We went through our Point-7 stand and asked some of our friends to write about their Defi! From Anna who was on podium on her age group, to Markus who was at the Defi already 4 times and our Black Team riders!
Enjoy their experience!!
Lena Erdil[vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/128460363″] Lena Erdil, comments her first Defi Wind podium. Lena managed to win the girls division in the Bjorn Speed Challenge. Sorry for the wind in the interview…was impossible to avoid it!
Anna di Paola
“Le Defi” means in French “The challenge”.
A challenge with 1199 other people but above all, it’s a challenge for people with themselves. Because during a Defi and especially if it is the Defi we had this year, you will have to push with yourself several times TO NOT GIVE UP and TO CARRY IT OUT!
It was my 2nd Defi. I am an amateur windsurfer but addict to windsurfing, to which I dedicate all my free time together with a wonderful group of friends. We also have something more in common: we love the BLACK SAILS and our black riders!
It was an idea of Andrea Cucchi last year to invite us to join the black team in this crazy experience. I finished 3 races in 2014 with my wave board and 4/4.5 sails, just having a lot of fun and enjoying the amazing atmosphere of the Defi: people coming from everywhere, a fantastic organization, exciting briefing and countdowns, In one word, AWESOME!
But when I looked at the final results last year I was surprised realizing that being “not so young” I was not so far in the ranking from the top 3 of my category.
It’s something I’m used to do but especially this year I trained a lot, running in the morning at sunrise, swimming, going to spinning and becoming for fun a sort of “Defi wind project leader” for the other guys attending the event.
The day of 2015 Defi came, and with it a crazy forecast. The competition started on Thursday afternoon. The wind with it. But unexpectedly it picked up in one hour to 30/35 knots with gusts of 40/45.
At the countdown starting I was with my 4,7 and 4 rigged. I went to sign and I met Lena Erdil. She was going in the water with a 3,7 and speed board. In one second I realized I was FUCKED. And so I was 🙂 After the first mark I went back to the beach. So: first day, first mistake.
Day 2: they decided to do only one race and due to the fact that the day before they had to rescue so many people and it was crazy (people to the hospital, one guy on the beach in hypothermia, crashes everywhere) they said: don’t go if you are not in the first 300, we will rescue people but not their gear, For that reason I skipped the race. Second day, second mistake, because the wind dropped a little bit exactly that hour. Lesson 1: never miss a race!
Day 3: at the briefing I was so nervous…. again crazily strong wind. Gusts 50/60knts. Time for my new Sado 3,3. But I was even more scared for my board. Isonic 80 would have been a suicide for me with 50 knots. Luckily Giovanni Valdambrini borrowed me his NOVENOVE wave board, a fantastic Quad. That board saved me! They decided for a short distance, 20km instead of 40. Unbelievable. Had to stop before the 2nd mark to breath. It was scaring! the corridor in the short distance was too tight, the pro were coming full speed shouting to the people. Crashes, breaks, sails flying. I was about to abandon but I knew that race would have decided my final results, I told myself: “ok, even if you take two hours you have to finish this race”. So, falling several times and exhausted I arrived 50mt from the 1st of the two red buoys of the finishing line. I couldn’t close my left hand anymore. I wasn’t able to do water start because I couldn’t feel the boom in my hand. I really don’t know how I have been able to start again. I was about to cry, I could reach the first red buoy going upwind without using the harness. I EMBRACED IT and pulled it away! I thought I was in the last 100 but in reality I was 480 in the ttl ranking because 700 people probably abandoned.
Day 4, last competition! I decided to go easy with the wave to be sure to finish. And I had so much fuuuun!!!!
I finished 2nd in my category and 20th in the girls overall. Not bad!!!
It’s unbelievable. I got on the podium of a Defi and it was such an amazing and exciting moment. Crazily moving and unforgettable. As I said last year, racing at Defi it’s so hard that you ask yourself “What on Earth am I doing this for??” But the day you leave Gruissan you can’t wait to come back and do it again.
By the way, the wind dropped in Gruissan on Sunday afternoon. It just came for 4 days: to PLAY WITH US!
On my way to Gruissan i thought, that i am not so bad prepared for DEFI 2015 and I was really motivated!
I thought, all my stuff is prepared for this race, because i did the race 2013 and 14. Wanted to be better than 2013 where my overall ranking was 69!
But the forecast was really hard, was 1 week before more than the last 2 weeks. So I went a week before to Lago di Garda to do some training.
Had a real good feeling going to Gruissan. There were 3 days of relaxing before the start. But the last 2 years were nothing, compared to this year….!!!! The wind kicked in on Thursday and even stronger, than the worst race last year, and did not stop the whole event!!!
I could not find the trim of my gear…. did ride 100 meters and my board got out of control… did use Carbon fins with 29 and 31. I tried to start, but i did only 2 races, the other ones i stopped after 5 or 6km. Sails i used 5.0 AC-1 and one time Salt 4,2. I the last race i tried a 28 G-10 Fin, Tectonics, and with that it was for me really ok to do the race… but at that race i forgot to sign in, because i went out before to test my gear… so shit, also no ranking… would have been only the 164 place…
But anyway, i was now 4 times in Gruissan, with up´s and down´s… so i decided now, not to do the race again. I fell well up to 30-35 Knots, but after that boarder, i get/got scared! It was a great experience to be part of the race, also meet a lot of nice people with the same fascination like me… windsurfing!!!! But now there will be other goals for me in Windsurfing than Defi.
for me it was the first time to compete at the Défi wind. I did countless windsurfing events all over the world but that one I´ll never forget. 1200 participants, a perfect organization, hurricane winds and lots of nice races! It is so hard, especially if you are not trained and unfit like me but riding small boards was my profession for many years. It’s like riding a bicycle. Andrea gave me lots of tips, harness lines further in front, bit smaller foot straps and not to go full speed from the beginning. This was very helpful. I got faster and faster, changed 2 times my fins and could finally find the right setup.
Unfortunately I broke my boom in race no.3, being in 6th position. But in the last race I did quite well with a 12th place. In general I am very happy as for this competition the result is not that important. The feeling when u get to the 1st mark after 10 km together with Antoine, Björn, Ben and Pierre together is amazing. Especially after the jibe, when you face 1194 windsurfers in full speed! You definitely have to find your gaps and sometimes it can be really dangerous. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I want to experience next year again! But next time with some training before 🙂
This year, for the first time, I got the chance to deviate out of the normal schedule and try to do a different kind of event. Now I’ve done long distance events before around the world, but never in the scale of Defi. I didn’t really know what to expect. I had just arrived back home from the first PWA world cup of the year in Korea, and was a bit tired from the traveling. But I got myself pulled together, had a look at the forecast, and packed my 3 smallest sails, AC1 5,6 6,3 and 7,2 together with my iSonic87. There should be enough gear in there to survive pretty much any conditions I thought to myself.
And off I was again. Checked in at Lanzarote airport to Barcelona, and hooked up with my friend Ben there, and a couple of hours later we were in Gruissan at 2Am in the morning. I didn’t really know what to expect as I have never visited this event, or been in the Gruissan area. But I was amazed at how many motivated windsurfers had shown up, and not the least how many people I knew from around the world had shown up. It took me many hours to get rigged up, as it would take me about half an hour to cross the beach promenade to fetch a sail, as I would run into at least a few people on the way I hadn’t seen in a long time. Being a social person, it was great to meet old friends and talk about boards, sails, wind, water and travel.
As I was rigging up my 7,2 a friend of mine came up to me and told me, that I might as well forget about that 7,2, and that I could just pack it up and put it back in the car. And so I did. So I only left 6,3 and 5,6 rigged on the beach. My sails were pretty much brand new, as I have been focusing fully on the light wind equipment, and only sailed 7,9 and up for weeks. So you could say I was pretty unprepared.
By the time the first briefing had started, the leafs on the trees had started moving, and you could sense that something was on its way. And sure enough, just after the briefing, the wind switched on, and went from pretty much 0 to 30 knots in a very short time. The countdown had also started, and within an hour, the first race would be on!
As I made my way down to the beach, the whitecaps on the water had grown significantly, and I opted to go for my 5,6, which turned out to be a wise decision. Now I have always been a fan of the high winds racing, but I most definitely wasn’t ready for what was about to come. A few minutes before the start, the wind picked up even more, and I was now completely overpowered on my 5,6. Hmmmm,, my conviction of thinking I could survive any conditions on the planet with 5,6 had now been shattered. None the less I finished the 40KM race, and as I stepped on the beach, my whole body was trembling and generally feeling weird. I don’t know when I´ve ever don’t 40KM in one go, and then in nuking winds.
I played it cool, but I must admit I slept pretty good that night! Over the next few days, the wind increased, and even to the point where it was impossible to do racing. I had to borrow a 5,0 race sail from my team buddy Lena who was on her 3,7 wave sail. Even though the days were hard, it was a great experience. The atmosphere at this event is unique, and I had loads of fun on and off the water.
I specifically remember a few moments where I would round the first mark, and just look across a field of windsurfers as far as my eye could see and just be totally amazed by it. And I was amazed of how many people had turned up prepared, and who were absolutely flying. It was just great to see. Gives me motivation for next year! To me, the Defi brings us all together: The pros, the national racers, the wave sailors and the weekend sailors. It’s a necessity for our sport with events like this. And if you like a good chat over some coffees and croissants, make new friends and really challenge your sailing at the same time, this is the event for you. It sure did challenge me, and I think it will challenge you regardless of your level. I hope to be back next year!
I was really excited to go back to Defi. The atmosphere, a lot of friends you meet around the world, you meet them all together at this event. Even after 4 days you keep meeting friends that you might not cross in the first days. I shared the accommodation with my Tahitian friends, who are organizing the Defi Wind in Tahiti from the 16th to the 22nd of July. Really think to go there..it’s a beautiful paradise to have a long distance race.
Was nice to have number ‘1’ on my lycra after the win of last year, but unfortunately I was able to catch that result again. Actually having to add a 6 behind the 1!! Maybe I lost too many kg to have been tuned like the year before. I enjoy the new weight in PWA racing after the jibes, but maybe not on a long distance with 50knots+!!
I enjoyed fighting with the wind, but I was not ready for that KIND of wind. I had too much power in my gear to be fast, or at least be full in control. Was funny to see wave sails in front of me, or having to fight not to be overtaken. It was not physically tiring as the last 2 edition as we went for shorter courses and only one race a day, but it was short and very intense!! In one race I fell in every jibe, and it was incredible to see so many pros falling in.
Phil, push it to 1500 next year, and order 10 knots less! …otherwise I will need to get organized with wave gear for the event!!