As usual, this years skiff season started during easter with the France Open Skiff.
The races are held on Lac du Der, situated in the middle of the Champagne region. A great venue, that’s not a long drive for most European competitors.
And with 95 entries from 10 different European countries, this is not a small event. Especially considering all the classes start at the same time on the same starting line!
However weather predictions for the weekend were very cold, with subzero temperatures at night and a few degrees above zero during the day and a freezing north/easterly wind.
Because of the cold weather forecast (one can only guess) eventually 67 boats appeared at the start, including 5 RS500s.
Luckily there was gluhwein or hot chocolate every time we got of the water.
For the early arrivals there was coaching and training off and on the water by Kevin Fischer Guillo (French former 29er World champion) and Peter Barton (British allround skiff guru) on thursday and friday. It seemed Peter had an unusual high interest in the RS500 this year. Would it have anything to do with him competing in the worlds in Sweden with our own Heather Chipperfield?
Saturday was the first racing day. We had an afternoon start, which was nice because temperatures were a bit higher. As a RS500 sailor you didn’t have to worry about a lot, except never start windward of a Musto skiff or a RS700, because they point higher. Get clear of the line, some sailors (Ahum,… Jon Partridge) tend to sail backwards. Start right next to the comittee boat so you can tack away to clear wind and stay in clear wind while the mayority of the fleet is faster then you.
Saturday 3 races were held in light breeze and very shifty conditions. Sometimes the topmark was sailed and the next moment you would be floating dead in the water.
Sunday we had 2 normal races in again light breeze.
Monday windspeeds were up (20kts on the coarse) and temperatures were down. We had a nice layer of frost on our boat cover when we arrived in the boatpark.
Still some 33 boats went out, with only one main concern. DON’T CAPSIZE! The cold would then force you back to shore. Double thumbs up for those who completed all 3 races that day!
The RS500s would compete mostly among themselves and always finished very close to eachother, sometimes still battling the last short upwind part to the finish.
Since the event was handicap racing it was hard to have your own competition. You could finish as the second RS500, but loose 15 points on the first 500 after handicap calculation. But the final results were as followed (click image for a better view):
It was nice to see our our old RS500 friends Richard/Sue and James/Lucinda. And we made some new French ones, who we are hopefully gonna see again in Carnac.
As for the France Open Skiff, we will definitely be back next year.
When I think back now, one things keeps popping in my mind,….. ice wine.
It’s a type of wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. It gives the wine a special and sweet taste.
Just like this years France Open Skiff, a very special event in a very special location!