Interview with Joao Rodrigues por7

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Q:First of all we would like to congratulate you on your Raceboard Master World Title.A: Thank you!


 Q: For all our Loftsails fans who do not know who Joao Rodrigues is, please tell us a bit more about you, where are you from? How did you start windsurfing?A: I am from Madeira island, in Portugal. Always lived there, except when I was sailing somewhere else! Actually, I lived in Lisbon while studying in University.

I started windsurfing at the age of 9, with the old Division I, 6.8m2 sails, fiberglass masts and aluminum booms that weighted tons for a young kid.

For me it was love at first sight. My brother helped me a lot at the beginning, as I could not pull the sail out of the water. But one day I eventually managed to do it by myself, and that moment, being able to  float over the big blue, move only with the wind and my will to sail further, my life changed forever.


Joao tacking during the Raceboard Worlds 2017

At the beginning, I just wanted to do something good, beautiful, if possible, perfect. But as the years went by, I realized I needed a place to test my skills, that is when I found about regattas. Started locally, in small but very friendly races, then went to the Nationals when I was 14, in the Azores, where my parents are actually from. And finally, step by step, around the World.The first time I traveled outside Portugal to race, I was 16, in 1987. Went to Palamos, Spain, for the Christmas Race. Guess I never dreamed that would be the first of 155 international events I participated… And still counting.I still live in Madeira. For me, the best place to sail. Due to its mountains and constant winds, you can find all kinds of conditions in a very short distance. From flat water and gusty winds, to big ocean waves and steady wind, you can train in all conditions. That explains why I never got bored sailing there. Every single day can be different.

Q: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Atenas 2004, Pequim 2008, Londres 2012 e Rio 2016 … life long dedication to Olympic Windsurfing.  What is next for you?

A: Sailing at Olympic level is over for me. It was such a wonderful time, 28 years sailing with the best sailors, making friends for life, having such fun competing at the highest level.

Now it’s time to give back some of what I have learned all these years. I owe so much to the sailing World! So, in Madeira, I am working with some young kids in the BIC Techno class, and a  young man racing in RS:X class. I am also currently working with the Portuguese sailing federation in order to develop windsurfing in Portugal,

Joao preparing for the race

introducing BIC Techno class to the main continent, since it only exists in Madeira. Besides that, I was elected for the Portuguese Olympic Athletes commission…and of course, a little bit of Raceboard competition to go back to my roots.

Q: How do you see the future of Olympic Windsurfing versus Olympic Kite? Do you see foils as future format?

A: Windsurfing and Kitesurfing are two different disciplines of sailing. Having said this, foils are becoming a standard in sailing. But that does not mean every single sailing discipline has to use a foil it at Olympic level.

Q: How did you decide to compete back in Raceboard and why? Do yo see big differences with RSX?

A: Raceboard seemed a natural choice for me. Before RS:X, I competed in Mistral One Design, which, in fact, is a Raceboard, and Raceboard is such a wonderful board to sail. From 1 to 15 knots is really old school sailing, especially upwind, boards are really a pleasure to sail. And nowadays, with more than 15 knots, we are sailing only on the fin, so it’s a new world for Raceboard.

In the end, it’s all about racing with friends! And this is the main reason why I went back to Raceboard.

Q: How did you prepare the World Championship? … we have heard you were in hospital just before the Worlds.

Indeed. I was racing in a mountain bike enduro race in Madeira, when I fell off  and broke my hip. Fortunately the recovery went well and in a month and a half I was good enough to race in Poland.

Q: What equipment did you choose for the Master Worlds?

A: In Poland, I only used the RaceboardbladeLW, as we raced always in very light winds. Together with the 550 Team Edition mast, that was the perfect combination. Very easy to adapt, light in your arms, it is the perfect choice for me until 12 to 15 knots. With more than that, I would rather use the standard Raceboardblade, which is a wonderful sail for going upwind just on the fin.

Q: What was your first impression about Loftsails?

A: Impressive construction, you can see they paid attention to every detail. And also very light and quite easy to tune.

Q: What differences do you notice between the LW version and Standard version?

A: You can see they were designed for completely different conditions. LW for light winds, I would say until 12 to 15 knots. And the standard version is a sail for windy conditions. I was impressed on how easy is to handle the sail with more than 25 knots. So, the range is quite impressive!

Q: Raceboard Worlds were held at a lake, how did you adapt compared to your usual training spots at home?

A: in Madeira, where I live, you can find all sorts of conditions. And in some places, it almost seems like a lake. Besides that, I’ve sailed and raced in many lakes before, so it was no surprise for me.

Q: Conditions were very light and you seemed to perform really well, are this your prefered conditions?

A: I really love tricky conditions. And in Poland, I guess you could say the wind was playing games with us sometimes. Then I had good starts, my speed was ok, I felt comfortable and everything just went my way…

As for my favorite conditions, I think anything between 1 and 30 knots is good, as long as we race! Especially if we race between friends!

Q: You won 6 out of 9 races … what happened in that last race were you finished 26th?

A: That is a wonderful question! Maybe a bit of overconfidence. The key moment was when I started planing in the downwind. The wind was marginal, and I really thought it would pay. But no. I lost at least ten positions in that downwind! Then in the last upwind, since I was so back on the fleet, I saw that everybody’s choice was left, so decided to do the opposite, just to see if the wind would give me another chance,  But it did not pay and I ended up loosing some more places, only to finish 26th.

I must say I really thought about quitting, but every time I crossed with another sailor, I could see their effort to beat me. Could not quit just because of my pride, so I kept racing with them… some of them, old enough to be my father…

Joao match racing with Nicolas Huget

Q: What are your expectations for the Raceboard Worlds starting soon?

A: We are expecting wonderful conditions here in Salou. From what I have seen in the last few days of training is that everybody has similar upwind speed,  so it will all be about being clever and do the right choices from start to finish.

Q: Who will be the main contenders for the title?

A: Ivan Pastor is one step ahead here, specially downwind where his speed is unbelievable. But there are other very good sailors here, that could upset him like Jorge Maciel from Spain, Bruce Trotter from New Zealand, Fernando Pasqualin from Brazil, and hopefully me.

Q: Before we finish, can you give all Loftsails users some trimming advice on the Raceboardblade and the LW version? Light/Medium wind and Upwind/Downwind?

RaceboardbladeLW: with 550 mast, 0 extension, 246 boom. A lot of tension in both lower battens and a little less in camber 3. The other two battens shuld have just enough tension to remove wrinkles. If wind increases, release top battens tension.

Raceboardblade: with more than 15 knots, a lot of tension in lower batten but not so much in the second camber and even less in the third camber to end up with negative tension in upper battens. With 520 mast and 10 extension, full downhaul tension and minimum Outhaul tension. My sail touches the boom all the way until the harness lines.

Have fun!