Without doubt speed and slalom are dominated by tall, broad set men with super human strength, most weighing in at around 100kg. The likes of Dunkerbeck, Albeau and Maynard all possess the physique we have come to associate with racing dominance and flat out speed, but is it possible to reach their level without the Herculean proportions?
Taty Frans, one of the top names in freestyle is also showing his racing skill at the PWA Alacati, and is far from your average professional racer. Taty is equipped with enough knowledge and expertise to challenge even the fastest on tour, now he shares his secrets with Boards.…
“I have always had to rely more on technique than strength, and while I am comparatively strong for my 70kg weight, I do not have the added strength and 30kg weight jacket of most of the slalom competitors. This means my equipment choice, tuning and training become even more important, and my approach to these must be vastly different to fellow racers if I want stand any chance of beating them.”
“Before I started freestyling I did a LOT of longboard racing, where I learnt how to stay calm under pressure, and keep control of any equipment.”
“Control is easy, beating the well-built guys is the biggest challenge.”
“Positive thinking helps a lot, and I always have to think that anything is possible or I would never win a race.”
“Having the right equipment for my weight and height is crucial, Maui Sails and Starboard supply great, fast gear for me, but my fins are definitely the most important part. If the fins are good, then it’s all good.”
“I usually tune my race sails with the details that are printed on the bag, as this works well for me. On my iSonic, I put the foot straps all the way to the back and I always use a fin that is 2cm bigger, as I like a lot of back foot pressure.”
“I always try to use the smallest equipment that I can, which usually means that my sail is 2m smaller than the big guys. Personally, I am happy sailing the equipment I know the best. Smaller equipment is lighter and faster, in both flat out speed and around gybes. Quicker gybing means I can make up places at marks, and if there are short reaches, like in Sylt, I am often faster than many as my entry and exit phases of the gybe are quicker too. Although I am a lightweight sailor I am also better in rough windy conditions, I love the challenge!”
“I struggle the most when it is really windy with long reaches, as the 100kg racers get so much speed that it is hard for me to maintain my position. For races like this I just stay confident, have fun and stay in the moment, ready to take advantage of any loss of speed or mistakes from my competitors.”
“Hitting the start line at full speed and in the right position is critical for a lighter competitor like me. If I am late for the start it is game over. A heavier sailor usually has better speed overall, so can afford to be a second or two late, or even not cross the line at full speed as they can just accelerate more and more. For this reason I train a lot on starts, practicing hitting the line, knowing my own speed and reading the wind shifts. The more you practice, the easier it will be to adapt to every situation. Again my longboard racing background gives me more confidence with this.”
The full feature with Taty is available to read in the current issue of Boards magazine. Get your hands on it here NOW, as the new edition of Boards (the winter wave edition) will be out in the near future!
Taty Frans is sponsored by Maui Sails, Starboard,
Mystic, Bonaire Windsurf Place and Maui Ultra fins.