Nation’s Cup Preview
I have arrived in Carnac, the venue for the Magic Marine Nation’s Cup for the National Solos. My route here from the Isle of Wight was via bus, ferry, bus, ferry, camper van. I was joined on the overnight Brittany ferry by Solo competitors including Vice President Patrick Burns who would also be my chauffeur for the trip down from St Malo. The evening onboard entertainment did it’s best to drown out Patrick’s stories but it all ended abruptly when Nigel Pybus attempted to hit the high note with the Michael Buble impressionist.
The town of Carnac is very pretty and it would be a grave mistake to leave loved one’s back home, the quaint old town streets are lined with market stalls and the abundance of coffee shops are heaving with cosmopolitan tourists, sipping cafe au lait and puffing on Camels.
The club has sufficient space for the early arrivals but it might be a squeeze when the other 50 boats arrive. Most of the dinghy park is filled with the club’s catamarans and picos, this is very much a sailing school but with Solos turning up in numbers, the well worked pincer movement should soon have us controlling the beach.
This is very much an international event with competitors from the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Portugal, USA and Belgium. So, let it now be known as the Five Nation’s Cup.
The sun is shining and the thermostat will once again hit 30 which will be no relief for those thinning thatches, factor 50 is the minimum requirement. Our Portuguese entrant, Joao Rodrigues has travelled overnight via Lisbon, his battered out Merc and roof tent will be his accommodation for the week, the heat will make him feel right at home while the Brit’s may wilt. The Dutch are here in numbers and quality, Marc Deiben, my media counterpart is racing 3769, a wooden classic Don Marine design, still carrying 3kgs of lead and he will be in with a good chance of winning the Salcombe Gin “Classic” award though Ned 1, owned by dutchman Cees len Heer has a strong argument to claim a bottle. His Solo was originally 1030 and while it may be 10kgs overweight, is clearly well ahead in the authenticity stakes. Jan Arends has rocked up with the Carbon mast prototype which will have heads turning in the dinghy park. Obviously it will not be used during the regatta but might as well be covered in Marmite, such is the level of love/hate when exotic laminates are mentioned.
The “Dutch Angels” are here, Barbara, Saskia, Anja and Marleen while the UK female representative is Melanie Marden which will be a surprise to her as the online registration was to attend the class dinner, not the event itself. The ladies title will be strongly contested and with the forecast of medium winds, an overall victory is always a possibility.
There is a rich vein of talent here and while defending champion North Sails Charlie Cumbley may be favourite there are many who will wish to differ. Top of my list is Tim Law who finished third at HISC in 2018 but had he not been BFD in one of the races he would have collected there bullets in a row mid event which could have provided a strong hand. Pete Mitchell and Tim were locked in battle that week with Ellie Cumpsty, sadly missing here so Pete will be in the mix again.
Richie Lovering will be hoping the fine tweaks to the Hyde rig will project him to the front though a bit more breeze would help his cause. Another Ritchie in the guise of Bailey is here, the 73 kg sailor won 2 races in the light conditions of Hayling last year with the HD rig and it will be interesting to see if he can replicate that success here in Carnac. Shane McCarthy is another to utilise the HD Max and he is a canny sailor who can win races. I hope he does not rely too much on his Accommodation Reservation Special Equerry Oli Davenport who rang him from the UK to tell him that his booking had been cancelled as his credit card had been declined. Shane was straight onto booking.com.
I could go on with naming potential winners but will run out of time and you will all skip to the next report so let’s cut to the chase and get on with the main event which starts Saturday.
A word from the UK Solo Class President Doug Latta;
“With excitement mounting in the run-up to the Solo Class visit to Carnac, and with 73 boats pre-registered for the event from 5 Nations (UK, Holland, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal) it’s a matter of great pride and honour to be your President for this great event. In addition to what will hopefully be some spectacular sailing, the Yacht Club de Carnac will host us for welcome drinks on the first day of racing and a BBQ at the club on Bastille Day. Magic Marine will sponsor our Class Dinner held at the Casino de Carnac and I look forward to welcoming all competitors to this event, along with their family members for what should be a sparkling evening!
In advance I’d like to thank Steve Ede for his organisation of the event, in conjunction with the staff at YCdeC, particularly Servane Moreau and Pascaline Samson, our Race Officer Patrick Longuet, and Bernadette Delbart leading the protest committee and on water judge for the event – all of whom have assisted with every request from us and made the organisation of the event a pleasure. Just add competitors and the Southern Brittany Coast will be alive with Solo sailing at it’s best. Thanks also go to our sponsors Magic Marine and Brittany Ferries for their support. Look forward to seeing some of you on the ferry, everyone else on the water at the venue, and despite my up and down performance not so many of you ahead of me on the race-course!”
The fleet have returned to shore with Cheshire Cat smiles and sweat soaked lycra after final practice in champagne conditions. Solos and legs are waxed, rig settings have been optimised and water bottles are filled.
Let the games begin.