La Rochelle -French spring nationals
Preparation is everything…
Although dad didn’t give me much time to prepare with a last minute decision on Tuesday. This meant an overnight crossing on Wednesday from Plymouth to Roscoff followed by a 5 and a half hour drive to La Rochelle for the French Spring nationals. Part of the reason it was last minute was finding out the information on the event through FFVoile and dads work.
We arrived at La Rochelle a little confused, nice sandy beach and torrential rain. Some of the first faces we saw were our Dutch friends Joost, Floris and Luc. Turns out we were launching off a slipway and would have to sail out of the marina which I was ok with since we could park the at the top of the slipway.
Registration. Being asked questions in French for documents you don’t have is not fun but thankfully the RYA and UKWA membership covers everything. What seems strange to the French is that I would be doing the event without a coach or a coach boat, this made my dad feel like a bad parent, but not every windsurfer in England has their own coach/coach boat. Before the first possible start at 2:00 we met Thomas and his mum Chrystel who were extremely helpful. Thomas’s dad was on the committee boat and Chrystel arranged for me to have access to their coach boat so I could have my boat bag in between races. Thomas escorted me to the sailing area. All of this was really nice. Their club is CN Angoulins who I owe a huge thank you to.
Race 1: 6 knots south west with small waves start was clean but at the unflavoured end of the line I rounded the windward mark in the teens and clawed it back to 6th. Race 2: 3-5 knots with same weather as race 1 rounded the windward mark in 5th then going across the top reach a massive leisure boat came charging through the course separating the leaders and I was unfortunate to be caught in the wash pushing me back to 6th place.
Day 2: Started a lot earlier as it was windier earlier in the day, unfortunately we weren’t early enough and the wind had dropped completely to 0.2 knots and I sat out on the committee boat for 3 hours until getting a lift in with my other Dutch friend Jimmy Van-Someran. That night we met up with Thomas and his team for drink (orange-juice) and an early night to bed.
Day 3:started even earlier knowing we had to get some races in, the first race was at 10:00 Race 3: 8 knots just railing flat I was knocked in on the start and then went to the right hand side of the coarse I was obviously fast as I made it back to 8th place. Race 4: Knocked in at the start again… Enough said! Race 5: Didn’t engage with the fleet at all 2/3 of the fleet started at port end 8th at the windward overtook 4 people to make it to 4th.
Over the whole event I came 5th which I was very pleased with. My time at La Rochelle has been very worthwhile I have made some friends and learnt lots about my windsurfing, what I need to improve on (starts) and also I have improved on my French. Coming home has been a bit of a challenge; our ferry has been delayed then cancelled and we had to drive 3 hours to Caen to get a ferry to Portsmouth followed by a 4 hour drive home THANKYOU BRITTANY FERRIES!!!