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Hot Chocolate

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Hot Chocolate

A report from the Classe 40 Keysource. Enjoy.

We made it to the penultimate event of the season – the Morbihan Mondial in La Trinite – we placed joint 1st with another British boat, the new OCD 40 Degrees, but came second on count back. Good for a shake down after our crash repairs when we had the unfortunate t-boning incident at the worlds…..

So it’s finally here – the big one of the season and the biggest one of our sailing careers to date!

Senior and I brought Keysource up the Loire River to Nantes on Friday afternoon and parked next to the race village. Nantes did an excellent job of welcoming us and the other skippers – there were ribs waiting for us to help us moor up to the buoys (in 4 knots of tide no less!) and loads of volunteers within the race village and all over the town.

They just really know how to promote a race over here in France – the towns’ sponsor the race and invest loads in getting everyone involved – there were a few thousand for the presentation of the skippers on Saturday night – we all went up on stage and were cheered, there was live music, shows and all sorts as well as a welcome reception afterwards.

On Sunday we motored down the Loire village to St Nazaire following the Belle M – a three masted, 19th century Chocolate freighter. It’s around 30 miles from Nantes to St Nazaire but with the huge tide under us it only took a few hours.

Every village we passed on the river had turned out and I reckon there were at least 50,000 cheering and waving as we passed by. We were joined by a couple of children from our local school (every boat has a local school as well as their designated charity) Ambre and Quentin who were great and absolutely loved it. What with the tv chopper flying overhead, the interviews they gave to French tv on board and all the locals cheering them on they were made up.

So now we’re down in St Nazaire doing final checks and spending increasing amounts of time studying the weather. Nicco Brennan put together an English speaking briefing for us on Monday with Jon Yves Bernot which was great, though possibly it’s made it seem even more complex figuring out the right way to go!

The village they’re setting up here has a real buzz, everyone on the dock’s finishing off the last few jobs, getting through scrutineering etc. Boat prep wise it’s been all go as usual, after crashing out of the worlds at the end of August, Bag (our preparateur) has been overseeing the repairs (which were turned around quickly) as well as installing new kit (fuel cell, solar panels, ancillary autopilot, new software, spare computer, watermaker).

Most of the crews have been here for a few days – been getting to know a lot of new faces for this race as well as new friends which we’ve made over the course of our first Class 40 season.

Pre-race favourites here are Bernard Stamm and Bruno Joudren but there are loads of Figaro, vendee etc. sailors here who all know what they’re doing. I can’t help but think that the Italian Stallion (Soldini) is the man to beat but who knows. Senior and I are not worrying about where we’ll come – it’s our first transat race and it’s a long one (5,000 miles). I reckon just completing the course will be an achievement. Prologue on Friday which I think we’re racing double handed and then the race begins on Sunday – incredibly excited and really just want to get out there and get going now – been building up to this for over a year now.

We’ll be blogging during the race and there are trackers on every boat with 5 pos updates a day. Blog will be up and running on www.keysource.co.uk/solidairechocolat/