Wednesday, 8 July 2009

After writing yesterdays blog I got a sail in near La Franqui. 7.5 Demon with the C3 Venom 38. Again the water is so warm no wetsuit is needed. But there is still a problem with weed. A total pain in the arse. A fun sail though with forked lightning in the distance. Having a 5 metre lightning rod sticking out the water was interesting.

Today (7th july) I made the trip to Port La Nouvelle which is the west end of Gruissan beach as it was forecasting F4 and increasing. With hope ever eternal I rigged the Demon 6.8 C4 and a C4 Venom with the Manta 59. Surprisingly cold today so I put on my summer suit.

It was blowing west so was pretty much bang on square. The conditions are very similar to Saint Marie so it's top quality. As Gereld said the part of the beach in front of the lake is windier which it needed to be as the wind was quite moderate. I measured the beach length and the strip is around 3 miles long and more after a sea wall jutting out into the sea.

No sand banks to send you over the top as far as I can tell. The beach is so huge there has to be a section where you can tuck really close to the bank.

I made my footstraps smaller so my feet are wrapping around the rail as I sail. This gained me ½ a knot on my 10 seconds. Also there is no point pulling the track all the way back on the Manta. Mid track and it works great. As I think mentioned before... the Manta is a great board in chop / overpowered conditions. However I think the top end speed is slower than the Falcon.

As I write this it feels like the wind is picking up again. The forecast for tomorrow is to increase slightly so it may be good. NW would be very nice.

8th July

Stayed overnight at Port LA Nouvelle. There was wind forecasted and with the tour de France going through Leucate I would have been stuck till midday. Got up at 7am as I could hear the wind blowing so made my way to the coords I gave you in a previous post. Parked at the height barrier and rode to the beach. It was blowing 20 knots NW with an angle of around 110. The question was 6.0 and warp speed or 6.8 with the Manta. I didn't want to make the wrong choice as the walk was too long to mess up on sail size. I went with the 6.8 as I would rather go and change down than having to change up. Anyway it was the right choice.

Boogie made a comment / suggestion on building a makeshift trailer for my mountain bike. I did think of putting my kit on the bike and rolling it to the beach. But I was worried the bike would get nicked while I was on the water. A small trailer is the way to go though. What I did for transport was tie my sail, mast etc to the boom and slung that over my shoulder. Then with my other arm I carried the board.

With the Demon 6.8 and C3 32 Venom in the Manta 59 all set I made my way on the water and the wind dropped.... With the hope of more wind further up the beach I walked about a mile and it started to fill in again. Other sailors were making there way up the beach and were starting to rig. It's a very popular place. I would say by midday there were 20 sailors out.

Gusts were hitting 20 knots and maybe a little more now and again. I must say I felt more confident about going further offshore than Saint Marie. When I sailed there I was mainly on my own so if I broke any kit I would be stuffed. Not with Port LA Nouvelle. In the bigger gusts I went right off the wind and stayed like that for 500 plus metres. The fin just hung in there. The further offshore the nastier the chop got and it.... just hung in there. Top end technology .I've said this before but I'm sure Boogie sprinkles magic dust on the fins before he dispatches them. In these type of conditions I have got an excellent set for the Demon C4 as well. Soft when needed but still accelerates hard in the gusts.

With things going well I decided to beat 2 miles up the beach and go hard for a decent nautical mile time. I achieved 34 knots at Saint Marie and was sure I could better that. As I started the run it was a little up and down. So I decided to go closer to the beach so the speed would decay less in the smaller chop during the lulls. Things were going good when I gust hit and I sheeted slightly out so I could accelerate a bit harder and keep good board trim. BANG I hit a sand bank. It happened so quick that I didnt have time to blink. I heard a snap. (bone!) then my face went into the sail and legs following over the top. My neck was bending back at an alarming angle. When I gathered my bearing I check to see if my gps was ok. (priority!) Then I moved my head in a circular movement and all was ok. Looking down my beloved carbon X9 boom was in 5 pieces. Looking at the gps I was just shy of 36 knots. I may have been less when I hit the sand bank but I wasnt hanging about. The boom had snapped about 8 inchs either side of the harness lines. It also broke on both sided of the back end. The sail was fine. There are slight dents where my eye balls and beak hit the window but apart from that fine. I will miss my X9. When going at full chatt it made a noise like a didgeridoo. None of my other booms do this. A couple of guys went up to me asking if I was ok. One was laughing the other looked quite concerned for me. It takes all sorts :)

So I walked about 2 miles back to the van to get my spare boom and when I got back the wind dropped. To be honest I wasn't too pissed off about it as my back was a little sore as well.

I did notice a chap in trouble about 2 km offshore. I alerted one of the locals to his trouble and he called the sea rescue. After the rescue was called he started making his way back to the beach so i've just cost the French tax payer about 5000 euros..... When the helicopter arrived I quickly scanned the horizon for any other sailors in distress. Not a jot....

On a serious note the locals are fighting a battle at the moment. The beach may be closed to windsurfing as the nature lovers think it's damaging to the environment. Please go to to give your support. To close this spot to windsurfers would be a travesty and should not be allowed.

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