Former Sailor Chick of the Week Pip Hare is in France this month getting some serious training in offshore solo sailing by legendary French coach Franc Citeau. Be sure to check out the Pip Ocean Racing site for constant updates on how it’s going and what the future holds for this up-and-coming Mini sailor.
Thought I would give you an update on how things are in France even though it is a bit sore typing at the moment, my fingers haven’t got a huge amount of skin left on them with the beating I have been giving them!
First off, my big sponsor news is that Raymarine have made me an ambassador for their company, meaning they are supplying me with all the electronic kit I need on the boat. How fantastic that I can knock a decent amount off that budget, and there will be a big launch for us at the London boat show.
But the business at hand here in France is learning how to sail Minis well and little else. The Centre here is absolutely fantastic, it is cold but the sun shines everyday. La Grande Motte is a holiday resort which has 100,000 inhabitants in the summer and only 6,000 in the winter so we have the run of the town, including free use of the gym at the golf club and the town’s huge swimming pool.
The day starts early with some physical training session, either circuits, running, weight training or swimming, then onto a morning briefing at the sailing centre, then get the boats ready and out on the water.
Race training is varied and qualitatively measured with proper debriefs in the evening, leaving just enough time to eat some supper and fall into bed. We go out whatever the weather and yesterday it was gusting 45 knots, but no excuses; we had a proper race, spinnakers and all. Needless to say I spent quite a while with the boat lying on its side; but when it was upright with the kite it was FAST!
Centre manager Franc Citeau is an inspiration; he has a genuine love of the sport and has been churning out winners in the field of short handed sailing for his whole career. He has real compassion, and is willing to help anyone, regardless of their talent, if they show enough genuine passion for the sport.
My first week was Mini training, which was a big deal for me as it was the first indicator of how close to the pace I am. It was not too bad, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. All the Mini sailors are fantastic, real adventurers, open and friendly.
This week Franc suggested that I join the double handed stage in the Figaro class, as he felt it would be a good progression for my training to join with one of the top French sailors and learn from them. I completed a day in the Figaro and now am tagging along with their training in my Mini, little boat, running along behind the big boys, trying to keep up…until we turn downwind, and then they can eat my wake!
Among the class this week we have sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race, the Louis Vuitton, Tour de France a Voile – basically a load of rock stars but all really nice guys with their feet on the floor and keen to pass on advice and help, and I continue to progress. For some very shaky video of me blasting downwind in 30 knots you can check out this link, I can’t even imagine what the video would have looked like from our 45-knot day yesterday if any was taken!!
Thank you all for your support and belief in what I am doing. Have a great Christmas and a very happy New Year.