Sailing through September in Normandy

No wind today - lunchtime off Fecamp. The following day was 30 knots and heavy rain.Deauville breakwater - a good example of a 'digue a claire-voie'!the bridge opening for us to leave Deauville basinWhere it all began - the original Pen Duick

Hurtling downwind at 13 knots in a force 7 towards the beach at Ouistreham in Georges’s expensive Winner 9 metre made me wonder what was going to happen when we got there. In theory the finish line was between one of the channel buoys and the committee boat, but it wasn’t obvious how much braking room that was going to leave. At the last mark the Surprise had over taken us and seemingly without a care in the world hoisted their kite – afterwards they said their maximum speed was 18 knots...

That was the most extreme day of the Double de Normandie – the rest of the week was in much less wind, which made things tricky for the race team, and we spent a day sitting off Fecamp in a forecast calm, wondering why we were out there. The fact that they selected the race which was to count double after all the results for the week were in raised significant questions about their objectivity, though the organisation and catering ashore made up for a lot, and the cheerful atmosphere even very early in the morning, as at Ouistreham when we breakfasted at 7am local time to be ready for the lock, helped us to get through the week.

A good opportunity at least to visit an area I didn’t know, combining a bit of research with sailing – Georges was very understanding about my need to photograph breakwaters! Then it was back to Cherbourg for more work and racing on the Sigma and on Bernard’s 22-footer. Thierry and I did a double in the Sigma last Saturday, in which we finished only 4 minutes behind ‘Night and Day’ on corrected, having suffered from the calm following a rainstorm over the land as we approached the finish. All the evening races the clubs managed to fit in between the bad weather we managed to win, leaving both boats well placed to carry off the double at YCC and CNC in the slow class.

A treat last Tuesday was to be invited to provided ‘linguistic support’ to a planning meeting for the University Sailing Worlds which are being hosted by YCC next year; I was deputed to assist international coach and umpire Bruce Hebbert in understanding what was being said, though the meeting ended up being mostly in English. Lunch at the Cercle Naval was followed by a trip out in a RIB to inspect the rade, where the racing will be held next summer.

Finally, having sailed over in mid-August, I was able to find a window to cross back to Weymouth on Wednesday in SSW 12-15 knots on the equinoctial spring, which meant I found myself south of the Needles at the end of the flood, but managed a perfect arrival into Weymouth bay without ending up down by the Shambles, which in a big ebb is always a bad idea. The end of yet another French adventure, but hopefully not the last this year – we’ve got the final of the Championnat du mardi soir to contest in October!

Also included - a picture of the original Pen Duick. All four were in Cherbourg on their way back from the 500th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of Le Havre by Francois I. The French sailing world owes a enormous debt to this yacht and her owner, the late Eric Tabarly.

Submitted on 26th September 2017