by Amber, aka d’FEE dee-VAH
By the time I had warmed up, eaten a huge hamburger sandwich, applied some of Jurgen’s 50SPF sunblock on my now deep fried skin, and found my gear, the second Skipper’s meeting for the day was in full swing. The wind had picked up from where it had been during the morning’s race, so this time there would only be two laps. My heart sank a bit. I knew that even if I did manage to get all my equipment rigged and ready, that it was too big for the now even stronger conditions. Besides, it would be foolish of me after the morning’s fiasco not to take a bit of time to make sure that the rough transport back didn’t put any holes in my board or rips in my sail. I would have to sit this one out.
Bart decided to go for it. So after he launched, Jurgen, Els, and I headed to the jetty to watch the start. The sight of 100’s of sails amassing on the start line was nothing short of spectacular. The sails were grouped tightly, making for dangerous starting conditions (and the sailors were later warned as much during future Skipper’s meetings) however at that moment witnessing all those sails shimmering in the wind took my breath away. I had never in my life seen such an incredible spectacle. Slowly you could start to see the farthest sails break away as the race started. Philipee Bru’s speed boat then popped out and headed up shore, releasing the rest of the sails. They were off, and I no longer was lamenting the miss of that race. It had been pure exhilaration to witness a Defi start.
Bart was back on shore about an hour later. He was drained but the huge smile that covered his face made it clear that he was completely pumped that he had finished it. It had been an insane ride he had said, and flopped around in demonstration of the riding technique he had relied upon to finish the race. Xavier, Geert and the rest also similarly came back. “That was not fun!”, lamented Xavier. “Survival sailing!” They were all exhausted. Secretly I was glad that I didn’t stubbornly make an attempt at that race, seeing how tired they were and the thought of getting rescued twice in one day would be too much to bear.
That night, I slept restlessly. #43 Bungalow was cold, and my little blanket wasn’t doing much to keep me warm. My dreams weren’t helping either. Sand seem to play a prevalent part in most of the images going through my head. And despite the fact that I had used all the hut’s hot water in an attempt to wash my hair, at one point, I woke up to a grain of sand lodged in my eye.
Eventually the next morning did come and I got up early, ate a bowl of French Corn Flakes, drank my instant coffee, and got my gear ready. Today I was going to bring my camelback and higher SPF sunscreen. I left before Bart and Els for the race. I not only was concerned about finding a place to park the Thingy, but I had learned my lesson from yesterday and wanted to have my gear prepped and ready “before” the Skipper’s meeting. It wasn’t like I had decisions to make about what to rig. The wind was going to be the same as the day before and I only had one option, Carve 111, Ezzy 4.7, and my weed fin… I found a place to park and toted my gear to the Belgian Slalom Team’s staging area. There Jurgen was already rigging his gear as well. Eventually the rest of the team staggered in (apparently they had spent the evening partaking at a local establishment in an effort to restore their energy). They were in no rush, they were waiting to see how the wind was going to build before picking
out their gear.
The Skipper’s meeting covered the same points as the previous two day’s had. The wind was in the mid to upper 20s, with gusts pushing it into the 30s. But this time it was coming out of a more north direction making going up wind on the return legs more challenging. Conditions at the first mark were again considerably stronger than the starting line, and the sailors were again warned to consider this when rigging. The clock was ceremoniously started, with a long hearty “GOOOOO!!!” and everyone again rushed off in a mad dash of preparations.
I was at the water’s edge with 30 minutes to spare before the start. I signed out and tugged my #803 pink shirt over my camelback and harness. I did a last gear check and decided it was time. I grabbed my board and stepped into the water and headed north along the shore, away from the starting line. This time, I would stick to the game plan.