I must admit one of the reasons to visit Defi wind was to see how these boys operate and execute an mainly offshore competition, quite easy when you have 40 safety craft, well maybe not that easy after all, they also have a line of buoys with rope along the whole course which 6 mile long and 1 nautical mile out to sea, so in the unfortunate event you do find yourself in difficulty and get blown out to sea, you just attach yourself to the rope until you hitch a lift on one of the boats…… It is a very serious race and evident by the top names who are here with one thing in mind to kick ass on the famous Defi course. There are several outside bars, food outlets and I am armed with my mental note book and to be honest things can always be made better within the NWF camp, however I am pleased to report we are not fair behind power curve on this truly internationals stage, surprising what sponsors can do to the overall feel the event, or maybe not hence why its so important to secure one for the future of the NWF.
Talking about the course they have a grand prix start from out to sea heading to the beach a rib at full speed and obviously you start behind the boat no room for going over early as you could quite easily become a statistic with a boat coming towards you at 30 knots plus, from all accounts best start is out to sea and even though the winds are strong you need to be well overpowered as if you get stuck in a wind shadow which seemingly 805 sailors can cause a pretty significant one, you could be left off the plain anywhere up to a min whilst every one sheets it and flies past, not good for your game plan… Plus it is obvious the closer you sail to the beach the flatter the water is classic speed sailing style, but also you have the associated sand banks to take into consideration,so you angle gamble you take your life in your hands literally…..
Each night they have live entrainment in their open air arena, no wet weather programme here with a good mixture of youth and old and families alike enjoying the vibe. Even though it was good entertainment you certainly felt it was a small audience with many of the competitors taking it easy in readiness of all accounts one of the best for coming forecast in years of the event……. So maybe I should take their lead and retire myself, alarm clock set for reveille, so start out daily rig fest…..
They have a race brief at 0900hrs daily and you finish at 0930hrs and this is your 1hr call till the start of the race at 1030hrs….. With the second scheduled 24 mile race at 1430hrs…. We bumped into Swifty in town after flying in from Maui tucking into his food of champions a huge burger…..
We attended our 0900hrs race briefing however, they are not that military minded when it comes to timings as I realised at numerous occasions throughout the day…. The course was explained in detail and it would consist of 2 laps of 12 miles gybing at the bottom mark twice, which was 6 miles away…. It was blowing 25knots at the top of the course with an expected 5 knots more at the bottom of the course, so it was 7m and 7.8m on our middle slalom boards was mainly the chosen weapon. When you attend the briefing they give you an hours countdown to the startline which is a grand prix start with a powerboat as we was told not to attempt to start in front of the boat, but behind incase of serious injury, so at 1030hrs we race to the start line with another 800 plus sailors, pretty radical and hectic as you can imagine…..
I for one got away cleanly mid line just upwind of James Dinsmore and raced in the shallow water which was so called flat, well you show me any water which has that amount of sailors in it which is flat…… As predicted as we raced down the course the wind did pick up but not by the 5 knots suggested try more like 10 knots and by the time we reached the gybe mark we was getting gusts of 40 plus knots……. Now anyone who has raced knows what sort of carnage gybe marks can be, well try to times that by 200 sailors at the gybe mark at anyone time will give you the delights which were in store with us, plus the breezy conditions…..
I for one went in at the gybe mark and every time I attempted to waterstart another sailor would crash in my path and was stuck there struggling about 10 mins I eventually got and thought there was no way I was going to finish the race and thought about retiring as you could see people crashing being rescued everywhere, but one of things I learnt in my racing days you must finish every race and I was soon on my 2nd lap…….. The race took 45mins for some and then 2 hrs for others as I got back on safe ground I was absolutely chin strapped and the thought of a second race did have we wondering…… The results were posted and our Mr Dinsmore had come 13th in the first race whilst I hadn’t done too good and came in at 166, so clearly room to improve…
However, we attended the 1400hrs race brief to find the race was delayed as we was missing 9 sailors in total from the first race so the safety boats were busy checking the course and eventually 4 hrs after the race had finished the last sailor was safely on the beach, but the we incurred another delay, as the safety boats needed to refuel and eat…….
At this time the wind was well exceeded 40knots on the course, as everyone was busy rigging there small sails, I for one played it safe on 5.7 and 90lts board and due to the time it was decided just to do I shorten course one lap of 12miles but we was aware that the wind was going to ease later in the afternoon, so the time was against us….
The race started and the writing was on the wall, as the winds were very gusty and as we approached the bottom mark, I had already come off the plain twice on the run down…. Then I gybed into no wind as was stationary cursing for a few mins as you can imagine when the winds light and with ski many sailors around you its pretty damn difficult to get going, eventually I got away and thought about the finish line 6miles ahead so I attempted to beat as close to the shore as possible whilst many others had gone out to sea from the cleaner air, but with the dropping wind I was able to reach down to the finish line whilst many of the other guys had come off the plain and was bobbing around, so I was able to make up a good 20 places…..
So what did I learn after my fist day at defi, well you need a good quiver with enough masts and booms to rig most of your kit up, you have to enjoy sand, lots of sand blowing about in the 40knot winds and last but not least you need to be fit….. We got off the water this evening at 1830hrs, so pretty long day and Ill certainly sleep well tonight…… And after looking at tomorrow forecast it looks even windier……