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Europe Class World Championships 2022 in Douarnenez, Brittany

by Emma Pearson 20 Jul 2022 05:46 PDT 8-12 July 2022
Europe Class World Championships in Douarnenez, Brittany © Simon Jourdan / SR Douarnenez

Tails from the Rear : As bruises turn from purple to brown to green, here's a few notes on a truly epic week away; in case you missed it.

For 2022, the Europe World Championships were held in Douarnenez, Brittany. "Team GB" consisted of four sailors that qualified for places on the national rankings last year.

Tim (GBR399 from Helford River/Restronguet SC) and Lucy (GBR411 from Chichester YC) had braved Open Week which is a pre-worlds where there is an opportunity to qualify to do the real thing, if you had not qualified to take a place from your nation's quota. The quota is based on the number of members each nation has so the for the Spanish in particular, the heat is on. Open week was sailed in flights and we had stories of light-lumpy-shifty winds, rafts on start lines and trigger pulls so quick, you'd miss it if you blinked.

Chateau GB (or Fawlty Towers as it was referred to, at least once) was a short hike up the steep steps at the back of the boat parking - an excellent location as we could hear the sound signals as well as view the racecourse from the bedrooms. We'd adopted a French sailor into the house to fill an empty room and this proved to be an excellent strategy as Pierre (FRA5462) was also a fantastic and very keen cook... especially when threatened with Lucy's British Classic: Beans on Toast.

Sub-Team Rooster/Stokes Bay (Steve in GBR417 and me in GBR419) arrived in the night on the eve of the final day of Open Week - to get a little time on the water before measurement and to settle in before "the big off". Armed with a pain au chocolate, we took a little sail out and had a good look and line up with a Danish group of sailors, only to discover, they set their boats up quite differently to what we were used to! At leased I'd brought the notebook! Here begineth the learning curve.

Measurement Day

Measurement day really is a hard day's night. You had to upload the data from your measurement certs as best you can, online before the event and bring a printout for the lady to check against your certificates. Once that was done, you had to get the gear checked in the stuffiest tent on earth.

Masts, booms, foil blades as well as rudder stock and tiller all had to fit the various jigs and be weighed and checked. Two sails to be measured in certain places; hull weighed and balance checked as well as tow lines checked. We marvelled at how the sailors stayed true to their home nation stereotypes... as we politely formed an orderly queue and baked our shoulders in the midday sun.

The opening ceremony, the following day, was a short walk alongside the marina in an alphabetically ordered procession behind a local brass band, clad head to toe in orange. Everyone is in Team T- shirts (including the Brits)! And each nation brandishing at least one flag. Even the German coach made jokes about the news from home, ruffling his very bright blonde hair to look like Boris Johnson.

Race Day 1

We started with the AP going up - something that would be come more normal than not for this week. The boatpark/slipway manager and everyone's best mate, Claude, instructed me that my coach or my parents needed to park in a specific area today due to the market... I thanked him but - did he assume we would come with back-up? Steve was the closest we had to a coach and he was also sailing!

On reflection we were the only four unsupported sailors and it did make things a touch less easy. Coach Steve had somehow lined up nine-times world champion Anna Livbourg's dad to take a small bag for me and Lucy and the Swedish support was happy to take things for Tim and Steve which was very much appreciated!

Men and women race in separate fleets which is an experience in itself. The mens' fleet of nearly 90 boats looked aggressive, loud and boisterous whereas I feel like the ladies are very polite... until there's a possible infringement and then it's like someone has stepped on a cat.

Steve started "a little too well" in race 1 which became housemate Pierre's favourite phrase. I had my first taste of the crazy starts - everyone is lined up and staking their claim on the line at 3 minutes to go and just hoping you hit go at the right time as you cannot see either end of the startline or transit.

With only two races a day, there's no chance to make up for any errors - your only option is to really showcase what you can do and go for it. Everyone else is absolutely gunning for it all the time.

Race Day 2

AP up again. We were released for sailing while scoffing baguette as we queued to get down the slipway. Regattas like this are all about keeping a level head, eating and drinking more than is comfortable and trying your very best not to pee in your wetsuit. It never ever ends and I'm still hungry like the wolf by dinnertime.

Ladies were the first start today. We had two goes before we were finally going as it was glassed over to a super-super light wind. The men whistle and bang their decks to get races abandoned - something we don't get in the UK.

Race 3, there was a big right shift which Lucy flew away on. Race 4, O flag came out to play and we could both see how much quicker downwind we both were with open pumping.

My aim was to ace the starts today - I'm quick in the light so if I could get a good start, I might get some smaller numbers on the board. I thought I was OCS so I went at it great-guns, bow down and working the chop. The video replay shows I still have a lot to learn!

There is an excellent video of Tim demonstrating how not to start at (or on) the pin end. Caught on the chain.

Race Day 3

We went out, we floated, we came in. My Rooster lightweight spraytop was an absolute godsend in keeping the UV and splash off but breathable enough so I wasn't drenched in sweat - like living on a prayer. We did get some advice on sculling the boat back into the marina with the sail down and a bit of practice getting a tow - two things we don't often do in the UK!

Race Day 4

A wake me up before you go-go, 6am start with the idea to get a race in from 9am was Plan A... Here [we] go again.... The committee may have forgotten to brief the wind, however which was now about as brisk as a careless whisper and so we waited around for some more hours. Watching TikTok, fishing, gardening, stretching out, eating, drinking and more eating. D flag (D for depart) went up erroneously and half the fleet went out of the river, only to come back in for another hour or so. Back up the steps the Fawlty Towers for Team Franglais.

When we did get out, it was still light but managed three races for the men and three (with an S flag) for the ladies. I had a throng of terrible starts, having to resort to a Cathy Foster (early tack out for clear air) and ending up DFL or close enough last at the first mark. The only way is up from a first beat like that!

By some strange twist of fate, I went downwind with a pod of dolphins by my side - which I will never forget. Sweet dreams are made of (things like) these and I went like a bat out of hell downwind!

In the mens' fleet Steve had a mixed bag of results and Tim started "a little too well" three times in a row! The ladies' race finished half a lap early as the wind did a big shift which the committee had suspicious minds for.

Race Day 5

AP up again. Pierre's inside knowledge from the French coach was that there would be a decision at 1pm so we tentatively sat in the house - more food, more TikTok, more water and hiding from the sun and 33 degrees in the shade.

Racing was finally cancelled and we put the boats to bed on the road trailers, ready for a long travel day. The boat park was incredibly hot - no longer walking on sunshine but packing up in a sauna. The closing ceremony came and went with lots of different sized sailors inside the top ten of each fleet.

We said thank you to Anna's Dad (Anna now ten times world champion) and I think he was trying to tell me that being small and 52kg is no excuse now we've seen Anna(!)


Final results for Great Britain and Team Franglish:

  • Steve 26th
  • Pierre 40th
  • Tim 67th out of 88 Men
  • Emma 39th
  • Lucy 44th out of 58 Women

On the way home, I couldn't help but wish we were off to the next regatta, to have another go at things. I just can't get enough. What an epic week!

Things for next year:

  • Learn to start in a raft
  • Bring a coach boat/mothership (complete with massive Union Flag)
  • Learn some Danish for 3rd - 13th July 2023

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