Navigating in the dark through rural Brittany to a grid reference based on a bit of a guess was interesting but eventually we found the house, my mum’s holiday cottage, right in the middle of nowhere. Staying in a real house, albeit without internet access was a lot more civilized than sleeping in a small twin room and being forced to eat in restaurants every night. Plus we had the benefit of mini sailing hero Pip Hare staying with us for a few nights giving me and Sam a little respite from each others sole company, and regaling us with some war stories from the mini transat.
After a few good days working through all the little jobs on our boats and getting the lie of the land we met up with the rest of the Figaro sailors we will be sailing with for the next few months. Our little training group of seven boats, of which I was by far the least experienced being the only rookie, were very friendly and open. We stared off feigning a knowledge of French and having a good stab at picking up the discussion but once things get heated and the talk speeds up I was quickly lost. Luckily the coach Yann Elies and a few of the sailors were kind enough to translate the main points for us. Hopefully as time goes on my French skills will improve, having spent a bit more time here in the past year Sam has made impressive progress in the “language of the Figaro.”
These training sessions in Lorient are all planned to last three days in the middle of the week, the thinking being that there is plenty of time to get boats and kit ready and then have three intense sailing days where no time is wasted. After some general boat handling drills and a few short races on the first two days we planned a longer race on the Thursday. A 70 mile triangle around the Ile de Groix, starting off with a long beat into a building 18knots and some good waves reminded us of why we chose to train here and not the med. We got a full range of conditions with towering thunder clouds giving us hail, big gusts and a shifty breeze. I delayed changing down to the small jib, partly because its a miserable, wet cold process up on the bow, and ended up with quiet a bit of separation from the fleet. This coincided perfectly with a big shift in the wind direction in my favor and put me in the lead by nearly half a mile. Here is a little clip from the inevitable downwind fun that followed the long beat. Shortly after this the wind disappeared and the race was abandonment before midnight .
This week is a bit of a break, chance to catch up on some admin, see family and get some hours in the gym at home. Next week it’s back to Lorient for two more weeks on the water before heading out to do the RORC Caribbean 600 race aboard a very comfy looking Swan 62