At the end of a final day in Japan that will go down in the annals of the PWA World Tour for its improbable scenario, Poland's Maciek Rutkowski became the 2022 World Champion in slalom, a title that is largely deserved as he has grown in strength over the last few seasons. For Windsurfjournal.com, POL-23 looks back at the event in Japan and the symbolism of this world crown.
Windsurfjournal.com: Even in your wildest dreams, could you ever imagine living such a lastday in Japan?
Maciek Rutkowski: Not at all, what a day!!! I’m a very analytical person, many times too analytical, so I run a lot of scenarios in my head, but even in my wildest drama-filled dreams I couldn't imagine something like that. I was in a good mindset all morning, nailed the start of the quarterfinal and just as I was about to unhook to jibe in 1st place the board completely stopped. The impact was so hard It broke the boom and baseplate, so when I popped up I saw my board floating away, and I thought - that's my title floating away right there. But Matteo had to still deliver a great performance against Nico and Enrico who were standouts all event - not easy! He didnt, but Johan Soe who I myself recommended to FMX almost cost me the title - he jibed 7th but came out 4th. If he finished 3rd that was it. Luckily, Mateus held his 3rd place and there I was - I became World Champion watching from the commentary booth - crazy!
WJ: You've been on the PWA World Tour for a few years now, what does this win mean to you?
MR: It's a stamp of approval that my work has been smart, more than anything. In order to win a race, event, letalone World Title in racing, so many things need to come together. Your gear, your physicality, your mental approach, your starts, your jibes. And then you need to repeat it over and over again across a season in totally different conditions, different circumstances etc. So winning one to me really means that I figured out all these categories at a decent level and then managed to perform when I needed to (and i was given the chance, haha!). So on the professional side it’s sort of mission accomplished, even it in many ways it's also a beginning. On a personal side it doesn't really change anything: same guy, same values, same friends, same girlfriend…
WJ: What lessons have you learnt from this season, from this last event and what do you think, afterwards, of this combination of fin and foil?
MR: This season taught me a lot in so many respects, both on the windsurfing and personal side. Eventhough im 30 and 10+ years on tour, I still feel sort of fresh and learning. I guess that's a good sign, the fire to improve is still burning, and I feel I can still get a lot better in so many aspects. I try to judge myself on performance, not results, and that performance can still be a lot better.
And in terms of the format for the future, I really see this current format as something guaranteeing good racing from 5-50 knots. Fin still shines above 25 knots, we just need more good windy events to really showcase it. If next year we have Pozo, Fuerte, Kanaha and Karpathos I don’t think people will cry fin is dead. From a competitor standpoint I really don’t care, just tell me the rules, and I’ll race, but from a sporting standpoint and for the future of the sport I think we are on a good path. Yes we can make tweaks, be flexible and try to make the most out of both crafts, nothing against it. We just didn’t have a lot of events due to a lot of different factors, so people blame it on the foiling but it’s really hard to argue with numbers: In 2016 and 2018 we did 6 events and 18 eliminations. This year we did 2 events and 15 eliminations. This means more racing, more action on the livestream, more action on the beach, more sizes of gear being used, just more of everything. So I think next year with some of the structural changes, we’ve been making on the PWA we can have a very, very good year and really showcase the power of this new format. We’re having so much fun racing, I hope everyone will have fun watching and then windsurfing as well on the back of that stoke. Windsurfing is the best sport in the World, it doesn't really matter single fin, thruster, quad, foil or tow-in. In the end it's about the fun, I’m having fun and I really hope you guys do too!
For more information on Maciek Rutkowski: www.instagram.com/maciekrutko
Source: Maciek Rutkowski