Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG-3) just won the Formula Experience World Championships (a Formula one design class) title in Brazil and the South American Formula Championships in his home country Argentina. The Argentinian is known as one of the most experienced Slalom and Formula racers and he finished the 2013 PWA Slalom tour in 6th place and made it in second place at the Formula Worlds in Viganj, Croatia.

Tecno 293, RS:X, RS:ONE, Formula Experience, Kona, Phantom, Windsurfer Class. The recipient might be confused. Even the windsurfers are confused. We hooked up with “Gonzo”, who made a short trip into the one design world, to find out more about “one design” classes. Is one design fairer, is it comparable to Slalom and what’s about the fun and adrenaline?


Continentseven: Congratulations, to the Formula Experience World Championships. Did you expect to win?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: Thanks, I am really happy to have won. It was a super nice event, a perfect location and great atmosphere! I expected to do well but off course I had expectations to win. I knew that there were some riders like Paulo dos Reis from Brazil who has been doing some events in FE so he had more knowledge than me so it was a bit uncertain if I could go for a win or not. It was super easy to adapt to the FE equipment. After 30 minutes of sailing I felt super used to the gear and actually was impressed how nice it was. 


Continentseven: How much value has this world champion title for you?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: It is always nice to become a world champion! I won last year (2012) the IFCA slalom World Championships and even if there was not super high level it was nice. I made some podiums in Formula worlds, too like this year with a second in Viganj, Croatia. But second is not first!!!


Continentseven: Did you ever train on the FE gear before or did you know the spot?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: No, I arrived the day before the event started. So I had one day of training and getting used to it, but as I said it took me 20 minutes to adapt to it at the most.


Gonzalo at the Formula Worlds in Brazil in November 2013

Gonzalo at the Formula Experience Worlds in Brazil in November 2013



The winners at the 2013 FE Worlds

The winners at the 2013 FE Worlds



Continentseven: Which riders were the strongest opponents? 

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: The strongest was Paulo dos Reis as he is always a very tough competitor to beat. He works hard with his gear and races very good, too. In some races I had big gaps and in some others were close fights till the finish. I had slightly better speed and a better upwind angle. So that helps a lot! The only thing I can say is that it is never easy to beat Paulo! He is super strong, technical and good in tactics. I know he is leading the SUP racing tour in Brasil so he is more focused on that paddle sport now. I came from a year full of events. So I was a bit more sharp.


Continentseven: In the PWA Slalom Worldcup you always try to use the best gear. You have a lot of options to change in between 3 boards and 6 sails and a lot of fins. In Formula you have 3 different sails, a lot of masts, 3 fins, different booms. Did you miss the possibility to have an equipment advantage over your opponents?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: Yes for sure! At the beginning I didn’t know how that would work out. Having my equipment tuned by myself and having fins that I like or match my personal style, some different masts or battens..stuff that we play in the high leagues. But I found the trim very easy of all the equipment and very unique. So all the competitors end up with pretty much the same amount of downhaul and a similar mast base position and fin…so pretty much all the same. I was clearly a bit faster than most of the guys and a tiny edge to Paulo. I think the fact that I am doing the tour for long time helps a lot. Knowing sometimes to give speed or sometimes to point high. In most of these things I was having an advantage.


His sponsor Starboard stated: "Congratulations on the World Title and good luck for the winter training. We hope to see you on many more podiums next year!"

His sponsor Starboard was proud and stated: “Congratulations on the World Title and good luck for the winter training. We hope to see you on many more podiums next year!”


Continentseven: Is there still room to tune the gear for your personal likes? 

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: The equipment is very easy and you can put the base a bit more back and the boom higher if you want more power, and as well put the R19 fin in the fin box. If you want more speed you can go with the R13 and base more in the front. Anyways all the compromises ended up in very similar performance.


Continentseven: Honestly, is it fun sailing on one design gear?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: It was great! I didn’t have much expectations, but I had a lot of fun!!! Just rigged every day one 11m sail and went for it! I didn’t have to think too much or stress about all my stuff!


Continentseven: Do you prefer sailing on tuned, personal gear?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: Actually I think I should say yes, but not really. I found this class really interesting and I think that the class –  if different countries will give it a try to support it –  will grow to something like the Techno class is now.


Gonzalo on the super light full Carbon Slalom gear (Pic: Carter/PWA 2013)

Gonzalo on the super light full Carbon Slalom gear (Pic: Carter/PWA 2013)


Continentseven: You have an Olympic background which taught you a lot about tactics, upwind starts and upwind sailing. Was that a big help in that race? 

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: I think I have a good background on the Olympic class, but that was a long time ago. Now I feel that I have learned a lot of different strategies while racing in formula or slalom, which you only learn doing these diciplines.


Continentseven: How would you compare the feeling on a FE equipment with your high end Formula equipment. 

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: It’s not very much different. Especially when everybody is on the same stuff the actual feeling is the same feeling I have on my Formula Windsurfing gear. The main difference is that you need to be sharper on the power you give with the outhaul. If the wind goes down a little then you need to release instantly. If not you will lose a lot of angle. The FW gear is a bit more forgiving on this kind of situations as the board is super light and efficient and the rigs absorb this low wind situations. But when you are with all the fleet in Formula Experience racing you have the same feeling.


Continentseven: Is it problem for your sail sponsor, if you are competing on another brand? (Gonzala is a teamrider of Loftsails)

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: They made an exception and they were super cool about it!!!


Continentseven: It looks like many more one design classes are getting more and more popular in windsurfing: Tecno 293, RS:X (will be at the Olympics in 2020, too), RS:ONE, Kona, Phantom, Windsurfer Class. Is there a lot of potential for one design classes in the future or is it a concept for less developed countries?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: I think it is always nice to get in the water with the same gear as the rest and “prove” that it is the sailor and not the “car” who wins. But as well it is an unreal feeling to race in Slalom and Formula on the latest high end gear. You can’t change the feeling of racing on that high end gear, which always gives you this special adrenalin feeling!


Continentseven: Is one design fairer? 

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: It is more fair I would say.


Continentseven: What are the advantages of One Design?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: I think that if you manage to have a class like FE that is more accessible for the customers and gives you almost the same fun and rewards as the FW Class it is great. But from what I understand is, that the RS:X Olympic Class super expensive and there are massive differences in gear. So you end up spending more. And it is not so fair anymore when one country has access to 50 boards and another nation just to 5….


Continentseven: What are the disadvantages of One Design?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: The disadvantage is that you don’t get the taste of the Formula One cars we sail on!!!! Who wouldn’t dream to race in a formula one car??? Well, we do it in the water!


Slalom racing in Alacati and at the Costa Brava in 2013 (Pic: Carter/PWA)

Slalom racing in Alacati and at the Costa Brava in 2013 (Pic: Carter/PWA)


Continentseven: The PWA Slalom Worldcup will start in about 3 months and the first event might happen in El Yaque, Venezuela. How will you prepare and where?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: I will prepare physically at home and then I will go early to Tarifa to meet up with Ben van der Steen and train with him as I did this year. We will probably go earlier to Isla Margarita, too.


Continentseven: You are 6th in the Worldtour ranking in 2013. What’s possible in 2014? Will you continue with the same equipment sponsors?

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel: I stay with the same sponsors and I am looking forward to improve my results. I will go into the season with a different mindset. This year I was bit too conservative.


©continentseven.com 2013, Pictures by Rémi Vila, Didado Azambuja & John Carter /PWAWorldtour 2013