The opening day of the Defi Wind 2015 started calm but with forecast that promises a lot of wind. We have promotion booth here with with our shop in Leucate “We Ride” who sells Angulo Boards and KA Sails, so we are sharing the both between those brands as well as PC2. So as there is plenty of time and no wind yet I first set up the booth, catch up with some people and register for the actual race. My request licra #0 became a reality and now I’m ready to race.
The whole French Angulo team is here, so there is some time to catch up. Also one of our Dutch team rider Milan Gielingh. He is our youngest team rider, but he seems ready to race.
The skippers meeting is well organized as it should be, large LCD screen to help explain the situation and a big safety briefing! Safety here is something pretty incredible. You have to imagine 1200 people going on the water with wind forecasted to be gusting over 40 knots today! The wind here is straight offshore, so if you have something you’ll be drifting out toward to Tunisia pretty quickly. So there are plenty of boats and jet ski’s to try to keep everyone safe. Also there is a line of bouys on the outside that you can cling onto in case of trouble.
Then at about 15.30 they give the 1 hour warning sign before the start. The wind had picked up to gusts over 40 knots and was by now filled in over the whole course. People where running around trying to find the smallest sails possible, and so was I.
At first I was thinking how bad can it be and went out on the Gun Sails GSR 6.3 and Magnum 95. Manageable, but not realistic so I opted for the 5.6 that is much easier to handle in the high wind. Having to race 40 Km’s I thought it’s better to go for comfort.
I had a good start and by now the wind was constant 40 knots so even the 5.6 was a little hard to handle trough the gusts and specially in chop. So I tried to get the beach ASAP and enjoy some of the flatter water. Pushing hard to get upwind I could for sure feel the back leg burning after about 6 Km of pure over powered grinding into that Tramontane. Getting to the beach a lot of guys where ahead of me, but now it was time for me to open up the gas and so I did. Getting to the first mark in about 30th or so I knew I had some work cut out for me. So getting right back under the beach and putting the power on for the next 8 KM to get to the second gibe in 5th showed that I had good speed. Not sure what boat to gybe I went to wrong one and lost a few places, coming around and going back on the other-side is a welcome change as the body really feels it being on one tack for that long. Getting back to beach and putting the power was bringing me closer to the top guys and I was hungry, a little to hungry as I simply ignored the buoys marking the sand bar thinking it would be deep enough. Well was I wrong. Catapult, into the river that is dumping all kinds of grass and lots of water I was now in a rapid, swimming after my gear that was getting taken away by the rushing water. Also my boom came of the mast in the crash, so finally getting to my gear and installing the boom before being able to proceed made me loose a lot of spots! I’m sure I was back in 40th somewhere. Now a little mad at myself for being stupid enough to ignore those signs I had to put the power on and catch as many people as I could. I fought hard for the next 12 km and made up a lot of spots. To finish 22 just behind a group of 5 guys, would I have been a little faster I could have controlled some more damage of my mistake but oh well it is only day one.
With the forecast being even wilder for the next days I’m not sure what they will do. Already today a few people had to be taken to the hospital, many people had to be rescued and some even lost their gear to just swim back to the beach to bring them self to safety! Also I don’t know how the big guys will handle more wind, if you see that guys like Finian Maynard, Pascal Tosseli and Anders Bringdal didn’t make it to the finish it will be interesting to see who will if the wind increases to be even stronger. It looks like this is the wind we will have all weekend long. So I might come home with longer arms then what I left with.
Yes just when you thought it wouldn’t be possible the wind picked up. Not 5 knots but 25 knots. Yes 25 knots from 40 knots means a lot of wind. With gusts of up to 73 knots they choose to take it easy in the morning and let the wind wear it’s self out a little before sending us out there.
So when the wind dropped down to about 40 knots they called the hour announcement and moved forward with getting race 2 on the way. For the safety of sailors they choose to go for a shorter race, 20 km total and with reaches of only 5 km instead of 10. So the pain in the leg due to sailing on one tack for an extended amount of time where limited and we where able push much harder without the problem of fatigue.
Even though the race management advised those in doubt not to go out, most people did anyway. So with a full start I opted for a start in the middle of the line, this didn’t really work out as well as I hoped as the wind turned just before the start and allowed even the people at the bottom of the line (all the top guys are starting there) to get the beach without having to go upwind too much. However once I got along the beach I put the hammer down and started my overtaking race once again. Taking plenty of people on the way to the fist mark and rounding somewhere around the 30th place (I think, with so many people you don’t know this for sure.) On the way back it was super tight upwind. So I started to pinch upwind right from the start to try and avoid having to tack. This turned out to the best thing to do. I made the mark and moved from 30th into 10th place or so. On the way back to the far away mark it was nice. One big speed run along the beach. Opening it up to full speed for 5 km with a nice smooth run along the beach and this time no sandbar to avoid. It is a little tricky sometimes as here we already start to lap some people and people use the beach to take a rest. So hammering trough people hanging out and people sailing toward their first mark rounding means you need to stay very alert.
Coming around the outside mark, gybing in 8th and staying there till the finish.
Even though the wind was kind of gentle I was happy to finish and get back to the beach.
This would be it for today as the last person of this race only came in at around 17.00 hours and this was to late to get another one on the way. So we are spared of total destruction today!
Tomorrow is supposed to be another day with another race or maybe 2. We will see what the conditions will be. There will be wind and plenty of it, this is clear. The 5.6 is getting some good used and getting comfortable in that kind of wind makes you feel pretty good and will make the bigger sails easy to handle.
Day 3 was just as hard as the others, with winds of up to 60 knots we where in for some hard work. But the good thing is that it is becoming more normal now, this is taking out some of the nerves. So being cool as cucumber makes this stuff a lot easier.
We started the first race in the morning with the intention of doing 2 today. The wind was good not too strong yet (meaning not gusting over 50 knots). We where ready at 11 for a “short course” only 20 km. The unique thing about today is that we have a GPS challenge inside of the Defi Race “DunkerbeckGPSspeedchallenge“. So they are measuring the speed and creating a ranking within the race.
So we start and put the power on, I had a good start and pushing till after about 1km my front foot came out of the strap. OEPS> I got very wet, for a long time. With the whole field of 1200 behind me I got a little scared being in the water so waited to get back on the board till the pack had passed. Being down in about 300+ place the though of giving up crossed my mind. But then I realized I don’t give up and if I make myself mad I can come back a long way. Fought back hard and came all the way to 27th place. My overtaking race was a success, but in the process I completely forgot about the GPS ranking.
The afternoon race was canceled as the wind came up to over 60 knots and it was considered to dangerous.
I did hand in my GPS after the race to give the data to the www.gps-speedsurfing.com guys. Not thinking anything of it I was surprised that my social wine tasting in the evening was interrupted by Antoine who was coming to get my to go on the stage. What for I wasn’t sure.
I set the second fastest time during the race and got a nice award for it.
Some light celebrating was in place after this and so we did. Some good food and wine with awesome people to end the day and get back in bed for the last day that is looking promising as the wind should be a little lighter!!
Defi wind day 4.
For the last day of Defi wind it looked like the wind was finally dropping of a little, or so it seemed. Thanks to my crash from yesterday I had some damages on the 5.6 so this in combination with the seemingly lighter wind I thought it would be a good idea to go on the 6.3. Just as I’m sailing out to the start with too little time left to go and change down I realize that this wind is stronger then it seemed. I guess in the last few days we have been getting so used to extreme wind that just normal really strong wind didn’t see so windy anymore. Well I was wrong, we hit the start and get moving and I’m holding on for dear life again!
This time we where doing 2 laps on the long course. So I manage to handle the upwind to the beach. It was pretty slow but I got there and once I got there I could relax a little and make some speed as the water there is a little flatter and the board doesn’t want to fly as much as on the outside. Putting the power on in the flats while being careful to not get taken our by one of those surprise gusts. I managed to get the gybe mark but again I was a lot deeper then would ever want to be and the catch up started again. Luckely for me the wind was dropping a little so after the gybe I got back to the beach and started putting on the pressure and overtaking guys, some guys I didn’t know, but some good guys too that may have made the same call as me and where on to big gear.
Gybing the second jibe things where looking a lot more hopeful, I wasn’t so far down the ranking anymore and I was happy to moving forward giving me a little more of a boost. I knew the top spot where out of reach, but lets just see how far we could make it. With the wind getting a little lighter again I was able to relax every so often without having to slow down, but over taking guys get’s harder and harder to further to the front you get.
I managed to come back to 18th place and was happy with that. I believe I finished on the 20th place for the event. Also happy with that, knowing I made plenty of mistakes and considering the conditions where pretty heavy for the GS:R 5.6 and Magnum 95 I’m happy to have finished where I did. After every race I would come of the water exhausted but with a huge smile and full of positive energy, this event is just amazing and anyone who might be leaning toward doing this event. GO and do it, it is something you will remember for a lifetime!
I would like to give a shout out to the French Angulo team who really impressed me during this event.
But a Special Shout out to Milan who simple impressed all of us with his kindness and specially with his dedication to finish every race.