With one of the most exciting finals in slalom history, 2014 has certainly been the year to keep track of the professional windsurfing slalom scene and it was none other than Antoine Albeau (aka A2) who took top honours at the end of the year, for his 22nd time. His name has certainly been etched into the record books as one of the all time greats, however with Björn Dunkerbeck retiring from PWA we wondered if A2 had been weighing up his options, read on to find out more from the fastest windsurfer on the planet right now.
BS: Your 22nd world title, are the feelings the same like when you won the first world title?
A2: No every WT is different, this was particularly special because I had a good year but with two big mistakes which almost made me lose the WT before this event even began. The first was in Turkmenistan where we had just one round that didn't even see a complete finish and I was out right at the beginning of this round, the other was in Germany.
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BS: Can you take us back to winning your first world title, how were your feelings after you won?
A2: Sure, this was back in the 90's, the IFCA WT, I won in Slalom, Racing and the overall, it was more than I could ever have wished to achieve in one year. I was fighting with the Danish guys, who were super strong on the production IFCA kit, in the end not only did I win these WT's but we also won the national WT!! It was certainly an unforgettable year.
BS: Can you tell us what your most memorable world title is and why?
A2: They are all different, that's not so easy to pick one but to be honest this one on the battle with Cyril was special because it was so closer, right down to the last race. I also remember the battle with Bjorn in 2012 quite well, it was different but also really really close. But you know I remember more the ones that got away, the ones where I missed out on another WT by just a few points. Lastly, I think the ones that are probably the most memorable are the ones where I won with two events to spare. I didn't have to sail the last two PWA events to be World Champion, that's a great feeling!
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BS: You had a close battle with Cyril Moussilmani this year, it came right down to the wire, did you expect to be facing him for the title race when 2014 started?
A2: No, I had a really bad start at the New Caledonian event, I think I made a big mistake to start like this, but you know they are so many parameters in windsurf competition that it is super hard to calculate what to do. The first parameter is the wind, the second is that you never know how many slalom races you will do in one event, even on the morning of the last day you don't know if you will make 1 or 2 slalom, so how can you make a race strategy?
BS: What are your feelings when the fight for the top is this close, do you get nervous or does it make you more excited?
A2: No I am not nervous or excited, I am used to this by now but something you never get used to is pressure, like a normal person I think, I don’t know any sportsman who doesn’t feel pressure, do you know any? So yes, I feel a little bit of pressure.
BS: Pierre Mortefon also had a chance, one of the youngest people to have a shot at the world title in recent years, does this show a good future for slalom windsurfing in your eyes?
BS: Is the wind still in the sails? We take it you don’t have any plans to retire soon?
A2: No, I am younger than Björn and I started the PWA at the age of 20/22, the guys before and now start the PWA at 16/17 years old, I was at school before and couldn't start, for now I will sign again with my RRD and NP sponsors so you will see me next year for sure, I am still motivated and in good shape, so why not, I really love windsurfing and sport in general and this is my job, I am lucky to do what I love!!!
BS: Talking of retirement we see Björn Dunkerbeck stepping away from the PWA, he was one of your biggest rivals throughout the years but was he your rival or was he an idol for you? Or maybe he was an idol who became a rival?
A2: Yes exactly, he was one of my idol and then sudently I was fighting with him for the WT, this is funny, Björn is one of the biggest athletes on the planet, very strong and intelligent in competition, it was such a hard fight with him and his career was incredibly long and at such a high level.
BS: Thank you Antoine, congratulations on your incredible achievement and your dedication to the sport, any final words from you?
A2: Yes it would be great if all the windsurfing community can vote for me as the "Marin de l'Année 2014" (sailor of the year), I got it in 2010 already and I have maybe chance to get it this year again but competition is hard, so go to ffvoile.fr and click for F192 !!
Photos - Carter / pwaworldtour.com