The Final Chapter – A New Path and New Winds

Here it is dear readers, the last post from Amber about her Defi 2016 adventure. 

by Amber, aka Defi Diva

Defi beach – the broad sandy beach in previous pictures is completely underwater today.

The rain kept up throughout the night while the winds continued to build. It had been a challenge to remount the boards on our van’s roof when we finally checked out of our beach house the following day.  If the gear had not been taped, noodled, and bubbled Chris and I would have braved the waters for no doubt and epic (and probably mast breaking) session! Argh! Confounded again, it was maddening. As Chris drove the way back to Barcelona, he once again had to white knuckle the steering wheel to keep the car on the road. Only this time it was blowing from the sea, the opposite direction from our drive down.

When we finally made it back to Barcelona we eventually found our hotel, a Best Western near the Airport. As we drove up Chris and I looked at each other in disbelief… The hotel was in the middle of a cargo industrial area with absolutely nothing around it.   We quickly agreed that there was no way we were going to end our trip in a place like this. So we cancelled our reservations and aimed for the Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel downtown. A beautiful and modern hotel that was conveniently located right next to the metro. Ahhhhh… now that was more like it.  Of course, Chris and I took advantage of the opportunity and spent the evening exploring and enjoying the city.


When we got up the next morning, we wandered over to the restaurant to eat breakfast.  As we took in the breakfast fare and beautiful view, Chris piped up, “Hey, despite it all, this was a great trip! I’m really glad I came even though we had a lot of … “challenges”… but hey, we are on our way home now. Besides what else could go wrong?” That is when I looked at him in horror. He did it.. He just jinxed us! ACK!  

Sure enough, after unloading all the bags and dragging them across streets, through rotating doors, all the while dodging busses off loading hoards of tourists, Chris comes out to help me with a few more bags and wails in complete exasperation. “My reservation was cancelled and no one knows why!!!” He had lost it. His normally calm upbeat demeanor had completely disappeared. He had been pushed over the edge. Perhaps it is good that I don’t completely understand Spanish, because I’m pretty sure that Chris used words that are not likely to be found in their version of Webster’s. An Air France agent (the one that had originally told us how to get back into the baggage area so I could make the claim for my board) did manage to right the errant cancellation, originated by Delta (huh??). Yes, why a completely unrelated airlines would cancel the trip of someone on a different airline will forever remain a mystery, even to our faithful travel agent that pounced like a tiger when she found out.

Once again we were on separate flights to Paris. And during my flight, I reflected on the past week. I have to admit, I was a bit glum and lost. What was it that I was supposed to do next if not this? I had so wanted to race and sail like I did the last time. For the last few years I was measuring the moments until I could come again and ride that wind. But nothing in life can ever be exactly repeated. And opportunities are sometimes there for only a moment and then sometimes never again.  I had come again for a reason, and maybe that reason wasn’t clear to me yet.  But in moments like this when life’s path can seem a bit foggy or challenging, there is always that someone special who will be there to lend a hand, a shoulder, or a word. Just as Chris and his (mostly) unwavering smile and optimism had made for a great traveling companion. Or as Bart and Els had been there to help me through my first DEFI. Or even as Francisco Goya had been there waiting with a board for me to race. 

Home again – Dulles

As I met Chris at our gate for the last leg home, I saw a gentleman with a DEFI race shirt on waiting for his flight. “Hey, he is one of us.” I smiled. “I’m going to go say ‘Hi’ and see how he fared.”  As I sat down next to him, I got this warm tingle. His name was Christopher Tyack. As we chatted, his eyes lit up and a smile creased his face as he recounted his time at DEFI. He had decided to leave and venture out to other sailing spots with friends. When I had recounted a bit of our challenges, and that we were disappointed in the lack of wind, he piped up. “You must come to the Mauritius Freeride Challenge in August! (  The water is glass smooth with amazing wind. We have everything set. We’ll come pick you up at the airport, there are special arrangements and discounts at the hotel, and we move your gear for you from race site to race site!”  My heart leapt for joy! He was that someone special that had pointed me to a new path and journey. And with a huge grin on my face I turned to Chris, “What are you doing in August??!!”


Defi 2015

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