The Student Windsurfing Association
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On the 23rd and 24th March, 2002, a team of students went to the student Europeans in La Tranche, west France, to represent the UK. As always, we went off in style. Union jack thongs, food fights, frantic racing and the Brits clearing up, are just a few of many great memories from the event.
  • Location - La Tranche, West France
  • Weather - Light winds
  • Party - Team Rosbif
  • Attendance - 200+ (12 Brits!)
Find out how the student windsurfers brought ties closer together between Les Anglais et Les Francais (or not as the case may be!). Read on...

La Tranche Sur Mer, a beautiful, tranquil, spot situated on the west coast of France near La Rochelle. In the distance there is a rumbling of wheels; a low hum, an un-nerving tuneless noise; the animals start to stir, there is a fluttering of flags and singing, it's bad but the words are becoming clear…'I see a little silueto of a man, Scaramouch, Scaramouch, can you do the fandango - thunder cats and tight pants, very, very tight pants, oh mumma-meam mumma-mea take them off!!' Before any unsuspecting french farmer can put up a road block, there are cries from the villagers 'oo-la-la, les anglais putant, arrive!'

Yes, that's right, the English (and someone from Wales) had landed and La Tranche knew about it! With the lead presidential car, fluttering its union jacks from either spar and proceeding cars sporting larger versions from windows and roofs. Some french smiled and waved, others just gave the bird. It was clear they had experienced the English student windsurfer before!

On meeting the french organisers and having a slight communication problem, we soon realised they were keen that we behaved; they almost seemed uneasy about us staying in accommodation, or just generally being in the same town!

Enrolment of 'Team Rosbif' took place on Saturday morning. The racing is done in pairs and the organisers call the team by their sir-names (with 'et' in the middle), so obviously each team had a comedy name. With the likes of 'Blow et Goat', 'Bust et Ringpiece', 'Huge et Rection' and 'Ima et Sole', Team 'Rosbif' was read to jacket their spuds, dip-in their giblets and get runny with the gravy!

Saturday brought fine blue skies, but only marginal winds. The time mincing, waiting for racing was not wasted. Phil Cutter aka BustaRingpiece took the oportunity to teach the team French on the beach. His French vocabulary was somewhat limited and unfortunately left him talking solely about the death of his animals by a firey inferno! His owl, guinea pigs, horse and dog died from spontaneous combustion. Only his chicken and monkey died a less sever demise, having been choked and spanked respectively!

The racing on the first day went better than expected. 'Huge et Rection' came second, with 'Ima et sole' and 'Bust et ringpiece' narrowly missing entry to the front division, only to slowly slide towards the bottom of their group. 'Blow et Goat' held their head high, but their large equipment was to prove too much and withdrawal was inevitable. Team International also kept the side up pulling off some great positions.

The evening came, and much excitement was present amongst the french, as they sang patriotic songs. Team Rosbif offered assistance from time to time in the form of 'beat boxing' and scratching with upturned plates but they barely noticed the insignificant few amongst the marquee of 250 Gallic cousins.

Quietly we sat, until they offered for the Anglais to sing a patriotic song. We responded with a round of 'never made love to a whore?!?' as we tore off all our normal clothing to reveal a plethora of famous characters. In costume tonight were brave heart, Spiderman, Austin powers, a love-nurse, Johnny bravo, the fairy godmother and her evil twin, Miffy and Bat Girl! The French were slightly taken back by our song, so we finished with a group moony and returned to our seats.

The starter came, then the main course. Unfortunately that's as far as the food got to any ones mouth as the English were unaware of food fighting etiquette! It all began as 'nurse' ran down the marquee, with a row people either side, spraying a bottle of coke on every person he passed! Instantaneously, every French man picked up the content of his plate and threw it at the person next to him! Like never seen before (because last time the English did this they pulled the power!), the marquee erupted in a sea of Rosbif, fromage, pome de Terre and vin rouge! The hall cleared in seconds but the Brits had just begun with all action heroes herding up the french with spraying coke bottles, many already outside spraying the black and white stripped onion lovers back into the tent! 5 minutes passed with the organisers shouting 'will you please sit down' over the mega phone, even though only 12 of the 250 spoke English as their mother tongue!

Finally on Sunday, with similar conditions, and a few more races, the positions stayed the same. The UK team were proud to receive the second place won by Chris Brook and James Potten. As a joke, James took a coke bottle and began shaking it at the crowd (with the top on). The organisers voice will never be forgotten as he trembled and shouted 'no, James, no, don't do it'!

All the team had a fantastic holiday. We had won second place at the student Europeans, and the prizes included a 4.4m2 North Style and a retro orange wetsuit. Unfortunately for Chris, he already had a 4.4, so if you see the 'tango man' out surfing, give him a wave! I'm sure he'll be only too pleased to tell you about the time he minced for his country and took part in a story that will rest with the many windsurf legends of the past.

I hope you can make it next year!

By JPiddy



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