong winds.'
Next up we spoke with the man from Israel, Arnon Dagan (Tabou / Gaastra).
PWA: When did you arrive and how has it been so far?
Arnon Dagan: 'It’s been super windy since I arrived four days ago. I’m feeling really good ahead of the event, usually I am more effective in the light winds but this year I feel like my equipment is brilliant in the higher winds. I also think that I am in better physical shape than previous years and I am heavier than before, which obviously helps in the stronger winds.'
PWA: Do you have an idea of where you would like to finish come the end of the week?
Arnon Dagan: 'I’m not aiming for a specific position, I just want to take the event day-by-day and survive because it seems like this event will be one for the survivors.'
PWA: If you had to try and pick a top four, who would you choose?
Arnon Dagan: 'That’s a difficult one but I would say Ben Van Der Steen, I saw him sailing the other day and he looked super smooth and fast especially in the gybes. The usual 'beasts' of Antoine (Albeau) and Bjorn (Dunkerbeck) would seem like an obvious choice. I’d also really like to see Finian (Maynard) up there challenging for the top five, I think he definitely has the potential here, from what I have seen he is looking very fast too.'
The forecast for tomorrow looks great and the skippers meeting will be held at 10am with the action commencing from 11am.
PWA World Tour website