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VX One Euro Cup at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale, France

by John Mcafee, Ovington Boats 12 May 2016 15:17 BST
The inaugural VX One Euro Cup, held during the Grand Prix Ecole Navale 2016 © Ovington Boats

The Grand Prix Ecole Navale is one of the most famous French sailing events, organised annually by the French Naval Academy. Sailing is spread across three sites centred around Crozon, catering for over 1500 sailors in a variety of classes.

Ovington Boats and the French distributor, Carre Distrabution decided the GPEN was the perfect platform to hold the inaugural VX One Euro Cup. The French Navy organised everything from the racing to the accommodation, and evening entertainment. All the sailors have to do is turn and enjoy themselves, everything else is done for them. The VX One fleet hosted sailors from the UK, Belgium, France and USA.

Racing started on the Thursday, and with a marginal forecast the committee did their best to get things moving. Despite three starts the wind either dropped off or switched through 180 degrees making a finish impossible. After several hours on the water it was finally decided to abandon and return to the bar.

Friday was scheduled for an early start, however again due to light winds sailing was postponed until mid-day. The fleet launched at 1pm with good breeze all the way out to the race course. Eventually though, the wind gods decided it wasn't to be, meaning another early retirement to the bar.

With a solid forecast for the Saturday, the final day of racing, it was all to play for! An early start by all saw the first race getting under way by 10am. Nathan Batchelor and Andy Weatherspoon set the pace winning the first three races. The rest of the positions swapped and changed, the most consistent results coming from the USA boat of Brian and Hayden Bennett, and Gerard Daugey and Christian Chapelin in FRA192. In theory going into the final race the second two steps of the podium were going to be fought out between these two boats. However, under the radar three young French sailors, normally making their mark in the European laser fleets, were lurking ready to pounce.

The stage was set for then for the final race. A shift and strengthening in the breeze meant a change of course, this time covering 7 nautical miles. First out the blocks were the USA boat closely followed by two GBR boats. This is how the positions stayed for the first lap, but a split in the fleet, half going left whilst the other half chose to go right would cause a re-shuffle of the pack. The GBR boat of Anne Noble, Lester Noble and John McAfee would see themselves slip from 2nd to 5th, with Gerard and Christian (FRA192) passing Nathan and Andy (GB179) for 2nd, and the three young Laser upstarts moving into 4th. Just as all looked to be done, Gerhard sailed the wrong side of the finish mark, handing 2nd back to Nathan and Andy with the French youngsters finishing 3rd. USA 208 lead from start to finish taking the win.

The prize giving was held in the spectacular Navale Academy, all sailors from the event were in attendance, treated to a sit down evening meal before a podium ceremony for each fleet. The atmosphere was electric with stories and anecdotes from each race being shared through the course of the evening.

Final results saw Nathan Batchelor and Andy Weatherspoon take the win, second place went to Brian and Hayden Bennett with the young French boat coming a solid third.

The event was an outstanding success, great racing, great hospitality and new friends that no doubt we will see again. If you're interested in how you could get involved next year, contact the guys at Ovington.

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