by Amber, aka Defi Diva (have you been practicing – saying it just right – every time you open a new blog post…. d’FEE dee-VAH! )
The next day we again took our time getting up and moving. Bart had recommended that I bring my smashed board to L’Oc Surf shop to see what they thought about the damage. “Maybe it can be repaired?”, he offered. “And if not, then at least we will know for sure.” So Bart, Els, and I headed over just after breakfast with the board. As Els waited with our precariously parked car, Bart and I slipped through the back side of the venue with the board. When I pulled the board out of its bag again, my stomach turned. I loved that board. I had just bought it a new 33″ Hatteras Weed fin for it, and the combination with my Aerotech Phantom made me forget every other love I’ve ever had. The fin floated the board, and I had remarked to Keith McCulloch, the fin designer, that it was like surfing on “hot buttah!” (said in some sort of Jersey/New York accent). The fin disappeared beneath the board, and that had made the Futura float like a magic carpet.
Every windsurfer we passed cringed with horror when they mentally registered the damage. Some even stopping to touch it along the way with a whistle and head shake. When the owner of the L’oc Surf came out to see what could be done. He too stopped wide eyed in his tracks. While much discussion went on between him and Bart in French, I did catch two important words; Impossible, Finis. We then retuned home with the board to stash it away. Bart decided he would take it back with him to Belgium. Maybe someone would like to give it a Steve Austin makeover, or better yet perhaps repurpose it as a object d’ Art coffee table?
The official race meeting started at 1pm, even as we pulled back up to the venue we knew that it was unlikely that there would be a first race start afterwards. There still was no appreciable wind and none predicted for the rest of the day. Despite this the DEFI narrators tarried forth, providing excellent discussion of the hazards and expectations for the race in both French and English. However, the instructions were for a Tramontane race, not a Marin. The Tramontane race is started on the water using a rabbit boat start. The Marin instead uses a quad and starts from the beach. Regardless, the presentations were still captivating. The graphics of the race course had drastically improved since the last time I came. Sexy light boards, animations, and coronary creating, bass thumping music drew everyone’s attention. Chris and I took up places in the middle so we could see all the images and catch the English translations. The whole review took about an hour and a half. Somewhere about half way through, “Coach” (Bart’s newly dubbed nickname) brought us sandwiches and a coke to sustain us.
After the skippers meeting, they announced a race delay (A common theme we would encounter throughout the event) and eventually cancelled the race for the day. We ended up just hanging out and chilling, enjoying the convivial vibe. Chris and Bart broke away again to rub elbows with another windsurfing great, Björn Dunkerbeck. Dunkerbeck had come to DEFI to support the GPS speed challenge. I had already signed up for it during registration, but Chris had not so he went over to join the line of those who also decided to sign up late. A giant in many perspectives, his quiet, kind demeanor dwarfed everyone in his presence. “Wooo! What a massive guy. No wonder he has such an amazing reputation, I bet he could hold down a 20m sail with just his pinky! Did you see the size of his hands? It completely engulfed mine when I shook it!” Bart said in awe.
Eventually, the sun began to set and the opening ceremony commenced. Again, there was much ado. Tons of windsurfing celebs were introduced, as were the top team competitors. Righteous goodies were distributed through random drawings of the competitor’s numbers. (Chris’s 318 had scored him another trucker hat and a t-shirt from Soöruz – beginners luck, no doubt!) And of course there was every windsurfers favorite distraction…free beer!
Eventually, we made our way home again, stopping off in the downtown/port area of Gruissan for a nice supper at one of the many outside restaurants. Sunburned and gritty from the sand, we happily reflected on the day and despite the forecast, made plans for sailing the next.