Great tris of Mistral (NW) wind for Waterwind windsurfing team, in Hyeres (France) from friday the 30th of january to sunday the 1st of february 2015. Three days of strong wind, in a real school for windsurfing!
Windsurf session: Hyeres (France)
This time, the team was made up by Michele, Norbi e Rolando, and me. We found conditions only suitable for boards between 70 and 90 liters.
We were divided into two cars. Ours, a Ford Galaxy, has been charged with every kind of stuff ....: 4 boards, 10 sails, 5 booms, bags, wetsuit, and two human beings on board...
We leave Milano at 8,00 a.m., just after a light snow fall. Chatting, the 490 km travel by car becomes faster. We reach Hyeres at 13, going directly on the choosen spot (La Madrague), ready for our first session. Hyeres welcomes us with 25 knots wind from NW (the tipical Mistral).
It is not usual, but this time we find tipical winter condition: 10-12 °C (real), 0-2 °C (felt). We will have this conditions all week end long. To be true, you feel more cold on the ground while dressing or undressing, than in the water (a 5 mm wetsuit was enough).
At 14,00, we becomes steady and reaches 30 knots as average, with only a bit higher gusts. Not much wave (since mistral has been blowing only from one day). No doubt about equipment: an old Neil Pryde Zone 4,1 mq for me with not a very proper mast (Amex sdm al 40%), to use with my Tabou 3s 86; Michele goes out with an RRD hard core 76, with a Gastra pure 4,2; Norbi a goya quad 76 with a gaastra IQ 4,2, amd Rolando a Starboard Evo 83 with a very old Art 4.1 (he's also got an older Art 3.6 Wave Pro). "They are of the previous century" he says....
Only Norbi goes out bare footed .... brrrr.....
The regular wind gives us a good windsurfin day. In the water, finally, few people (not usual for Hyeres), even if there are some kiters. Wind is almost completely on shore, with a little shore break. My 86 liters proves to be a good board once again.
This time conditions are more forgiving then our last time we came here when we found 40 knots (4th january, read report). After two hours in the water we come back. Getting undressed is a nice experience with 0°C (felt).....
We try to get ourselves looking presentable to go to the B&B (read Hyeres spot review for place where to sleep there).
A nice dinner toghether, remembering of the good all windsurfing day on our home spots of the Como Lake.
The day after, we weak up with no wind. Predictions say that there will be 17/20 knots of mistral. We like the idea of a quieter windsurfing session, because on sunday we will have very strong wind once again. We take a walk, along the beach between La Capte and La Bergerie, wearing only a sweater. Today it's warmer.
After gathering all the group, we go the l'Almanarre, where, sooner or later, I would like to have a ride. There is a light wind from NW. So the spot remains a little bit sheltered and Norby suggests to go back to La Madrague.
Here, wind is already up at 25 knots. My 110 board will remain in the car today too. I rig both my 4,7 and my 4,1 sails. I would like to go out, at least a short time, with my 4,7 to practise some maneuvers. I go out first, but soon the sail becomes too much, 'cause the wind rises up to 30 knots once again. I come back and switch to a more proper 4,1... (never used so much as in this month...). Before going out again, I film my friend Michele and Norby riding close toghether (see first video below), and take some pictures.
Our session finishes at 16,30, today, when the wind becomes too much unsteady for 4,1.
The Mistral that has begun blowing today will stop no more, and it will blow all night long.
So the morning after, we wake up with some pretty good 20-25 knots. So, what will it be in the afternoon.....?
We take a look at the spot of La Bergerie to reason if it is possible to windsurf there. But here the wind is off shore, and already strong at 100 meters from the beach. We would be almost alone in the water and so we judge the session here too much dangerous if we had problems.
We go to have a first look to La Madrague: 35,6 knots at 10,00....... We go to l'Almanarre: 15 knots at the parking, 20 knots 100 meters southward along the beach. Gusty wind from NW. Moreover, here, the shorebreak is significant and the bottom goes soon deep.
So, we go back to La Madrague. Wind is still at about 30 knots and more at mid morning. It's really cold.... Today, waves are greater. It will be a surving session! This is a safe spot where to try these very strong wind (wind is on shore, and you have a sandy beach), but you always have the risk of taking your mast in your head, or damaging your equipment in some way. We rig the lowest that we can. Rolando takes out his Art Pro Wave 3,6, regretting that it is not a 3,5....
As for me, once I dip into the water, things will go better than I thought, and worse than I hoped.... Now, I beachstart and waterstart whenever I want, but in similar condition, the difficulty is to bear away as fast as you can, to gain speed, and make the board stable. If you wait too much, a wave soon smashes you ashore.... But if you move the rig forward to bear away under one of the worst gusts, a catapult is often unavoidable....
Today I will enjoy the South part of the bay, which is good because, here, waves are not so great, and so it easier, even if you have to be careful, 'cause the sandy beach finishes and the coast gets rocky. But I enjoy also the central part of the bay, where you are almost alone while riding, you have emerald water, and good waves to surf (I often come here to try jibing). Planing towards North, since the wind is a little bit oriented from NW and very very strong, I go close-hauled, and I have the sail (with the 4,1 I'm really owerpowered) just closed to wind. The sail in this condition is almost neutral: I don't pull with the arms, nor with the harness. So I enjoy the ride as long as I can...
Then, I fall....and change direction. Now the wind is really too much for me. With the anemometer, at 14,00, just before going away, under a gust I measure 45 knots!!!!
So, I stop ashore and I begin to film, catching some really good jumps, and an aerial maneuver by a great guy.... (see second video).
Ashore, I chat with friends. I've seen Rolando sailing off shore with his 3,6, that probably was the most proper sail for today. "Rolando, I suppose that you have enjoyed more than yesterday, haven't you? " - I tell him. Infact, he confirms his satisfaction.
Then, we shake our hands and we say bye bye, aware of having enjoyed some great days in our windsurfing career. We leave back to Milan, that we reach at 19,30.
After 5 sessions with wind at least at 30 knots, now I long for a quiet trip at 20 knots....
Aloha. Fabio Muriano
(Thanks to Mik and Rolando for some pictures and movies)
Click here, to watch the all slidegallery of the sessions.
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Here below, the videos of saturday and sunday.