I'm sure that most of you are aware of this slalom race which takes place in Gruisan, France each year in early May. The race went well this year, finishing on the 12th. For those of you not familiar with Defi, it is an all comers slalom race comprising a 20km run parallel to the beach to a marker boat and 20km back along the same track. The Tramontana wind pumps off-shore providing the power and ensuring flat water. Anywhere between 800 and 1000 slalom blasters from all over the world register each year for the event.
The format of the race is 100% my kind of thing. No finicky starts, congested bouy roundings and short legs - just two glorious long blasts at top speed. Awesome!
As you can imagine, most of the contestants are seriously fast racers who are super keen to test themselves against some of the best in windsurfing.
Sebastien Bonhomme won the first race with an RRD Firewing sail (6.5m) and a 90l X-Fire board. The board does not surprise me - it is a rocket ship but the sail?? Firstly, the Firewing is an in-house piece of kit, not from a dedicated loft and secondly it looks wrong to me. The head of the sail is badly resolved and the area below the boom is a bit weedy but you can't argue with results on the water. I probably need to re-evaluate my opinion. Winning in this company demands huge skill and top drawer equipment.
The winner after all the races was Patrice Belbeoch, second was Andrea Cucchi and Sebastien came third. Patrice is a super strong French sailor, best known for his speed runs, Andrea is a PWA sailor and Point 7 boss. I don't know anything about Sebastien. Steven van Broeckhoven came in 16th on his freestyle kit proving that real class always shines through. It also shows how fast freestyle kit can go in the right hands.
In the next post I will do something on slalom gybing. I have written about gybing before but it is such an important aspect of our sport that it warrants looking at again and again.
Talk to you soon