The first event of the year.
The Black team had a chance to find out how the new sails stand out against the others.
There is a large P-7 community in Japan and Taty and Andrea went over to compete and spend time with them. Defi wind has also always been the event for everyone to join in, and not for only pros to race.
A real long-distance tour as it’s not only Gruissan with its 1200 competitors, but there are now more events around the world.
The first one this year was again on Miyako island of southern Japan, where the climate is a middle way between summer and spring temperatures.
Not only Defi wind, but following the 4-day event, the Japanese organizer and sponsor, Lightec, decided to introduce together with the Defiwind, a new format of a 3-day Defi wind Challenge for only super stars.
Unfortunately for the 4-day Defi wind, there was the chance to compete in only 1 official race with wind on the limit, and many fun races where over 100 people took part. The wind was never reaching the 12knots requested for the real racing to take place, but at least one race was managed to be squeezes in.
From the Point-7 Black team, the full Black Team Japan was present, including Akinori Goshi, the Black Team from Tahiti, plus Andrea Cucchi and Taty Frans.
Differently for the 3-day Defi Super Start a nice forecast for the 3 days was going to make things exciting!
32 pro riders from all over the world, had to challenge each other in very different courses around a fantastic playground of islands, reefs and wild sea life. From going around the island to massive long-distance downwind racing. A total new format to open windsurfing to a total new dimension of racing. Something that finally brings windsurfing back to its freedom and beauty. Not only having to race against the other competitors, or between marks, but also against what nature is offering to the sport in its most extreme version.
After 3 days, 1 round of the island of 60kms, 1 long distance of 36km, 2 downwind of 16kms and a full long distance downwind of 42 km were completed. If any rider was there to complain about the difficulty of the courses, the answer from the organizer was clear: ‘ you are at a super star Defi wind, and we expect to fight and sweat like real superstars, and this is why you are here’.
Andrea Cucchi: ‘It has been a very interesting event, especially the Defi Super star. Thanks to the organizers, windsurfing has been taken to a new level with this extreme racing. At the first moment I thought it was all a bit over the top, but later I understood that these types of events are making our sport very special, and it was organized for a group of special windsurfers. We cannot always keep windsurfing closed between some marks only. Windsurfing is freedom. Racing in freedom and is what it has made this event more radical, extreme to what we are used to normally. We have used our slalom gear in courses in which our actual slalom gear does not fit. This made the challenge even more difficult. Will this be a new challenge? Design new gear for this type of racing in the future? It has been the hardest event of my life. I was not windsurfing fit to do so many kms in those type of difficult choppy conditions. The last months I was focusing on testing, and it’s more the time spent on the beach rigging and de-rigging than the time on the water. After the 10days of Boot in Duesseldorf, finding myself going around the tropical islands’ wildlife, put me in a real challenge with myself. Never had so much muscle pain, and next time, surely I need to be more fit before going to this new type of racing.’
Taty Frans: ‘ I was super happy to finish 6th. I could have done better if I had not made some small mistakes but is not easy not to make mistakes in that kind of conditions and courses. I’m in love with my new gear. As I got to the event, I was expecting simple courses like the Defi wind and I think that would have been more fun, as the courses we did at the Defi Japan were really challenging. I believe that in some events on simple freeride gear I could have done better as there was a lot of full downwind and our slalom gear is not really designed for that. During the race I asked myself why I had signed up, but after I cut that finish line, I was ready for more! I was impressed on how this event concept was organized, and the Defi Crew did a great job. Overall it was a great experience, something I will never forget. If I had to do it again, I would say, yes! #wearetheblackteam, #wearebuilttogo’.
TWH: Japan is known for its hospitality, add this to a competition, it must have been amazing.
ANDREA: Japan hospitality is unique and what makes it special is that people make you feel at home. I’ve been to Japan every year in the last 6years, and from my distributor, my Black Team Japan, the Defi organizers, the other riders, have made each moment very special. The support and consideration are not existing at this level in any other country. The general respect for things and people is to be taking as example.
TATY: Amazing it was and is, indeed! I am really surprised how greatly organized the Japan people are.
TWH: You love testing and adjusting sails. Being with Taty at the first event must have been exciting and great to see how the combination of his new Future Fly boards went.
ANDREA: It was the first event of the year. We had just received everything new and what made me happy was to see Taty fast and excited from his new gear. This made me happy, as I know it will bring him new motivation for the racing season. It was very important for me and Taty to be together this event, as it gave already new ideas to work on for the next months. I could not than wait to be back to Garda to start working on new projects.
TATY: I more happy how the AC1 improved this year and YES, I really like the all black tinted windows. The low end, camber rotation and the lightness in the hands have improved which I really was looking forward to after I tested few new things and the ACK in holland during the DAMX event. It sure is and always great to have Andrea around, for me it’s a quick feedback about the sails, mast and future ideas. I believe we are on the right track.
TWH: The Defi Japan public event was light wind, so great for checking out the larger equipment. Can you tell us a little about the performance?
ANDREA: Yes, at the normal Defi, the wind was light, but then it was also strong in the Superstar Defi. We therefore managed to test from 9.2 to 7.1 all the sizes in the different conditions. I was happy to see that Taty noticed all the development done from the 2019 to the 2020 sails. I have been working with the team in bringing on the sails what they have been requesting throughout the previous season. Therefore, more upwind and light wind performance.
TATY: Straight out of the bag I went out on the AC1 8.6, already the black tinted window is eye catching, felt light, better acceleration, pumping the sail improved, the low end which really was missing now you have it. it might feel a little bit powerful coming out from the previous model AC1 but it’s power you can easily handle due to the light feel and more balance of the sail. the leach is much nicer and jibing the sail seems smoother.
TWH: As I understand it, on the PWA for 2020 the riders choose whether to go on Foil or standard. Was it the same at the Defi Japan?
ANDREA: Not for the official Defi, but for the Defi Super star you could choose. On the round of the island where there was a lot of upwind, the foil killed those on normal fins. The fins were leading big time in the 15km sidewind, but as the course turned to full downwind and full upwind, the fin had no more chance. On the normal downwind or crosswind courses the fins were faster.
TATY: For the Defi wind Japan you are only allow fin, which I believe is fairer and with the 15 knots average to start an official race it makes racing at the defi wind more fun for everyone. Most people have fin and can’t afford the latest racing foils, so it will be a big cap to allow foil mix with the fins. So, to me to have fin only defi wind is perfect!
TWH: The AC-ONE is the main race sail but was anyone using other sails from the 2020 range.
ANDREA: Yes, the Black Team Japan,were using also the Slalom No cam AC-X, and the new AC-Z. They also used the sails in light wind fun racing on the foil, and I saw big smiles.
TATY: If am correct I saw the Japan guys on the ACK, ACX and ACZ.
TWH: Then there was the Super Stars event. I think they wanted to challenge the best in the world. So, they kicked it off with a taste of what was to come. Tell us a bit about it and why you chose the equipment you did.
ANDREA: I’m not a pro in foiling, so I only used the slalom fin. Around the island,which was the first race, I pushed like hell in the first 15km to keep advantage over the foil, but then…. I was exaggerating and had even to sit on my board for 20min to recover. And foil came by and destroyed all of us on the fin. Let’s say that the fin is faster on a normal crosswind or downwind course, but if you than start going full downwind or upwind course, the foil is faster due to its higher possible angles. After this race I really believe that fin and foil are just 2 different categories, and to do a round of the island, fin is a tougher sport than foil! I did appreciate to see the slalom foil under 11knots. It gave action till the normal fin could not get to racing mode.
TATY: The Super Star event, Inviting 24 of the best guys in the world to compete vs each other is already challenging and then start if off with a 50km around the island in what yet I believe would be long but not that difficult, guess I was wrong to think It won’t be hard. I think it is the most time I have spent on a foil going down wind, reaching and upwind in a long time and at the same time to be powered at all time wasn’t easy with the sea and wind power on the foil board with a 7.1There was a time I said to myself, why I signed up for this but as you reach the finish it didn’t felt bad to do ha-ha. It’s a relief and mission accomplish if you ask me to know if I would do it again, I will say yes, i accept the challenge again, to me is more off a personal challenge. but happy I start and finish the that course.
TWH: It was hard to follow what was going on, but I think you had a chance to test many things. What material did you use through the event?
ANDREA: I used all slalom board sizes and sail sizes from 9.2 to 7.1. The courses were so not designed for slalom, that I even found myself using the back foot out of the strap, but inside the strap on the other side of the board for more than 10km downwind. I was missing the chicken strap in the middle of the board as we used to have in Formula. I guess that if I had smaller back of the board, or less powerful boards and sails, for these types of courses it would have been easier. All our racing gear is designed to give max power over short distance. For these long downwind, less powerful gear would have been more fun, or a super fit super star body was needed. During one event I saw stars from being tired….and realized where the name of the event came from!
TATY: Island course 7.1 AC1 with the Future fly 187 foil board and Starboard team racing foil Slalom downwind course: 7.1 AC1 with the Dark horse 117. The 7.1 I felt was my sail of choice and I am happy with this sail performance .
TWH: Would you like to see more events like this throughout the year and world.
ANDREA: Yes, Of course. It’s a very important aspect that can make windsurfing very attractive to media and especially outside our windsurfing world. As I said before windsurfing is freedom, and the courses we did, gave that feeling. I felt an amazing energy, it opened a new dimension to my windsurfing even if I was not fit for it, and hating it sometimes, until I did not pass that finish line. I don’t know how many windsurfing days or racing I had in my life, but this whole event will stay in my memories. I guess we could design new gear for these events and would make life easier. Reefs, fish, shallow water, high back wash, waves, turtles, ….it was all amazing!
TATY: It would be cool to see more events like this, and I am sure that Phillipe Bru and his whole crew are doing an amazing job for the windsurf sport.
What a fantastic race to start the year, it’s going to be a great year.
Have a lot of fun.