Words: Le Défi 15 and Feeling Old

"So, when you say Medulla Oblingata, is that something I chew, sniff or pee on?"

We hope that you take advantage of the "Latest Posts Elsewhere" section on top of our home page. We have feeds from various *surfing (wind and kite) web sites and forums. It's a great way to find out what's going on beyond our little and somewhat isolated community in the foothills of Appalachia.

A couple of things caught our eye this week. First, Le Défi Wind, the big French windsurfing event, went off this past weekend. Big here in the US would mean a hundred or more participants; Le Défi had twelve hundred. But the word this week for Le Defi is not big in the number of participants but in the conditions. Second, twenty years ago, if you could say "loop", "cutback" "mumble, mumble jibe", you would cover most of the really cool windsurfing moves. These days, those gosh-darn kids are doing stuff we've never heard of and, despite watching it a dozen times, can't comprehend. It's like a dog watching brain surgery. We watch it, know something really incredible is going on but realize that whatever is happening is far beyond our pea-sized brains (and ability).

So, without much further ado, words this week.


Le Défi Wind happens every year off the coast of southern France. The iconic image is the "rabbit" inflatable boat which marks the start roaring down while, literally, a thousand windsurfers cross just behind. It's actually a series of races held over three days, each race about 12k along the shore, a jibe and, then, back. The winds are typically pretty strong. Another attraction is that mere mortals like us can start the race on the same course as some of the best pros in the world - maybe not finish with the pros but, at least, start.

Le Defi Wind 2015
A start of Le Défi Wind 2015. The "rabbit" heads upwind as windsurfers start behind it. Watch the second video to see how close people are at the start.

This week, they had wind. Like 40-70 knots of wind. A really good description is in the video below. Conditions were so brutal that on the second day, the race committee recommended wave kit only with an 80 liter board max. And, if you needed rescuing, it was just you, not your equipment since it became lethal in those conditions to try to retrieve it.

Book Tour

While the rest of you will be suffering through a typically windless summer, I'm happy to announce that I will be on a book tour. I will be promoting my new book, "My Jibes Suck, So Let Me Tell You What You Are Doing Wrong." My book has been a work in process for quite some time although, admittedly, when I was blowing many of my jibes, I didn't know that it was all in the name of literary research. I thought I was just an inept windsurfer. I had no idea I was merely following my literary muse. The more jibes I blew, the more I'd be able to write the book, the definitive book, on jibing.

Jibing too good to write about it
Don't look so smug, young lady. A jibe like that will never get you a book deal.

I'm sure that at least someone out there is thinking, "if you can't jibe, how could you write a book about it?" The question is understandable but, quite frankly, shows a complete lack of understanding of how our culture works. I must admit that some of the inspiration for the book came from seeing a blurb in a flyer from the Atlanta History Center which was pimping promoting an appearance by reality "star", Bethenny Frankel. Ms. Frankel was promoting her new book, "I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To"

Getting on a Plane

Beatles like planing
We all want to get on a plane
Over the handlebars
This is no way to get planing

Planing: it's why most of us windsurf. When the board pops on top of the water and accelerates, everything about our experience on the water changes. That's not to take away from the joy and experience of a non-planing session but most of us want (and need) the part of windsurfing that begins at about 15 mph on the water.

The transition from sub-planing to planing can also be a pretty significant hurdle for the intermediate windsurfer. Board and sail trim, feet placement and steering all change. Furthermore, you now have to deal with foot straps and harness lines. Worse, in variable conditions like we have here in Atlanta, getting on a plane often coincides with significant wind changes (gusts).

With all this going on, it can be daunting. Worse, often we end up in one of the more humbling ways to crash on a windsurfer, a catapult - over the handlebars

We've been asked by learning windsurfers how to get on a plane while remaining attached and standing on the board. While we do it ourselves, we find it more and more difficult to explain because there are a lot of things going on at once and a lot of it depends on how powered up we are, what kind of board, the water conditions, etc. The more we think about it, the more we realize that we should just shut up. But saying nothing isn't very helpful, either.

So, we've done some searching and would like to recommend at least three good resources we've found online:

I Hate Going Windsurfing

Saving the soul as well as gas
I'd like a commute like Tim Carter's in Hilton Head. Five minutes to windsurfing by bike.

I hate going windsurfing. I really do.

Don't get me wrong. I love windsurfing. It's the going part that I hate. There are times that I feel like I'm a character in a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. The fates, mankind and nature all align against me - impeding my progress, throwing road blocks in my way or having me brave evil ogres and dangerous villains. There are days that by the time I get to the lake, I'm so taxed and exhausted that it's almost difficult for me to enjoy my time on the water.

Ideally, I'd enter a tranquil and meditative state while on the road but I'm simply not that strong. While I begin every trip with good intentions, my resolve and strength ebb under the repeated attacks to my psyche and safety. I drive an older, slower car and pull another 1000 lbs of trailer and gear behind me. I can maintain a steady speed but I need space to brake and change lanes; and acceleration up hills is non-existent. Most of the several hundred thousand cars and trucks on the highway with me are respectful, patient and attentive. I tip my hat to all of them.

But, there are malevolent forces that conspire against my happiness. Here are a few from the Rogues' Gallery:

Bayerische Motoren Werke

Let's begin with the easy target: this fine German company makes some of the world's finer cars, without question. But the people who drive BMWs have acquired a reputation and deservedly so. My last encounter with a maniac on I-85 returning from an afternoon session (no, I'm not making this up) was a BMW hurtling through the Peach Pass (Hot) lane under Spaghetti Junction at rush hour probably doing excess of 110 mph. This car wasn't going fast, annoying fast or even asshat fast but carnage fast where you genuinely fear for people's lives.

No surprise, it's a Bimmer
Does any part of this really surprise you?


Subscribe to windsurfatlanta.org RSS