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Societe des Regattes du Havre

Societe des Regattes du Havre once again hosted the first leg of the Yves le Bour Challenge over the first May bank holiday. Since P&O sold the Le Havre route last year, a new company LD Lines has taken over. In future you need to book early to get a cabin. However, the UK team didn’t do too badly, we found a corner of the bar, and pumped up our airbeds and settled down for a few hours sleep!

There were 4 boats from the UK, along with 8 boats from Belgium, sailing alongside 10 French competitors. On day 1, the first race was scheduled for 3pm start. Obviously arriving at 7.30am this gave us plenty of time to play with the boats. Mark and Susan made the most of the time and polished their boat. Mark was obviously trying to psyche out the opposition! When Alan wasn’t chatting, we checked over the boat that we were to sail for the first time. Phil and Emma just took the opportunity for getting a bit more sleep in. Not forgetting the last crew, Brian and Diana Gregory with crew Andrew Wibroe, had an early morning ferry, a fast drive down the motorway and arrived just in time to rig and launch before the preparatory signal. The support crew (Derrick Crouch and John Neads) arrived Friday evening having had a leisurely drive, a pleasant evening meal and a good nights sleep – oh to be retired.

On to the sailing. On day 1 there were 2 races scheduled. The wind was quite light and the Belgians dominated. The UK results were fairly mixed. Alan and I were OCS in race 1, Mark didn’t start due to a problem with his jib, and in race 2 Emma and Phil were OCS as well. Brian got the best result with a 7th in the second race.

The second day dawned wet, grey and windy. We were held on shore not just for the wind, but because there was no water to launch. Anyone who knows Le Havre – the water was so low it was out way beyond the end of the ramp. So once there was some water, we were allowed to launch. Leaving the inner harbour was the trickiest, trying to read the where the wind would come from and at what strength. They then would not let us out of the main harbour, and eventually sent us back in. After an hour or so hanging around, we went back out for racing. The wind had dropped significantly and 2 races were held. Mark got the best result of the day with a 5th in the first race. The Belgians once again dominated, leaving the UK team just behind them. Maybe we should do more training as they have done over this winter. The race officer gave up trying to get a third race going as the wind was shifting the time was against him. The day ended with the sun coming out just as we were sailing and paddling back in.

The final day was just perfect, although grey and windy it was not too much that we couldn’t sail. Once there was enough water to launch we were off. The race officer held two races in about a force 3-4. Alan and I enjoyed the breeze and had 2 good races, swapping places frequently with Jan Peeters (BEL), we and finished 6th and 5th in the races. Phil and Emma also had good results finishing 10th in both races.

We then headed back to shore in pack up and catch the ferry back home.

Another good weekend in Le Havre with good sailing and good friends – a great season opener.

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