The RS Eurocup venue, Carnac, has become renowned for its mixed weather, not always clement. The early arrivals this year, however, assumed they had hit the jackpot, when they were met by warm sun, blue sea, and a Force 3-4 during the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (30 March -1 April).
A total of 65 boats, made up of 10 RS200s, 14 RS400s, 14 RS600s, 10 RS700s, and 17 RS800s made the journey, mostly from the UK, but with a smattering from Switzerland, The Netherlands and France.
Carnac YC held a practice race late on Friday. The conditions were perfect – a Force 3 with sunshine, preparing participants for their first moules frite and beers at the notorious Square Bar.
On the first day racing started early afternoon, with two races. The sun still shone, and the wind had dropped to Force 2, decreasing somewhat for race 2. General confusion reigned regarding the course, especially in the 600 fleet, who entirely failed to see the replacement mark boat festooned with flag M, and rounded a random selection of mooring buoys off La Trinite before rejoining the race course. It didn’t make much difference since almost 50 per cent of the 600 fleet were OCS anyway. A class act by all concerned. Other classes managed the confusion slightly better, and all enjoyed a beautiful sail in sun and wind.
In the 700s, RS600 guru, Paul Bayliss show that he is a quick learner. Competing in his first 700 Regatta, he pipped Tim Johnson at the finish with Demo Dave Merchant of LDC in third. In race two, Johnson demonstrated his expertise in light wind often trapezing from what looked like the bowsprit, taking first with Carl Vining in second and Bayliss third.
The holiday feeling continued into the evening, with the fleet disappearing to the many excellent restaurants within 5 minutes walk, converging on the Square Bar, with the stalwarts nightclubbing into the early hours in the Whiskey Bar.
Day two comprised three races, sailed back-to-back. The wind had eased to a Force 2, but the sun continued to shine. The start was delayed for almost an hour with most of the fleet anticipating a day sight seeing lighthouses and creperies. However, the Race Officer, spied a puff, and got one short and two reasonable races in before the wind disappeared completely.
In the 600 fleet, Ben Willows made a re-acquaintance with his boat after a winter in the Caribbean. He, Roland Emmans and Ian Jubb all went right up the beat to cheat the tide and led the fleet from there on to the finish, with Willows winning. Races four and five saw consistently tight results from Matt Chapman and Ian Jubb, with multiple place changing and very tight starts, although the race officer did not resort to the black flag.
Race four in the 700s didn’t go Johnson’s way as a very tight reach to the finish with Vining on his tail saw Johnson uncharacteristically capsize 10 yards short of the finish line. While this was going on, long term Contender campaigner Nigel Walbank stole first, showing that he will be a real threat once he masters the big blue sail at the front. Johnson recovered his composure and position at the front of the fleet in race five, getting around the windward mark just ahead of Bayliss and Walbank. With the 800s climbing all over the mid-fleet 700s at the first leeward mark, an unusually dozy Merchant was t-boned by an 800 when he should have given way. Much ingested salt water later Merchant recovered his capsize and composure to steal a couple of positions back.
In the 400s, Giles and Heather Chipperfield led the fleet out of the tide towards the ‘Dangerous Rockies’ in race three, while Phil Jackson and Gerard Baron did the same in the next race.
Carnac YC hosted a beer, cider and crepe night, followed by the normal visit to the local hostelries.
Two races were scheduled for day three, but the second race was cancelled to ensure that all competitors were off the water in good time to catch evening ferries home. The final race,