Chris Martin reports:

I have been going to windsurfing events now for over 10 years and when Fred Willis (Boards Advertising Manager) and I were asked if we wanted to go to the Defi Wind in France we both jumped at the chance.

If you don’t know what the Defi Wind is then here’s the lowdown on the event. 

Basically 800 windsurfers compete head to head in a number of massive master blasters over distances ranging from 40 to 80k courses.

The event is held in a quiet seaside town called Grussan in the South East of France, which is only 300k from Barcelona in Spain and 20k from the infamous Leucate.  Every year the Defi Wind (challenge the Tramontana wind) is held over the first French bank holiday in May.  The wind can blow up to 50 – 60 knots so you have to bring small slalom sails. Last year the pros used 5.0s and speed boards.

The wind blows offshore so the water is very, very flat, and speeds can easily reach up to 40 knots.  The start is a moving start, with a speedboat starting down wind at the lower mark and passing in front of the fleet.  Check the video footage on to see last year’s start sequences. Once the speedboat passes you it’s go go go and then you head to the first mark, which is 20 kilometres away!! Gybe around this and then sail back to the beginning, repeat the course again and then that’s the first race done. With up to  three  races a day over the four days this event is testing….

Fred and I drove the 700 miles from Poole to Grussian in just over 10 hours, so after leaving Poole on Tuesday night we arrived ready to sail in Grussian at 9am in the following morning. The Tramontana was blowing between 25 and 30 knots, so we both rigged 6.7s. I opted for the NeilPryde RS Slalom and Fred went for the non cam Hellcat sail, using slalom boards around the 100L mark with 34cm fins.  This setup seemed just right. The word on the street was if you’re just sailing around and are massively overpowered then you’re right on with sail size for the actual race, as once there are 799 other windsurfers on the water you will need all the power you can hold onto, with lulls being created at the gybe marks and returning leg as the rest of the fleet sails past.

Unfortunately for this year the Tramontana turned itself off for the four days of competition only to arrive again the day after the event finished. The organisers did however put on rigging demos with riders like Antonie Albeau – and even the new signing from NeilPryde and JP, Kauli Seadi, turned up – jumping out of a helicopter, swimming with his new kit to the beach and then launching the new Fly from NeilPryde and the JP Twinser range.  Werner Gniger was at hand to explain the new JP collection, even trying his hand at a little French.  There was also a massive prize pool that the organisers gave away each day, and boards, sails and wetsuits were all given out, making the event fun for all competitors.

The Defi Wind is truly a windsurfing event not to be missed. If you want to go fast and test your sailing skills against the French then make sure you sign up for 2009 early, as they had over 1500 people apply this year.  Let’s hope next year we get the Tramontana and the chance to compete in the biggest windsurfing event in the world.

Fred and I, along with the other UK guys Jamie Dodds, James Mcintyre, James Dinsmore, Jonathan Mobbs, Kevin Greenslade, Nicolas Scott, Paul Simmons, Marie Buchanan, Peter Tinkler and Roger Clark would like to thank Dennis Royet, who arranged all our entries and accommodation for the event. Thanks Dennis – it was a massive help.

Thanks also go to Gary at Breeze VW Commericals in Poole for the loan of the van, and to Gary at FC Watersports in Poole for all his support in getting us there.
For more info and pix check out and



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