Julien Quentel

Just days before slalom’s opening event of the 2009 season, Italian board brand RRD have signed French slalom specialist, Julien Quentel. Setting his standards high, Quentel aims to break into the Slalom’s top ten in the forthcoming season.

Here’s the word from the man himself:

Julien Quentel: “Now everything is super cool! I was at home in St. Martin and my option was just to study and to stop windsurfing competitions, and then, in the twinkling of an eye, everything changed and I got a flight back to France to attend a new racing season!

RRD is very motivated having me on the RRD Team and finally also my sails sponsor confirm me for this season. My goal for 2009 season is to come back at the top of the racing rankings, and the plan is to attend all the most important slalom events and long distance in France, and all the PWA Slalom events in Europe.

I’m very happy being RRD Team rider, since my feeling now is to be part of a big family, and that’s perfect and really motivating for my come back in competitions!
I’m super happy with the boards. It’s just a couple of days that I received them and I still have to work on the trim, but my feeling is that X-Fire boards are super fast and very stable and very easy to jibe. So I’m really super happy for the performances of those boards and really motivated.”

RRD Brand manager Roberto Ricci: “I’m very happy to welcome Julien in the RRD family. He is a very talented guy and I am sure that he will find the right support he need with us. RRD X-FIRE LTD 2009 are the racing weapons he needs to win!”

Julien Quentel is sponsored by RRD boards and NeilPryde Sails.

Source: PWA World Tour

PWA Podersdorf, day one

There were no signs of nerves from slalom’s newest addition to the World Tour, as the opening day of competition in Austria delivered sun and wind in equal measure to start proceedings in style.

After a morning spent registering just shy of 400 sails and 200 boards, the 66-man slalom fleet took to the water to mark the official start of competition on Lake Neusiedl.

Powered by the prevailing NW wind, the racers had to negotiate a 4-buoy slalom course, starting and finishing on port tack. Opening proceedings, all eyes turned to race one.

Despite a new location, new regulations and many riders using new gear for the first time in competition, there was little upset in the opening rounds. Both Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde) and Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne) appeared immune to the pressure of windsurfing’s media scrutinizing their every move, as they seamlessly extended their respective runs of form from 2008, to reserve places in the eliminations final eight.

Similarly, the UK’s Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) looked rock solid as he picked his path through rounds one, two and three with a comprehensive display exhibiting both depth and savvy, to reward him with his place in the final eight.

Continuing a seemingly relentless run of exceptional consistency, Peter Volwater’s (F2 / MauiSails) ability to deliver no-frills, reliable-sailing whilst under pressure made sure his name also featured in the race one final. 

Padding out the final 8 were: Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North Sails), who worked the gusting wind well to secure two seconds and a third place en route to the final, Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), who on current form would be a solid bet to secure a podium finish in the event’s overall standings, and Steve Allen, whose dependable, heat winning consistency was once again very much on the money.

Going head to head, it was business as usual for Albeau, who never looked back after taking the lead on the first reach. A predictably slick execution of the following four gybes saw the Frenchman deservedly claimed race one. Second place went to a defiant Williams, who looked destined to take third until he pulled off a major coup, overtaking Quentel in a seemingly un-winnable drag race to the finish line.

Finian Maynard (RRD / NeilPryde) and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine) may be slightly frustrated with their absence from the final. Maynard stumbled in round two after missing out on a top four qualification spot, and Pritchard lost his grip in round three, having to make do with 12th in the elimination (after coming 4th in the losers final).

Advancing onto race two in the evening light, there was a sense of disbelief when Albeau was seen languishing at the back of the pack in his round one heat.

The uncharacteristic blunder left the World Champion with the almost impossible task of closing a reach-long gap to secure his place in the next round. Almost defying the odds, he mounted a remarkable comeback only to be denied fourth place by local sailor Chris Pressler (Starboard / Severne / Dakine).

As the race progressed, Maynard proved his shaky start was only a brief episode. Two precision first place finishes in rounds one and two helped him secure his place in the race final. Pritchard also made sure he made amends for his no-show in the final of race one, by tapping into his wealth of racing experience to settle down into the final eight.

Credit must also be given to the sailing of Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Exocet / MauiSails), who looked dangerous throughout the opening rounds of race two to cement his name in the race final.

Unfortunately, dying light and increasingly fickle wind forced competition to be placed on hold until day two before the final two heats could be sailed.

2009 PWA Podersdorf

Trading freestyle for slalom, the 2009 Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup will mark the official start of the men’s PWA race season. Following a turbulent winter of sponsorship changes and new PWA regulations coming into effect, this inaugural event will act as benchmark for the season that lies ahead.

The Low Down

Running from the 5th to the 10th of May, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup takes place on Lake Neusiedl’s 315 square kilometers of fresh water, located between Austria and Hungary. With two predominant wind directions (N-NW and S-SE) the lake can produce anything from howling side-shore gales to super technical cross-offshore conditions, leaving sailors at the mercy of the ever-changing Atlantic fronts that track over central Europe.

For 2009, PWA regulations stipulate that during event registration, all sailors competing in the slalom discipline will have to register three boards and six sails, which they will use for the duration of the season. This decision may well have implications that echo throughout subsequent events, as the slalom fleet trade months of research and testing for several minutes during the event’s equipment registration period. 

The Sailors

True to form, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup has attracted a huge international following. In total, 72 riders from all four corners of the globe have signed up to compete in Slalom’s curtain raiser.

As expected, all the big names will be out in force to kick-start their campaigns for the 2009 season. Headlining the monster slalom fleet is 3 x World Champion Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde), who’ll no doubt be looking to secure his first event victory for new board sponsor, JP-Australia.

Likewise, 2008 runner-up Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne) will be aiming to extend the form he enjoyed in the latter part of 2008 with his new sponsors, Starboard and Severne.

Ever consistent stable mates, Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Gaastra / Dakine / MFC) and Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra) are a pair likely to excel in the potentially testing Austrian conditions. While both are capable of sustaining their respective 3rd and 4th positions from 2008, they’ll be setting their sights on toppling the heavy weight contenders, Dunkerbeck and Albeau.

A shock departure from the event standings is American race specialist Micah Buzianis (JP / NeilPryde / MFC). Continuing a run of bad luck following an injury sustained mid way through last season, the Buzianis camp announced that the Denver born racer will have to miss out on the first event of the season following a recent injury to his foot. Should recovery go to plan, Buzianis should be back competing in the next slalom World Cup in Korea.

As you’d anticipate from a location that has the potential to serve up an unpredictable mix of conditions, the Dwarf8 PWA Surf World Cup crown could fall to any number of riders.

Throw in the additional variables that many sailors are on new sponsors’ equipment, there are new PWA regulations governing equipment selection, the location is a new stop on the slalom tour, and you have all the ingredients for some dramatic race action.