Blanca Alabau takes you to the beach in Tenerife where she trains foil slalom every day! Being comfortable on the foil gear is important when you compete in the discipline, but if you are also foiling just for fun, we can tell you that a good set-up is super important to be in control and to have the best time on the water. To find out what gear to use is not always easy, but thanks to Blanca she explains her favorite set-up.
Please tell us about your sailing background and what you do besides windsurfing?
It’s funny that I am a windsurfer because I am from the south of Spain where we do not have the sea. I learned to sail at a lake with an optimist in a river. When I got older I learned windsurfing there and on the weekend we went to a spot where I started with Bic techno and later RSX. I started to work in the Misteral club and I could borrow the gear there to sail a lot.
How has your year been so far in 2021?
I am in Tenerife now training with the TWS pro training, and I have the iQ foil training here. I am also working on my slalom foil training and I also started a lot with fin slalom sailing. I hope we will be able to compete a lot this year because I am very keen to compete in the PWA events too.
You are spending a lot of time on the water. Why did you choose foiling as your main discipline?
Yes, I spend a lot of time on the water. I actually met the Starboard test team when they came to test gear in Tarifa, so they allowed me to test what they had and I started to love the foiling. With my sister, we fell in love with foiling at the same time, and it was cool when foiling was chosen as the new Olympic windsurfing discipline. And then PWA also decided to put foil in the events and it was a great opportunity to start together with a new discipline with my sister. I will try to do all iQFOil events and all PWA Foil and Slalom events.
Are you only using the 81 Foil Slalom board? Why do you prefer the 105 fuselage more than the 115 plus?
In the PWA we can only register 1 foil board. I will use the 81 as it’s smooth and I can control it better than the 91, plus it’s really fast in stronger winds as well. I like the 105 fuselage because it’s really stable and I can get plaining early and I feel I am faster on the 105 than the 115.
What is your top speed?
I am not always going with my GPS, but my best speed recorded is 26 knots. My key to foiling fast is to train a lot and try a lot of gear. Once you find something that is comfortable and fast then you can push hard for your best speed. It’s important that you feel comfortable and that the board is not «flying» away without full control.
How would you explain the best foil slalom stance on a board to go as fast as possible?
Be comfortable, and I like to put a lot of pressure on the back foot and I put the boom pretty low to have more control.
Do you spend a lot of time tuning your gear?
I spend most of my time tuning the gear because it is the most important with the speed. It’s an extra challenge with foiling as you have all those different angles and shims.
If you want to foil fast downwind, would you put the boom high or low? And does it change with the wind?
I put the boom down to have less lift if it’s windy and I would put it higher to get more lift and power in lower wind.
When it’s light wind, would you change the base position?
Light wind more in the back. It’s not that I change only one thing. It all depends on the conditions and how the gear feels to foil with. After some testing, I try to find the best setup for the different conditions. The basic «rule», if you are overpowered, is to put less angle on the foil, boom lower, mast base forward, and more downhaul on the sail. Then you have less backhand power.
Which set-up with wings and shims did you break your speed record with?
Shims are important, but right now I am only using 0 and 1+. I think it’s more important to focus on trimming your sail. When I broke my record I used the 105 fuselage with the plus 1 shim. Combined with the -255 back wing and the 550 front wing. It was pretty windy!