MAN Truck & Bus
The flat Île de Ré in the Atlantic lies off the west coast of France as if it had been poured there. The "white island", as it is also known, is characterised by pine forests and fine sand beaches with mostly small houses in between. A heavily loaded van heads off from one of these houses every few weeks and sets course for the high bridge that connects the island with the mainland.
The van slows briefly on the apex of the three-kilometre-long crossing; a look back to the glittering white island and then it's full steam ahead. Behind the wheel sits Antoine Albeau, who once again is on the way to a windsurf competition somewhere in Europe, together with his wife and child. His mode of transport: a MAN TGE customised just for him.
Frenchman Albeau is one of the world's most successful windsurfers: he has accumulated 25 world championship titles and above all has dominated the slalom discipline for many years. And he is also the fastest. For wind surfers, a record speed of 50 knots was equivalent to the 100-metres, which took decades for sprinters to run in under ten seconds. Albeau broke it at last: four years ago he raced over the water at the Namibian coastal town of Lüderitz, where a particularly strong wind was blowing, at an incredible 53.27 knots – which is 98.66 kilometres per hour. Nobody else has ever surfed so quickly.
"It's like a form of intoxication", recalls Albeau, 100 kilograms heavy and big as a wardrobe. His nickname: "Elephant". He needs a lot of strength and weight for his sport, if he wants to keep board and sail under control to ride through storms and waves. The constantly tanned giant practically grew up on a windsurf board. He was born in the coastal town of La Rochelle in 1972. Shortly thereafter his father opened a surfing and sailing school on the nearby island of Île de Ré. Little Antoine took part in his first competitions at 11 and turned professional when he was 19.
Highly successful Antoine Albeau has a total of 25 world champion titles.
Now Albeau runs the surf school on the island together with his wife Paola. There you can learn windsurfing and sailing using small "optimist" boats or rent out boards and boats. Albeau himself attends his company's beach camp every year from June to September and plays his part. He compares the local dunes on Île de Ré to Sylt – although Albeau finds the water temperatures less pleasant at his home on the rough Atlantic. In spite of that he calls his home island "a little piece of paradise very close to the mainland".
The customised TGE minibus is also stationed here, directly at Albeau's surf school. The surfing champion is pleased that its 4x4 drive easily propels the vehicle along the beach. And the van can also comfortably cover long distances thanks to the automatic transmission. "I use it to travel to all the competitions in Europe", explains Albeau. So he is shortly setting off on the 1500 kilometres to Denmark, where a large international competition is planned. He and his wife Paola take turns at the wheel, they drive in a relaxed fashion, a maximum of 700 or 800 kilometres a day and never more than 130 kilometres per hour on the German motorways.
The child seat for their three-year-old son Alani is installed up front between them, so they can easily sit together three in a row. "Alani is used to such journeys", says Albeau, "we always take him along every time we travel." Directly behind the driver's cab in the TGE there is an extra long cargo compartment for the small family's baggage and bicycles – and even a table the parents can convert into a small bed if they ever have to spend a night by the roadside. Albeau transports his equipment, surfboards and sails at the very back of the vehicle. "The TGE offers so much space that it's not a problem", he says: "You can just chuck everything in."
I use my new TGE to drive to all the competitions in Europe.
In the Atlantic wind Antoine Albeau defending his pole position during the World Cup in Fuerteventura.
Constantly tanned giant Antoine Albeau practically grew up on a windsurf board.
Life on the beach Antoine Albeau runs a surfing and sailing school on Île de Ré island.
On the winner's podium Antoine Albeau won all the races in the sixth elimination.
Fight for the leadership Tactics play an important role when windsurfing.
Family travel Antoine Albeau and his wife Paola take turns at the wheel of his MAN TGE. © Fanny Delacroix
Nose into the wind Antoine Albeau feels quite at home on his surfboard.
Media hype The 25-times world champion is always in demand for interviews.
Albeau can soon be recognised from a distance if you come across him somewhere on Europe's motorways. Because emblazoned on the exterior of his anthracite-white-light blue van is not only his customary start number 192 and the inscription "25x champion du monde de windsurf", but also a large picture of him on his surfboard, its nose into the wind. "I like that a lot", he says grinning.
While the vehicle is once again pausing for breath on its native Île de Ré, Albeau wants in future to become increasingly involved in the next generation of windsurfing athletes and perhaps organise training camps for promising youngsters, for example. But first he will have to leave the TGE van at home, since he is boarding a plane. Because Albeau is drawn back to Namibia. Should the winds once again propel him particularly strongly, he wants to break the next speed record: 100 kilometres per hour – as fast as a car on a main road.
Born 17 June 1972 in La Rochelle, France, he is one of the world's most successful windsurfers. He has won 25 world championship titles in the course of his career. He also holds the world record over 500 meters at a speed of 53.27 knots.
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Our vehicles are equipped with summer tyres as standard. Please check possible national regulations about whether winter tyres are required. Your MAN partner will be happy to advise you.
The specified fuel consumption and emission data has been determined according to the measurement procedures prescribed by law. Since 1st September 2017, certain new vehicles are already being type-approved according to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), a more realistic test procedure for measuring fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. It is currently still required by law to state the NEDC figures for vehicles for passenger transport with registration class M1. In the case of new vehicles which have been type-approved according to the WLTP, the NEDC figures are derived from the WLTP data. In cases where the NEDC figures are specified as value ranges, these do not refer to a particular individual vehicle and do not constitute part of the sales offering.
Additional equipment and accessories (e.g. add-on parts, different tyre formats, etc.) may change the relevant vehicle parameters, such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, and, in conjunction with weather and traffic conditions and individual driving style, may affect fuel consumption, electrical power consumption, CO2 emissions and the performance figures for the vehicle.
Efficiency classes rate vehicles for passenger transport with an M1 passenger vehicle registration, according to the CO2 emissions under consideration of the empty vehicle weight. Vehicles which conform to the average are classified as D. Vehicles which are above the current average are classified as A+, A, B or C. Vehicles which are below average are classified as E, F or G.
Additional information regarding the official fuel consumption, and the official specific CO2 emissions of new vehicles for passenger transport, with an M1 passenger vehicle registration, can be found in the “Guide on the fuel economy, CO2-Emissions, and power consumptions of all New Passenger Car Models”. This guideline is available free of charge at all sales points and from the DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, Germany. (https://www.datgroup.com/)
In vehicle classes N1, N2 and M2, coolant of the type R134a is used. MAN TGEs of vehicle class M1 require coolant of the type R1234yf. The GWP value of the coolant used is 1.430 (coolant type R134a) and 4 (coolant type R1234yf). The fill levels depend on the coolant compressor and varies between 560 - 590 grams.