Sotavento produced some of the most exciting racing ever. The top 3 were showing their dominance in the challenging conditions. 

Sotavento is known for its strong gusty winds which creates a vicious chop, add swell into the equation and you get very tactical racing.  Taty Frans, Basile Jacquin and Francesco Scagliola express their feelings. 

ITW, by the ‘WAVE HOBBIT’, Russell Groves.

TWH: – Starts are arguably the most important part of the race. 

How did you choose where to start? 

TATY: –  The Start is always the most difficult and most important part of slalom racing, in Fuerteventura throughout the years 90% of the time the pin is the most advantage but at times up at the boat can be an advantage, but the depends on the angle/direction of the wind. So you choose your start depends on the direction of the wind and also some people are better speeding down wind so they start upwind and other go a bit across as that’s how they are faster so they choose the pin, the pin usually is closer to the first mark. 

BASILE: – Before the start I always check the line to know if it’s better to start at the boat, middle or at the pin. After that I do a reach from the pin to mark 1 to see if there are some wind changes or turning on that reach. After if it’s for a final or an important heat I check the riders who are on my heat to try to make a race plan even before the start. But on PWA the best is to only focus on your race otherwise you’ll make mistake!

FRANCESCO: – I usually try the first lap before the start. It helps me a lot to understand where is better to start. The start is the most important part in the heat, and you must be perfect on it. I also look how the starting line is, the wind, the people in my heat, and too many others thing. Choice the right place in the start is the most difficult choice to take.

TWH: – Position at the first mark is crucial, you are coming in at very high speeds. 

What was the best line at Sotavento? 

TATY: –  Speeding down to the first mark is scary but the sensation of slalom racing is amazing, the best line is when you are below but ahead of everyone because that’s when you are/have the priority to jibe first and you will always come in and go out clear.  

BASILE: – I’m not the fastest guy on the tour so most of the time I must fight at the mark to come back or to stay on my position. In Sotavento when it’s full windy and hard-core condition you can try some outside line at the first mark to have a direct line to the mark 2. But most of the time my choice was the inside.

FRANCESCO: – I think that the best line was to start at the pin and take the inside at the first mark. 

But for sure you need to have enough speed. The wind in Sotavento is often gusty and shifty.

The best line changes every time. You always need to try or to check before the start.

TWH: – The conditions on the course change a lot at Sotavento. 

Which leg was the fastest one? 

TATY: – Somehow, I felt faster on the way out the 2nd & 4th leg. 

Fuerteventura is a tricky location and one day you can be fast on the 1st leg  

Then the next day you could end up going faster on the other leg. 

BASILE: – Where I was the best it was the reach to go out (I mean 2nd and 4th reaches) as you are in front of the choppy and wave and it’s hard to control. Lot of guys are opening the sail on those reaches to be safe so it’s on that time where you need to go full power.

FRANCESCO: – I think that the fastest leg was thefirst after the start. The water is quite flatter because the wind is side off. 

TWH: – All jibes are hard in Sotavento.  

Which buoy was the hardest? and which one was the one to make an overtaking move? 

TATY: – In Fuerteventura overtaking usually happens in the 1st mark as you can see this year it 

Was one of the mark where you can arrive in 5-6 place and depart and be in the qualifying position, in my opinion or what I have experienced the outside jibe/buoys were the hardest having the swells which you/many people got stuck behind and that makes you lose the wind and speed after the jibe, and if you are lucky and get to jibe with the swell well that’s your passage to gain another place. 

BASILE: – The first one is always the hardest as we all arrive together, and some people are taking a lot of risk. But the outside mark is scary as well when it’s windy!!  

FRANCESCO: – For me the hardest mark to jibe was the number 4. It was because you arrive tired and is usually is so choppy. The best to overtake someone was for sure the first. In the first mark most of the time the riders arrive quite all together and the wind there is gusty and lighter compere to the others mark. If you make a bad jibe in the first mark for sure someone will overtake you.

TWH: – Racing with your small board and 5.6m / 6.4m sails is what you dream about. Sotavento gave you those conditions. 

Tell us your feelings? 

TATY: – Fuerteventura always is a big surprise and it is gnarly, I always feel like we are motor crossing, I was waiting for months to sail with smaller ACONE’s, and having to sail them in these conditions was perfect and it gave me the moment to realize what we can improve for the next year sails, still it was not a problem of sails or boards, but I had a hard time being in control, sailing in Bonaire is easy but sailing is these conditions is something I needed more time to get used to. It was more about me then my equipment.  

BASILE: – Before the event I was testing a lot the spot and I was feeling good. I love racing with the small gear in nuclear wind!! At the beginning of the event I had some trouble with the start, but I managed to modify this for the last eliminations. But I’m happy the gear is working well, and it show that with more focus I can race good in fuerte. Can’t wait for next year !!

FRANCESCO: – The best feeling is wake up in the morning and already know that you will compete with these kinds of sail. Sotavento is an awesome place to compete. When you arrive everything looks difficult, jibe and go straight in this kind of place is not easy and for sure you need to find your most comfortable trim ever. I think that the most important things to prepare the competition is to work on your gear to set yourself to be comfortable. 


TWH: – Results are all important but sometimes they can be disappointing personally. 

Is it the result that drives you? or the fight? 

TATY: – To me it’s all about the fight, results are the worst thing to focus on, once you start caring to much about the results it creates more pressure for yourself!! 

BASILE: – I love racing and the result for sure is one of the most important things!! But it’s not the only one, this year in fuerte I was maybe around 40 after 4-5 eliminations and I managed to come back to 21. 21th is not my best result and it’s not a good result as well, but the event was one of my favourites as I had a lot of fun, I learned, and I had some sick fight until the end. Look it’s not every event where we have 9 eliminations!! I was first youth and now I’m leading the youth ranking. 

FRANCESCO: – My rankings was 43. It can look strange but I’m honestly happy with this result. I improve my sail skills a lot compare to last year, even jibe and start, and for me this is enough. I think that the most important thing is not the result, but the awareness that you give everything of yourself for this race, and that you will continue to do this till you will be the best. I’m still young and have a lot to learn. 

TWH: – You now have a rest until September. 

What are your plans? 

TATY: – Well Denmark is next, a month from now and I am looking forward to it. 

Time to replan, energize and get back in form for it!  

BASILE: – I’m on my way to New Caledonia for holiday a bit with family and friends. Also, to prepare the final of the PWA end of  November which will be on my club this year 


My plan is to go lake Garda to train before the European jymg in alaçati.

TWH: – As always it was fantastic to watch you racing, we look forward to September. 

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