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Gear needed to tackle the Tramontane at the Defi Wind!

STOP! We are not racing under 15 knots in Defi wind! It's a rule...

I can hold my 9.0 in 20 knots!

I was out on 7.9 in 30 knots....

Did you ever say that? Not to offend anyone, but yes, maybe it's possible to be out in those winds with these sails, but it's hard to be fast and having fun not to say lasting for a 45km race!


So... forget it! :)


This is beach talk. Real talk is that in 23 knots pro PWA guys fight in a 4 minutes race with 7.9 to try to control it and winning a heat.

'I was out in 50knots... those were maybe 30knots.'


We need to forget a bit what our dreams are, and fight with real readings from the anemometer.

We all tend to exaggerate when we talk about how windy it is, and this is one of the main problems for many when taking part in the Defi Wind. From the beach we don't realize how the wind really is and it's easy to be out there too overpowered.



If during the event they will tell you that it's 15 to 25 knots. You look out at the starting line, there are 15 knots, the wind is offshore, all looks light and flat and easy.... so why go small...? At home I can go with 9.0 in 15 knots, you would think!..... not at Defi!

The result is that from a 1000 people racing, 200 end up getting picked up by boats as they went too big to tackle the 13km reaches. If they tell me that there are 15 to 25 knots I already know, that 7.9 could be even too big at the Defi, when normally it would be the right size sail.

What's the deal? It's simple. Where we start there is the city and the wind is more gusty so you could have 15knots where 7.9 is good, but 15knots could already mean gusts of 20 knots which start to be a nice power for 7.9 for even my 100plus kg. Once you are going passed 7km of the reach and you enter on the second half of the course, the wind increases as it has no more obstacles. You get to the other side where the 25 knots are actually 30knots! And after having done 10km, the last 3km on 7.9 would be killing the last powers you have....oh I forgot.... you still then have another 35km to go more or less to finish the 2 laps.

So the wind readings they give are normally 2. The lower reading is normally at the starting line, the second on the other end of the course. Add 5 knots to what they say and then you will be sure that you won't go with a sail you can't handle for such a long distance.

If you don't make the mistake to go too big in the first race, you will be healthy for the whole event. If you make the mistake that 95% of the people do, you lose all your power at the first race, and for the rest of the 3 days you will be feeling tired and in pain as the first race will have made you feel like having been under the truck when you wake up the next morning... It's hard to recover.


I hope it's clear to everyone that at the Defi wind you can actually do two long distance races a day, for 4 days. So it's a lot of kilometres. Over 80km a day in a racing mode. This is why the race becomes tactical. Better to go little underpowered or with the right sail, so that you can be efficient the whole 4 days. It's actually better to go a bit bigger with the board so that it's easier to go upwind when needed, and to pass light wind areas in case it should be needed. Pick a smaller sail which makes us use less energy, rather than lots of power from the sail, and a smaller board which is less comfortable for starting, passing places with less wind and such.


Last year I did the mistake. I was in each race of the first day always a size sail too big. The day after I was destroyed. Then the last 2 days I just went less for the idea of being a hero, and with the right sail size I had even better results and it was a kind of a relaxing walk in the forest.

So my advice is to go one size smaller then you think. The wind is offshore; it gets stronger on the other side of the course. If you see that it's a nice sunny day, and tramontane is blowing be sure that the wind will get stronger. If it gets cloudy it could drop. If the forecast on windguru says 15 knots, you can easily add 10 knots to it.

Which is gear is needed?

I'm 100kg and I never used more than my 7.9 and a 115 board with a 38cm fin.
I have used 5.0 slalom sails on a speed board and 28fin.
If you don't have very small slalom gear, you have 2 choices. Bring with your 4.0 wave sail. 3.6 If you are a girl. Take your wave board. Trust me that many will race on this type of gear, and on flat water you won't be slow! Leave home all sails over 7.9 and boards over 75 wide.

Even if we will get 40 knots don't worry the water is shallow, you can rest in any part of the course by going a bit upwind to the beach, as said before there are so many boats nothing can happen to you. If you are in panic, sit on your board enjoy and watch the people passing by, and after few seconds you will be picked up by the security.

Very important thing is the status of your gear. You are racing 80km a day when windy. Imagine if you break something when you are only few km away like it happened to me last year. My harness lines broke. I used them whole winter for training, did not remember to check them before the event, and right off the start of the third race, they snapped, and lost an important race, which was determining my chance to be first instead of second!

So check list should be the following.

  1. harness lines.

  2. mast foot.

  3. tack pulley and top pins of the sails.

  4. downhaul rope

  5. boom ropes

  6. board straps: make sure that they are tightened well!

What you might not think of:

You need 2 wetsuits. If you have a short arm and a long arm wetsuit with long legs it can be good.
We do 2 races a day, and there is a break of 2/3 hours in between. It can be that the first wetsuit does not dry up... so you do need a second wetsuit in order not to wear a cold wetsuit for the second race. Its May, but the Tramontane is cold all year round. Its nice to have 2 wetsuits, and its good to change between the 2 races, otherwise you lose too much heat and energy. Of course bring a lot of warm clothes!!


Starting watch. You need a starting watch. Pro riders use the big Rostan watch or Optimum watch. Its shows easy to read big numbers for the starting procedure. It costs around 60/70 euros. If you don't want to spend them, you can use a simple wrist starting watch. If you want to look for the optimum or rostan just google them.

Now you should be clear on which kind of gear you need for racing. Get organized so that you are fully ready and not to panic during the event that you would maybe have brought the wrong gear, not only to the event, but also chosen the wrong sail to be on the water.

Point7 will have a special area at the Defi for all those who want to stay with us, so I'll be there too and happy to advice the gear before each start!! If we are all realistic and will not try to be heros to go too big with the sail in the race, a good result and more fun will be granted!

Till next mail.

Andrea Cucchi

ITA - 1

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