Celebrating our 2016 Slalom National Champions!

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Tropical setting for the last event of the 2016 Slalom Tour in Miami! (credit: wind.life.media)

By US Windsurfing

2016 was a big year for windsurfing! A full slate of PWA and AWT excitement, record attendance at youth events and one-design championships around the world, and despite all the predicted doom and gloom, an outstanding Olympic regatta in Rio (and confirmation that windsurfing will, once again, be part of the Games in Tokyo). Closer to our shores, new grassroots events have popped up in the Bay Area, Texas and the Outer Banks, our long-running racing series around the country are as strong as ever, and we even hosted the Word Championships for the Kona Class late in the year in the Florida Keys!

One of the year’s success stories in the US was the National Slalom Tour. Now in its 3rd year, the Tour attracted over 120 racers, from Corpus Christi to Rio Vista, Hood River to Maui,  with a closing event in Miami at a time when the rest of the country was getting ready to hibernate! Big congrats to our 2016 Slalom National Champions:

  • Women: Arrianne Aukes
  • Men (18-34): Phil Soltysiak
  • Masters (35-44): Jesper Vesterstrøm
  • Grand Masters (45-54): Xavier Ferlet
  • Super Masters (55+): Dave Kashy

Click here for the full 2016 results.

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Xavier and Jester in action at Rio Vista! (credit: Markus Marschall)

We’re fortunate that so many world-class athletes are racing on the US Tour, and stoked that they’re committed to supporting it again in 2017! These guys elevate the art, no question about it, but they’re also absolutely selfless with their knowledge and super generous with their time. The vibe on the US Tour is totally laid back – there’s no intimidation factor and all skill levels are welcome. Show up, and you’re guaranteed to have fun and come away a much stronger racer!

Xavier was the ironman on tour this year. Not only did he attend 4 of the 5 events on the National Slalom Tour, he also patronized pretty much all the Bay Area events!

“The tour was fantastic!” said Xavier. “I loved the Nationals, the Grand Slam in Rio Vista, the Gorge Bash, the Maui State Championship and the Crissy field slalom series. The Bay Classic & the Bridge to Bridge were awesome events too. Very happy to support those events and the National Racing Tour. Looking forward to seeing even more people next year!”

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Arrianne Aukes, 2016 US National Slalom Champ! (credit: Arrianne Aukes)

“It was such a great experience to compete on the US Tour for the first time and to have won the season-long title!” said Arrianne. “I was very impressed by the organization, the beautiful locations and the very keen and friendly windsurfers who were all making me feel very welcome. Really hope to be back next year!”

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Dave Kashy full speed ahead! (credit: Dave Kashy)

“It was great to travel to three events on the US Slalom Tour,” added Dave. “Getting to race at great sites across the country with so many fun and interesting people was a great break from my busy year at work. Racing top local sailors and the professionals who joined us for some of the events showed me how far I still have to go in this sport, especially in slalom. I noticed that I’m the only one in the winners circle with USA at the beginning of their sail numbers and I’m happy to represent :) I hope I can join in next year!”

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Phil getting ready for the 2017 season! (credit: Windsurfer Photos)

“I had a great time traveling in the US this year for the slalom and freestyle events,” noted Phil. “My highlights were winning the US Nationals in slalom in Texas, the freestyle event at the Gorge Beach Bash, and without a doubt the tandem race in the Gorge! I look forward to being a part of all these events again next year. Congratulations to winners of the other categories, and a huge thanks to my sponsors for making it all possible: Sailworks, Starboard, Dakine, Streamlined, Camaro Watersports, Peppers Eyeware, Nolimitz Masts and Makani Fins.”

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Jesper in action! (credit: Markus Marschall)

And Jesper sums it up beautifully:

“I feel so blessed to be a windsurfer, to have chosen such a great sport that gives me the opportunity to travel around places and meet amazing people and sail in unique places. Thank you, US Windsurfing, event organizers, volunteers and sponsors – 2016 was amazing, I am sure 2017 will be a new adventure, I cannot wait!!!”

We’re adding one event to the tour next year (mid-April on the East Coast!), and with the National Windsurfing Festival taking place in Berkeley in August, here’s the 2017 season schedule:

  1. Apr 18-22: East Coast Season Opener (tba)
  2. Jun 16-18: Rio Vista Grand Slam (Rio Vista, CA)
  3. Jun 22-25: Gorge Bash (Hood River, OR)
  4. Jul 29: Neil Pryde Hawaii State Championships (Maui, HI)
  5. Aug 2-5: 2017 National Windsurfing Festival (Berkeley, CA)
  6. Nov 10-12: Miami Slalom Open (Miami, FL)

A big thank you to all local organizers for making it possible for us to have a national tour: Olivier Jallais and his team, Dave Kashy and the WET team, the IWT and Dave Mertens, the Gorge Windsurfing Association, the Maui Race Series and Hi-Tech, the Berkeley Yacht Club and Tillo International! Without their enthusiasm, and the dedication of dozens of volunteers at each venue, none of this would be possible.

It’s time to make your 2017 resolutions! Make plans to attend one or more of the exciting slalom events on Tour next year and get ranked on the national leaderboard alongside your heroes!

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Arrianne, Jesper, Xavier and Phil at the tandem race in Hood River! (credit: CGWA)

One thought on “Celebrating our 2016 Slalom National Champions!”

  1. What a great article! Congratulations to all the winners – and the organizations and supporters who continue to keep this fantastic sport alive and well. As a former President of WET, I am thrilled to see Dave Kashy and the Virginia group featured. For decades, these tireless individuals (along with northern neighbors BABA) have dedicated themselves to ensuring that windsurfing survives and thrives. How exciting to see Casa Kashy on next year’s Tour! It’s on my calendar…

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