by Rob Burn
Happy Bastille Day! To the roar of jets, low flying large transport craft and helicopters flying past, the French National 420 Championships got underway just off Ouistreham beach, known as 'Sword Beach', 70 years ago with the Normandy D Day landings in 1944.
Dodgy start line at the 2014 French National 420 Championships
The golden sands, today thronged with holiday makers were about as far away as you could possibly imagine from the hell of invasion and war.
The fireworks were huge and went late into the night last evening, a difficult choice between the German vs Argentina football World Cup game at the same time. The continuing 'Crump, Crump, Bang, Whizz' from Ouistreham and the smaller villages up and down the coast as the fireworks went on and on, we said to each other, 'the sounds of the D Day Landings must have sounded a tiny bit like this'. Hard to imagine nearly 29,000 men pouring onto this beach, and tens of thousands of others onto the other beaches to the West. Needless to say, our sailors, Taylor Burn, Queen Charlotte Yacht Club, Picton, plus Murrays Bay and Takapuna in Auckland and Taylor Balogh, Naval point Yacht Club, Canterbury, had a late night ...not great preparation for an early start on the first day’s racing.
The girl’s team, Emma Stenhouse and Brittany Wornall, both of Naval Point Yacht Club, were much more sensible with an early night.
Racing today was a day for the smaller sailors, light breezes and plenty of shifts, three good races in up to 10 knots, two flights of 40 plus boats adding up to a big fleet of 84 plus some no shows today.
As the 'Flag man' on the Committee boat today, plenty of practice was had hoisting the Black Flag. Several General Recalls on the Black saw a few disappointed sailors sitting out the racing, every race with each flight went to the Black Flag and had sailors disqualified.
NZL support boat - 2014 French National 420 Championships
It must be said that 'School Cert' French seemly a century ago, doesn't really prepare you for working with a Race Officer and Committee who speak very little English. Us Kiwis are always up for a challenge.
The NZL crews stayed on the right side of the course and out of trouble. Brittany and Emma had a great first race and stayed at the front of the pack to finish seventh. Taylor and Taylor had a great start, went too far left and ended up deep around the Top mark. They fought their way back to salvage a 12th.
Start line issues for both Teams trying to start off the Pin gave them a 13th for the Girls and a 15th for the Boys, not stellar but when 45 kilo sailors born in 2001 are zooming past in the light breeze...could be worse.
The third and last race of the day had the Taylors hit the start well on yet another Black Flag and they seesawed in the top three to finish second. Brittany and Emma got caught in the traffic and finished 16th.
Team NZL 420 - 2014 French National 420 Championships
The posted overall results of Taylor and Taylor 11th, Brittany and Emma 18th, may be yet adjusted as several sailors were disqualified for going in under tow when being told to wait in a holding area until the Ferry departure, tomorrow will tell us more.
Bastille Day means that most supermarkets, food stores etc are only open for a few short hours ....420 Team NZL took the opportunity to enjoy some Yacht hospitality at the keeler club down the road ....tres magnific!
Another day of good, hard racing tomorrow, perfect preparation for the Open 420 World Championships in Travemunde, Germany. We will be heading there this Friday after the French Nationals finish on Thursday, hoping no more motorway collisions with trucks as driving from Frankfurt to Ouistreham.