Thursday morning we were woken by a gale and sure enough when we arrived at the beach it was howling. We set to work unpacking 20 new boards and screwing around 80 footstraps on. There were flags to put up and sails to rig too, but in that wind it seemed pretty pointless! Once that was done it was time to switch focus to the race, with a briefing at 13:00 and a 1st start at 15:00.
The Défi briefing is something that has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. More like a rock concert, with sound effects booming out of the PA and the organiser, Phillipe Bru, putting on a show worthy of the entry fee alone. After one hour of screaming and shouting they finally get down to the details of the race. Organizing 1300 windsurfers in a 40km race with 40 knot offshore winds is quite a task and they certainly take it seriously. With around 50 boats and jet skis patrolling the water as well as a wall of buoys 1km out to sea, they have never lost anyone. The safety briefing goes on, and on, and on, and on and after 2 hours, eventually it comes down to the big countdown. With huge fanfare, yet more sound effects and massive cheers from the crowd, the giant start watch on the screen begins its countdown from 60 minutes. Race 1 is finally cleared for launch.
I rig up the 5.2 and 90 litre / F-hot 32 cm fin combo. It’s a setup I have been tuning for the last couple of weeks in Gran Canaria. I am at a massive advantage with this because there are few places were the wind blows so strong. Still as I hit the water it’s a shock how strong it actually is. The Tramontane passes over the Pyrenees and comes in cold and hard. My confortable GC setup is not feeling very confortable right now. A few runs and a few adjustments and it starts to feel better, but I can’t imagine how the other guys are dealing with it.