PWA Worldcupper Ben van der Steen lives with his family in the wind mecca Tarifa, close to the GUNSAILS Sail Development Loft. We met Ben for a talk at the beach of Bolonia during his winter training.
The PWA season likely starts in April. How do you prepare for the season?
I just got my new GS-R 2019 sails and right now I start testing and tuning trying my set up, fins in the boards and the collection of mast in all the sails and when that is done I will start the race training. My plan was to go to Tenerife but as the gear is arriving pretty late this season I will have to see how it looks with the time. Next to all the sailing I go to the gym and I go mountain biking.
How did the last season go for you?
The last season had its ups and downs early season wasn’t great but towards the end of the season all seemed to go a bit better, unfortunately i had to count some bad results and finished 17th.
What are your plans for this year?
I will be doing the PWA tour for slalom and foil with slalom as priority. Currently I am spending a lot of time on the foil and with the top 2 foilers living in Tarifa its ideal training grounds. We are also working on the new foil sails with the Tarifa team and Steven and Pieter.
What do you do when there's no wind at a PWA event?
Thats always a hard one when there is no wind, but I try to keep active and check out a bit off the local scenery and then there is the endless fine tuning of the gear as well.
Who are your best buddies in the PWA Circus, with whom do you hang around on the tour?
There is a bunch of guys mostly the guys I have sailed with all my life, like Arnon, Ross, Kurosh, Ramon, Finian, Mateus and many more.
Is it a tough competition between the riders or do they help each other sharing some tipps and advices?
As friends we share some info and help each other out. But on the race course there is no such thing as friends.
Are there any changes with your sponsors, does your equipment match together?
I will ride the Goya boards for 2019, that is a big change but I have tried the boards with the Gunsails GS-R and they seem a very good match. So looking forward to race on them. Fins I use a bunch off Brands Sontag fins, Carpenter fins, N1 fins and test many more. For my other sponsors I am with Brunotti for wetsuits and clothing and specsavers for glasses.
How does the cooperation with the Sail Development Team in Tarifa work?
The cooperation with the tarifa team works well as I am always around. Both Renato and Phillippe try the prototype sails and then I try the sails as well. When guys have tested the designs I will try to test them in a race environment or at least a head to head test with one of the fastest guys around so we have a good indication on were we are at. And then we always have a round were we discuss the feedback and make plan for the next sails and this continues till the deadline.
How do you combine all the work (training, travelling, sail development) with your family?
Its a bit of juggling but we are making it work as the kids are in school that gives a good window of time to train and sail. When traveling my wife takes care of things at the home front and when possible we travel with the family.
Ben, thanks a lot for your time. We wish you all the best for the upcoming PWA season 2019!