We caught up with the recently crowned under 22 PWA slalom world champion, Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic, North) to find out his thoughts on an exhilarating year of racing!
PWA: How does it feel to be the under 22 slalom champion for 2010?
PM: "I’m really happy to win this category! I didn’t know that this ranking was going to be official this season. Last year, I heard during the AGM that this category may be created to help the youth racers gain some recognition, which is great because slalom seems to be a discipline dominated by the older generation who've been on the scene for fifteen years or more."
PWA: How do you feel about your 16th ranking overall?
PM: "It’s an amazing finish to my first complete year on the world tour. At the beginning of the season my goal was to be ranked around 20th. The level was extremely high this year, it was easy to get knocked out in the first round, and very difficult to advance further during the elimination. Often the level of the second round was as strong as the finals. I was playing catch up from the start too because I didn’t go to Korea (which took place at the same time as the DEFI WIND), and therefore had my discard already. I had a very good start with a 9th place in Costa Brava, and I confirmed that performance with a 13th in the toughest event of the year, Fuerteventura. The last two events were a little bit more difficult. I sailed well in Turkey to be ranked 5th after the first day, but the 2 other races were more complicated and I was in trouble. I arrived in Sylt in 15th place overall, with a good advantage over my direct opponents Peter Volwater (Fanatic, MauiSails), and Patrick Diethlem (Diethelm, North), but they had their best events of the year whereas I had some problems with the vertical chop, and the very cold temperatures. I lost one place overall, but I remained in the top 16, so I was happy."
PWA: At the start of the year, did you think you'd do so well?
PM: "No way, but now I have some great memories of the 2010 season: some losers finals, one winners, but I wasn't very confident about achieving a final place in the top 16. And when you begin the season with a discard, it’s more difficult to consider that it's even possible to obtain a good annual ranking. I think the level is higher year after year, but I learnt a lot, and take away with me some good experiences having raced against the best riders in the world."
PWA: In Fuerte we saw you finish a winner's final ahead of the likes of Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard, Severne, Mystic), and Kevin Pritchard (Starboard, Gaastra, Dakine). What was that like?
PM: "It’s one of my best memories of racing this season. After a very bad first day in Fuerteventura, I tuned my equipment better, and I progressed through to the winner's final. After an amazing start and a good first leg I arrived at the first buoy, but I decided to slow a little bit before the mark to take the inside lane. It worked out really well because after the first mark I was 3rd, and I managed to maintain my place just behind Finian Maynard (RRD, Gaastra) and Antoine Albeau (JP, NeilPryde), and in front of some of slalom's biggest legends. After that I was really motivated to come back in the event, and I achieved my best day on the tour with another winner's final, and a best place in the loser's."
PWA: Sounds like that's your most memorable race of the season?
PM: "It certainly is! But, I’ve got lots of other little stories in my head too (for example a good first race in Costa Brava with a perfect first leg, and a 2nd place on the first mark)."
PWA: What equipment combo do you like the most?
PM: "My best combo has to be my Fanatic Falcon 86 with my North Warp 2010 - I used this on my best day in Fuerteventura! Where I live in the South of France, the wind is very strong so I'm often using my smallest equipment which naturally makes it my favourite."
PWA: Where's your favourite location on tour?
PM: "For me, every event has something special. Sylt has the best organisation coupled with the huge crowds on the beach. Fuerteventura is the event where we sail the maximum of races. Alaçati is an easy place to sail. Costa Brava didn’t have many races, but I always seem to get a good result! However, my outright favourite event this year was Fuerteventura."
PWA: Are you still studying at the moment?
PM: "Yes, but I will finish at Business School in 2011. This year I managed to get an adapted program so that I could study and take exams when there were no events. I can't wait to graduate so that I can focus fully on windsurf racing. Hopefully I'll get enough support to continue in this way, and progress on the World Tour."
PWA: Have you got any grand plans for this winter or have you got too much reading to do?
PM: "Right now it’s quite complicated… The season was full, and I spent most of my budget attending the PWA events. Plus, next season sounds to be complete with plenty of events, so I'll probably be staying at home for training."
PWA: What are your aims for 2011?
PM: "Firstly, I hope to be able to attend all of the events on the tour. Secondly, to defend my place, and then hopefully progress to perhaps achieve a place in the top 10/12. But, I know it's not going to be easy. Everyone wants to improve, and the battle will be very difficult, especially with the top 10 mainly taken up by older and more experienced racers. I'll give it my best shot though!"