Daniel Macaulay reports from day 3 of what’s fast becoming a legendary edition of the Defi Wind contest in France…
This is going to be a short one because I’m fu*@ing knackered and I need to sleep and slowly repair my broken body!!
Suffice to say the wind we had yesterday was barely a gnat’s fart compared with what we had today…
Race one kicked off at 10:30am with at least 800 of the 1000 registered competitors taking part. I reckon the wind was averaging 35knts with regular hell gusts coming through and flattening everybody. Tris and I were both on 5.7’s and 85ltr slalom boards. Roger was on a 5.0m and similar sized board. We weren’t using this kit because that was the correct equipment for the conditions but because we literally had nothing smaller. 40kms that stacked can do horrible things to both the body and mind. I saw a lot of people just give up and wait for rescue. I also saw quite a few full on collisions and I hope that nobody got seriously hurt. The wind going around the outside mark was absolutely ridiculous and it was difficult to even waterstart at times. By the end of that race, we were all seriously broken and the thought of going back on the water again was not very appealing. Our merry crew was also joined by Lalo Goya who’d driven across from from his new home in Barcelona to check out the event. Lalo is a pretty nails surfer who regularly tow-surfs JAWS when it’s breaking but racing on his wave kit this morning, even he admitted that it was pretty scary being out on the water today.
Race two was the stuff of legend… An hour before the race, the committee announced that the wind was averaging 45knts out on the course. I don’t know what it was gusting down towards the outside gybe but it must have been pretty special down there. That was it for Tris, Roger, Lalo, and I. We decided that it was time to become spectators and take in the carnage. We expected only a few German beefcake nutters to go out but to our utter horror, there must have been the best part of 300 competitors still willing to compete in these conditions. I never knew that so many 4.5 meter race sails and speed boards existed in the world. But exist they did and out went the loony few (relatively speaking) to give it a shot. The race crew decided to shorten the course to just one lap (a mere 20kms) which I thought was fairly understandable given the conditions. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a fast race as race two this afternoon… Some of the biggest guys (100kg+) were holding down 5.0 race sails on mirror flat water and they must have been traveling close to 40knts at times. Race two was finally won by Pascal Toselli racing on Point 7 sails and Mistral boards. I’d never heard of this guy before this event but he won by such a massive distance that we all thought that there must have been some kind of mistake. Credit must also go to Victor Fernandez of PWA wave tour fame who finished within the top 20 on a very small looking North wave sail.
There’s a big party on at the event site but I’m guessing that it’s going to be a pretty tame one. Most competitors looked like they’d just got leave from a war zone when they came off the water and I think the forecast is for yet more wind tomorrow. Yet another early night for us then!
And here’s the official release from Defi Wind…
Défi Wind : A stunning day for those worldwide competitors
This Saturday, May 15 will remain in the annals of the Défi Wind. The incredible North Wind flow which has blown for several days already decided to increase in intensity… with gusts of 50 knots on the course today. Withdrawals, falls and breakdowns of equipment have been witnessed! After two legs ran, Pierre Mortefon is slightly ahead Anders Bringdal at the general ranking. The neck and neck between the two windusrfers carries on….
People in Gruissan are pleased! Today’s legs took place under a shiny sun and with a Tramontane making the best riders fall down. After a morning round marked by another victory of Anders Bringdal, the afternoon one has been shortened a bit; but windsurfers still have navigated 30 km. Many people have decided to stay on the beach: caution has prevailed for those windusfers who became spectators for one day.
The two winners of today’s legs have something in common: they both fell down at the jibe and have still managed to stay in the lead. Special mention to Pascal Toselli, who won the fifth round with a historical lead of one minute and twenty five seconds off his follower Pierre Mortefon.
Reaction of some competitors at the end of this thrilling day:
Pascal Toselli : “We were in the lease with Anders when jibing and I fell down. There I told myself it was over. I managed to carry on with Pierre right behind me and I succeeded in passing Anders. I think he felt down and I took the lead over. The way back was easier to negotiate but with no doubt this leg has been the most tiring one!”
Anders Bringdal: « This morning’s leg has been extraordinary, with incredible wind conditions. At most, we must have had 50 knots… The previous days’ legs now seem easy compared to this one.”
Victor Fernandez : « It’s extraordinary ! I had never attended such an event and I’m really impressed! We do not even see the starting line because of the crowd! I’m pretty happy with my performance today as I am in the top 15 this morning and top 10 this afternoon. I sailed with a slalom board and a wave sail and it works pretty well! I’m having fun and I’ll be back for sure!”
Amateur windsurfers of all ages and from all around the world share the same passion as these professionals.With over 60 years difference between the youngest and oldest one, the Défi Wind is an event opened to all.Young and old discuss, compete and get together to have fun around their passion. One of the competitors said: “I do not want to perform on top of my 66 years, I just want to go over myself! We are fortunate to be riding in unmatched safety conditions and I find that very reassuring.”
Ricardy Maricel, plumber in St Martin in the Caribbean and amateur windsurfer, explained: ” It is my eighth participation. I took fifteen days off, shipped my equipment … and here I am! This event is truly unique in the world and no matter how many kilometers I have to travel; such feelings are really worth it! My goal is to know, as an amateur, where I positioned myself among the pros and among the other windsurfers. The organization is at the top and you are sure to have fun on the water or on land. ”
The official party of the Défi Wind tonight will gather all these people around a giant barbecue and some live concerts. A good night of rest will follow before the final day of the Défi Wind 2010.
Podium of the fourth leg :
1° Anders Bringdal
2° Bieuzy Mauffret
3° Gérald Pelleau
1° woman : Lise Vidal
Podium of the fifth leg :
1° Pascal Toselli
2° Pierre Mortefon
3° Nicolas Reynes
1° woman : Valérie Ghibaudo
For more information :