“Holy crap! I can’t believe how long it took me to pack those boards!” I said in exasperation to Chris. He laughed, “Yeah it took me the better part of four hours yesterday. I kept having to run to the store for more noodles and tape. And then of course, I could only reliably use one side of my body for lifting and moving.” Things were looking up though. No locusts, or nuclear events stymied our trip to the airport, and Lou had successfully deposited us and our gear at Dulles International right in front of the Air France ticketing area. We engaged a couple of porters to help us with our boards and gear, and then Chris took his car to economy parking while our boards sat in front of the ticket agents attracting a myriad of attention from both the traveling public as well as the Air France staff. At the advice of Christine, we had prepaid for our excess luggage, with both Chris and I having to each shell out close to $1,100 round trip just to ship our two boards and sails. Sigh! It is hard to be an unsponsored Diva…
For those of you that don’t read or partake in Astrology, I will offer that there is this one little pesky astronomical aspect that haunts us a few times a year. It is called Mercury Retrograde. And if you were to watch and track the stars in the sky it would look like the little red planet of Mercury reverses direction from its normal path to transit in the opposite direction. It continues this “backward” course in the sky for a little over a month before it reverses direction to travel again along it’s normal path. Of course there is a logical explanation for this perceived reversal of course and it has to do with the Earth’s position as it orbits around the sun in relationship to Mercury’s orbit. But without getting into all the geometric details lets just say that ancient Astrologers identified that when this happened communication and travel just seemed to not quiet go according to plan. And as luck would have it, this spring’s Mercury Retrograde goes smack dab right over the DEFI from 28 April – 22 May. But plan as one might to take extra care and caution during these periods, suffice to say sometimes all you can do is just hang on and ride. Kind of like sailing in the northwest winds during an east coast winter.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, when on the afternoon of the 28th, after I got back from a very gusty session on the Avon sound, I found an email from Chris in my inbox…
Before we present the 2nd installment, please practice saying Defi Diva with your best faux French accent…………
After a week of working intimately with her Montreal Air France connection, Paolo, Christine had us and our gear once again sorted out. It turned out that the aircraft scheduled for the second leg of our flight did not have enough space to transport both sets of windsurfing gear at the same time. So Chris and I were rebooked on separate flights between Paris and Barcelona. Luckily there are several flights so there was only to be a short 2 hours delay between us, and really, what is a mere two hours when traveling with friends to DEFI? We were back on track.
I had learned a few lessons from my last foray into the winds of the Tramontain, and from the moment I bought my airplane tickets the previous fall I began thinking about what I would need to do to get my body and mind ready for what lay ahead. So the first thing I did was to book a week at Avon N.C. the week before we left for France. I wouldn’t be able to go with the BABA crowd this spring, because their week would over lap the week of the race but I was lucky enough to get Island Thunder, a pet friendly house with plenty of space to share. It would once again give me a full week on the water to “break gear and put holes in my boards” ahead of time so I wouldn’t need to bother with that once I got to France. Oh, and of course it gave me ample time to practice those pesky things called jibes, which I would need to be able to do at least three times during each race…
In addition to just getting some sailing time under my belt, I needed to work on core, balance, and of course cardio. Luckily, we were graced with a mild winter and my sailing season went longer than in previous years. But still, winter did eventually come, and my gear was packed and stowed for the couple of months of numbing temperatures. So it was during those quiet dark months, that desperation set in and I realized that I needed to take drastic measures. I have been working with an awesome trainer for a few years now, Jessica, and in fact she was instrumental in helping to get me at least functional after my shoulder surgery for the last DEFI. So this time she was able to focus her efforts on my core and balance strength. But the cardio, was up to me…and I could not be motivated to run in 20 degree temperatures… I’ve done it in the past, but this time my body (or rather my mind and spirit) said, “Pound sand, I’m not doing it! It is too freakin cold and I hate cold!” Sigh…so I bit the bullet and went on Craig’s List and found some one selling their copy of Insanity.
“I’m SO sorry! I don’t know what happened? Everything was fine last fall when I booked everything! But listen, don’t freak out, I’ve been working with Paolo in Montreal and he is working a solution.” A solution was necessary to fix the issue that Air France had some how decided to reject Chris Wattengel’s and my windsurfing gear on the second half of our journey. A journey that I had started on last summer.
It was early last June, when I popped on to the DEFI website to read up on the race and indulge my YouTube addiction of watching cute puppies and windsurfing videos. After three hours of trance-like assimilation into the ether, I found myself on bookings.com looking up the rates for the little bungalow I stayed at during my first DEFI sojourn. I selected 5-8 May 2016, curious to see what it would be listed for during this year’s race. The answer came quickly enough…”Sold Out”. “What!??” Ack! Sold out already?? Crap!” it was then by some completely visceral, reactionary response that I pulled out my rainy day credit card and committed myself and future retirement funds to going again… After hemming and hawing, and clicking on a myriad of different locale properties I finally settled on a little beach house which was a little over 400 euros for the week. By the time I had clicked “buy” and put in all my personal information, including height, weight, and eye color, that I looked up at the clock to see that it was almost 2:00 am in the morning. As I crawled into bed letting the reality of what I had just started to sink in that I realized the depth of my compulsions. Some people stay up late and spend their money on trinkets from the QVC channel at those late hours of the night, but in my case it is the DEFI channel and it usually costs thousands of dollars…
Somehow, somewhere after that, I had convinced Chris that he needed to join me on the frigid waters of the Mediterranean and ride the insane winds of the Tramontain. And luckily for me, he thought that it was a great idea! So after that, I called on my dear Belgian friends, Bart and Els, to join us as the little beach house had plenty of room. And of course, I was very eager to see them again and perhaps join up with some of my Belgian Slalom team mates that had so graciously adopted me into their little circle during my first race.
We still have openings available for our May 7-14 Hatteras Spring Trip.
That’s a bit unusual, as we often fill up by now.
Perhaps it’s the change in dates from April to May.
I know, I know:
it takes a while to adjust the idea of being warm instead of cold,
of having longer days for more time on the water,
of having an even better chance of perfect SW breezes that keep you sailing into the sunset.
But may I suggest to anyone holding out (and You know Who you Are…) that your reticence is misplaced.
This is going to be a fantastic trip, and you don’t want to miss out.
It’s about the time of year that the juju from the last trip to Hatteras has completely worn off and the longing for the next trip starts to interfere with everyday living. Here’s a cool video that Amber (aka Defi Diva) put together from last spring’s trip to warm your windsurfing spirit.
The good news is that Coby is getting things ready to start reservations for the spring trip (April 25 – May 2, 2015), and you oughtta save the date for the fall trip too (October 10 – 17, 2015). Watch your e-mail for the trip announcement sometime near the end of January.
Stay warm, enjoy your winter sports, sit by the fire pit or take care of your chores so you can clear your calendar for spring windsurfing.
After hearing all the scoop on ABK clinics, I finally did one at Bird Island Basin, North Padre Island, 10 miles south of Corpus Christi. It was a bit chilly, 60’s and falling in the water even with a 3mil wetsuit made me gasp. I have to say the clinic experience was no less than FANTASTIC! There were many great things about the clinic, but what stands out for me is the instructors standing in the water watching me(and the other 27 people) work on skills and giving immediate, to-the-point feedback. My goals were to get into the straps comfortably, going “scary fast”(which I accomplished), do a carve jibe, and light wind “trick jibes.”
by Amber, aka Defi Diva (one more time, in your best faux French accent…. d’FEE dee-VAH!)
It was morning and the bright sunshine was making its way into #43 Bungalow. I had gotten up early to finished packing and clean up the hut. (The camp ground has strict rules on cleaning up the hut prior to check out, among all the other rules…and no they still don’t take Master Card!) I finished up my last big bowl of French Corn Flakes. I can’t believe I ate all those corn flakes. I attribute that minor victory to the fact that the milk was pure heaven. I then wandered over to say goodbye to my neighbors. I first stopped with Sebastian and his wife, who lived in #41 Bungalow next door. They were on their way back to Paris. Sebastian had clearly mastered the Defi and had done quite well. Then over to my dear friends Monica and Gunter, an elderly German couple who had come to Gruissan simply to enjoy their weather and town. I said goodbye to Hassan the gardener, who would greet me heartily every day during his maintenance rounds. Even the rather plump man at the desk offered me a smile and wave.
When Philipee Bru got up in front of the crowd for the last Skipper’s race, he could barely speak. With a warm scarf wrapped around his neck, it became apparent that he had given his all to put on such an amazing event. But even through his horse voice, he still managed to provide the daily instructions. “Derriere, Bouee, Derriere, Bouee, Arrivee!!” After the instructions had been provided, they announce that they would be delaying the start. The winds were still too unpredictable, and the race committee did not want to start a race until conditions had steadied. In particular they were concerned about a significant increase in wind speeds after the race had already started. By delaying it, the sailors would be able to rig a more appropriate sail for the conditions. So we waited…By noon, the winds had done just as predicted. They were now significantly stronger from the morning, and they had filled in.
by Amber, aka Defi Diva
(ed note – I changed the title of this post without Ambers’ permission….)
It had taken me close to two hours to complete the course. And while Wind Magazine and other windsurfing paparazzi were no where in site to document my return, I was on a high. I pulled my board and sail from the water and set them on a small piece of sand in between the hundreds of sails that blanketed the beach. I then walked over to the check in table, found my name on the clipboard and signed back in. It was now official! I had completed a race! I practically skipped back over to the Belgian Slalom team’s staging area.
As I crawled over the wall with a huge smile on my face, Xavier and Bart looked up. “I did it!” I cried. A hearty round of congratulations rose in the air. Bart then smiled and said, “We were talking, and decided that if you completed a race we would give you one of our jackets.” OOOhhh the coveted blue Belgian Slalom Team jacket??!! The Fashionista in me had goose bumps! This was a prize more coveted than any statue or bottle of champagne! I imagined myself being invited to Presidential balls and other Washington DC galas, where I would walk into a room wearing it and the women’s heads would turn eying it greedily. Perhaps I would even make the fashion watch section of Vogue magazine? It was official, I had now not only completed a Defi race, but I was also now an official Belgian Slalom team groupie!