The Dutch Pro Slalom racer Ben van der Steen (NED-57) left Starboard after three years and joined Tabou. He made it once on the overall podium under the flag of the Tiki in 2011, made it 7 times on the podium at single events from 2011 to 2013 (4 times 2nd, 3 times 3rd). Read an interview with the 34 year old power pack, who lives and trains in Tarifa, Spain.


Benny on top of the wave (Pic: Javi Fennol)

Benny on top of the wave (Pic: Javi Fennol)


Continentseven: Continentseven: Hi Benny, 2013 is almost done. Can you resume a bit about your highlights!

Ben van der Steen: 2013 was tough season with mainly light wind racing. It was a difficult year as we only had 4 events and all 4 were light wind events . It’s not because I am a heavy sailor, but mainly I was not prepared to deal with the 10 second rule that suddenly was in place. I have sailed mostly on 9.5m with some heats on 8.6m and I have used the 127 all year except for maybe 3 or 4 heats, where I was on 8.6 and 107.


 Continentseven: How is your winter training going so far?

Ben van der Steen: Winter training has started again and now is mainly the time to get fit and strong, so for the moment not too much sailing, but more gym and biking, but sailing when possible.


Continentseven: Is everything harder in terms of time management as you are a father now?

Ben van der Steen: Time management is actually not too much of a problem as my girlfriend helps me out a lot on that side, but everything does seem to take a little longer.


Continentseven: You have left your board sponsor Starboard after three years, right?

Ben van der Steen: Yes, I am happy to announce I will be joining the Tabou team for 014 .


Ben van der Steen cools down a bit during the 2013 season (Pic: Carter/PWA)

Ben van der Steen cools down a bit during the 2013 season (Pic: Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: Why did you decide to change the board sponsor? Is it easier to work with one company in the end of the day?

Ben van der Steen: The crisis seemed to have a bit of an impact on the windsurfing market and Starboard and I did not come to an agreement as they were forced to make there team smaller. For me the obvious place to find a new home was Tabou as it is under the same roof as Gaastra, what works out better for development, marketing and many other reasons and the boards are some of the best around!! The slalom boards I have sailed are all amazingly fast and easy and the wave boards – I guess I do not even have to mention that – are great. I have never sailed a better wave board in my long windsurfing life.


Continentseven: You were involved in the iSonic R&D, were able to test the boards and protos before the season and could give your input in a way that the boards fit you well. Now a new season starts and you had no influence on the Tabou’s yet. Will that be a disadvantage for you?

Ben van der Steen: Well, this we will only see later in the season, but from what I have seen and have tried the boards are really nice and are going well or better than some of the other good boards around. So I am confident with the new boards. They seem to work very well for me.  I am looking forward to spend more time on them soon.


Continentseven: Did you test all the Manta’s already and have you chosen your sizes?

Ben van der Steen: I did not manage to test all the Mantas, just some, but for what I have tried from the new and  the 013 boards and what I have been told from the testing for 014. I am confident the boards have the potential to be the best. My sizes will be 85/71/61.


Cedric Bordes and Ross Williams will be the sparring and test partners of Ben van der Steen for 2014 (Pics: Carter/PWA)

Cedric Bordes and Ross Williams will be the sparring and test partners of Ben van der Steen for 2014 (Pics: Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: Will you have influence on the R&D? Not only on racing, as well on the free ride or wave products?

Ben van der Steen: I will work with Cedric Bordes and Ross Williams on the racing boards for sure and I will give my feedback on the wave boards and free ride boards, when I get to try them as well. Soon we will start 015 development of the Manta . 


Benny relaxed at Ulsan, South Korea(Carter/PWA)

Benny relaxed at Ulsan, South Korea(Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: How is your relation to the racing and development team? You have been collaborated with Gaastra for 1 year!

Ben van der Steen: The collaboration is working well with Gaastra we did lots of testing sessions and that works wel with both Ross and Cedric and these are the same guys I will be mostly working with in the development of the boards so that looks promising .


Continentseven: Actually Pascal Toselli, Ross Williams and Cedric Bordes  are the top rider in the racing team. Will one of these guys working and testing with you during the winter months at Tarifa?

Ben van der Steen: Ross will be passing by and a few more from the team should pass as well. We will be having a preseason testing training pro camp end of February / beginning of March.


Continentseven: If we look on the results you are the strongest team rider within the Tabou/Gaastra team now. At Starboard you had a bunch of very strong sailors around you like Alberto Menegatti, Cyril Moussilmani, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, Antoine Questel, Björn Dunkerbeck, Steve Allen, Jimmy Diaz. Was that something what made extra pressure?

Ben van der Steen: Actually it did not make that much pressure. It was just motivation to finish in front of your team mate.

Off the lip by the end of the season (Pic: Javi Fennol)

Off the lip by the end of the season (Pic: Javi Fennol)


Continentseven: Tabou/Gaastra is a relatively small team with 6 top racer. Is that the key to success in the future?

Ben van der Steen: I think smaller brands may have more flexibility . I also think you don’t need that many people, if you have the right ones .


Continentseven: The 2013 season was not a very successful one. Ross got injured earlier the season. The top results were two 10ths, Cedric at Jinha Beach and Ross at Alacati. What’s possible for you?

Ben van der Steen: Anything is possible. I think the boards are good enough to win and the new sails are rocking. So looking forward to the new season.


Continentseven: In 2011 you made it on the podium overall, with a 3rd position. Your goal are set higher for sure?

Ben van der Steen: Yes the goal should always be to win!! If you don’t want to win you might as well not race.


Continentseven: Will you focus on the Slalom discipline 100% or do you plan to compete in the Formula discipline or Speed events, too?

Ben van der Steen: I have some formula equipment to test with Ross and I might have a look at it if I feel good with the gear. For speed I am thinking about Luderitz, but it looks like we might have an PWA event at the same time.


Continentseven: Any wishes for 2014?

Ben van der Steen: I wish everyone a happy, successful and healthy new year!


© 2013/2014, Pics: Javi Fennol, Carter/PWA 2013