We catch up with Spanish, PWA racer Blanca Alabau, to find how she has coped with a season of cancelled events, her aspirations and what it is like to be the girlfriend of Matteo Iachino!
Tell us how you have dealt with the whole Covid situation so far?
I am trying to live a normal life! I am going to the beach and from Tarifa and I could travel through Europe most of the summer. I have been training as a normal so far this year. The only major change is that all my plans are now last minute for events and trips depending on the situation. It was so sad to not have PWA events this year because I was ready for it and felt this could be a big year for me.
Did you get stuck in Tenerife and how was the lockdown?
Yes, I was stuck with Matteo in Tenerife! We had been there training and suddenly during a weekend we heard the news we were going into down. We didn’t expect it to be so strict! We thought is going to be for a couple of weeks. We also had in our minds that as we were on an island without cases, we would be allowed on the water before the rest of Spain or Italy. We decided to stay in Tenerife. It all lasted much longer than we thought! It was hard to watch the wind through the window and not be able to do anything. We are not used to having this routine of being stuck indoors and to be that lazy! We tried to be productive, so we were doing workouts every day, learning some new vegan recipes and I was studying. It was a challenge and a hard experience. But from this moment I think that we all appreciate our freedom, and the perfect life we have!
What was it like when you finally made it home to Tarifa?
It was a big challenge to come back home. It was the first time that I flew during the pandemic and the experience felt very strange. There was nobody on the plane, nobody at the airport and nobody wanted to check our board bags. Well they just didn’t want to touch them! So was like travel that all windsurfers dream about. Making it back home was a feeling of freedom! Finally, I was back in Tarifa after months away. At the time it was just professional sport athletes that could go out on the water! So, we had a week surfing, wave sailing and foiling alone, on perfect spots that normally are full. Everything was unreal!
How are you finding this year without any PWA competitions?
It is sad, as I said, I had been training all winter at the TWS for it in Tenerife. For me, the PWA is the best standard of competition! It has a different atmosphere and it is a show to demonstrate the absolute best windsurfing! All riders are very professional and most of the time they are happy and friendly. Most of the guys on the PWA just love windsurfing and the main goal is enjoy what they do. I am really looking forward to next year when hopefully we can get back to normal.
You seem to be traveling, quite a bit through Europe this summer, how are you finding it?
Well, we are just traveling through Europe mostly at the last minute. The good thing is that the flights are a lot cheaper! The bad one is that they are checking the weight and size of the board bags more than before. To Switzerland we went by van so it was quite easy to come from Italy where Matteo lives. The only thing I will miss is my annual trip to Indo! I have been for the past six years. It is like a re-set button for the year! From there I start from zero and I charge my energy. This year we will have to find something different in the Canary Islands or Sardinia.
What is it like being the girlfriend of Matteo Iachino a world champion racer?
In one hand it’s super nice to share everything! We go to the events together; share feedback and I train with him. Have someone by my side that knows the way to the success is also amazing and there not many sailors are as focussed and professional as Matteo. Also, it feels cool when we are at the beach and people come to us to ask for tips about the gear or to congratulate us.
On the other hand, it’s hard for me to be on his level all time. He is top rider on all the disciplines he competes at! I try to do the same training as him; the gym, surfing, and two sessions of windsurfing all in a day but it is tough. I am not always ready for it, even when I am working as hard as I can.
Is it nice to be able to share windsurfing as a passion?
It is the best feeling ever to share this sport! We both really enjoy our windsurfing! We live from it and for it! Most of our days are at the beach! If one of us didn’t windsurf, we wouldn’t see each other!
How did you enjoy the event in Silvaplana?
I really enjoyed the event! It was windy almost every day so we made many races in fair conditions! It was super cool to see all those windsurfers at the same event, freestylers, slalom sailors and Olympic champions. The energy was really positive, especially because it was one of the few international events of the year. What I didn’t like much, was the fact it was on a Lake, so I was missing the waves and more extreme conditions. The racing was a bit monotonous, as we were there for almost two weeks. Also, the course race is not my favourite discipline and I was hoping to do more slalom. Personally, I think that the medal race should have been on a slalom course as we had been hoping the whole week. Especially because upwind in light winds was not the most exciting to watch.
What do you think of the iQFoil class?
I really love the iQFoil concept! They are making different courses (upwind & slalom) for more exciting racing. The equipment is amazing, and I think all the riders enjoy it. Amateurs and professional from all the disciplines are enjoying foil racing. Sailing from 5-35 knots on the same gear it’s something fantastic. I think this evolution will change windsurfing. When I am in Tarifa sailing on the iQFoil everyone stops me to ask about the foils and they take pictures of it. The set up looks amazing when we foil around with those blue boards and bright red sails. I’m proud that it was Starboard with the work of my team-mates who designed this gear!
How do you enjoy foiling compared to normal fin windsurfing?
I enjoy foiling even more than a normal windsurfing! The feeling of flying it’s something that you can’t know until you have experienced it. I love to cruise around with the iQ at full speed with my 81-slalom foil. I feel it is a really complete set up.
Are you going to try for the Olympics?
Yes! The Olympics it’s something huge in our sport right now! Finally, there is gear that I can enjoy it and the concept it’s fun. Also, for women sailors, it is extremely hard to live from regular windsurfing and making it to an Olympic team and to race at these events will give me many more opportunities.
How do you and your sister get along at home and at competition?
We are best friends and we love training together. We are competitive on the water we give our 100% to beat the other. On the beach, we are a team, so we try to help each other as much as possible. I love the days that we share a super hard training and we end up the session with a beer sharing our feedback. Our relationship is healthy and I’m hoping that she stays in the windsurfing world much longer.
Is it also great to be able to train with her?
She is the best partner, we have the same speed, same weight, and the same gear. So, it is perfect to train with her. She has been competing for more than 20 years at a ridiculously hard level, so she is not really motivated as much as she was when she won the Olympics. Sometimes I have to push her to do a harder work!
What are your windsurfing ambitions?
Enjoy every day, make a podium in PWA, and go to Paris in 2024!
Do you also have a training programme off the water?
Yes, the Spanish federation send us a program to do off the water. It’s really useful, this way we have something to follow and it’s easier to have a complete training. It is a bit boring what they tell you to do so sometimes I change some gym and bike sessions for surfing or wave sailing. I think that enjoy what you are doing is more important that every training plan!
Why do you love windsurfing?
It makes me feel alive! Windsurfing is my passion and I feel really grateful that my life is based around it. I wake up in the morning motivated, and I love the bubble in where we live. We just enjoy what we do, and we don’t really care about the things we can’t control!
Three words to live by.
Beach, happiness, gold!