Boards at the Olympics: Women's Interviews

In our final set of interviews from the Olympics, Boards catches up with four outstanding female RS:X racers. Marina, Tuuli and Zofia the medal winners, plus British competitor Bryony Shaw. All images © Boards Magazine / Adam Duckworth. 

Women's RS:X medalists
Women's RS:X medalists. © Boards Magazine / Adam Duckworth

Marina Alabau

“The medal race was super exciting, it was really my conditions and I was really with a lot of confidence in myself. I’m super happy now!

I was first from the first day, two days ago I had not such a good day, but today I had to be calm and race really well. Probably this was my best medal race ever, and one of my best competitions for sure.

Tuuli sailed really good, it’s really impressive! Before Tuuli had not been in the top three, but now she had the week of her life.

Now I’m going to wait for the decision in November and then I will decide. Probably I will go for kiting, I have been kiting already, I live in Tarifa which is paradise for kites so for sure I will try.

Marina Alabau
Marina Alabau celebrates. © Boards Magazine / Adam Duckworth

If they’re going to decide to put kitesurfing in, and take out windsurfing it’s going to be a big mistake. I think kiting is a really good sport, but more the freestyle not the racing. All the numbers and the statistics that they take are from the people doing freestyle, ISAF think there are millions of people doing kite racing in the world but this is not true. In the end if they chose kiting, it’s going to be the same people that are now on RS:X that will change over onto kite. They think that a lot of things that are not true, like that there will be more countries competing. At the moment kitesurfing doesn’t have the development to have a one design class and I think it is really important to have this, as it means you are sure the athlete is the best and not the equipment. Hopefully windsurfing is going to stay and they will change their mind. I think if they take out windsurfing, we will come back in 2020 as they will realise their mistake. I also think we are the most exciting class in the sailing, it was really cool this week to see the racing, we are a spectacular class, the athletes are really fit and it’s a beautiful sport.”

Tuuli Petaja
Tuuli Petaja

Tuuli Petaja

“It was really tight racing in the medal race, but these shifty, gusty conditions really suit me. I’m probably more of a tactical racer, it was really, really fun racing out there. I think the positions were changing a lot during the race.

Last year in the pre Olympic regatta I cam 17th, so I was hoping to get a bit of a better result than that here. My goal was to get top eight, I guess all the top girls here are more or less the same level so it comes more to the mental or tactical side of sailing.

Yes, I won the first medal for Finland at these games. I hope I will continue onto Rio. I agree with Marina, that I think windsurfing should definitely stay in the Olympic arena. I have done a little bit of kitesurfing already, but that was on the lakes in Finland in the winter with a snow board.”

Zofia Klepacka
Zofia Noceti-Klepacka

Zofia Noceti-Klepacka

“I finished my medal race, came down and the Olha from the Ukraine said she would protest me. I asked why, as there was no situation on the water. Then she said they had a problem with the Polish insurance, they said it was for 1million euro and it had to be for 1.5million. I didn’t know what was going on, but the jury said that I was free and congratulations. Don’t worry about that, but it was horrible I was crying before I saw the jury because I have never been involved in a protest like that before. I don’t have an idea where the Ukrainian team got the information about the Polish insurance.

We fight on the water, we compete and fight for the medals, this protest was supposed to be to our team leader, but everything in the end was ok with the insurance. Olha finished fourth, for sure she wasn’t happy it’s the worst place to finish.

I gave everything on the water, I finished third in the medal race and overall so I am really happy!

I think also that windsurfing should stay. The windsurfing schools around the world, a lot of on small lakes surrounded trees etc, this makes kitesurfing impossible. It should be a sport in which everyone can train, no matter where they are on the lake, on the river, on the ocean. You should not have to travel a long way to train, especially as a kid.”

Bryony Shaw
Bryony Shaw. © Boards Magazine / Adam Duckworth

Bryony Shaw

“Gutted, just deep breath and it’s all over now. I’m going to spend a bit of time with friends and my boyfriend Greg, back home to Tunbridge Wells we’ve got some home renovations planned, which puts a smile on my face! Have a bit of a holiday too!

The last race was fine, I went out pretty positive, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was pretty happy with the conditions out there, it was a tactical race, I didn’t have a plan to control the race, just to plan my race and do my best. I was pretty much joint first at the bottom mark with the Ukraine and it was a big call, whether to decide to be dagger down or track back, I think there was a marginal gain to be track back and a big risk. It paid off for the Spanish and Ukraine, but the rest of us all chose to go dagger down and I was going pretty well speed wise. Honestly, the Polish girl came from nowhere, but wow I didn’t even see where she came from!

Women's RS:X
Women's RS:X racing

The girl from Finland has had a fantastic week, her career best by far and they were obviously determined on that last lap to come through and snatch it from the Ukraine, because she was leading the race.

I’ve been kind of up there at the beginning of the race, then just getting clawed back, it’s been that way all week. I got one race win, it’s all been about trying to pick myself up and be positive each day, to really show to myself that I can hold a race together. It’s just seemed to not really go my way.

I knew that heading out there the boys would be having all their celebrations, it was great to see that Nick had got up there with the crowd but obviously I still had to do a job and focus on our race. I heard the cheers from the crowd, which was brilliant. I chose to go up past the crowd after the race too, more as a thank you wave as I knew lots of my friends, family and sponsors were up there.”

Click here to check out all of the Boards coverage for the 2012 Olympics. 

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