Your Guide to DEFI WIND 2017

Posted on May 16 2016

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Your Guide to
DEFI WIND 2017
by JR wilhelmy - makani fins

Ever since learning about this event in 2014, I have constantly regretted
missing out on attending this wild and amazing opportunity. Every year I
have been telling myself that I should go, but I never actually went for it!
After missing so many previous events, I decided that I was not going to
miss out anymore! I finally made it to the event in 2016, and now I know
for sure that I am crazy for not having attended earlier. This year’s event
did not have the famous Tramontana wind that’s necessary for the ultimate
racing experiencing, but it was still an unforgettable time. This guide will
hopefully convince you not to miss out on future events.

Getting there from North America
It is pretty easy to find direct flights to nearby major cities. You can land in cities such as;
Barcelona, Toulouse, Lyon, and Marseille. You can get some very good travelling deals.
If you are bringing your own gear, make sure your airline can transport it for you and
double-check the extra luggage rates. I flew from Montreal to Lyon with Air Transat and
only had to pay an extra $100 for the gear both ways. If you have your own gear, rent a
car when you arrive to one of the nearby cities and take one of the scenic roads toward
Gruissan. If you don’t rent a car, jump on a train to Narbonne. Once in Narbonne, take
bus #8 Gruissan – La plage. Travelling to Gruissan from a nearby city is very simple and
you should be there in only a few hours!

Gruissan, France
The village of Gruissan is very beautiful and quaint, and it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It is also easy to convince
your family and friends to come with you as there is so much to discover around the village and beach, unlike some other
good windsurfing locations. The village sits under a medieval castle, and the small streets are filled with some excellent
locally owned shops and restaurants. The town is also famous for their open market where you can get amazing cheeses,
charcuterie and delicious French croissants! Right next to where the event is held, there is a delicious restaurant, Grand
Soleil Café. They serve some amazing local fish, and have free Wifi access where you can stay connected with your lovedones.
The staff is extremely friendly and are sure to brighten up even the cloudiest of days!

The Crowd
Everyone that makes it to Defi Wind is super stoked to take of
the biggest windsurfing event of the world! The action that is
created by this event extends just the windsurfing experience
that we all adore. Everyone is enthusiastic to participate in all
kinds of activities, from SUPing to crowdsurfing, and in for the
Apero (French for happy hour – that definitely extends an hour ;),
it begins at noon and ends at midnight!) Don’t worry if you don’t
speak French, just say bonjour! Even if you don’t know anyone,
you’re going to meet many amazing people, but I cannot assure
that you will remember all of their names! I was honoured to be
part of Vince’s camping lounge, we had so much fun,
and the experience was unforgettable!

The Event
The event itself is a pretty simple set-up, but it is not
so simple to organize. The race is a line-up of 1300
windsurfers racing a 20km run and back. The wind has
to be offshore by at least 20 knots, and usually the
races that place in 30 knots or so. Security is always at
it’s peak, so no need to you worry about your safety!
They have dozens of security jetskis and boats, they
even have a helicopter dedicated to the event! If you
stay close to shore, you should have water up to your
chest for the entire run! Long distance windsurfing races
are more similar to marathons in that the goal is not to
win the race but to complete your own personal-best
score. The race is not intimidating; it is open to first-year
windsurfing riders as well as the best in the world. The
diversity in the participants creates an excellent dynamic
and one amazing race!

The Nightlife
Nighttime is the right time! The evening at Defi Wind is a
great time to meet people from all over the globe! Much
like the Olympics, there are over 30 nations represented
at the event, I was the only Canadian! We need a better
delegation of Canadians in 2017!! Putting the lack of my
fellow Canadians aside, being around so many people
from the Windsurfing planet is an amazing experience!
Windsurfing together, and swapping advice is amazing,
but partying together is definitely something you don’t
want to miss out on. If you have the energy for it, there
are live bands followed by DJ’s
every night! If you don’t have the
energy to party all the time, not
to worry. The sounds from the
partying won’t reach the hotels,
cottages and campgrounds
where you get your rest! You can
sleep and regain your energy for
the next race.

7 Steps to make it to Defi wind 2017
1- Reserve your equipment rental
If you wish to rent equipment for Defi Wind, you much contact rental soon. The organizer for rented equipment keeps
15-20 kits for the event that cost 200 euros individually. If you are not renting, expect to bring approximately a 90 litre
board, 2 sails – 4.0 & 5.0, and a few Makani fins ;)! The extra luggage on flights comes to approximately the same cost
as renting equipment.
For more information on equipment:
www.polenautique-gruissan.com - jerome@pdenautique-gruissan.com
2- Register!
Don’t miss out on the opening day for registration (defiwind.com)! Last year, all 1300 spots filled up in only 24 hours.
You can always come to the race and ride in the area without registering, but you won’t be admitted to the races.
It is always worth it to come anyways if you are late registering, there is always the possibility of taking the spot of
somebody who was not able to make it.
For more info:
www.windmag.com/defi-wind
3- Reserve your stay
If you want to book a cottage with friends, it is better to do it sooner rather than later! The closer you are to the
location, the better it is for you! This applies to reservations in the hotel as well. If you plan on accessing free camping
on location, then just reserve 2 days prior to the start of the event. The locals only set-up the camping area at the
beginning of the event, so you are sure to have a spot there! Just be aware that is is in a parking lot and not a nicely
protected serviced campground.
For additional help:
- www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotels-g666500-Gruissan_Aude_Languedoc_Roussillon-Hotels.html
- www.agencedusoleil.com/agence/agence-immobiliere-gruissan-28.html
- www.legrandsoleil.com/hotel
4- Book your flight
All of the major airline companies have flights to Lyon (Air France, Air Canada, Air Transat…). You can fly to different
cities nearby, and travel to Lyon from there. The journey from Lyon to Gruissan is very simple with the amazing public
transportation, especially if you have your gear rented on location. Air Transat is the cheapest option if you are carrying
your own gear; they charge $100 per windsurfing kit.
Some airline options:
- www.airtransat.com
- www.airfrance.com
5- Book your car rental
There are many companies available that rent cars in this part of the world. Of course the cars are different than those in
North America, but you can get the size you need depending on your crew. If you decide to go by train, you don’t have
to reserve in advance.
For additional help with reservations:
- https://triavi.com/rent-a-car/france/lyon/lyon-airport/passenger-van-hire
6- Get fit
Try to exercise and continue practicing riding intensively for a long time before the race, it will make it easier one you
are in Gruissan!
7- BUDGET (approximately)
$750 for a flight ($950 with gear)
$150 for a cottage (4 people) or $0 if camping
$200-$300 for food & drinks
$200 – $300 for transportation (train or car rental)
$150 race registration (includes T-shirt, rash-guard and many chances to win tons of raffle prizes)
For about $1500-$2000 you will be able to participate in one of the best windsurfing experiences of your lifetime!
Please do not hold back on coming to the event if you are not a racer – there are less than 10% of participants who are
actually avid racers! If you want to know more about the event, do not hesitate to contact the Defi Wind staff, or myself.
We need a better North American delegation in 2017!
You can contact me or Defi Wind staff at:
sales@makanifins.com - defiwind@beachconcepts.org

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1 comment

  • Neil Greentree: May 17, 2016

    great defi wind overview JR. It’s an awesome event which attracts sailors from around the world. I agree with JR that the atmosphere there is something very special. Put it on your windsurf bucket list – Its one you wont regret.
    Regards
    A defi wind veteran from the UK

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