Two weeks to the Solitaire

Two weeks to the Solitaire

Thursday May 23 2013 Author: Jack Bouttell Location: none selected

With just two weeks before the start of the season’s main event, La Solitaire du Figaro, I am trying to remember everything I need to do before the start. I went back to the UK last week for a short break, which seemed to pass way to quickly and before knew it I was back in France and preparing to take the boat down to the Gironde river and on to Bordeaux. During that short break, I made up a few lists of what was left to do and it didn’t seem too bad, but getting back to the boat I may have added just a few more jobs, oh well.

Artemis 77 was one of the six boats from the fleet of 42 drawn out of a hat to be lifted out of the water, weighed and re-measured. This happens every year to a random selection of boats to make sure the class stays one design. The boat was lifted out and weighed to make sure nothing has been taken from the boat and then templates put on the hull, keel and rudders to ensure no tampering has been undertaken to make the boat a little more slippery through the water. This adds some time to my plan, as the day allocated for measuring meant I needed to leave Concarneau a little earlier than the others.

Royan is at the mouth of the Gironde river and is where took place. For the trip down to the river a friend of mine, Neale Jones, very nicely agreed to come along. I met Neale in 2010 when we were sailing on the same boat during Cowes Week. A few months later we sailed at the International 14 Europeans in Quiberon, France and have been friends and sailing together since. It was a nice change to have a crew member for the trip and I think it was the first time I have slept for more than 10 minutes on 77. Leaving Concarneau we had a lovely evening sailing away with the spinnaker up. ‘’I can’t believe you do this for a job’’, I remember Neale saying as we headed off...
The delivery was very quick, taking around 23 hours, but turned out it wasn’t all lovely downwind sailing. During the night we had winds up to around 25 knots and it was still a broad angle so fast, but there was a short rough sea state which wasn’t very nice and a fair bit of water coming over the deck. The final stretch up the Gironde to Royan was flat and light winds, but with a fair bit of rain. This was a bit more the Figaro experience, miserable. Hopefully I haven’t warped Neale’s view of offshore sailing too much, but I think he is going to stick with Skiffs for a little while longer.

Arriving into Royan at around seven o’clock in the evening, we didn’t mess around getting off the boat and heading off for a nice dinner. A big steak and just a couple of beers later we headed back to hotel 77 for the night. We were both heading to La Rochelle early the next day, Neale to fly back to the UK and I was going to visit my Grandparents who were on holiday there. Staying on the boat was fine, but we had made the error of not bringing a sleeping bag for either of us. When we first went to bed it was quite warm, but I woke up around four in the morning absolutely freezing and proceeded to slowly pull out and put on all the clothes I had, but it was still cold. I have done this many times in the past and still haven’t learnt, idiot!
Having not seen my Grandparents for around two years, it was good to catch up with them and good to visit La Rochelle again. Did some great sleeping and had a few good meals out and they fed me up well. The weather wasn’t the best, but we still managed to get out and go for a walk to check the place out.

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