Wingfoil, Ronde Om Texel
| | | |

Round of Texel 2023: Beaten by technology or proud?

Wingfoil, Ronde Om Texel, Texel, wingfoil

Let me tell you about the round of Texel 2023 last June. 

The round of Texel is a Dutch competition, for the last 45 years and growing. Originally it is a catamaran competition, one of the biggest in the world and if you participate you will know why. I have never seen so many catamarans  entering a starting line at the same time. This year the wingfoilers could participate for the first time next to the windsurfers and windfoilers. The goal is to complete one round around Texel as fast as possible.  On the date given, so whatever the weather, the tide gives you, you gotta deal with it. Sounds fun right?! I never did it before.. so I think I can do it.

From an  8th place in the Wingfoil Worlds, to a  windless Wingfoil Europeans at Garda, to a qualification of the Netherlands into the 2nd  ANOC WORLD BEACH GAMES –my second beach games after representing the Netherlands in kitefoiling – into a round around texel 2023 with an unfair DNF (While I was the first girl with quite some time in lead to the other girls.. ) .  Where for the first time in my life I experienced something like this: beaten by technology. The technology which should also be your safety device………………Yeaah right. It is all a bit frustrating, but on the other hand I learned something way more important.

After an eventful view months. Moving form event to event into freestyle, big air, twintip race on the other side of the world, into kitefoiling and wingfoiling in Europe. The last months all my focus (besides training for the worlds in kitefoiling) went into learning to wingfoil race properly. Read: using a harness, hooking in my wingfoil, using a bigger board and a smaller wingfoil – the kitefoil. Learn to gybe and tack….. crash and get back up, quite a mission if you are hooked in I can tell you… Just like starting, pumping and knocking the cord against your head, please…tell me I am not the only one. Taking the cord to hook the wing in from the old windsurf gear, it has to do the job. I know I had two days left to struggle before I had to make the round. Ready or … not, I could use all practise there is these days to prepare for the Beach Games and represent the Dutch.

Texel

Last minute I checked the wind on the island of Texel for the weekend and made the decision to participate, we will see. Drove the van down to the island, ready to  learn some more into this world of wingfoiling – and to see if I really like it, if I can do it. If I can manage the expectations to actually make it around.

Practice Races

The event is like all the kite events, starting from “Paal 17”. The first day we had a practice race to the  south part of the island, paal 9. First downwind and upwind back.  The second day we did an upwind and downwind race to the north part of the island, paal 31. With the wind slightly offshore, so no big shore break (here I was so scared off!!), strong enough to wing effortless and nice weather. Well, and no discussion which wing to pump since I only have one, a 5m. I was still too in-experienced to go on my small wingfoil/kitefoil (read: I only did this in storms, to know I would foil away for sure). So I took out the bigger front wing, to make it easier for myself. You make sacrifices upwind, but since I have a short mast anyway I will not win anything on that. Better to stay above the water and avoid getting stuck or in trouble. That made me take the “bigger” board too. This is what I am using the day of the competition, so better get used to it while I can. The weather conditions will be the same so easy choices for a change.

During this little competition rides, you could find out the best way to go upwind – where to ride and where not. In combination with the current, the tide and the waves. Same story downwind. Still feeling like a snail compared with my kitefoil – I got a lot of time to think about that, watch the others and learn . With a kitefoil its already done before you realise it influences your ride or the wind shift is already shifted another time before you can react. The little races felt forever and a little lonely – it did bored me – no surprises there. The upwind parts I was almost regretting my life choices, my arms were falling off. Note to self: use the harnas when you do wear it. Hooked in it feels so much slower than with the wing in your hands. But I do think you go more upwind hooked in, but I can’t go fast that way – yet.  More than enough time to find that out tomorrow.  The first race I was just looking at my watch,  thinking how long it will take the whole round……

The Race

I know I just wanted /needed to finish, I know it would take “forever”,  I know the weather and what to do, where to ride. So I took all equipment safe, big wing (duuh), big board, big frontwing. It was all about learning and not rushing it (trying to be  a little less competitive as usual, to not overdo it – to 100 % finish safe, manage the expectations). Keep foiling and not getting stuck because of stupid crashes or make myself tired by chasing people. I made the decision already to only do gybes.  So that I can keep the board flying above the water in shallow parts, the waves and hit the jellyfish, seaweeds without crashing (with a small wingfoil or kitefoil I do crash). And a board I know I can start in super light wind. Prepared for it all, no doubts – only not the high speed. But “slow and steady wins the race“; so they told me. There my competitive mind already goes, no they said:  “slow but steady will finish the race safe“.

One minute before the start I squeezed myself into the starting square. My mind said run start and be the fastest away, but my brain said it’s a long race, its not kitefoiling, let them start and fight whoever starts first. Go behind and ride away – as simply as that. So that’s what I did, remember my goal.  Then I just shut down my brain, enjoy the views, watch the catamarans, search the water for seals, think about my upcoming exam, reproduced what was on the sheets (crazy – I know),  saw the buggy riders having a competition at the light house, all on the go upwind.  I know it would take “feel” forever, and my arms will hurt anyway.  I made myself accept that fact tehy day before already, and made myself thinking about other things. This time I really did enjoy the upwind!

It took me around one hour till the first gate.

Than we entered the shallow part area, jellyfish, seaweeds. The reason I took the bigger wing. It was actually a really fun and quick part. Flat water, no turns -because of the perfect wind direction.

One straight line through the second gate that was only around 10 minutes from the first gate.

Behind and in between so many catamarans. They were al really supporting, never got so many (air) high fives. Well, I know where the shallow parts were, I kited that part a multiple times from texel to vlieland (sssssssst). When I came to the end of the nature area, the guy on the boat told me I could go downwind into the deep water. So I skipped the walking part, check.

Than we had a super looooong downwind till Oudeschild, the third gate. It felt like there was no wind, but I guess it was my lack of skills because a few minutes ago I was powered for two. The gate was situated close to the shore, we could wave to the people watching from shore. I did made some new friends, got something to drink and a few snacks for on the way. The boats followed me already a long time. They were quiet impressed by the wingfoilers joining and recognized me. It made the loooong downwind a bit more fun. Also at this point I know already that the organisations GPS was not working. They asked me how I managed to ride through the sand? (- they actually already reported this to the organisers). And more people lost me on the organisations tracker. But I had my own and that was my safety device, and tracking for my own team so I continued.  

2 hours and 30minutes it took me to the third gate. 

Well, and here I also had to cross the big ferry. It just passed so, I was lucky and could pass the port easy.  Enjoying the boats around and show off with some jumps to make the ride a bit more exciting for them and myself. Onto the next gate before going upwind.

3 hours from the start to the fourth gate.

Here I did some swimming and crashed for the first time. The whole downwind I didn`t switched feed, I was scared to crash, and enjoyed the jumping to one side too much. Now I had to because a long upwind was on the schedule. Time to switch off my brain again. I know close to shore was the best place to be, also I know it would be shallow, but I also know I prepared for that – and I learned the past days. Close to shore it is way easier to get upwind, nice and flat because of the offshore wind.  And I did only turn in gusts, so I would stay flying high. I had to pump sometimes because of the gusty wind ( a few days ago I couldn`t pump), and it was hard to not crash or touch the water.  In the distance you could spot the finish line, so close, yet so far away.  Here I hated every moment of my short mast. But it was fun to see the catamarans, the gusts and have time to think instead of the kitefoil scene where is a split second to do that.  A seagull got stuck between my board and the water, he kept on  flying there and hitting my board.  Until the catamaran guys throw him something to eat, and I was free again.

It took me (only) 15 gybes (tacks next year) to get to the finish line. The fifth gate: Overall 91 km 4 hours 08 minutes  – actually the time of my average session in summer. 

He said; “We can be proud on ourselves, by making it”

ronde_van_Texel_2023

I finished safe, and in a good time, as first girl and also still a good position in between the guys. Until, a lot of us got a DNF (I am not the only one). Long story short, a lot of GPS trackers from the organisation lost the signal. So, actually a lot of participants didn`t got a score. Which is not fair in my opinion – I had three trackers from myself, the coach and the organisation. It is two finishes against one not.  

It was not the only mistake made. I almost got a second DNF (if that was even possible 😛 ) because I finished. I crashed far behind the line to stop all the tracking – say goodbye to the boats. Floated downwind and had to go upwind again, now I didn`t pass the line, because I already finished once, so my competition is over. When I came  to the shore they told me I never finished…….I actually had to defend myself, and my not working tracker …. Even after reporting this to the organization they still accused me from sailing through the beach, nature and missing gates.  I did got verification from the trackers organisation that a lot of trackers lost the way at that point  – and the data is useless, so are the rankings of 2023 (- oke after the first 5 I guess).  At this point I know enough: beaten by technology! – you cant do anything about.

Oké I have to admit it was my first time using a harnas, I might got distracted by the seals and the hundreds of catamaran boats..but I didn’t ride that bad and straight… . And yes I missed a loooooot of marks and gates in my career but I always take the responsibility, this one I simply not.

Thats life: Sometimes you learn and sometimes you do everything right and still got beaten by the power of technology, something you cannot train for…. Or..??

The score a bit more explained:

For the ones tracking me and wondering where my score went (-including myself) and if I found a nice shortcut… no, I didn’t. But my organizations tracker did for some reason.

During the race we have to pass some gates in order to get a score at the finish line. 4  gates in this case. You can see the gates on the map. Knowing that I am a champion in missing gates, blame my brain – I did made pretty sure I couldn’t miss one and did exactly know where the are – even had the points on land in my head. I also made the deal not to do different lines than the catamarans (they raced this race a million times).  For  me it was not the case of not making it, but more lets not miss any gates and get lost.

Bringing the organizations tracker and off course my own, the coaches for the home fans and the close follow and data. You will see the difference in the pictures. Blue line is the organizations trackers line and the green line my own.  My own gps would have given me a score at the finish line, because that one tracked me passing the gates. See the nicely curved line.  While my organizations tracker gave me a DNF – no score. Because that tracker tracked me in weird places, lines and corners I cannot even make with my wingfoil, including riding over the beach, in a way too shallow area and even worse accused me of riding in a forbidden place – nature. Just how…?  And because of the line that tracker made for me I missed a gate..number 2. See the perfectly straight line on top of the Island. While my own tracker did the real tracking, a curved line over the top of the Island through the gates and above the forbidden area – as it should be.  In the end I asked the owner of the trackers and he tod me my ( and a lot of other GPSes) lost signal at that part of the trip.

Unfortunately for me/us the rankings are 100% based on the trackers of the organisation.  And useless in my opinion. In Formula 1. Any other world cup they would redress the results and not give out any titles. Before the end of protest time etc. Side note: tehy never use GPS as a ranking system, only as help – they still write and film teh onces passing the gates.

We can be proud on ourselves, by making it.

While I was still wondering why the organizations tracker listed signal, being confused. I did what I had to do,  finished, be faster than the other girls, no walking, going through all gates. Easier than I thought it would be – enjoyed the whole ride! And still got a DNF, waste of time – my first thought. And with that I was on to the next event, the next competition, the kitefoiling worlds and the World Beach Games.  

Then, I got interviewed and was thinking what/how to tell them about this disaster and stupid tracker – I didn`t match the expectations? Did what I had to do  (actually won), to trackers against one and still lost?  But when I scrolled back through the messages waiting for them,  I saw the quote from a friend again that sticked to me.  “We can be proud on ourselves, by making it” .  That kept me thinking for a while. And he is right, it made me forget my athlete mind and competitive way of seeing things a little. We should all think like this a lot more often. Why did I do the round of Texel? To prepare for the beach games, to learn, for myself. Not for others or a podium place. And what did I end up with, a great experience, a lot of things learned and a great time around the island (- safe).  And what I like the most the long distance around islands, on tropical destinations or the Netherlands. Not everybody made it, and we can say we did. It was a long trip, I should be grateful that I actually get to participate. 

So indeed I am proud!  Some days I just need that little reminder of a friend. Thank you!

2024 I will come back to beat my own time, just for myself and not anyone else. Enjoy the ride even more and have fun – even if I don’t make it this time. Send the tracker of the organisation with the seals around. They can actually “ride “the sand.  

surf_vanlife_island_beach_ocean

Vergelijkbare berichten

Eén reactie

Geef een reactie

Het e-mailadres wordt niet gepubliceerd. Vereiste velden zijn gemarkeerd met *