... long reaches, a bit of upwind, a bit of downwind... trimming your kit for the Mauritius Freeride Challenge is a lot like trimming for Defi Wind. So as the Point-7 team gets ready for the biggest windsurfing race in the world, we take a look at how they are preparing themselves.
Two months away from the Defi Wind are you getting ready?
I hope with the warm spring days are allowing everyone to be on the water more often! I got feedback from some of you, who started swimming, running and training, great start!
The Defi wind course is an figure eight long distance slalom. Meaning that you have to go half wind from one side to the other 4 times on the 12km reaches. In theory it should be half wind, but often at Defi because of the way the bay is arched and the wind shifts, you end up doing half wind reaches, at a slight upwind angle. It comes also natural as you want to be sure to reach the mark on the other side so you point upwind without thinking... and also closer to the beach, the flatter the water.. but this is tactics and we will look at these next time. As you will not see the mark where you will have to jibe as it`s too far, you will either follow the organization boat if you are first, or follow the competitors in front of you. Everybody is pushing upwind, even the boat, so you need to trim yourself to be more comfortable upwind.
Upwind. What does this mean? Simply having more power on the gear to push upwind. Do you though want more power on a long distance? Normally to be more comfortable to go upwind, you need the following setting.
1. Tighter foot straps.
2. Bigger fin
3. Short Harness lines
4. Higher boom position.
Will this be the trick at the Defi? NO!
In PWA we are mostly sailing downwind, so the tuning we have on our gear is completely the opposite. At Defi wind, the PWA pros are tuned for having a lot of power in their gear, tuned up for max 5 minute dowinwind slalom, comfortable for exactly that target. If you do the first race in the Defi with this tuning, you will suffer a lot and be tired for the rest of the days. I think most of the pros would agree with me.
Defi it`s not about having the highest top speed through the 50kms, but it`s about having the best average top speed for the 50k’ with a trim which allows you not to be exhausted after one race. It’s not about going at 120% as in the PWA for few minutes, as you see on the live ticker in the PWA, but about going at 90%of the top speed you will need for 1hour. Some of you are thinking 1hour is nothing... I sail for 3h. Yes but never 15/20 minutes on one side!
So how do we trim our gear? Let’s go back to our 4 points. You need the comfort and power for going upwind, but unfortunately you sometimes need also to go downwind, therefore you also need to tune up for having control in that direction. So let’s see what we mean by this.
Normally in slalom you keep them a bit wider, so that if the wind picks up, or you need to go more downwind, you can push your feet more inside the strap, towards the centre of the board and gain control. At the Defi wind you want them to be tight that your foot feels the footstrap all the time. This allows, especially for the front foot, to pull up in the strap to go more upwind. If it is too wide, then you have to force your foot up even more to feel the strap, to pull upwind, and this kills the tibias in your legs... and for 13km in one reach you feel like crying. So do calibrate your foot straps so that your feet fit in nicely, and not only the toes, but that you feel the strap tight on top of your foot.
For going upwind you need a bigger fin. In this case you don`t. The water is flat. So there is no need to push upwind with power, but you can go more upwind with speed. There are 13km to go to the next mark so you don`t need to point high, but just enough to stay sufficient upwind from the mark. Also if you use a too big fin, where you have to go downwind, or where you have to go in a stronger gust it gives less control.
3 Mast Track
This is very important. Normally we have it balanced to get the most power, speed, and comtrol/. For Defi, your normal position will not work. Put your mast track 2/3cm further forward than normally. This will allow the weight and profile of your rig to keep the board down for you so you get less tired in keeping the board on the water when gusts or waves hit the gear. Sure you could be a little slower, but better than being half way through the race and having to slow down 50% of your potential, as you are too tired.
To go upwind you normally keep your boom higher to get more power out of the fin as you would be able to push more with your legs, but in Defi wind, as we said before, the upwind is done over a long distance so you don`t need so much power. Having the boom too high will get you tired. So lower the boom from even your normal position. A couple of cm will not hurt your performance over 50km.
5 Harness lines
This is something that we do adjust a lot according to how wavy and over powered you are. Normally in overpowered condition and waves you tend to have longer harness lines, and in light wind or flat water, you tend to shorten them. At Defi the water is flat or choppy. Plus as you are going half wind and a bit up, the best is to have shorter harness lines than usual. I would check what harness lines I have on my boom, and be prepared with some adjustable harness line for the race. I would use them a size shorter then what I would normally use them, but I recommend you to have the vario models, as sometimes, the course can get very choppy and very downwind if you went too far upwind by mistake, or to use the flatter water by the shore, so to go down to the mark, if you can make them longer for that moment that you go downwind, it will make life easier. In the next article I will show you a map of how the race works, and explain all the tactics, and also where you can actually make your harness lines longer and shorter during the course
6 Do you have the adjustable outhaul system?
This is very important. As said in the previous article, the wind can be 15knots on the starting area and 25knots on the other side of the bay. So it’s not an optional but a need. This way if you feel that you have too much power or you are getting tired, just pull the adjustable outhaul, flatten the profile, depower the sail, and get some energy back. Or if you see that the wind is dropping, you are losing speed, and you have energy to take advantage from more power, then release the adjustable outhaul, and gain some speed.
The concept is that you need to think that you will be on the water for a longer time on one side of the board. Longer than you normally would- Much longer. What you think is not tiring after 5km, can destroy you physically after 10km. A bit like carrying weight; for a short time is ok, but then for a longer time you need to start switching positions, hands, arms to keep carrying the same weight. When you are there on the water, you don’t have time to switch anything, so you have to plan your trimming that you are comfortable for the whole race, and for all the races.
From the explanation above the concept is that you need to depower your gear to what you are used too (lower boom and mast track more forward), add the trim the gear for flat water (shorter fin and harness lines), be able to point little upwind when needed (tighter straps and shorter harness lines), at the same time be able to have comfort downwind when needed in some areas of the course ( vario harness lines and adjustable outhaul).
Next time you go sailing, go out with your gear as normal. Come back to the beach. Shorten your harness lines, move the mast track 3cm more forward, lower your boom 4cm, check your foo strap sizes, and go back on the water. Find out if this new setting feels easier as that will be a kind of trim you will look for at Defi! Don’t worry if you lose a bit of speed. All we care about is to feel like we use less power than normal...as the ride is long!
ITA - 1
Preskil Beach Resort is the proud host and sponsor of the upcoming Mauritius Freeride Challenge, so here is some basic booking info should you wish to make use of their fantastic windsurfing holiday offer.
There are a couple options the event organisers have come up with in partnership with the hotel, but the recommended package includes;
> A double room at Preskil Hotel with half board (breakfast & dinner) included
> Transfers from airport to hotel & back
The hotel plus airfare differs depending where you are flying from, but they all work out to around 90 € per person/day and around 70 € if you are sharing. Please note; despite what is recommended in the "packages" below, there are options to depart and return on alternative dates... check out Air Mauritius to see that flights are available.
There is a DIY option to pay the event entry fee (through their travel agent) and organise your own accommodation... this will ensure you still get the oversize baggage allowance. Check out the list of options here;
or contact the event travel agent here;
In 5 months, most of us will either be in the icy grip of winter, or getting ready for the 2014 Mauritius Freeride Challenge!... hopefully you will choose the second option and help us send a killer team to prove that SA's got talent. But in case we don't, here's what you can expect from what has to be the most fun event you will ever go to!
Day 1: The Malibu Classic; held in the South near the world famous One Eye wave, a fast and furious downwind slalom course
Day 2: The Crossing; held in the South-East off the beaches of our host hotel, Le Preskil, this race will deliver a 40km epic journey to Ile Aux Cerf and back.
Day 3: The Fun Cup in the East; promises to be the most fun of all across the long, super flat, beautiful lagoons from Ile Aux Aigrettes to Ile Aux Phare.
Day 4: The Downwind Challenge in the North-East; could be the fastest race on its 25km grand downwind course from Roche Noire to Calodine.
There's a host of more information on the event website, where you can check out videos, their Facebook page, or to make your booking:
And if you've got some space, be sure to pack your wave board for one of those free days...