Travelling to Croatia always pays off. Great food, relaxed life style and super friendly people. This time my good friends Toni and Oki from the Zoo Station organized together with the IFCA the 2014 European Slalom Championships on the island of Brac. The event overlapped with the PWA event in Alacati, butI definitely wanted to participate at the Zoo Station. I have been knowing Toni and Oki for 12 years, participated in the good old times in freestyle competitions, did several trips to Brac together with Kerstin, Michi Schweiger or Tine Slabe and had good fights on the Slalom course at the famous “Golden Horn” (Zlatni Rat in Croatian language), the most spectacular beach in Croatia. The exposed beach formed by pebble rocks turns its horn according to the predominant current. When sailing next to the leeward side of the horn you can cruise through crystal clear flat water. That’s an unforgettable moment. Here is a beautiful shot from last year by Kerstin.
Most of the time I travelled there during May or June or later in the season in October. This time we hit the island in the high season in the last week of August. The Adriatic Sea welcomed us with 26 ° water temperature. There was a lot going on in the town of Bol. A lot of tourists enjoyed their holidays on the Croatian island, which is well known for the beautiful atmosphere in the harbour, the relaxed beaches, the nice Maestral winds, the barren landscape, the tasty olive oil and the sweet-smelling bakery stores in Bol downtown. How nice is that. I really like to cruise with the longboard from the town to the Zoo Station windsurfing beach. We had our hotel room in the ancient stone building Kastil with the window facing the harbour. We were able to watch all sail or motor yachts entering the harbour. Every morning we enjoyed the breakfast on the terrace with a beautiful view over the harbour, the channel of Brac and the long stretched island of Hvar on the opposite and we were watching tourists leaving the harbour in little taxi boats visiting the neighbouring island or beaches around.
The IFCA European Slalom Championships 2014
During the 7 days of our stay we had 6 days of competition with 3 days of wind. The wind was stable and suited well for 8,6m or 9,0m, but did not last too long. Sure, it was summer. It was hot. The wind started relatively late in the afternoon and stopped in between 6.00 and 7.00 pm. 91 competitors registered for the event. 26 youth riders, 6 women and 59 men.
With such a big fleet and the changing winds it took a long time to finish a full elimination. The channel in between Brac and Hvar island is quite deep and it wasn’t too easy for the race crew to fix the marks properly. But we definitely competed in the best wind period during the six days. The course was a 4 mark down wind slalom with a heat duration of 5 minutes. A huge starting boat made the starts quite tricky covering the wind along the starting line.
We did one full elimination. I made it to the winners final, but started too much upwind, got the bad wind at the line and we all suffered in dying winds on the first reach. James Dinsmore, the winner in the Masters Class (35+), couldn’t have said it any better.
“To be honest, it was very light in the final, very, very light indeed and going down the first leg I didn’t feel powered up, but some of the previous races I had power in my sail and I was flying, but this final was very light and I was trying the most out of these very difficult conditions, pumping a lot out of the jibes.” (James Dinsmore)
Croatian local Enrico Marotti from Rijeka, who started at the pin showed up in leading position at the first jibe mark and kept the lead till the finish line. On his heels was Italian Andrea Ferrin. I was battling for 6th place, but had a hard time to find the right gusts. Marco Begalli caught me on the last mark. The final result was a 7th overall and a 2nd in the masters category. Congrats to James Dinsmore, who won the Masters category. Was quite happy about it. I didn’t expect to feel so well on the big gear – I used Reflex 5 in 8,6m or 9,0m on the iSonics 107 and 117, because during the past 2 months I only used the smaller gear Slalom, from 7,0m down to 5,6m or small wave gear. But it did not matter much. It was really fun to feel good speed in light wind conditions on the big gear.
The atmosphere at the Zoo Station and in Bol
It was a great week indeed. We found time to swim in the warm Adriatic, spent great evenings in the Maze restaurant or in the Topolino and made a lot of new friends like a bunch of British dudes. Unfortunately the wind was not as stable as in June in the previous years. But the atmosphere in town and at the Zoo Station was great. It was cool to see a lot of young kids competing on the Slalom course. On the final evening we had a great award ceremony on the main square in Bol. It was great seeing a mix of windsurfers, tourists and locals cheering for us.