Το 2019 ήταν μια από τις καλύτερες αγωνιστικές χρονιές για τον Πολωνικής καταγωγής αθλητή Rutkowski Maciek, ο οποίος κατέκτησε την έβδομη θέση στην κατάταξη της κατηγορία Σλάλομ του πρωταθλήματος PWA. Ο αθλητής πριν από λίγες μέρες έδωσε μια συνέντευξη την οποία και σας παραθέτουμε παρακάτω.
Παρακάτω σας παραθέτουμε την συνέντευξη όπως δημοσιοποιήθηκε από την επίσημη ιστοσελίδα της οργάνωσης PWA:
Hey Maciek, how’s it going? Congratulations on breaking into the overall top 10 for the first time in your career… how does it feel to have cracked that one?
Honestly, it feels pretty normal. This might sound cocky or whatever but let me explain. Since I decided to try becoming a professional racer I’ve been working my ass off to improve my level every year. Everybody improves, so to improve your ranking you gotta improve more than the others. And my ranking kept improving, slowly, but it did. So in 2018 I reached a level where I saw I’m competitive at the highest level, including almost winning a final in Korea, right after finishing 2nd in another one. I was missing consistency and mental fitness, but my level was there already. I guess what I’m trying to say is I judge my sailing against what I think my current level is and not necessarily against the ranking. So I can’t really be over the moon about finishing 7th, or basically sailing somewhere in the realm of my potential for most of the season. Also, 7th is not exactly what you set out to do when you start your career, so yeah, it feels normal, feels like there’s still a lot of work to do to keep it or to improve…
Your season didn’t actually start off that well with a 21st and a 25th in Marignane and South Korea – was it mentally tough for you to stay focused the rest of the year? And did your goals change for the year after the opening two events?
That was very hard to take. France was only one elimination and no fault of my own, so I didn’t dwell to much over it, but in Korea I made 2 massive mistakes and with my discard used in France it felt horrible. Also we had foiling events in the meantime and I didn’t perform even close to my best and then I went to the IFCA World’s and got sick, so basically it was June and I didn’t have a single decent result. It was time to fully reset. Luckily Fuerte was next, a place where you get multiple opportunities and even if you make some little mistakes here and there you might pay a lesser price for them if you’re performing well overall. So I just went there with an openminded attitude, not thinking about the ranking or anything like that and just trying to start well, gybe well, sail to my potential and came out with a decent, yet pretty unlucky, 6th.
After that disappointing start you then enjoyed a great season (6th in Fuerte, 3rd in Denmark & 5th in Nouméa) – how did it feel to bounce back like that and also earn your first podium?
Felt good for sure, although after Fuerte it was back to the drawing board. As much as Fuerte can be physically demanding, mentally I’d say for me it’s one of the easier events. You come to the beach, you bust out 2-3 eliminations fully powered up and you go home. If you messed up, you can pick it up the next day. I needed to have a different mindset heading into Denmark, as you never know there. Could be 10 rounds, could be 2 iffy ones, pumping on 9.4 like we had in 2016. In the end we had 9 (eliminations) in a variety of conditions and probably that suits me quite well since all the sizes of my Challengers and FMX’s are equally competitive. I would be stoked with the way I sailed for the most part even if I had’ve finished 4th, but to get that podium in the last race in such dramatic fashion was definitely a cherry on the cake.
Denmark also saw you win your first Slalom race on the world tour – how did that feel? And do you think that after winning your first race you have more belief that you can win more races in the future?
Felt really really f***** sweet. I came so close 16 months prior and then came pretty close in the windiest one a few eliminations back, but could never quite get it. Funny enough it didn’t really cross my mind to win it, I just wanted to beat Julien [Quentel] who was my only podium threat, that was the only goal. We were battling on the run-up to the start, pushing each other like crazy and finally he slammed the breaks, because he thought we might go over early. I didn’t budge and boy did it pay off! Still had to pump my lungs out and pray Thijs [van der Meer] is not gonna abandon the race, cause it was getting really light. Some extra adrenaline haha! But I tell you, crossing that finish line was one of the purest, best emotions I’ve ever felt. It was not even about winning the final or getting the podium. It was about the fact that I performed my best when it mattered the most. And anyone that knows anything about sports knows how much value that carries. To me it means everything.
And yes, I hate to admit it, but winning one and getting a podium does change your confidence. I would love to believe the same way I believe now, 2-3 years ago. I would have probably progressed faster for sure. But I guess everyone goes through the same thing. You arrive on tour, you think you’re amazing, but then you get your ass kicked for 2-3 years in a row and you don’t think you’re so amazing anymore. So then you sort of need to prove to yourself that you can actually be great like you thought when you were 18. Now I believe, let’s see what comes next…
Out of all the events, which one was your favourite and why?
I love Fuerte it’s such a classic, but then Denmark has to be up there because of the the variety of conditions and the result. And then leading the event in New Caledonia was pretty special, even if I blew it afterwards haha!
Where do you think you raced the best?
Probably not Denmark actually. There everyone was pretty inconsistent due to the ever changing conditions, including Antoine [Albeau], so I was just the most consistent of that bunch fighting for the podium. But if I look at the points it would probably be New Caledonia. I probably only made one massive mistake there, which cost me a chance of being in the podium fight, but I made 7 finals, performed well in majority of them and was way closer on points to the winner and 2nd guy than in Denmark. So yeah, I think sometimes results don’t tell the whole story unless you know exactly what to look for or actually watched the whole event..
You were just one of out of a group of 5 sailors that won an elimination for the first time… what do you think that says about the level on the world tour at the moment? And do you think that this band of sailors is ready to challenge the big top 3?
5 years ago the level seemed high and tight. And it only got higher and tighter from there! Personally I think it’s great, its really up to the execution now, performing here and now, rather then just sheeting in and being 20 meters in front on the first mark. And it creates a great sense of unpredictability which is exactly what we want when we sell our sport as a product.
You are always quite honest of your own appraisal – breaking into the top 10 (7th) – is a big achievement… but the big top 3 still finished well clear of the rest of the fleet… what do you think separates them from the rest of the pack? And what do you think you need to do to get closer to them?
Again it depends how you look at it. If you watch all the finals from New Caledonia you’re not gonna see a clear domination, not at all. What you gonna see though is those 3 guys being always somewhere there, close to the top. And that’s what separates them, this type of consistency on the highest level. For me personally I’ve written down and discussed every single development that’s happened to me with my coach since the beginning of 2018 and it seems like we know exactly what to do to make that step forward. Whether it will happen in 2020 or not, we will see and learn along the way!
Next year will see Foil and Slalom merge together with sailors been given the choice whether to foil or use a normal fin? What do you think about this change?
We’ve discussed this so much during events and on emails for the last 2 years, that I don’t really know what to say anymore. I honestly can’t say whether it’s good or bad, time will tell. But it definitely seems like the natural step for the sport to take. As for the competition side – it’s super exciting, but for sure there’s a dose of uncertainty how it’s gonna look on the performance side – I could arrive 20 meters clear of the pack in the first heat of 2020 or something opposite can happen, which in regular slalom is almost impossible at this stage of gear development. Somebody supposedly smart once said that a goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot. I guess it’s one of those cases!
Having broken into the top 10 in 2019 – what are your goals for 2020?
Just improve my performance and have even more fun, which will probably be actually harder than the first part!
And finally… what are you plans for winter?
I’m just been to Sardinia to finish the foil slalom sails with Bruno [Martini] and then I’m gonna head over to Tenerife for the annual racing bootcamp!
Thanks, Maciek. Enjoy the rest of your winter and see you back on the racing circuit soon!