Read the latest diary entry from Pip Hare as she campaigns to compete in this year's Mini-Transat

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Lessons stopped today at 12 as the local school descended on the centre to talk with Kito de Pavant as he competes in the Barcelona world race.

It was fantastic to see. Franc had a map of the Atlantic on the wall, with an overlay of the weather, and Kito talked us through where he was, how he was going .. 27 knots… and his race in general.

The children listened, all clutching their Barcelona race maps – eyes wide, mouths open.

Then they were given the chance to ask him questions, “is it hard?” “Have you seen animals?” “How do you organise your life?”

No matter how trivial the questions seemed, the children were engaged, they were living the experience with Kito, they were absorbed and their imaginations racing to recreate what their hero was seeing and feeling.

It is great to see an Ocean racer given the same status as a footballer, or a formula one driver.

Kito is a hero of this town, he was the founder of CEM (centre de entrainment mediterranee) and they are proud of his very great achievements in the world of sailing.

There is a poster on the wall here from one of his past Figaro campaigns; the caption is “Kito, quand tu gagnes, c’est la mediterranee qui gagne!”

“When you win, it is the Mediterranean who wins.”

I wonder if we will ever feel like that in the UK?

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