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Adventurous windsurfing trip to Hyeres (France) of 6 windsurfers of Waterwind team, condensed in the we of 5th and 6th of March 2016. Saturday west wind at 40 knots. Sunday an unstable NW wind between 20 and 30, but at times enjoyable.

 

Windsurf session report: Hyeres (France)

You miss Hyeres when it's quite a good time you have not been there... So, we took immediately the chance of this weekend with good predictions for Mistral winds.

Driving to Hyeres from Milan, this time, was complicated by a strong snow blizzard with thunderstorm (never seen such a thing) that we met, still in Italy, on the highway just before reaching Ligurian coast, with two hours late compared to the expected arrival time. What a pity, because Saturday was the best windy day, and we could not exploit it all the better.

 

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So, we arrived to the spot, just after 15,00. The wind, from the West and onshore, meanwhile was rising. The first measurements made me detect 29 knots on gusts (22-24 as average), making me to suppose a 4.7 sail. I started to prepare the board, to take time and study the situation. Just before preparing the sail, I redid the measurement. Average just under 30, gusts to 37 (but during the afternoon it will get even higher). So, I decide, fortunately .... for a 4.2 sail. I choose to use a 102 RRD firewave ltd, as board, recently bought, because I want to test a friend's theory according to which it is also a strong wind board. My friend Simone .... more wisely opts for a goya 85 liters, and 4.2. Alessandro, arrived to the spot before as, has already enjoyed more than an our with 4.7 and 116 liters board.

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My friends Davide and Andrea ...... are at their first time in Hyeres .... They have freeride equipment (Jp x-cite ride 122 , and Jp magic ride 118), and only 4,7 as smaller sails. Three years ago, at my first experiences in Hyeres, I tried the spot with a Tabou Rocket 125 ... managing to get only 4-5 planing rides in all day. The first time, it can be difficult to overcome the initial shorebreak, with onshore wind. The shorebreak is not always challenging in Hyeres (On sunday, for example, it was almost non-existent). But on Saturday, for Davide and Andrea (and also for the more experienced ones), it was tough: being close to the shore (water between the calf and your belly), half a meter waves already broken; further (water at your chest), breakers of a meter. In addition, the 4.7 was really too big. Result for Andrea and Davide: many wipe-out, and only a few short rides.

 

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Moreover, because of the storm of the last days, the shoreline, as often happens in winter time, was invaded by beached withered algae. Therefore, getting wiped out on the shore among the algae was quite unpleasant .... I can only address words of encouragement to my dear friends (Andrea, in particular, appeared to me very frustrated by the day). You learn to love Hyeres little by little, when you begin to perform a few more beachstart, and you start to ride and jump on the waves, maybe enjoying some day with a less strong Mistral (it is not always at 40 knotes). Then, when you can enjoy the spot from a windsurfing point of view, and you manage to combine the adrenaline of the sessions at the wonder of the natural scenery and places around, alchemy becomes perfect, and you dream of going there as often as possible.

 

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Simone and I begin our session at 15.30. Simone is also for the first time in Hyeres. While departing, being the wind from the West, it is better to beachstart on port tack. So, I do, pointing towards Almanarre (i.e. North). But the RRD 102 firewave gives me unpleasant feelings. Today, to come out of the shorebreak, you must first bear away, and take speed quickly, and then direct the bow slightly towards the waves, while already planing. But the 102 requires you to be too much beared away, to get planing, and to pick up speed; but today, you can not go too much downwind, when starting with water to life, because you end up in too shallow water area, where, moreover, you have the higher quantity of algae, that soon stop you. In addition, the 102, if you manage to get  some speed, when directed upwind, easily loose it, and slow down. In short, it seems to me not to be a board to beach start with in formed wave, and onshore wind conditions. However, I manage to gain the center of the bay, even if not too far from the shore, and from the area where the waves break. And in the middle of the bay waves that break are almost two meters high... The beach start or water starting on starboard tack is even worse, for the wind direction which, at beam, makes you point towards the shore ...
So, I get many wipes out too ..... In waterstart, when I put my back foot on the stern of the board, it immediately points upwind. So it is better to do the waterstart with both feet already on the board, to make the board bear away with the front one. Doing so, taking the rig forward, is more complicated, because the strong wind and overpowered sail, make you easily end up in catapult directly. In addition the waves lapping roofs lean against you .... However, every now and then I manage to leave on starboard tack... but the board, even while planing does not seem balanced: too unstable in overpowered conditions, and with such a moved water surface. It turns too easily also with standard fins, and passes from going to much upwind, to going to much downwind. In short, I repeat the experience of some of th last sessions in similar conditions. And three clues are a proof .....


Obviously, I have no problem saying that I can not be the most authoritative tester for a wave board, this being my first board of this type, and having little experience of waveriding, moreover in spots, that cannot really be considered wave spots. On the next trip to Tenerife in April, I will have the opportunity to try many wave boards (even quad), and try to figure out if: a) I am still unfit to wave boards, for my current way of doing windsurfing; b) if the problem is the specific board model.

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After losing time for an hour, with the frustration of being almost back to the level of my first sessions in Hyeres, I decide that it's time to bring out the Tabou 3S 86 liters (a FSW). Well ... there's not much to say; with 86 (always combined with Ezzy Tiger 4.2) I enjoy 30-40 minutes of pure lust! After beachstarting, the board gets planing immediately, almost without needing to reach the beam, takes lots of speed, and jumps over the waves easily, remaining in control. The wind, perhaps, has slightly fallen, but it remains well above 30 knots as average, and ont the gusts I must open the 4.2 a little. Easily, I go offshore and find myself in the middle of the bay, two hundred meters from the shoreline. While sailing, the board remains easy to make turn, but not too roughly. Even in waterstart, it remains more stable (matter of fins?). In addition, but this is surely a matter of volume, when a wave lifts the bow, it takes less air from beneath, and it is seldom turned upside down. I arrive at the center of the bay, in a shallow waters zone, where today waves are really beautiful: I would say a 2.5 meters high, riding (although wind does not come form side direction...). I can not keep not too much time, because now is 17.30. The sun begins to set, even though the days are getting longer now, and friends are waiting. In addition, time spent off with the 102 board tired me a bit physically.

So we dismantle our equipment, and we go to get a well deserved hot shower at the B & B Hotel, where we booked all. My Survival French course gives its fruits, and at the Hotel reception I can put toghether basic needed words, and understand almost everything that is said.

At dinner, we go to the self service restaurant Flush, near the Mercure Hotel, with "frites et lugumes a volonté". There we fill up our stomach, trying to keep costs down, since windsurfing trips are continuous ...
After dinner, we have a walk around the old town of Hyeres, always nice, but at this season, almost deserted.

 

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Sunday, we wake up early. Before going to the spot, I take my friend to have a look to some different places in the surroundings. We reach Almanarre. Today the wind is from NW and Almanarre is more sheltered. However, it is confirmed that here, there is an unpleasant undertow, because sea bottom goes down immediately. Then, we go to La Capte, with a stop at the legendary pastry Paroncinì (founded by Italian people...), and we check the leeward beaches with Mistral: the water here is flat, but the wind, near the shore is gusty (while strong 100 meters offshore, but dangerous because it takes offshore). Then, we go to the Bergerie (with similar conditions found at La Capte).
Then, I take the group to Giens village, on top of the Presqu'ile de Giens, which offers a wonderful view over Almanarre bay, over the ponds, and on the other bay that looks to the East, as well as over Ile de Proquerolles, and the other islands of the archipelago, to the south. On top, the wind is already strong.

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Then, we go back to Madrague. I measure gusts at 32-33 knots. There are about 10 C° and it is chilly (the wind is from NW and not form W, and, therefore, it is colder). It seems like yesterday, as regards the wind intensity. Waves, however, are much lower. Andrea and Davide decide it's not for them. Simone is thinking..... Alessandro and Francesco feel themselves safer here in the upwind bay. We take Andrea and Davide to Bergerie. Once there, the wind seems lowered. Here, however, it is relatively warm. Simone decide to return with me to Madrague. Nice choice! We begin to assemble our rig. I prepare the 86 .... As sail to use, the idea is to immediately prepare the 4.2, but rumors start to spread that the wind is falling (yet windfinder gives an increase in the day). I get another measure (almost up to twenty knots ...). It would be right with a 5.5, but I opt ​​for a 4.7, believing it wil increase. I meet the omnipresent Caterina, from Piedmont. When mistral blows here in Hyeres, she is always on the spot, with its miniature boards.... (55 small board, and 76 large board, for her only 46 kilos!). She has had time to take even the stronger wind early in this morning, and has just finished her session.

 

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We enter into water almost at 11.30. We get an hour in which we alternate beautiful moments of wind, with 4.7 full, and 86 which ride greatly at beam, and others, in which we are soaked, waiting for the wind to come back for another waterstart ..... I center my first fast tack on 86!


Simone, now enjoys himself; we meet each other several times while planing, and even share some ride toghether at full speed.... Thank goodness, he make peace with the spot. Yesterday he was a bit shocked by very strong wind, that would be, for both, more manageable with a 3.7 ...
Today, Francesco is able to do the beach start, and I find him offshore, while planing. Another story ... Once got free of seaweed to the shore, offshore the sea is emerald green and pleasant to ride. There are also several windsurfers off with slalom boards and big sails. Beachstarting today (good to start on starboard tack) is easier, both for the side wind, and for the shorebreak almost absent.

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Then, after an hour the wind has a break. When from NW, coming from the inland mountains, the wind is more unstable here. Simone decides to change the board, and goes from goya 85 to 102 Patrick freewave. I follow him, and give another chanche to the RRD firewave 102. But, even in these unstable conditions the board does not convince me. We should take advantage of the gusts to get planing right immediately, but the 102 has a lot more inertia than 86, and also pushing it on a reach, and taking advantage of some little wave, it is hard to make it take off ...
When it's almost 14,00, we get out of the water, and begin preparations for going back home. Parking is full of puddles (On Friday it rained a lot also here), and we try to put equipment into the car (which seems to have made the Paris Dakar ...) as clean as possible, with not too many algae ....

We leave at about 15,00. We call Davide and Andrea, who managed not to finish to Ile de Porquerolles .... and have made an exit very quiet at Bergerie.
We arrive home at 20.15. It would be good an extra day, but that's okay ... It was a beautiful trip, however, good also to strengthen the love for Hyeres.

Aloha. Fabio

 

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Click here to watch the all slidegallery of the trip.

 

A short movie of the week end

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

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