Pascal Maka a windsurfing legend recently talked to Carbon Art about the recent resurgence in speed and slalom disciplines of windsurfing.
Pascal has twice held the outright speed record for a sail powered water craft, and is now organizing new world record attempts. Let’s hear what he has to say.
CA: Recent years has seen resurgence in speed and slalom sailing. How has the GPS competition scene contributed to this?
PM: It is reality, slalom, racing and mainly speed sailing are back!! I think speed is very exciting for everyone, easy to understand for press and TV, and records always have some interest for events, the local guys sailing together on a weekend, and the same for pros. 50 knots is a dream that a lot of sailors, windsurfers and kiters would love to reach and even to smoke one day…
CA: I understand you are still involved in the speed sailing scene, particularly action on the canal. What projects are you currently working on?
PM: Today I am working on two events, Mondial du vent, a big kite and windsurf event for pros, with a amateurs GPS race, gathering with Robby Naish, and I organize the speed attempt on the canal next fall, October to December 2008, Finian will be the main actor for this attempt.
CA: What’s the current Speed trend you are seeing in France and Europe?
PM: Speed is popular in France and Europe I would say, speed has always had some interests to the Media and mainly the world speed record. The 50 knot barrier is a goal in the sailing world, boat sailing, windsurfing, and now kiting. Speed events are not like in the past, because watching 60 sailors running at 25 knots is not spectacular, but racing in 45 knots and flat water is something very exciting for press, TV, public and competitors, with many crashes as well. The speed canal is also a dream for a lot of speed sailors; they often have the dream of the perfect run at 50 knots. But when the conditions are very hard and strong on the ditch, competitors have a hard time to start, I mean mentally, because it is narrow, the wind is blowing like a gale, and you do not have same the feelings as the open sea… you know if you crash you eat the banks!!!
CA: Is access the canal regulated? How can a speed junkie get a run?
PM: You need an authorization to ride the canal, because there is no water in it, when we run we fill it up with a water pump connected 24 hours a day, and we start it 24 hours before my warning. We plan to allow some beginners to do some runs next fall, when conditions are acceptable for them, mainly with less wind, like 25-35 knots, beyond this wind it is harder to sail on it.
CA: Why has the speed windsurfers are achieving increased from 38.9 knots in 1986, to 48.7 knots in 2005? Is this due to equipment development or better sailors?
PM: Both I would say, sailors are bigger and heavier now, look at Finian and Bjorn, more than 115 kilos, in the past we were under 95 kilos, and they use sometimes a weight jacket as well, and equipment has improved a lot, mast stiffness and response, as 100% carbon, boards with more accurate rocker lines and shapes, shorter boards and a little bit wider than in the past because sails can be hold in more wind, when we used a 4.5 now they use a 5.5 sail…and also skill, the level is higher now.
CA: How is your carbon art slalom boards going?
PM: My Carbon Art boards are fine, they are mainly racing orientated for short slalom course, but like the Défi in Gruissan, south of France I ranked 18th out of 700, I did not get good starts for sure and always overpowered, I did some long distance in other places, and I did very good with my CA boards.
CA: Are you still fast?
PM: Yes, I mean at my level now, compared to Finian I am not as fast, speed rider body sizes are bigger than a long time ago, I would have to use a weight jacket, I am 92 kilos, missing 30 kilos to reach Bjorn or Finian.
CA: Any tips for speed seekers on how to get an extra knot or two?
PM: Tuning is very important, fitting mast to the sail and fin to the board, board is very important, it has to glide and accelerate; mast foot position is important as well, I would say speed and tuning are feeling, find the balance with the different components, and then sailing a lot on the equipment, use to it and not testing too quick, and always with a team mate.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us Pascal. Best wishes for the future from all the team at Carbon Art.