what i did last weekend
I wasn’t going to go, on the basis of the regatta’s ridiculous name alone. Happy Baie? The website which depicts children drawing on the streets, failed to sell it to me either, but the potential line up of maxi multi’s and the fact that Marc Guillemot was behind the 3 day racing spree finally persuaded me onto skyscanner.net (the best European cheap flight finder) and a ticket was bought.
My ride for the weekend was the recently chartered Class 40, ‘Forty Degrees’ – the newer of the two campaigned to success by owner Peter Harding with Miranda Merron. Ex-Mini Transat sailor and Friwi (Kiwi living in France), Conrad Colman is now her skipper and will be racing her in the upcoming Route du Rhum.
The 4 hour delivery from Lorient to La Trinite sur mer, afforded ample time for US Mini-transat sailor Jesse Naimark-Rowse and I to familiarize ourselves with the boat, although having boat captained the first Jazz Marine Class 40 ‘Forty Degrees,’ (now ‘Cutlass’) in the East Coast all summer, Jesse was already at home. For the racing, which began at 1500hrs on Friday, we were joined by Boris Hermann, (who will be racing the Barcelona World Race at the end of the year on Roland Jourdain’s ex-Veolia 60) and the local French Akilaria dealer.
I was not sorry to leave rainy England behind and was thrilled that the weather was glorious – a proper step back into shorts and t-shirt August. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the breeze was light as a result and the horizon hazy. Still, with 14 other Class 40’s on the water to race, skippered by legends such as double-Vendee-r Patrice Carpentier and 2-time-winner of the Figaro, Nicholas Troussel we were simply happy to be there.
In the way of eye-candy, there was plenty starting with DCNS and the Safran 60. The two Nigel Irens/Benoît Cabaret trimarans, ‘IDEC’ and ‘Sodebo’ were docked side-by-side at the end of our pontoon, while the first Arabian 100 ‘Oman Sail’ in her new livery of ‘Oman Air Majan’ was opposite, fresh from her recent record-breaking sprint round Britain and Ireland, by Sidney Gavignet. On the main harbour wall was the maxi-cat ‘Gitana 13’ and the extended ORMA 60 trimaran and serious contender for the Route du Rhum, ‘Gitana 11.’ Some of the giants were wheeling about in the bay for fun, with guests onboard, but on the Friday they weren’t actually racing. The spectators were indifferent and when the boats returned to the marina, the turnout was several people deep.
In spite of the soft breeze, competition among the Class 40s was hot and racing was intense! Shy of a smaller ‘upwind’ code zero in the sail inventory, we were mid-to-back of the fleet on points at the end of day one. In true French ‘bonhomie,’ a garden party was laid on for all the sailors by one of the sailors and so the early hours of Saturday were greeted by a number of well-known French jazz musicians, their music swilling out of the double-doors and onto the patio. On day two, the wind was up a notch and a respectable 3rd place was achieved. On the third, each boat ran a designated course for a timed run. In the afternoon, we further upped our game to steal second place. As a team we just got better and better.
With two top finishes, we earned ourselves third place on the podium and Conrad got a mention in the French daily paper ‘Ouest France.’ All in all, it was a ‘Happy Baie!’ Not bad for a weekend with friends!