Azores Windsurf-Foil Open Challange took place from the 6th to 10th of November 2018, at Praia Da Vitoria, Terceira islands, Azores. Our team riders did some really good sailing and Sebastian Kördel and Delphine went home with 1st place in the men´s and women´s racing.
Sebastian Kördel after the event:
“I´m super happy to win the foil event in the Azores. It was the last race of the year and a test of performance against the world elite in foiling before we all start our winter training. It was an extremely challenging race for 4 days and 11 races. I started the week strong in light winds and could defend my advantage even in winds up to 35 knots until the end. It was a tight race looking at the points, but I kept my 1st place at the end of every single day. The conditions where challenging. Strong, gusty winds with lots of wind shifts and rolling swell entering the race course made it tough to make the right tactical decisions. Every downwind I had to decide when to gybe or which side to take for the next upwind.
My two biggest rivals were Antoine Albeau and Nico Goyard. With both, I had beautiful match races at the top of the fleet where the lead changed more than 6 times during the approximately 12 minutes of the races, where we did 3 rounds in the bay of Praia da Vitória. Those Battles where beyond exciting and I learned a lot for the PWA season in 2019. The racing on the Azores was so close, that small mistakes made all the difference. I remember being in a fight with Nico Goyard all race long for the lead and I thought I was comfortably in front on the last downwind leading to the finish. I made a small mistake on my last gybe. I didn’t even crash the gybe, just stumbled a bit and lost momentum. It was still a foiling gybe, just not a good one and that was all Goyard needed to snatch that race win from me.
I believe one of the deciding moments of the event came in the last race of the 3rd day. Antoine was pretty much dominating the day and I struggled a lot with the starts. I knew I had the speed, I just needed to put everything together without mistakes. After 4 bad starts that day I composed myself and put everything into that last start. It was risky but it worked out just fine. I had a perfect start and finished the race without any mistakes. Winning this race by quite a margin put me back into the event lead and gave me confidence when entering the last day.
We had to use protective gear in forms of helmets and impact vests. Nobody really complained about that, as foil racing that close to other sailors in high winds can get scary sometimes. When I go foiling alone I never wear any protective gear as I think foiling is pretty safe. But when you are super close to each other and in a race situation, protective gear makes a lot of sense to me.
I really felt that the 177 Foil board gave me an advantage in the strong and gusty winds of Terceira. In the development phase, we concentrated on performance but also a lot of control. The board is just amazing when in the air. No matter how hard the gust hits, it always stays calm and only wants to accelerate. That property of the board was one of the key factors to my success as I could fully concentrate on the race and the tactical decisions.”
Delphine Qusin after the racing:
“This competition was the first international official foil event for women and I´m very proud to have competed in it! For the contest, we registered 1 board, 1 foil and 3 sails. I went for Starboard Foil 177, Starboard Race Foil (mast 95, fuselage 115, wing 800), S2 Maui Venom 7.7, 7.0 and 6.3. I decided to register small equipment as the forecast predicted strong wind during a big part of the competition and I think I did the good choice. I did some tuning to try to be comfortable to sail in those conditions by moving the straps on the board.
The conditions we got were completely crazy. A very gusty offshore wind made the race very tactical throughout the week. But the craziest was Friday when the wind came back very strong just during the women’s races. The race committee reported gusts at 37 knots on the course! I had never foiled in these conditions, and I´m happy to be able to handle it. There were memorable moments. I could not even hold my sail while waiting for the start procedure. One time my sail completely escaped my hands with a big gust at the upwind mark! I was in a survival mode, fortunately, I wore a helmet and impact vest for protection if I crashed. You could really hurt yourself. I saw other competitors crashing in a dangerous way, especially on the downwind reach because it was very difficult to control the foil!
About the competition, it has been an amazing battle with Marina Alabau during the whole week. We finished with equal points! I had to win the last race, to win the event. This last race was incredible. She was leading at the beginning of the race, and I managed to overtake her on the second lap. During the last downwind reach Marina took the right option, but with my good speed, I managed to finish 5 meters in front of her on the finish line! I had so much adrenaline and this is what I like the most in this discipline. Nothing is done before crossing the finish line!”