Photo (C) Kevin Gandrey
Some have called Quiberon Hayling Island on speed. Having been here for a few days, I fancy learning French and moving here. Fantastic scenery, sea breezes every day, an Olympic Training Camp for a regatta venue and the best French baguette I have ever tasted!
It might also be the 15 French, 13 GBR and 9 Italian Teams that were here in Quiberon to compete in the 20th 4000 Euro Cup - and perhaps now the 2nd under the Rooster management.
There was talk of a top French Olympian called Florence Le Brun who was sailing with her son. Apparently practising every day from the sailing centre where she works. Michael de Flous has also been practicing on his local waters, although he likes i
t when its windy. In the Italian camp, we had Anna Ferrari and Andrea who as current European Champions were keen to defend their title won in Garda in 2014. In the British camp, we (Steve and Sarah Cockerill) had won every event since loosing the nationals last year in the UK. I had spent many an hour boat bimbling our latest 4000 ready for this event and with some extra practice at Stokes Bay Sailing Club against the talented Skiff fleet - we feel prepared as we could be. Many of the British fleet had changed to the new mainsail and upgraded their sails. The racing over this year had been tight, but who would be better in the big fleets of this rejuvenated Euro Cup. Geoff and Bernice Holden had been out practicing with us at Stokes. John and Fran as a previous Euro Cup champions are still keen as ever, practicing every Wednesday evening and every weekend. Tim and Harry Litt were sorting out their rig with the new main - and were now more competitive than ever.
The 37 Rooster 4000's that took to the water in no more than 8 knots were more like school boys leaving on the first day of the holiday. The first race of any big regatta are not the races to win a regatta - but they certainly can be the races to loose one. With the anticipation and the unknown of ones performance, keeping calm and racing the boat the way you have practiced can be a challenge. Rabbits in headlights comes to mind.
The best bit of regatta preparation I have ever heard was from a Star World Champion who said race every race as if it counts. Race as hard in 20th as in 1st and plan to win the regatta with all your discards in hand.
With a 3 hour postponement, it was not surprising that a few sailors found themselves caught out by a U flag at the start of the first race. A U flag is more like a soft Black, same penalty if the race continues, but would be ignored if there was a general recall. The RO made his mark in the first race, taking numbers of those who had not quite made the start at the prescribed start time but were inside the triangle and those that were now too eager to hold back at the first start. Their number was finally revealed at the finish line to the dismay and disbelief of the sailors in question.
The windward mark was placed at 265 degrees - giving the option of taking the port shore off the peninsular for more left shifted pressure. Sarah and I started at the pin which looked a little risky at first - but eventually the wind headed and we took to cross the fleet. Tim and Harry Litt took our transom and went for more left pressure. John and Fran came in from the right, whist Geoff and Bernice came up from left with us. We rounded second after Tim, followed by Geoff and then John. Not a bad start for Brits who like it more windy.
We battled it out with Tim eventually taking the gun from Tim. John and Fran took third from Geof and Bernice with Michael Duflos in fifth.
Race 2 and the line looked a little more balanced, the wind also was perhaps stating to go right which helped many to start near the committee boat. Meanwhile at the pin we were battling to get out of a second rank start with Keri and Freya taking the pointy end of the start and crossing the fleet off the start. Keri sailed smartly to take the first mark first. We had finally found a lane to cross most of the fleet, then battled through and took some shifts to round 3rd from Florence with John and Fran on our heels again. Tim was also back in the hunt again with a smart start at the pin - be he opted to hit the left hand side - which hurt as the wind went right up the beat.
Our race was a close run thing, with Florence taking us upwind as we took them downwind. Thankfully the last downwind gave us enough lead to hold them off on the short beat to the finish. I was happy to have two counters in a day of light and shifty. Tim unfortunately had UFD'd ( the name for bering over in the last minute with the U flag) so had Keri who had crossed the finish in about 6th. John and Fran were consistent with another 3rd.
The RO and their team were certainly professional in their approach. We were sent home as the sea breeze was dying.