by Rob Burn
France Day 1 - 420 Nationals waiting for the fog to go
Rob Burn Reports from Day 2 of the French 420 National Championships
Yesterdays report from the lovely Brittany seaside town of Plenuef Val Andre, hosting the French 420 National Champs started with the corny Yogi Berra line 'It's Deja Vue all over again'. We sat around all day waiting for the fog to lift for the second day in a row. There was a window of opportunity immediately before and just after noon for a couple of races but the fog was hovering , coming in and out of the sailing area and the Principal Race Officer took safety first.
We were told they would sail until 8pm but at 7pm the program was abandoned and home we all went.
We all took the positives that our sailors had got over their jet lag, they had acclimatised to the European summer temperatures, their boats were well set up and there was a very cool lot of French, Dutch and English girls following ....our boys, that is.
Today, the third race day of the Regatta would be different.
Team NZL was going to sail no matter what!
at the waterfront, the 'Dyke', the sailing area was wreathed in fog but some clear patches and some breeze. Our three crews got out there and had a couple of very productive hours while the others knashed their teeth on the beach. The English came out later but by this time the PRO started to worry that the fog was coming in again and our sailors were ordered in.
On the water French 420 Nationals
The skies cleared, the sun came out and everyone got to the Start Line in about 5-6 knots of patchy breeze. Blair and I were doing our duty on a Committee boat, mainly doing general recalls.
The first start that had Eliza and Sam as the only Kiwis was a complete shambles, we could see that happening from 3 minutes out. General Recall, we charge across the fleet sending them back and we start again.
The sailors still didn't get the general idea of where to start, even on a Black Flag ...at least 14 got disqualified and removed from the course for the third attempt.
Eliza and Sam didn't have the best of races, 'just sailed slow' they told us later.
The next flight was Taylor and Henry, and Taylor and Sam. Another General Recall, then the Black Flag. Both NZL crews got away well, Taylor and Henry rounding the Top Mark in the top five, Taylor and Sam a little further back. The VHF from the Race Committee was calling out the Black Flag numbers and although my French is completed sub standard, I caught NZL 54590. Our boys finished the race in eighth but Black flagged and disqualified. Taylor and Sam finished 16th and made a solid start.
The second race was again Eliza and Sam in the 'Flame' flight, not so many Black Flags this time but the wind becoming more patchy, 6 knots was a maximum. Eliza and Sam had a much better race and finished around 17th.
The 'Non-Flame' flight of the other two crews had another General Recall, then a Black Flag start. The Pin was the favoured end, out left was the best side of the course. Taylor and Sam got away cleanly but Taylor and Henry were a little gun shy and conservative, got rolled but fought their way out.
Taylor and Sam came out in third by the first gate mark rounding, Taylor and Henry eighth. By the time the fleet had got to the Top mark for the last time the French girls had gone hard left and come out at least 3 minutes head of the next boat to round, a huge lead. Our boys were fifth and seventh round and heading for home. The Race Committee shortened the course, finishing at Mark two. The sailors following the front bunch saw what was happening and sailed direct to the finish. Taylor and Sam had a great race holding their third place but Taylor and Henry got pipped by the inside boats and finished 11th...still ok.
We stayed out for another hour or so waiting for the wind. The Organisers are desperate to get the series in for their National Champs. Finally at 6.45pm, the Go home signal was given ....yahoo!
Tomorrow is a 10am Start, they are trying for 4 races so we will see. Big pack up and head for Valencia, Spain, 1400 kms down the road.
A Bientot, mes amis