Based on Lake Garda in Italy for the summer I made this trip to Fuerte with the Italian team and my girlfriend, flying from Bergamo (about two hour’s drive from Garda) with RyanAir, who happen to be one of the best low-cost airlines for taking gear as they allow you to pre-book bags for only 50 euros per bag with the only drawback being that the bags cannot be over 20kg each (ie, you can only basically bring 2 sails/masts per bag). From the years of flying out of Bergamo, us boys have managed to get the names and numbers of quite a few of the girls working the check-in desks at this airport, so we always have to play a sneaky game of keeping the extra sails in a pile off to the side of the airport as we check in, then our friends at the desks allow us to take the bags away and put them in the oversize check-in ourselves, in which time we go and shove all the extra sails in to the bags making them all waaaaay over 40kg each. So far so good …although I’m sure one day this dream-run will end!
At the other end, on Fuerte, it’s a solid one hour’s drive from the airport in the far north, to Sotavento in the south where the competition is being run. The drive is a blaze of sandy desert, tall, barren mountains and plenty of rock-goats (goats, who I think, only seem to be eating rocks as there is really no other plantation on this island!). Not so fun jammed in to a tiny car with all the windsurf gear strapped to the roof!
We arrived 3 days before the event and as usual, got a great chance to break-in our 5.0’s, 5.6’s and 6.3’s as the Fuerte wind-machine once again delivered with two days of 25-40 knots and one late afternoon session of over 50 knots which I didn’t even consider rigging up for!!
Day 1 of the event kicked off this morning and rolling out of bed at 7.30am and checking the beach from my sea-view hotel room at the Melia Gorriones Resort (this place would not pass for a ‘resort’ back in Australia; barely a 4-star hotel) and it looked like around 30 knots already. A quick breakfast omelette at the buffet and down to the beach by 9am where already a bunch of guys were out on the water and changing down to 6.3’s! We were scheduled to start at 11am and I’m in Heat 3 so I had a fairly relaxed morning just rigging my two smallest sails and chilling in the tent before the strangest thing happened…
Around 10.45am, just before the first scheduled start at 11am the wind began to drop off. When it drops at this place, it becomes freakishly gusty and often the wind will swing all over the place; so even though we still had 10-15 knots on the course which is suitable for racing, there would be big holes of 0 knots and wind shifts of 50-100 degrees making racing impossible. The wind dropped even further before shifting completely around to blow sideshore from the south; the opposite of the usual blisteringly windy direction! Not too useful for us.
After an hour or two of this, the wind dropped to NOTHING and glassy waters remained for the rest of the brutally hot afternoon until 6pm when we were finally sent home. To quote Finian Maynard, “in 16 years of racing here I’ve never seen the wind drop to nothing after nuking in the morning” – VERY STRANGE!! Even with a good forecast!
So Day 1 is over and we have zero racing. The fleet is relatively small this year with I think only 50 sailors; but all the guns are here and as usual there’s lots of debate on fins and what gear is going fast. Without a race taking place it’s hard to say what is and isn’t going fast, but I will comment a little on the fins to say that as soon as we get down to small boards, there is a LOT of G10 fins appearing around the fleet (Tectonics, C3, Select, MFC etc) whereas on our medium/large boards I barely think there is more than 3-4 riders using any construction other than carbon. I will try to do some more research tomorrow on who is using what fins but I can say that so far I’ve seen Antoine Albeau testing his oldschool Debs, Micah is still on his Tectonics, Bjorn is on his CA Fins (developed by Steve Allen), Angulo is on a bunch of Kashy’s, Ross/Arnon/Alberto are heading up the Z-Fins program and I am using a bunch of carbon fins I developed at home with my father over the winter 😉
Stay tuned tomorrow for (hopefully) some action and a little bit more on the fins everyone is using!
Check out the next page for the previous reports from Sean…