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The Solo Nation’s Cup Day 1

After months of preparation the Nation’s Cup is upon us and the fleet of 62 Solos have made it through customs, all on a promise to return home with whatever they came with. There are a few Salcombe wives who were hoping to upgrade but they too have to return to Devon with the fellows they left with. My mattress at Hotel Licorne had not disappointed, the extra firm support easily dealing with my muscular yet somehow obese frame. The problem had been the heat and that is from someone how has worked in the bakery trade for over 40 years. The facility had no air conditioning or even a fan so, in a last-ditch attempt to cool may dangerously high body temperature I discarded the trusty North Sails pyjamas for a wet towel. I do hope I am not charged for the Shroud of Turin stain I have left on the bedsheet.

Today the weather, despite my prediction that the sailors would experience champagne conditions was actually the opposite, so piss poor then apart from the 38 degrees. To my defence the wind strength in Carnac, Pyrenees was spot on, probably induced by the gradient thermal behaviour there but how was I to know there were two Carnac’s?

Our PRO Patrick gave a short but concise briefing as the sailors shielded from the mid-day sun, the large white marquee which sits adjacent to the club house providing adequate sanctuary for all shades of colour but mostly pale white.

Clearly keen to show willing and with a big dollop of optimism, we were then released onto the water which resembled the world’s largest sheet of glass. With enthusiasm running through their veins like slow setting concrete, the competitors made their way down the gently sloping slipway and launched into the clear blue.

My media boat was already afloat so I would be transferred from shore in another rib, bijou in form but nonetheless adequate in buoyancy. The occupants were in fact the race jury, mature of age but wise of mind so it was therefore a little unsettling to be told to come aboard as the rib was sitting in 1 foot of water. Not wanting to get off on the wrong foot with our Anglo-French relations I jumped aboard and we were away. The outboard, despite some aggressive steering seemed unable to break free from the 6 inches of sand it was buried in, I took a moment as the propellers chopped their way through the seabed to wonder if the old chap even knew what a PB2 license was before I jumped back out to guide us deeper. At this point, the driver also jumped out, engine still running with kill cord unattached and assisted, confirming my suspicions of his qualifications. That said, I was soon transferred to the media rib with Mademoiselle Claude my driver and an umbrella as my shelter from the burning sun.

Solos filtered out of the croissant shaped harbour using various methods of propulsion, wind not being one of them and headed out to the committee boat which sat approximately 750 metres off shore. With a few sailors opting to stay on dry land, Ian Hopwood, Ian Ingram (aka Firth) and Ted Bakker to name but three, the fleet meandered out, the wavelets produced by overzealous pumping, rocking and sculling messing up the perfect mirror finish the sea had become.

The radio crackled and after a few sentences in French which I ignored; the PRO uttered the words “return to beach” which was warmly welcomed by everyone.

And that was that. We sat, stood, bimbled and chatted as the hours ticked by, the breeze teasing with the abandon of a wanton woman, hopes raised and crushed as the PRO floated around in the committee boat, patient, resolute but ultimately, beaten…for today.

The fleet re-grouped under the marquee for the daily prize draw, this day, prizes generously provided by Rooster and Class Presidents Patrick Burns and Roel Den Herder were on hand with Rooster’s Mark Harper to give out some great kit.

YC Carnac provided some wine and nibbles, clearly our budget was somewhat frugal compared to the party on the other veranda who were scoffing oysters and champagne. I did wonder if Salcombe had arranged their own do but they are more KFC these days. Vincent Van Horey-Burns was having none of it and managed to neck one aphrodisiac before being ejected. You can take the boy out of north London but you can’t take north London out of the boy.

Sunday has dawned and the storm, which arrived early this morning is now dissipating, leaving grey skies and a keen, cooler breeze. Let’s hope we go racing today as I am exhausting my library of words.

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