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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

RS800 European Championship at Société Nautique de Larmor-Plage, France

by Ben Palmer 28 Jun 13:38 BST 21-24 June 2024

The RS800 and RS400 fleets had the pleasure of exploring a new venue on the Brittany coast, and I think we can safely say it was a roaring success. What an incredible event the amazing Gilles Peeters and Société Nautique de Larmor-Plage hosted.

Larmor Plage is a beautiful seaside Brittany town, with gorgeous beaches for families. The club outdid itself in welcoming the sailors often providing free coffee, cake and cider. We can't fail to mention that being in the heart of the offshore sailing world, there were many very pretty racing machines to ogle at as they left the harbour a few metres from the boat park or decided to foil through the race course with their bows in the air.

The majority of competitors arrived on the Thursday before, to be welcomed by gorgeous sunshine whilst rigging up. In the RS800 fleet, two teams turned up with brand new boats, with some last-minute splicing happening. After a lovely welcome drink thoughts turned to the next day.

Day one is one of those days that stories will be talked about for years in sailing club bars. As the sailors headed out everyone was lulled into a false reality thinking we were going to have 15 knots and sunshine. As the competitors navigated the jagged rocks to make the race course they were greeted with 20 to 25 knots and short steep waves. In our practice downwind pre-start we pitched poled and called it a day after a long capsize, the best moment was screaming back down the North Channel on the way home. Being the second boat back to base, we felt a little defeated having not even made the start line, but soon enough there was a continuous stream of RS800s returning to base all with their own stories to tell. For the brave and experienced it was an epic two race day in very tough conditions. Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore showed the fleet how it was done in race one, with the key skill being able to right the boat quickly after a capsize with three on one run. Tom and Guy narrowly piped Monique Vennis Ozanne and Hugh Shone, with special mention to Mark Johnson and Xavier Guilbaud, and Martin Orton and Ian Brooks who used their wise years of experience to get around the course safely. Race two unfortunately saw Martin and Ian return to base with a broken kicker, leaving just three on the course: Tom and Guy, Monique and Hugh, and Mark and Xavier. This time with a bit of conservative two-sail downwind action from Monique and Hugh they managed to pip Tom and Guy at the finish to take the win.

Back ashore sailors were swapping tales of pitch poles and capsizes and wide-eyed moments. Unfortunately, day one capsize left David Kelly and Billy Russel our Scottish competitors with an injured Billy and end of their event.

On day two a few apprehensive sailors were down at the boat park as a less windy but still windy day was in store for the fleet. However, the apprehension turned out to be unfounded with glorious 15 to 18 knots, sunshine and fun not scary waves to play in. The fleet survived and managed to complete four races. For many of the smaller crews especially those with crew sheeting it was a very big day indeed. Tom and Guy showed the fleet how it was done with blistering boat speed upwind. Monique and Hugh were snapping at their heels all day but failed to find the chink in the armour to get past. For the third step on the podium, there was a battle royal forming with Bryan and Anna Ormond, Ben Palmer and Bruna de Queiroz sporting their "new to them" boats giving Martin and Ian a run for their money. It was nip and tuck all day between these three, with manoeuvres slowly getting more ragged as the day went on. But with no pitch poling this day and sniping the line lay line from miles out, Ben and Bruna managed three thirds. In the mid fleet, there was another great battle forming between the French Squad of five boats, with the order changed multiple times and close nip and tuck battles even in the long courses. The fleet got back after an Olympic day on the water, pretty destroyed but were revived with a lovely meal hosted by the club and great conversation on the top of the bunker overlooking the beautiful harbour.

Day three some of the fleet was hoping for a lie-in after the mammoth four races on the previous day with a light wind forecast. However, the race office knew best and the light wind had come in early allowing the fleet to launch on time and head out. In the light winds, racing was tighter in the fleet. Tom and Guy, and Hugh and Monique were still a step above the rest with Tom and Guy winning the first two races, and thereby winning the series with two races to spare. This meant that for the third race of the day Guy got on the helm. Even swapping over they executed a perfect race to win, and despite Tom saying it was his great crewing, we all think it was mostly Guy!

In the battle royal for third, things were looking tight with Ben and Bruna getting a third in the first race, but dropping back to fifth in the second. Martin and Ian were in one race second and were thinking they could convert it until Hugh and Monique slipped past with their great downwind speed on the last run. In the third race, it was Bryan and Anna who found the speed to put in third place. In the French squad Pierre Renaud and Mathilde Comacle stepped up and got involved with the trio battling for third. After three races, the sailors thought they were heading in with a final race on the next day. However the wily race officer sent the fleet off again for a final race having seen the no wind forecast for the final day. Tom and Guy having already won the event went home, leaving Hugh and Monique thinking this was their chance. After Ben and Bruna who were leading up the first beat, messed up their windward mark lay lines, Hugh and Monique thought that this was it. However, as sometimes those events go it was Bryan and Anna who with a nice shift and tidal gain on the left on the second beat snuck past Hugh and Monique and held on to the lead to take their maiden victory.

On the way in, tired sailors were then contemplating whether there would be any sailing on the final day or whether that was it. It was confirmed that was that the end of the event. For the first time in my life, I finished a complete series a day early. The sailors were then hosted by Gilles Peeters for a Helm and Crew dinner at the famous Lorient La Base offshore base, with many of the helms scoffing their crepes quickly to go and discuss the many incredible offshore machines on the dock.

The race officer had done a sterling job as the last day was a glorious beach day enjoyed by the fleet after prize-giving, perfect for ice creams. In the battle royal for third it was Ben and Bruna who narrowly pipped Martin and Ian, and Bryan and Anna for third, with Pierre and Mathilde the first French boat finishing in sixth.

Thank you very much to Gilles Peeters and his wonderful team at Société Nautique de Larmor-Plage for fabulous racing, great hospitality, and an awesome European Championship.

Thoughts now turn to the Hayling Island Noble Marine Nationals in September. The fleet had a lovely time catching up with our French compatriots and we are hoping to get a few over for the UK nationals. The event rounded off with a beautiful drive chasing the setting sun to the Ferry terminal that evening for the majority of the fleet.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubClR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10Pts
11248MORRIS TomFILMORE GuyHAYLING ISLAND SC ‑ Grande‑Bret RS800 121111111DNS8
2987VENNIS OZANNE MoniqueSHONE HughHILL HEAD SC ‑ Grande‑BretagneRS800212222222215
31215PALMER BenDE QUEIROZ BrunaHAYLING ISLAND SC ‑ Grande‑Bret RS800 DNFDNF5333355330
41204ORTON MartinBROOKS IanCHICHESTER YC ‑ Grande‑Bretagn RS800 4DNF3455434532
51234ORMOND BryanORMOND AnnaQUEEN MARY SC ‑ Grande‑BretagnRS800 DNFDNF4544763134
61158RENAUD PierreCOMACLE MathildeCN ARRADONRS800DNFDNF8786546650
71237JOHNSON MarkGUILBAUD XavierCN ARRADONRS8003376710OCS1081054
81162LE BAS FredericBOUCHARD ClementY C CARNACRS800RDGDNF610996710456
9867VENET BruneADOUX FrancoisCN ARRADONRS800DNFDNF99689911970
101228EMANUEL AlexandreGALLEY Laure (FRALG53)A C T VRS800DNFDNFDNF81078119774

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