Arnon Dagan leaves Gaastra and Tabou
Arnon Dagan (ISR-1) is the only competitor from Israel on the PWA Slalom tour and he has been able to finish the races always in the top ranks. During the last season Arnon had some highlights like the third place at the Storm Rider Wave event in Israel, the second place at the Formula Europeans at Sylt and the second place at the IFCA Slalom Europeans at Rosas, Catalunya, Spain. His PWA season had ups and downs. Arnon had great speed, started with three top 20 results at the beginning of the season and then lost some ground. Now Arnon said good bye to Gaastra and returned to Neil Pryde. And without doubt, the tall Israeli (194 cm) belongs to the best racers in the world, especially when his mind is set.
We talked with Arnon about his new (old) sail sponsor, his Salom sailing and about his ideas to reorganize windsurfing.
C7: You will return to NeilPryde after 5 seasons on Gaastra, right?
Arnon Dagan: Yes, I’m very happy to say I will be competing with NeilPryde in 2013
C7: You already were on Neil Pryde sails, but changed to Gaastra in 2008. Now back to NP, why?
Arnon Dagan: I decided to go in that direction, because it’s time for me to make a step forward and because Neil Pryde was my dream since I was a kid. This company reflects perfection in windsurfing and perfection is what I need to win. As an Israeli sailor I have to work harder than almost any other competitor on the world tour to keep my sponsors as my country is not a big windsurfing market. In 2008 the Neil Pryde racing team was very small with mostly older proved champions and I didn’t manage to stay in.
Gaastra took me with open arms. I’ve worked hard for them, have learned a lot and I am very thankful to Gaastra for this!
C7: Will change the board brand as well?
Arnon Dagan: Yes, it’s not a done deal yet, but it will be for sure a super top company.
C7: Was NeilPryde looking for a rider like you are, a rider, who is not only competing in Slalom, but also in Formula?
Arnon Dagan: Every collaboration has to be a “win win situation” I’ m sure the Formula Windsurfing side of things helps as Im going to help with development there. I’m also going to push NP in my country and around the world. Big thanks to Robert Stroj for helping out and being really cool.
C7: When the Slalom discipline had its comeback in 2005 you were very close to the podium in the overall ranking and made it on the podium in single events like in Sylt 2006. From 2007 on, you lost ground, but in really little steps, from 14th to 22nd. What was the reason for that?
Arnon Dagan: The reason was mainly my mind. I always believe PWA Slalom is like car racing- the one who has the fastest car has huge chance to do well. I see big differences in gear every day of my work. When my gear is not 100% perfect I sometime get frustrated too easily. This is something that I’m working to change every day.
C7: A new saildesigner, Peter Munzlinger replaced Dan Kaseler at Gaastra. Did this fact change anything in the performance of the sails for you?
Arnon Dagan: Both designers are very smart, talented and cool guys. They have different styles, both can work. I had the chance to work closely with Peter and I like him a lot as a designer and a person. The Gaastra Slalom sails are improving every year. It takes a new designer several years to get to the highest level. The company support has to be very good and understanding. In Furteventura I tried again a NP sail after 5 years and that’s all I could think of since then. I just needed a change and felt I can not wait till the Gaastra sails will be perfect, but I’m sure Peter will be there very fast maybe even this year.
C7: You are a tall racer. Do you prefer sails with a longer luff like the NeilPryde EVO V?
Arnon Dagan: Longer luff means faster in theory and I do prefer them in bigger sized Slalom sails . I don’t know, if it is because I am tall, but in any case the Neil Pryde sail has much more to offer than just a longer or shorter luff. I compare it to the a very beautiful women- the twist, the flex, the softness, all very nice.
C7: Slalom got more popular over the years, the PWA grew the number of events from 2 in the beginning to 6-8 per year and the price money got increased, too. Is Slalom the healthy discipline in professional windsurfing nowadays?
Arnon Dagan: Slalom is easier for organizers and public to understand. The PWA is trying to push other disciplines, but somehow organizers feel comfortable with Slalom. I would like to see all PWA disciplines grow, especially the wave discipline in better locations.
C7: Many big names are in this discipline. It’s a long list with Albeau and Dunkerbeck on top. What will happen, if the big names stop their career?
Arnon Dagan: I think if they stop, slalom will get more interesting simply because the generation of Dunkerbeck, Albeau, Micah and Finian is very hard to beat. 99% of the new generation is just not physically big enough or has no budget compared to them. Low budget leads to a big gap in equipment excess and knowledge, a key in racing. All this plus the great talent the older generation has makes them so hard to beat. If they leave I see much more podium changes and this is better for the sport.
C7: Should there be an age limit on the PWA tour?
Arnon Dagan: I am not familiar with any sport that does this. If you love it, you are fit, good, and most of all competitive, who has the right to tell you to stop?
C7: You are 35 years now. How long will you compete?
Arnon Dagan: As long as I am fast and fit I’ll try to keep doing it. I love it!
C7: You had your tour debut back in 1998. Now you are competing for 14 years on international level. What has changed since the beginning?
Arnon Dagan: From the racing side of things in PWA, first we had slalom and racing together, then we had Formula Windsurfing and no slalom. Now we have Slalom without Formula Windsurfing. Very idiotic really in my opinion. I support the idea of racing in light winds and Slalom in high winds like we had in the beginning.
C7: Do you like the 63 Slalom rule or would you change anything, if you could?
Arnon Dagan:I would make it as following: 2 slalom boards 1 race/FW board and replace the 2 big sized slalom sails with 2 racing sails. One example can be 12, 10, 7.8,7.0,6.4,5.5,each sailor can choose his own sizes. This way we would never again waste so much time during events sitting on the beach and things would get much more interesting.
C7: Did windsurfing lose a bit of the buzz it had in the past? Are there too many other watersports and trensports competing with windsurfing?
Arnon Dagan: Windsurfing started to slow down, when I already started to compete. New sports are coming in that are easier to do and more accessible. But in the end of the day windsurfing was faced with several problems. Windsurfing organizations are not united and not doing enough for the sport along side and crazy equipment prices are some of the main reasons we are getting killed.
If this Curling sport (the one of the 2 fools brushing the ice so the ball will move half a cm to the side) got big and we didn’t when we have super cool people flying in the air, making amazing tricks, going really fast, something has to be wrong with they way we handle things.
C7: You are also in the SUP business. How is that compared to windsurfing?
Arnon Dagan: I joined a young Australian- Israeli company called BG surfing. We are producing Sup’s, Surfboards, Kites, and now we will promote and sell NeilPryde in Israel. Our target is to make great products for the best price. So everyone can have fun.
For me Windsurfing is the top! I love Surfing and SUP. It also completes my training and give extra days in the water but nothing can be compared to the feeling of windsurfing.
C7: What needs windsurfing to be more trendy again and how can our beloved sport attract the mainstream media a bit more again?
Arnon Dagan: So many things can be done. First I would start with GETTING EQUIPMENT PRICES LOWER!! Boycott Cobra, produce in China. Do whatever you need to do, but make a huge effort to get them lower.
2. Unite all windsurfing organizations around the world now! My dream is one united big organization offering the world an amazing sport from bottom to PWA top level. Contacting 100 companies every month. Collecting sponsors for developing windsurfing around the world and with the support get windsurfing into Euro Sport and other channels. Make deals with small sponsors, big sponsors and all the sponsors we can get.
Create youth projects and competitions, I can go all day with this ideas some are harder to do some easier but a lot can and must be done!
C7: Will it help, that windsurfing will be at the next Olympic games, too?
Arnon Dagan: It just delayed the end. We have less then 4 years to organize ourselves to offer a strong replacement to the RS:X. It’s a do or die for windsurfing in my opinion. Unite as one big organization or fall.
C7: What do you wish for 2013 and how and where will you prepare for the racing season?
Arnon Dagan: I wish to do the maximum I can in all the projects I work on in 2013. I am going to train a lot at home as I just rented a house on the water on the best beach in Israel. Everyone is welcome to visit and train. I’m going to go to Maui late February for training and testing as well. I am biking, surfing, suping and do work outs.
C7: Any goals for 2013?
Arnon Dagan: My goals are to attack the Formula Windsurfing World and European title and finally translate my speed into PWA top Slalom results.
Arnon Dagan (ISR-1) is sponsored by Neil Pryde, Zfins, BG surfing, Sylt-Brands.de, (a new board sponsor will be announced soon as well)