Steve Palier of Open Ocean Media presents the second edition of ‘Defi Mag’ on the first day of long-distance racing at Gruissan for Defi Wind 2011… All photos by Jean Souville.
It was 3pm yesterday when 767 competitors crossed the starting line for a very long race in the direction of Port La Nouvelle, with two ins and outs to be made. Under a moderate Tramontana (20/25 knots), a sunbeam suddenly appeared through the clouds to open the race with all this mass of colored sails gathered on the same line. Just imagine a moment that at this time, only one sport managed to unify on the water more than 25 countries, people coming from all over France, from all ages, girls and boys of all horizons! Awesome and unique ! After an incredible 40 km race (45 mn for the first competitor and almost 2h30 for the last one), Patrick Diethelm (PWA top Slalom racer from Italy), crossed the finish line in pole position followed by Bieuzy Mauffret (France), while Laurent Gaüzère (New Caledonia) scored a nice 3rd place ahead of Tine Slabe (Slovenia). The girls category saw the victory of Karin Jaggi from Switzerland (multiple PWA Slalom World Champion).
We immediately ran to the beach to interview the first arrivals of today’s race. Here are the impressions of the winners :
1st man – Patrick Diethelm (Italy) : “This is my 1st Defi Wind and this event is just huge ! I had a pretty bad start as I went too far down on the starting line, there was not enough wind. This is due to my lack of experience on this competition ! But I could finally escape from the group to catch fresh wind, get some good speed to overtake everybody and then fight with Bieuzy Mauffret after I overtook Laurent Gaüzère. That was pretty ok in the gusts but that was hard for my back when there was no wind. I finally ended first, just 50m ahead of Bieuzy !”
1st woman – Karin Jaggi (Switzerland) : “I already came to the Defi Wind in 2007. The most difficult thing is to choose well the equipment, as far as today, the wind raised a little before the departure ! I thus chose a smaller board with a big sail, but my fin was too small. After a bad start and a gusty wind over the end, I could finally manage to get in. But whatever is the result, the images that I keep in mind about the Defi Wind are the ones where on the way back, you see all these sails ! It is just incredible!”
PORTRAIT – LAURENT GAUZERE
“The “animal” is back!”
After having run on numerous stages of the Speed World Cup in the late 90’s (where he scored some nice performances) and on all the French championships, having travelled all around the globe and having accumulated sometimes a few bad adventures, the ” animal ” is back and registered for the first time on the Defi Wind ! Representing his country New Caledonia, ex-competitor Laurent Gaüzère, famous face of the windsurfing scene in the 90’s, got his lycra today to join the pack of challengers on the starting line. If “Gaüze” proved that he is still incredibly fast by arriving 1st at the 1st mark, he unfortunately crashed his jibe and ended the race at the 3rd place.
” Being part of the Defi Wind, I have always dreamed about it, but I did not return in France for 10 years. Regarding the organization, I’m stoked, it is the same as a French championship but 100 times bigger ! It is just great to find here all the old buddies who are still addicted to windsurfing ! Regarding the race, I jumped in the water without being pretty well set up but I took a good departure which allowed me to arrive 1st at the 1st jibe. Unfortunately I felt, blowned by a sneaky gust, but I was able to come back on the next run to insure a cool 3rd place. I like this kind of race, very long. The longer the better. The most difficult for me? The coldness !!! “”
SOÖRUZ – Still going crazy !
Partner of the Defi Wind for a long time, surfwear brand Soöruz always manage to make the event a little more “spicy” every year. On this 11th edition, if they offer every evening a “happy hour” on the beach, Soöruz also involves the public in its “parties”. At first comes the unavoidable ” Night & Day Challenge ” which always rewards the best rider as active on the water as at night. Then is suggested the “Crazy Parade “: each has to find an unusual object and show up to the crowd in order to rise up the temperature on the beach. The most applauded will be rewarded with Soöruz goodies. One photo contest is also planned: riders can bring on the Soöruz stand their most crazy pictures. The best shot will be shown every evening on the big screen set up on the concerts stage! Soöruz, a crazy brand ? No way. They are just here to bring the beach on fire all day long… and even later !
- The young french waterman, Arthur Arutkin – 14 years, had the surprise to get the lycra with number 1111, which simply corresponds to its sail number FRA1111.
- Commissioned by the New York Times, photographer George Steinmetz arrived today in Gruissan. “I have discovered on internet impressive images of the departure of this competition, so I was curious to discover the french ” beach culture ” in order to compare it with the one that I met in California. I did not know what to expect but I know realize that windsurfing can gather many people here in France !”
- 86 windsurfers, among which half of the girls, were equipped with GPS “trackers” today. Thanks to the geo-localization system, you can watch again today’s race and follow the tracks left by the GPS of these competitors on www.defiwind.com.
After a possible first departure at 10am, the night will be hot tomorrow on the beach of “les Chalets” because all the participants will all be invited to the Soöruz “Happy Hour” from 7pm, followed by a concert of the local group Las Vegas Wedding. Not to be missed from 9:30 pm, the ” Amateur movie Festival ” where will be rewarded the best amateur videos. It will also be the opportunity to welcome the international windsurfing stars Jason Polakow and Levi Siver, whose sponsor Oxbow will present exclusively its new movie ” Walls of perception “. The end of the evening will be “hip-hop style” with the concert of windsurfer / composer Ruben Bang Petrisie & Pintos around midnight.