Mondial du Vent
Drive, but this time with the wife and kids, this changes everything. Now you are not on your schedule anymore, but on their schedule. The key is planning the stop before everyone goes crazy, but again with a tight schedule and traffic we where not able to stop too much.
Leaving in the afternoon is also key, let the kids burn some energy before you get in car and find some good movies. Driving till it’s about dinnertime, to get out and letting them play and get some dinner in one stop. In France there are plenty of good places to eat and plenty of playgrounds, just exit to one of the older bigger towns and find the center. Park, walk, play and eat like a king all in one stop. Then get in the car, make sure everyone is comfortable and be ready to drive for a bunch of hours straight.
Kids sleep easy in the car if they are comfortable so I had sleeping kids, drove trough the night and arrived fresh in La Franuqui after 10 hours of driving and 4 hours of sleeping. Just in time for the first skippers meeting.
Lucky there was no wind on the first day, so we had some time to get settled in the accommodation, do some shopping, eat well and even take a little nap, score!!
La Franqui, as windy as it can be is a really nice town. This town is small but real at the same time, there are good restaurants, awesome hiking, nice landscape, beautiful beaches and plenty of things to do apart from windsurfing. It is close to Leucate but at the same time not so busy and with better wind.
We wouldn’t have wind for the rest of the first day.
For the second day there wasn’t any wind in the forecast but we did get a little. Just enough to have one speed heat, with waves and light offshore wind it wasn’t easy for me. The biggest board and sail combo I had was 95 with 7.9 and this simply wasn’t enough. So that heat was a loss for me. Oh well.
Day 3 was without wind again, there where some waves left over from the day before so Luka got to do some surfing and plenty of water play. Even at the end of April the Sun in the South of France is warm and the water temp isn’t too bad.
Day 4 Was without wind again, no worries as we visited an old friend who has a windsurfing Center near Leucate on the lake, so we went there for a day of play. The whole family enjoyed water play, from SUP to some beginner windsurfing we had a blast at the Wesh Center (check um out at http://www.weshcentercrew.com) and after a day of play we had an awesome meal and drinks there too, Julien signature Wesh burger is a recommendation). The awesome mellow Atmosphere Jullien and Caroline have created there makes it super relax with kids and with beautiful sun-sets it’s the place to be on a quite day.
With full power onshore winds, so no possible way to do speed sailing, it was time for the organizer to get the funny race on the way. The Fun race was a long distance, but with the side onshore winds we had it was going to be going 3 km’s offshore and back, one gybe. The water was beyond rough and I was on the GS:R 7.1 and Magnum 95 full power. This is fun, my style of racing, really!
We did 3 races in these hard core conditions.
First one my harness lines where a little long and for the long distance this is not so nice as a lot of force comes to the arms, still managed to finish 3rd.
For the 2nd race I fixed this issue and now was ready with some shorter lines and the mast base a little further back to regain some of the control lost by shortening the harness lines. This worked well, after a good start I managed to get into second place at the gybe (yeah, only one gybe) on the way back Antoine was hunting me down hard and I was thinking it shouldn’t be to hard for him to catch me. But I gave it my all and even managed to sail away from him a little. This was a good feeling and a testament that the gear was working well.
In race 3 the wind was becoming more and more shifty and I was starting to struggle a little at the end to be able to make the finish as I had ran a little too low and was starting to loose out against Cedric, so finished 4th in that one, all in all pretty happy, but most of all very tired after 3 of those brutal races. After that a big dinner and some wine at http://www.lecalamarenfolie.com/ was a welcome luxury and good way to celebrate Maggie’s Birthday.
Waking up to a nice clear sky and a light offshore breeze I knew Tramontane was coming. With the first heat ran at about 11, this heat was still a little light and it took me a little time to find my speed. Managed to put down some good runs, but the wind was square and with big holes. So finding a smooth run was not so easy, I think my top speed in this heat was 34knts.
Then for the second heat we got some more wind, this was nice. Still on 7.9 now I finally felt like I had a chance to compete.
I was the first one to clock 2 runs of over 35.5 and this put me in 2nd place in this heat, but the heat proofed far from over. Then a few guys went out on some big speed boards (rather then Slalom boards), where I was still on the Magnum 95, with a Volt 30 and GS:R 7.9. In these conditions if you got a good run the Speed boards are just about 1 to 1.5 knots faster. So I ended up managing 2 runs of 36 and this put me in 11th place that heat.
Heat 4 the wind was starting to become a little more gusty and unpredictable. Even though I did take 1 run on the PC2 55 and the 7.1 I felt with the wind dropping it would be wise to go put 2 solid runs down first on the Slalom board to have them in the pocket. This proofed to be the right thing to do. I put myself in 6th place that heat and didn’t move from there for the last hour of this heat.
It was interesting to see the kites against the windsurfers, especially with the long distance mixed in there. The long distance the kites where no where to be found. They struggled with the rough seas and stronger winds, they simply where not able to find any speed. But then on the flat water and lighter wind they find some efficiency, maybe there aren’t so effected by the gusts and they slingshot themself at the end of the run to gain a little too. It was a super fun event. I loved every moment of it and look forward going back here again next year. Pascal Maka who puts on the event does an awesome job and it was a good time for everyone involved. When I do go back next year I really hope for strong winds, so we can get some real speeds and show those kites that windsurfing is fast in the right conditions, just like we did during the long distance fun race.
After Racing it was time to pack up the apartment, pick up a few things, drop of some borrowed boards and hit the road. Driving back straight through the night to make sure Luka would make it to School for Kings Day and Maggie made it back on time for her Yoga class.