The end of January is quite a quiet time at the Center Entrainment Mediterranean (CEM), most of the French sailors either haven’t got their sponsorship finalised for the year or are still working on their boats. The six remaining Artemis Offshore Academy members at La Grande Motte have been making good use of the light winds and relaxed schedule; plenty of gym work and A LOT of boat handling practice. Whilst the basic steps to achieve a good tack, gybe or drop don’t change when sailing alone the priorities do. You might think you are gaining loads screaming into the leeward mark with the kite up until the very last moment but those three boats you creamed past on the way into the mark come back past you very quickly when you are flapping around like a ghost under half a spinnaker with both sails flapping on the beat. Even on a short course patience is a virtue. The other noticeable thing when watching the good guys sail is how calm they are. When they talk about “the rhythm of the Figaro” it turns out that this is not just meaningless French waffle, on a long race you can’t run around the boat like a maniac all the time to shave seconds off a manoeuver (and also it doesn’t gain you much). Deliberate efficient movements are the name of the game with uber-coach Franck Citeau’s well drilled mantra “one action, one result” becoming usefully etched into the mind.
On a less sailing related note other newsworthy events at the CEM include the rapid departure of Nick Houchin who has left to work and race on the Cookson 50 “Jazz” in the Caribbean for two months. Not only is this a good chance for Houch to do some great racing on a top boat and earn some money but it also frees up one more boat for the rest of us to get more solo time in! Also we have expanded our squad dinner cooking rota to include all the French sailors too. The downside being that is has become quite an effort for one person to feed 12-14 hungry sailors but the benefit is that you only have to do this once every two or three weeks. Also, contrary to initial expectations, the English chefs so far haven’t been entirely outshone by the French with Sam Goodchild’s take on Tartiflette currently nosing ahead for best dish.