Let’s go Defi

We sent the whole Black Team to the Ifca slalom Championship in Sylt and to the PWA slalom in Korea. Who do we send to the Defi? The boss!

A lot has been said on how amazing the Defiwind has become by being the most popular event in windsurfing. Absolutelly the one with most windsurfers taking part. Still time to register, so don’t miss out!
A week to go and there is the chance to take part. So why not organizing yourself now to actually drive down? It’s still possible and the forecast looks good!

Andrea Cucchi’ Gruissan is a nice little town by the mediterenean, and it’s pleasant place to stay. The event will take place early this year and even if its not the high tourist season it could be full, so book a room in advance in a hotel, or an appartment before you get there, unless you are planning to sleep in your van or camper at the site.

The temperature could be cold in the night and with strong wind few degrees above 10°C. You would expect a nice warm climate but it can be still quite cold during the night. The main wind for racing is the Tramontana: a cold northen wind which can be very strong and pulls down the temperatures quite radically. This is an important point to know for more reasons.

  1. If you plan to camp, you need to be equipped properly as it could be cold!
  2. Normaly it’s 2 races a day. There is a nice long break between the 2 races, but not long enough to get the wetsuit to dry if you take it off, and not short enough to take keep it on wet. So if you are lucky to have a short arm- long leg wetsuit, and a second one with long arm and long legs, bring both. This way you can have twice a nice warm wetsuit to put on at each race. You should not need any neoprene shoes. The water is warm enough.
  3. Bring warm cloths as well, because once you have finish the 2 long distance races you are completely out of energy, so it’s quite nice to dress up warm after this.
  4. There is no need to bring food. There is a lot of food on the race site and drinks.

The best thing would be to get to Gruissance the night before the 9th of May. If you are early enough, you can do the final registration the night before, otherwise early the next morning just before racing. Don’t do it like I did in 2010: started from Garda at 11pm and got in Gruissance one hour before racing, with no sleep…I was dead tired during the race!

Once registration is done, which is in the town centre, (you will find the signs to get there), then by car, drive to the race sight. It’s a big parking where many do camp also. According to the forecast rig the sail you think you will need and the bigger and smaller size from it. If it gets cloudy the Tramontana wind drops quite a bit and fast, and it could fast increase 10 knots during a nice clear day! So don’t be lazy!!

At 10-11 o’clock they have the skipper meeting in french and english. This is very important. They give all the informations regarding the racing, safety rules, start procedures, entertainment… It’s one hour long…so bring a chair and don’t feel you are in a hurry!! If you don’t speak the 2 languages make sure someone is translating for you otherwise you end up under the starting speed boat!!!!

First day of racing the plan is normally for 1 race. The other days, 2 races. So if it’s windy everyday, be ready for some strong action.

Each race winner takes around 40-45 minutes. The last one takes almost double if not more to finish the race. About 40km per race. 4X13km reaches.

Safety The wind is full off shore, so it would be quite risky if you would sail alone. In this case there is a boat or jet ski for every 200-500m sitting in a line from the start to the first mark. The stay below the surfer who stays lowest downwind, so they create a kind of net. Even if you are sailing 10km per side, you feel very safe. There is no need to worry. Before going on the water, you need to remember to sign a paper on the beach. At the end of each single race, you need to go back and sign that you are back. Important not to forget, as you could be disqualified if you forget, or they might send out helicopeters to look for you when you are instead bathing in your hotel room!

Gear The race is long and for more days. Make sure that you check that each part of your equipment is in good status. Ropes, mast foot…specially harness lines and that you checked that the foot straps are screwed in properly.. Would not be nice to surf back 10km from the otherside of the bay, with no harness lines, or one footstrap which just ripped out from an insert….

Thinking it’s 40km to go in each race, you might think that you have enough time to recover if you have a bad start. It’s partly true, but if you have 100 people going at your speed, and at your level, then you will have 100 people more infront of you just beacouse of this. Start tactics is important.

Imagine being over 1000 people who need start at the same time! The start to this race is very different to what you might have seen in PWA racing videos. Practically you still start between the starting boat and the starting mark half wind. They give a time of 5 minutes, and when this 5 min are over you are allowed to cross the start line between the 2 points mentioned, but only after the the speed boat (which travels between X1 and X2) has passed you. So the boat starts cruising at full speed from X1 when the 5 min are over, so you need to wait those extra seconds, and go right behind it when you see it passed. If you go nfront of it you will be disqualified…(or killed!). It’s very simple, sounds just harder then it is! So try to be fully in speed at the zero of the 5min, and see where the boat is, to pass right underneath it!

Once you have started, just close the sail, and follow the course. Normally you do 4 reaches of 10km each. It’s pretty long… so enjoy it and don’t think how much is left to finish the race, specially if it is over 40knots…otherwise you feel like giving up after the first 5!!!

The course is done very close to the beach. If you follow the beach line to get to the next mark, the water is more flat and you can go faster, the beach is curving as a bay, so you will do more meters rather then trying to going straight from one mark to the other. If you go straight from one point to the other, you are actually further away by over 1km from the beach, so you will have more chop and it’s more tiring. So shorter and harder way, or longer and easier way? This is the main tactics in this race! Once you finish the race, and you have signed the paper that states that you have returned to the beach, take out the wetsuit, get some food and lot of water, and relax till the second race of the day.

If there is no wind there are a lot of happenings during the day which are very entartaining. Also after the race, the organization will keep you busy with some parties, concerts. Equipment! There are no rules!!! This might be the reason also why there are so many people racing! You can race with a wave gear, (last year some guys finished top 20 in the windy races on wave gear!!!) , freeride gear…any thing you have and makes you have fun! If you are not super fit, don’t try to go too overpowered by using too big gear. Use the right sail size and fin size. During a normal session of windsurfing you might feel that you can use a big sail, but this race is long and if you want to finish it, keeping your position, you can stop on the sand banks and relax few minutes.

Sand Banks! Yes! If you decide to sail close to the beach, if you sail too close to the beach, you might hit the sand bank…and catapult! So really look at the marks the place on the sand banks, and don’t go between them and the beach. Then you are safe. There are also life guards standing on them, signaling to stay further out incase they see surfers getting to close to them. If you are tired….and really need to…. those are great places to stop and take a break!

Best combinations to be comfortable:

  • 130 litre board and 8.6, 44cm
  • 110-120 litre board and 7.9, 38-40cm
  • 100-110 ltre board and 7.2, 34- 36cm
  • 90-100 litre board and 6.3, 30-32cm
  • 90 litre board and 5.6-5.0 or 75litre wave board and 4.5 wave sail.

Andrea Cucchi ITA-1

PS If you are on Point-7, and you want your sail tuned, I happy to help you if you see me around.

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