There is no school like the old school... With 110 competitors from over 18 countries and 4 continents registered for the 2013 Raceboard World Championships in Nove Mlyny, Czech Republic, it's clear that the raceboard class is making a huge comeback! Patrik Pollak (SVK-1), 2011 Raceboard World Champion, 2012 and 2013 Raceboard Vice-World Champion gives us the full story on last week's racing.
"After registration on the first day, the championships opened with a "day of truth": wind was gusting up to 28 knots and separated the boys from the men. Many guys were brave enough to go out with their 9.5m² sails and their longboards but not many were able to finish the first 2 back-to-back races. As strange as it may seem, I was out testing my new lightwind centerboard and it worked just fine, even in these stormy conditions! After a tactical mistake in the third race where I had to settle for 2nd place, I finished the first day in the lead, with three bullets and one second place. Because of the large numbers of registered sailors, we were divided into 2 equal fleet and while I was dominating in the first one, World Champion Max Wojcik was dominating the second fleet with three bullets. But just like me, he made a mistake and finished the last race of the day in third place, which caused him to drop behind me in the provisional rankings.
Then, we had two days with absolutely no wind and you could tell the tension was building up! Finally, on the 4th day, we were able to run the last qualification races with very different conditions compared to the first day: light winds and also very, very shifty! At least we got our aerobic exercise in with a lot of pumping and both Max and I were posting bullets after bullets in our respective fleets. Three more bullets that day before the final showdown in the finals on the last day of the competition.
Once again, the conditions were very shifty. Maybe it was the aftermath of my birthday party, maybe turning 41 years old before the finals meant that I was too old to fight with guys who are 15 to 20 years younger then me or maybe it simply wasn't my day! But I couldn't get in the groove! I wouldn't pick the right shifts and always struggled to get myself out from middle of the fleet and chase the leaders around the course. While Max was posting bullet after bullet, I was giving it all I had to overtake as many people as possible and get hopefully stay in the Top 5.
At the end of the day, it was Max who showed that he had the gear and skills of a champion and regained his title and I was the runner-up. I know that second place is the first loser but that second place meant a first in the Masters and despite the fact that I was leader before the last day I still think it is "not too bad for an old man".
Looking back, being on the Raceboard Worlds podium every year since 2006 when I won in Pattaya, Thailand is a great feeling and proof that not only I love longboard racing but I am also good at it! Over the years we had a variety of conditions and I think I have proven that I can sail in all of them and sail well.
The Raceboard class is growing; more and more people race because it is fun and with one equipment set, you have enough for all conditions. Sure, if you live in Maui, you probably won't want to sail on a raceboard but how many of us actually live or go there? Obviously, it would very interesting for me to take the Phantom 377 out in nice conditions in Hawaii and it's still one of my dreams. But it may never come true! Anyway, it's been a hell of the ride so far, sailing on the seven seas, meeting all those wonderful people around the world. Raceboard is not only a windsurfing class, it's a lifestyle... It's not over until the fat lady sings. For example, the "superboy" of this year's fleet is Mr. Koblasa, 79 years old and still out there! He is racing and wasn't the last on the course!
So, for everyone out there, give the long boards another go, come back to the roots of windsurfing and you might be surprised by how much fun it is, whether it's a 8-knot breeze or a stormy 28 knots. There is no school like the old school..."