by Amber, aka Defi Diva
In the middle of the night I awoke to a menacing howl. It became apparent that the Tramontane was also awake, and it was now coming down from the ice capped mountains in a thundering roar. My little #43 Bungalow shook as the icy winds banged at the door and windows. I pulled my little blanket closer around me. This was the wind I was expected to windsurf in the next day?! My thoughts raced. Was my little gear small enough? Should I even get on the water? “No….” I thought, “If this is the wind tomorrow, I’ll have to suck it up and not race. The wind is the wind, and one has to know their limits.” (And I had learned mine several times over during the years.) So I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, shivering in the cold, and desperately hoping to hear signs of the Tramontane’s abatement.
By the next morning, the winds had died down from the previous night’s gales. The forecast for the day was looking good, low 20s (knots) with gusts to mid and upper 20s. The sun was coming out and the breeze appeared steady. I ate two large bowls of French Corn Flakes and drank my instant coffee as I pondered what things I would need to take along for the day. Across the way at #4 Bungalow, Bart and Els were also stirring and getting ready in anticipation. “Did you hear that wind last night?”, Els asked in a shiver. “Yeah, that was insane!” I replied. We both looked at each other knowingly, nothing had to be said, that was not a wind to be reckoned with.
The Skipper’s meeting was at 9am. Philipee Bru again went through the course… “Derriere, Bouee, Derriere, Bouee, Arrivee!”, showed where the boats and buoys would be positioned, and re-emphasized the safety points. After about 30 minutes of explanations (and corresponding English .. interpretations) it was time to start the count down clock. In a Tramontane like roar, Philipee Bru and the crowd counted down… “CINQ! QUATRE! TROIS! DEUX! UN! GOOOOOOO!” Thundering high energy music then filled the air and participants rushed off in all directions to do final preps on their gear. The race would start in exactly 60 minutes.
When you fly with gear, the good thing is that you don’t have to think hard about what gear to rig. The bad thing is, the reason you don’t have to think about your gear is that you don’t really have all that many options. I rigged my 4.7 Ezzy wave sail (the one I threw in at the last moment before I left for the airport), and my Carve 111 with a weed fin (There had been mention of sand bars along the way during previous year’s web comments, so I had decided to bring mine.) After some frantic preparation, (from which I learned my lesson and prepped earlier in the other races), I finally tugged on my pink racing shirt and headed toward the water with my gear.
There is a table set up on the beach with the names of each participant. Every racer must sign in and out. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. It is for safety. Should someone not return, they immediately call in search and rescue and commence a search. Having my own experience with the Outer Banks Search and Rescue, I dutifully signed in. Little did I know that in the next few hours I would soon be meeting their French counterparts.