After a good drive partially through night thanks to a lot of traffic I arrived at 7.30 on the opening day of Defi Wind. For the moment still calm but a forecast that promises a lot of wind, my thought “oh well we will see”. We have promotion booth here with Angulo Boards and KA Sails under the initiative of We ride Leucate. So as there is plenty of time 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 skippers meeting is well organized as it should be, large TV monitor 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.
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 6.3. Manageable, but not realistic I opted for the 5.6 that is much easier to handle in the high wind. Having to race 40 Km’s I though 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 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 really 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 I would make it easy. Well was I wrong. Catapult, into the river that 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 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 yesterday then 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.
Now go brows the internet for some images to see for yourself how windy it was!!