The gathering on the Mediterranean Coast this weekend is expected to attract more than 800 competitors
Now in its 13th year, the annual Défi Wind competition has long been confirmed as the biggest event of its kind in the world. It takes place in the small coastal town of Gruissan in the Aude department in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon.
One of the town’s biggest claims to fame is that it was the main location for the Jean-Jacques Beineix’s classic 1986 film “Betty Blue” and those famous cinematic timber bungalows on stilts are still there today, according to PRO for the big event Didier Lafitte. According to Didier, despite being a Mediterranean location, Gruissan is known for its quality of wind and the mixture of warmth, strong winds and romanticism of this corner of France combined to make it a windsurfer’s Mecca:“A few friends came here in the 90s because they like windsurfing,” says Didier. “Gruissan is a very famous place in France because the location is really really windy. It’s one of the most windy places in Europe, I guess.”
Défi Wind (The title means “Wind Challenge”) draws competitors from 29 countries worldwide, representing six continents in a race format where amateurs and professionals of all levels all start together. This is one of the aspects of the race that make it such a unique event, according to Didier:
“Défi Wind is the only one like this in the world – it’s completely unique. It’s a gathering of pros and amateurs and this is one of the successes of this competition because if you’re an amateur and you’re on the starting line, you’re close to the world champion. You can be close to Robby Naish or Antoine Albeau or Björn Dunkerbeck, even though you might be completely unknown: you are just here because you love windsurfing.”
There are plenty of other social events going on over the weekend, including concerts and clinics for the public. Competition kicks off at 13:30 on May 9th and winds up on the evening of May 12th.
Lafitte has been soaked in the world of windsurfing and watersports for over a quarter of a century at this point. His windsurfing school on the Ile d’Oléron celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and Lafitte has represented France as a competitor, judge and administrator in windsurfing.
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Défi Wind Official Video 2012