We received these articles by mail from Andrea Cucchi of Point 7, and we publish them on Waterwind with pleasure, to spread it among all windsurfers that will experience the next Defi wind in Gruissan (France), as Andrea will do.
Andrea Cucchi, boss di Point 7, da i suoi consigli per affrontare la Defi Wind di Gruissan (Francia)
ACT #1: THE SPIRIT
welcome to the first article of the Black Defi Project.
This is the hardest race I ever took part in my life and I've been racing for over 20 years! Its not a 4minute course like in pwa slalom, or a 15minute course like formula windsurfing, it's 45minutes for the fastest guy and 90minutes for the last competitor! Everytime I go to this event, at the first race, after the first 7km out of the 50, I wonder why I came back the Defi. It's so tough to sail on one side for 15km if you are not well prepared!
Still why do I go back every year? Why is it that at the first race I think why did I come back to the event, and by the end of the event I want to do it again? It's all about being prepared. Prepared does not mean physically, but most important will be the understanding of the wind strength, and the tuning of the gear for this course. So follow everything and you'll have a great memory from day 1.
There are different things we need to be ready with for before the start of this incredible event.
Spirit! Do we care of the final result?
What do we need during the event?
How do we prepare for the event?
What gear do we need for the event?
How fit do we need to be?
We will not go through all the points now, but we will do it in detail in the next weeks.
Just to make sure that you start thinking about the preparation of things, these are the urgent things that you need:
Reserve a place to stay in gruissan now, unless you are camping on the parking of the event. I had already problems now in getting the room in the hotel I enjoy staying normally.
The wind is from 15 to 55 knots: I normally don't need bigger then 7.9 and a 110 litre board. Be more ready to have sails from 4.0 to 8.0 (even wave sails if you don't have slalom sails!) and boards which can also be wave boards of 80litres if you don't have slalom boards of 90-100litres. Forget about taking sails over 8.0 and boards bigger wider then 72-75cm. There is no need
If you are thinking to fly, remember that Barcelona is the closest international airport to Gruissan, even if it is in Spain.
Spirit and training!
Why do 1000 people take part at this event? It rappresents the real windsurfing.
The freedom to sail with no limits over great distances. No rules, no limitation on gear.
It's 12km long x 4 times so it's a very long distance, longer then what we usualy do for fun, but this is closer to what windsurfing is, rather then maybe 4 jibes downwind on a slalom board for 500m as it's done in PWA.
It's a hard race, but this is only depending on what you want to achieve.
This event is giving the chance for everyone to try something radical, different to what we would normally do, but in total security.
So it does not matter if we need to sit on the board becouse we are tired or becouse we broke something, the rescue service is amazing.
There is a spider net of boats that takes away any fear for any danger.
So once you are on the water the only thought you need to have is too have fun! What's the deal, the target ?
Most will take part at this event for the first time, and everyone will have different goals.
If you ask me today what is my goal, my goal is to have fun, and of course to win!
So I will go on the water fighting till I will not see myself infront of 1000 windsurfers!
This is my deal, but it's different to many others deal.
Everyone one who takes part has very different targets they want to achieve.
The first should be for you to have fun. Then there are many objectives that you can add to your wish list, that will make this event even more interesting:
Pushing your limits from what your normal windsurfing session would be.
The chance to compare yourself to the rest of the world who enjoys windsurfing the same way you do.
Having a very different holiday then a normal weekend at your homespot.
Meeting new windsurfers from all over the world.
Challenging stronger wind that normally you would be scared of as there is no security.
The fun of sailing in the same direction with 1000 people.
To meet better windsurfers than you, and learn new things.
To get to the first mark, then sit on the board and watch everyone else doing the Defi wind from closer.
To be the first? First of your gender, of your age, of your country, of your group, of your family, of your shop....
Be top 500? Be top 100?
Finishing all the races?
Finishing at least one race?
Put yourself a target.
This is very important. The fun factor will be on top of the list, but if you are on the water knowing more of what you really want to achieve then you will be on the water with a great determination. You need it for when you still have many kilometers to go to keep you motivated and fight!
The atmosphere is fantastic. There is a lot of entertainment during the day and also at night. So even if there will be no wind for one day, you will still enjoy the time at the event.
There is not a specific training for the Defiwind, unless you have the luck to live in a place where you can do 15km on one side. If you have, do that.. nothing better than that! Otherwise windsurfing a lot!
The next best thing is to try to trim the gear with exactly the tuning for this kind of course. The 15km are mainly half and little upwind, so there are tricks to tune the gear so that you have to use less power. If you race 5 minutes as in PWA you tune everthing extreme to get 150% out of it: to the limit to explode. If it comes to do a race of 50-80 minutes then the gear needs to be trimmed that even if it goes at 90% of its potential, the comfort allows you to go at 90% the whole time, rather then 150% for 4 minutes, and then 60% for the other 46 or 76 minutes! This topic we will see in the next weeks and I garantee you that trimming you gear perfect, is worth much more then training like crazy! Do both and it will be good!
When you will go windsurfing in the next sessions, you really need to focus on doing the longest reaches possible so that you get used to keeping your position without getting tired. Focus in keeping the sail as firm as possible, and learn to relax all the muscles of the body.
Relaxing is a very important when you sail. Sometimes we don't realize how much power we use which is not needed. We tend to squeeze the boom with our hands specially if really windy, we tend to use a lot our arms when we should relax everthing and use only the muscles that we really need. Hands and arms can be substituted by the harness. So sit more on the harness and try to relax the arms. When you are next time windsurfing you will understand better what I mean. Don't be surprised if you actually start going faster!
Doing long reaches is very hard for the legs. As the arms are relaxed, the main muscels which are working are the one of the legs. The more you press the faster you go, and in a long distance you get so tired that when you need to jibe, you are almost to tired to get up from the sailing position. It's important to do a bit of training for the legs out of the water.
When sailing we are sitting in a static position. The back leg starts burning, so this is what we need to train. How to do this? I'm not a personal trainer but I've been training with different methods during my carreer of professional windsurfing. The best exercise was for me sitting against the wall. Putting the back straight against the wall and sitting but with any chair or support under the ass! Sit there till your legs start burining, shaking, and once you can't anymore, stand up fast and do 10 jumps bringing your kness to the chest..or as high as possible, super fast. This is very helpful!
Before doing this, go running for 10 minutes warm up slowly, then start the exercise. Repeat the exercise 5 times, then at the end, go running for another 10 minutes to cool down, and a bit of stretching will not hurt. How much should you stand against the wall?The first times try to stay at least for one minute each time. Then try to increase the time for at least 30 seconds each time. If you can't keep the knees bent at 90° start even a bit higher... Do your mails with your mobile while you sit against the wall, so that you feel less the pain ;). If you can do 2 times a week this, and one time of normal running, your fitness will be good enough. Better to go windsurfing an extra hour then doing anything else at the gym!
Hope you got some ideas, and more info, we get back to you next week with more!
ITA - 1