Isaac de Vries’s diary of a Freeride/Slalom event in the Indian paradise of Mauritius
Day 1 Crossing
Day 1 of competition was straight into the 40km Crossing from the Preskil Beach Resort to El la Cerf Island 20km away, around the Headland and return. The race was varied from slightly downwind to deep off he wind in a mirror flat lagoon for 4km which was something that had to be experienced by every keen sailor. Upon turning around at the buoy for the 20km mark, the race was tight upwind to get around the headland and then a fast flat slightly upwind leg to return to the resort. I finished in 4th battling it out with super fast kitesurfer Nicolas Falcou, who finished in 3rd. Windsurfer Julien Maurel and Fabrice Leciezio were the fastest guys on the water.
Day 2, Le Morne Slalom
The boys from South Africa, Seychelle islands, France, Mauritius, UK and I had to drive to Le Morne. We all jumped into the vans and the equipment was leading the way in a large truck to the destination. The location was an amazing sandy beach on a magical blue lagoon with famous One Eye surf break out the back. Traditionally renowned for its high wind action, on this particular day on a low wind forecast it still delivered some light wind racing. Local Mauritian gun Fabrice Leciezio was capatalized on his light wind expertise and managed to win the day. I made it in equal 7th place. With some difficulty starting in a pack on the light wind conditions I had inconsistent starts.
Day 3 Lay Day
We had a rest day, which was much needed and the little breeze did not allow any competition.
Day 4 Heineken Joy Ride #1
This was the best day of sailing so far as it was such an amazing flat 10km long slalom over flat fast lagoon conditions. We started at the outer reef and worked our way downwind through a 10km slalom course, where we gybed after about 4 km and turned back to the beach for about 5km run and then a short leg to finish at the point, where the Point D’Esny Yacht club was located (this became my personal favourite spot). There were 3 long races when the tides allowed us to sail over the amazing coral reef, and then a short figure of eight course for race 4. We experienced an awesome day on the water sailing hard fought races for over 2 hours with time to chat about each race and rest. I managed to make a comeback in the first race after the crash hitting a Barracuda and came 6th overall, then managed about a 4th, 4th and 3rd in the final race.
Day 5 Swan Group Crossing
The Trade conditions had set in and everyone was excited to take on the 40km crossing in more exhilarating conditions that would separate the fleet. The race started at the Preskil Beach Resort once again, and the wind was between 17-23 knots throughout the course. After a flying start from the big South African Robbie Bense, local Julien Maurel and I fought it out neck and neck to the 20km turnaround buoy. Until Julien finally pulled away by a few hundred metres to finish first, me in second and Fabrice Leciezio well behind in third. As an indication of the flat water conditions, the race was competed in 40 minutes, averaging 60km/hour. All riders enjoyed a beach barbecue and beers to finish the fun day on the water.
Day 6 Zilwa Resort Slalom
We windsurfed in a well known area for high winds in the North Western coastline of Mauritius. This was truly a magical experience of 25 knots and slick fast racing in the wide lagoon. The event was held directly in front of the resort, with competitors enjoying the 5 star facitilies before and after the racing to prepare and relax from such an action packed day of high wind slalom. The wind here is quite deceptive from the beach as you go further out from to the slalom area, the wind increases rapidly. I went out on a 8.6 m and 128 Patrik board, but soon changed to the 7.8m and 115v2. I was excited to be out in front on the first race with the chopper chasing, but somehow dropped the third gybe. I managed to finish 3rd overall for the day, with Julien and Fabrice taking first and second.
Day 7 Heineken Joy Ride #2
I managed to have a great day on the water in the first 3 races, all my starts were reasonably good and I was up in top 2 or 3 guys in each race to the mark. Fabrice, Julien and Nico the fastest kiter were always up the front and we battled for the first mark pretty hard. It was low tide so the racing was inside the reef line, the water was mirror flat, which made for fast exciting times. After a much deserved break with a long week of racing almost over, the sailors had a break for a few hours, lunch chat siesta and then back on the water for one final long slalom race from the outer reef and back to the beach.
Overall results after a week racing:
1. Julien Maurel
2. Fabrice Leciezio
3. Nico Falcou (best ranked kitesurfer)
4. Isaac de Vries
© Isaac de Vries, Pics: Greg Betts, Natasha Smith