As the international racing competition starts to stir slowly, we have a quick word with British Formula Champion, Keith Atkinson...
Briefly sum up your year, results etc. I had a bit of a bad start to the year, The Midwinters in Florida was going ok until I pulled my neck between the most crucial of the races, which was hugely frustrating. The UKWA in Marazion was a bit disastrous due to some really unlucky shifts in races. However from then on it was a consistent season altogether in the UK for me. I was thrilled with my performance in the British Open Championships at Christchurch. I enjoyed this event immensely as it provided a huge range of conditions, it was a great test of the sailors abilities. I think that event was the highlight of the year for me. Also I enjoyed Weymouth speed week very much, as I do every year. It’s such a great event, a rare mix of competition combined with a thriving social scene.
Who do you tune with, what is the advantage of this? I haven’t got a specific partner that I tune up against at the moment. Most of the time I sail on my own and test equipment by feel. Of course it’s much more efficient to tune with a partner, but consistently fast sailors are hard to come by in the UK that don’t live miles away or have another job during the week. I am hoping for the near future that I can make more time for myself to go abroad and train with international competitors as I have done in the past to make my time spent testing and training on the water as efficient as possible.
What is your long-term ambition in windsurfing? As a professional windsurfer my ambition is to achieve a European and a World Championship title. I still want to concentrate my efforts on Formula, it’s the formula 1 of windsurfing, the Formula class combines tactics and speed. I may compete in more slalom events too, we’ll see.
We have not seen you on the PWA circuit yet is this a plan of yours for next year? I have competed at PWA events in the past, but not in the last 2 years. I am concentrating my efforts on UK competitions as it’s more important for my sponsors. However when the PWA incorporates Formula into their events again, I may consider attending them. I do prefer to compete in the Euro Cup series. The events are very welcoming to new competitors, I recommend everyone give the bigger events a go. I remember entering a Euro Cup in my early days of international competition, and instantly felt comfortable, there’s always someone your standard to compete against.
Tell us a bit about the BBC award you received this year? I was very happy that windsurfing has become more recognised with the BBC, and overwhelmed to win the award, which in turn gained me television and radio coverage. I am using opportunities like this to promote windsurfing and portray just how easy it is nowadays..
Who is your main competition on the UK circuit and also on the International circuit? National competition is where I have been concentrating my efforts in the past year, and my main competitor has been Xavier Ferlet. He is a consistent racer, very good in light winds, and equally when it’s blowing. Due to his extensive experience he understands the technicalities and intricacies of equipment development, tactical strategies, and you can see how he uses this to assist his performance. It’s great to race with someone like Xavier. When I was concentrating my efforts to international competition, like in 2005, my main rival was Julien Quentel.