We use cookies to improve your experience. To find out more or disable the cookies on your browser click here.






The PWA’s slalom elite kicked off their year with a tense waiting game for wind in Lake Garda, a selection of racers recount the highs and lows of the event, and how they dealt with the pressure.

Words – Maciek Rutkowski, Marion Mortefon, Justine Lemeteyer, Blanca Alabau // Photos Si Crowther/pwaworldtour.com

Maciek Rutkowski – 1st Man

The very first semi-final of the event I had this gybe where I came in leading and went out in 5th place! It was not even that bad of a gybe, I didn’t touch the water or anything, I just came in a bit slow, taking it easy because I was in the lead and exited a bit wide without much speed. And once the first guy covered me, it was like a vacuum in my sail and I just kept getting rolled by one sailor after another. I ended up in 5th and had to fight like crazy to get back into striking distance of 4th by the last gybe and overtook Pierre for that last spot in the final on the exit of that last turn. So it was a low point followed by a good recovery, and I had quite a few sequences like that. In one quarterfinal I had a terrible start, was 6th to the mark and exited in 3rd. The level is so equal now, it’s always nip and tuck!


My first final was a mistake. A pretty circumstantial one, but still. It was extremely light on the run up to the start, so you couldn’t afford to be covered, so everybody was trying to get in front into clean air and boom, Bruno Martini goes over early. Then we try again and the wind dies at the first mark. We try again and another four of us go over early. So then you’re thinking, if only I had just stopped, I would have had a guaranteed top three finish and who knows this might be the only elimination of the event! Luckily, the conditions delivered and we had more racing. Everybody that made mistakes in the first elimination was then under pressure! We could not afford any further mistakes. As uncomfortable as that was, it set a tone for me and really clarified what I had to do. So I guess my strong point of the event would be responding to pressure.


Just finding ways to get results multiple ways made the difference for me. Whether I nailed the start and led from start to finish, or the heat was a dogfight after a bad start, I always found a way to be competitive. No matter the situation, I always felt comfortable, both mentally and on the gear. I think that was where the preparation really showed, in those hard situations where you need to create something out of a seemingly impossible situation. You trust yourself, all the reps you’ve been through and you know your gear by heart because you developed it – you know what it’s good at, what you should avoid, which angle to take into the gybe, whether it’s better to attack on entry or on exit etc. Josh Angulo once told me, “You only need to be top four every heat, and you’ll be a top three windsurfer in the world”. Outside from that first over early, which gave me a seventh, I scored a bullet a third and a fourth – pretty much in accordance with the formula!

Fresh water

I find fresh water tricky. You definitely need to add power to the gear; it was the same in fin racing in Garda back in the day. You have to push harder, but at the same time there is less grip, so you can find yourself spinning or sliding out much easier. That was a deadly combination that really claimed a few scalps across the event. When I was training there, I thought it could be one of my worst events, since I’m better at handling overpowered stuff in heavy conditions, than creating power and going ultra quick in underpowered, ‘easy’ conditions. But in the end what it did is it actually sort of levelled the playing field. It made the racing tighter. And that I always like.

Mental game

Mentally it was super hard. I hate the, “We might try at 3:30” type of announcements, where you go out, conditions are constantly changing, and you’re not sure if you’re going to race or not. I like to get a rhythm, do two to three eliminations a day and then go home. Instead, it was a lot of standby, and a lot of stress over things you cannot control. So if I had to change something, I would change that, because I came out of the event completely drained and we raced only four eliminations!


First of all, I can’t stress enough how unlucky we were with the conditions. Garda in spring is a well-oiled wind machine. I normally don’t even check the forecast before going, I just go and score. Been there well over fifteen times and I’ve never seen a run of four days this bad! And this cold too! It was fully snowing in the mountaintops every day! But for the racing, as I mentioned, the fresh water and gusty, thin wind which changes quite a lot is tricky. I had it circled in as an event that you have to go prepare your gear much earlier and it paid off. But overall, it’s just a uniquely beautiful place with good food and stoked people!

Good gear

I can’t say my gear was superior at this event because that would make me look like I’m winning just because of the gear, wouldn’t it? Ha ha! Also, I can’t make my designers rest on their laurels! All jokes aside, yes, my gear is amazing, the FMX boards are super easy, which makes it really helpful whenever you’re in trouble, in a fight or whatever, or the conditions become tricky, and very ‘slippery’! And the Challenger sails we improved massively. Last year I felt better on some sizes than others, this year I don’t have favourites. And also, the range improved tremendously. You are out there and the wind might pick up five knots within your starting procedure or swing thirty degrees. You can have the fastest sails in the world, but if their operating window is narrow, you are done for. So I really stressed that in the R&D process and I’m happy it’s been proven on the big sizes. After the Canaries we will have a fuller picture of who’s actually got a full package and who’s more of a one trick pony.


I’m super blessed to have found people I feel really comfortable with supporting me. My mental trainer made a rare personal appearance; he usually sticks to the live stream, though he said he sees much more of the racing from the drone than being there live, where you might miss some of the angles! Finn Noer, ex-PWA competitor, was freezing his ass of caddying for me, so he deserves a huge thanks. His girlfriend was there also, pouring him tea so the poor guy would not freeze to death. My girlfriend decided to stay home claiming it was going to be too cold for her. I laughed, but as usual she was right. I also work with a strength coach, physio, nutritionist, a manager and publicist. I never really thought about it, but it’s actually quite a team! It’s cool and I hope they are enjoying the ride as much as I am!

Justine Lemeteyer – 1st Woman

The high points during this event were for sure the victories and the fun I had racing on a foil and getting back to the PWA circuit. The low points were the long days in the rain waiting for the wind. The biggest mistake from the week was for sure my over early in race number two. I didn’t realize before that I had good speed, so I took risks that there was no need to take. I don’t know how many starts we did for this race, but it was really long and it was hard to stay focussed and ready for the race. My strong point was for sure my speed. It made the difference on the first reach and my gybes were efficient too, so with a nice start and no mistakes I would get a good result!


I’ve spent a lot of hours on the foil this winter. We saw last season that the foil was beating the fin in a large range of conditions, so I pushed a lot on the foil at home, in Brest and in the Canaries. I also spent a lot of time at the gym. I have been working for two years with a physical coach at home, Kilian Philippe, who’s also making a big difference in my performance for sure.

I went to a mountain lake in France at the beginning of the season to try the foil in fresh water. I am using the Lokefoil and it’s already a quite powerful foil, so I didn’t change my tuning. It was already working well, so I raced in Garda with my usual settings

The only thing I would change looking back would be to avoid my over early in race two so I could spend a less stressful week waiting for the wind. Except for this point (which is part of the game), I wouldn’t change anything. It was hard mentally during the waiting game, but I have been working since this winter with a mental coach and it helped me manage the stress. It was a really good week, I am going to keep this week as a week of mine where everything went well, and good decisions were taken.


The no wind days were really long. We were waiting the whole day, rigging when a small breeze was coming and derigging in the evening. It was really hard also because I was sitting in fourth when I knew I could play for the top spots. I was spending time with friends, trying to have fun and enjoying the moment despite the weather. When the stress or the frustration was getting harder, I would go for a walk alone with music to let go of the pressure and keep my mind in the racing. It was the first time that I experienced the benefit of mental training, thanks to Anthony Masquelier (BYM Performance), and it was really helpful!


The last race was tricky as I knew I had won the event, so my mind was less into it. I had a terrible start, but I managed to make a comeback and win the race. It was a really nice feeling to win all the races of the last day! After a small jump on the finishing line, I went back to the shore. I thought I was done for the day until Lucas (Guiraud) asked me to be his caddy for his race. So there I was, not even yet out of the water, going back to the racecourse with an 8.5m! In the evening, the pressure from the event was exchanged for exam pressure as I had two exams the next day to conclude three years of study!

Amazing place

Lake Garda is an amazing place. I love racing here. Even if it was a tricky week with a lot of rain and gusty wind, we all know that when it’s working, this place is amazing for racing. It’s also amazing to race close to the huge cliffs where you feel so small. Next to windsurfing it’s also a really nice place to spend time in. There is good food, a lot of good walks and bike tours. I really like this place!


Fast equipment

The equipment was fast for sure! The new Lokefoil is a real machine! Congratulations to all the team for the work they put into its development this winter! The boards are also making a big difference. The new FMX Hyperion is so stable and fast, it’s amazing. And the S2Maui EAGLE-FR sails are light and powerful, which is a really nice combination for racing! For sure good equipment with hours of training is the best combination to get some great results! A big thank you to all the people around me (partners, coaches, family, friends, supporters…) that are helping me reach my goals!

Blanca Alabau – 2nd Woman

I trained very hard for the last couple of seasons, so I was expecting be on top from day one, but I started with a poor result. My stronger point in this event was the mental game I played. I was on hold for many hours at the beach, without knowing if I would have any chance to go up in the results. To stay happy, focussed and motivated was something that I didn’t experiment with before. My speed was also really good, that saved my event!

The first day for me was very chaotic! The wind was light, gusty and shifty. It was very technical, but luck was also affecting the results. In the first heat, at the first mark, I was very downwind because I decided to start low to hit the pin. But the wind shifted just before the start and I couldn’t make it to the starting line. In the second race I went over early with many other girls in the fleet.

I knew that I had the speed to make it to the podium, so myself and my sister Marina (she was there to help me) decided that I just had to enjoy the racing and calm down. I was playing safe; she helped take out all the aggression that I normally have in competition.

I didn’t change much for fresh water – I changed a bit the rake of my foil and used a bigger sail than I normally do.  The mental side was the most difficult part of the event. I tried to enjoy every moment, be grateful for the life I have and I had many gelatos and a few beers every day! I also had plenty of sleep and meditation.

Garda is an amazing place to race, the week before we were training on 5.0m and 6.0m every day! You can go very fast, as it is quite flat water. The Circulo Surf Torbole is also an amazing club, they always welcome us.
Making the podium on the last day felt amazing. I was very happy! I was very grateful that we had a nice last day of wind to make five races and get two discards. Honestly, I was very proud of my mindset performance.  I really want to thank also my sister, Marina, for being the best sister/caddy/mental coach ever! Love you sis’!

Marion Mortefon – 3rd Woman

I started the event really badly by making two big mistakes, which I haven’t done for many years! I crashed alone at one of the gybes and went over early on the first day of racing, which made a recovery complicated. My high point of the event was coming back and reaching the podium by sailing a bit calmer and trying to find the best set-up for my equipment.

I did not change anything for fresh water; I’m always just adjusting my tuning for the wind speed. For sure Garda though is a special place, and so I’m not sure I will use the same set-ups somewhere else.

The start of my year was more about iQFOiL, so I came into Garda with without as many hours on my equipment as usual, so for sure I wish I could have had more hours of training before coming, but it’s sometimes like this!

It was a long week, with not so many days with wind, but I managed to stay calm, I’m used to the racing ‘game’ after so many years. I like listening to music or reading during these long days. And when the day would be called off, I went cycling to keep some activities going on. It was super nice to finally have a PWA slalom in Garda, the place itself is amazing, with normally a lot of wind, it’s crazy how many people are windsurfing there, mixed with wings and boats, so that is always super nice to watch. What I don’t like about Garda is it’s always the same thing – north in the morning, south in the afternoon. I like it when there are lot of different conditions, but apart from this, it’s cool to sail in fresh water surrounded by huge mountains.

2023 Torbole PWA World Cup Results

Women’s Slalom

1st Justine Lemeteyer (FRA | FMX Racing / S2Maui / Lokefoil)

2nd Blanca Alabau (ESP | Starboard / Severne Sails)

3rd Marion Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone / Phantom Foils)

Men’s Slalom

1st Maciek Rutkowski (POL | FMX Racing / Challenger Sails)

2nd Pierre Mortefon (FRA | Fanatic / Duotone / Phantom Foils)

3rd Will McMillan (THA | Starboard / Challenger Sails / Patrik Foils)

You must be logged in to post a comment.