When Lena Erdil got in touch with us we were expecting a short report on her event and her great achievement as the PWA Slalom Vice World Champion. Instead she sent us this, enjoy this incredible review about a truly untouched paradise and the odd word about the final PWA event of the year.
This Is New Caledonia - Words by Lena Erdil
Coming to New Caledonia has really been an all round amazing experience, the people are super friendly and welcoming, the island is extremely beautiful and its windy and sunny almost everyday! There is not much more I could possibly have asked for considering that this was going to be a ‘work’ trip ;)
..I really enjoyed the mixture of tropical island vibes with croissants, carrefour and Brie.
Coming into this event I knew I had a good chance at coming second overall and really wanted to finish this years season on a high. With wind conditions in Turkey not being very preferable at this time a year and to avoid being jet lagged in competition, I decided to head over to New Caledonia a week early. The event was going to be held in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, in one of the cities most popular bays: Anse Vata. There is a lot of hotels and a couple of windsurf stations in the bay and a lot of local windsurf enthusiasts come to windsurf here on a daily basis, in their lunch break, after work or even both! This was the first time for me visiting any of the French islands and I must say I really enjoyed the mixture of tropical island vibes with croissants, carrefour and Brie!
I didn't really know what to expect till I woke up the next morning crawling out of my tent onto a white sandy beach between a lush green forest and an unbelievably turquoise sea
With the first couple of days not being windy I was lucky to have a New Caledonian host who took me hiking in the blue river national park and to the beautiful waterfall and lagoon of lake Yate with crystal clear water and some fun cliff jumps. What was more amazing then the sheer beauty of the place was the fact that we were the only ones there, this really made this place an oasis of peace and beauty. I think anywhere else in the world this kind of a place would probably be a tourist hotspot and lose its beauty to the crowds…
Because the forecast was still looking bad for Noumea, but good for a place 3 hours drive further North, we went with a group of friends, windsurf equipment and some tents to sail and camp there over the weekend. People in Noumea had been telling me about the unreal watercolour and beauty of the place we were going called Poe, but I didn't really know what to expect till I woke up the next morning crawling out of my tent onto a white sandy beach between a lush green forest and an unbelievably turquoise sea! Sailing here for the next couple of days was really awesome, I got to use my 7,0 and 7,8 and make sure everything was ready to race and still going fast, while looking at possibly the most beautiful view I ever had while sailing!
Back in Noumea it was time to get ready for the race on the right spot, the wind luckily returned two days before the competition giving me a chance to test all my sail sizes before the event and adjusting everything to the choppy water surface of Anse Vata!
The first two days of the event we had no wind but with the forecast looking really good for all other days I was focused on the racing to come.
On the first day of wind I had some ok results ahead of Valerie but nothing spectacular with slow starts at the back of the fleet I really made it difficult for myself but luckily always manage to fight my way back up to the top.
The next day when I was able to make it the first mark first I manage to hold onto my lead and scored my first bullet of the event putting myself back into contention, but at the same time Sarah Quita also managed to score 2 bullets putting her in second place and me down to 3rd.
Going into day 3 with 8 finals down I had managed to secure a good lead over Valerie, which was my main objective for the overall 2nd place and knew that I could take some more risks and really challenge Sarah and Delphine for second and first place of this event. With PMS for both Sarah and Valerie in the first race I finished second behind Delphine, on the second race the wind was strong and I was fully power on my 5.6 racing blade and 87l Patrik board which meant I was finally going really fast and I think being able to use such small equipment was giving me a good advantage in the choppy conditions of Anse Vata.
I won the next race and lead the one after till the last jibe in which I made a crucial mistake and fell allowing both Delphine and Sarah to pass me. With all to play for in the last race of the day and a good confidence boost from the previous races I managed to win the last race as well!
On the final day with my second overall podium place pretty much secured, my second place in the event was all but secured, but with Sarah Quita only a few places behind me and another discard to come I knew that the last days were going to be a tough fight between us. To make matters even more exciting Sarah won the first race diminishing my lead to about 1 point. All was to be decided in the final race, by mark 2 Sarah was second and I was in 4th but with no real distance between us, I got the inside on the jibe but could see from the corner of my eye that having flipped her rig her outhaul had broken. Not really what I would have wished for as a final battle but in the end I finished the race in second behind Delphine and secured the second place in the event as well as the overall! I’m stoked with this result and the event, hope we will get more of the same next year and hopefully we will be able to come back to Noumea for another Airwaves Dream Cup!
The racing for the top 3 podium spots this last week was really fun with each one of use equally able to steal the inside on the jibes or put in that extra bit of speed to pass each other on the straight, I think we produced some of the most exciting women slalom action for a while. I definitely had a lot of fun racing and am already looking forwards to next years PWA battles with these and hopefully many more girls! However, I would like to send out some big congratulations to Delphine Cousine for holding a firm grip on the slalom world title for the second year in a row! But I promise that next year I will challenge even harder ;)